Directors – William Lustig & Joel Soisson, Screenplay – Larry Cohen, Producers – Joel Soisson & Michael Leahy, Photography – Jacques Haitkin, Music – Joel Goldsmith, Special Effects Supervisor – Larry Fioritto, Makeup Effects – K.N.B. EFX Group Inc (Supervisors – Howard Berger, Robert Kurtzman & Greg Nicotero), Production Design – Clark Hunter. Production Company – Neo Motion Pictures/First Look Pictures
Robert Davi (Lieutenant Sean McKinney), Robert Z’Dar (Matt Cordell), Caitlin Dulany (Dr Susan Fowler), Gretchen Becker (Kate Sullivan), Jackie Earle Haley (Frank Jessup), Julius Harris (Houngan), Doug Savant (Dr Peter Myerson), Paul Gleason (Hank Cooney), Robert Forster (Dr Powell), Bobby Di Cicco (Bishop), Frank Pesce (Tribble)
The Maniac Cop, Matt Cordell, is raised from his grave by voodoo practitioners and stalks the streets again. Police officer Kate Sullivan is shot by drug-crazed Frank Jessup during a pharmacy hold-up and left in a coma. Two freelance tv journalists film the scene but thanks to judicious re-editing, the piece of film is recut to suggest that Kate shot two unarmed suspects. Detective Sean McKinney tries to clear her name. Meanwhile, Cordell develops an interest in Kate and starts killing those who seek to turn off her life support.
Beginning with Maniac Cop (1988), director William Lustig and screenwriter Larry Cohen created a series that offered an appealing variation on the slasher film, due in large part to Cohen’s quirky scripts. Maniac Cop II (1990), the best of the series, is an amazing film.
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence is a more perfunctory effort than its predecessors. Larry Cohen’s script seems hurried in places – we are never sure why Cordell, who it has been established in the previous films hates cops, is so set on saving the life of Gretchen Baker’s comatose officer. For that matter, we are not even sure why the voodoo priests raise Cordell from the grave. More so than the previous films, this entry seems less driven by sharp plot twists than it feels like a slasher film being driven by a parade of novelty deaths. Also, like a slasher film, Badge of Silence confines itself to a location – here a hospital – and features a parade of campy, novelty deaths – a doctor being shocked to death with fibrillator paddles and a scientifically impossible scene where a victim is cooked under an x-ray machine.
Nevertheless, William Lustig and Larry Cohen let Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence work well enough, often enough to remain enjoyable. Characteristically Cohen-esque humour turns up throughout – like the city trying to get out of a potential lawsuit by persuading the doctors to pull the plug on Gretchen Baker’s life support, or the two roving freelance tv cameramen who luck upon the pharmacy shootout whereupon one gleefully announces: “I’m buying a new foreign car.” There is also the wonderfully sardonic final image of Robert Z’dar lighting a cigarette with Cordell’s still burning severed hand and the two burnt corpses reaching out to hold hands in the morgue. As in the second film, where he created some spectacular action sequences, William Lustig creates an amazing sequence with Robert Davi and Caitlin Delany fleeing in an ambulance while trying to fight off a flaming Cordell as he comes after them in a cop car.
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence was subject to a number of problems during production. Director William Lustig walked off before the end of shooting and was replaced by Joel Soisson, the producer/screenwriter of The Prophecy (1995) and sequels, Dracula 2000 (2000) and sequels, Highlander: Endgame (2000) and Pulse (2006) and sequels, who was responsible for adding the campier novelty deaths. Larry Cohen also voiced dissatisfaction with the rewriting of his script.