Another long gestating horror remake could soon be nearing production, as director John Hyams confirms that a reboot of Maniac Cop 'is going to happen', and that filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (The Neon Demon) is still onboard as producer. The film has been in development since at least 2012 and was thought to have been cancelled, but plans are in place to start cameras rolling on a remake once other ongoing projects are completed.
The original Maniac Cop is regarded as something of a cult exploitation classic, and like so many other horror films in the '80s it spawned several sequels. Released in 1988, it was directed by William Lustig (Maniac) and written by Larry Cohen (It's Alive). The film starred Bruce Campbell (Ash vs. Evil Dead) as a police officer framed for several gruesome murders, although another cop called Matthew Cordell (played by Robert Z'Dar) was actually responsible. Apparently undead and nearly invulnerable, the uniformed and revenge-driven Cordell lent himself easily to a franchise, which played out like Friday the 13th with a badge and a nightstick. Sequels soon followed in 1990 and 1993.
Reports about a Maniac Cop prequel surfaced in early 2012, with the surprise choice of Refn as producer to the project. Nothing more was heard until March of 2017, when the film had apparently been given the go-ahead, but as a remake of Maniac Cop rather than a prequel to the franchise. Although Hyams was tapped to helm the film, the resulting silence led many to assume it was dead-in-the-water. However the prospective director has confirmed that the remake is still going ahead, with both himself and Refn involved. Speaking to Birth.Movies.Death., he said:
"...Well, it'd seem like nothing's happening, but actually quite a bit is happening with it. We've been working on it for a few years now, with some starts and stops. But it is going to happen. Right now, Nic Refn, our producer, who is an amazing filmmaker and a really great guy - he's stuck by me this whole time and hasn't let up, which I'm deeply thankful for and inspired by - is getting everything set... we are developing it, and it actually just took an interesting turn recently. This is all stuff I'm going to be able to talk about a little more in the coming months, but things are definitely coming together on it."
Previous comments from Cohen suggested that the Maniac Cop remake was not happening, and that he wasn't a fan of the screenplay from Ed Brubaker (Velvet). So this is good news for those looking forward to the film and wondering if it had indeed been cancelled. Refn is a confirmed fan of the earlier franchise, and Hyams has proven he can do some solid action work with the Universal Soldier sequels. By all accounts, the remake is reportedly backing away from the more fantastical elements, but still keeping the violence and the basic original plot intact.
Hyams also stated that he is currently prepping a project for Netflix, whilst Refn is still working on his Amazon show Too Old to Die Young. He anticipates that once both those projects are completed, the pair will join up for the remake. With the production still realistically some way off, there is obviously no information on casting or distribution yet. However, we will bring you more news on the Maniac Cop remake as we get it.