HBO is turning the classic 1988 B-movie (“B” is generous) ‘Maniac Cop’ into an event series, from visionary director Nicolas Winding Refn and John Hyams. This will be the first production from Refn’s new indie label byNWR Originals. While HBO will present the new ‘Maniac Cop’ in the U.S. and other territories, Canal+ will distribute it in France. Refn and Hyams will executive produce and direct, and Refn will act as showrunner.
Set in Los Angeles, Maniac Cop is told through a kaleidoscope of characters, from cop to common criminal. A killer in uniform has uncaged mayhem upon the streets. Paranoia leads to social disorder as a city wrestles with the mystery of the exterminator in blue – is he mere mortal, or a supernatural force?
The original ‘Maniac Cop’ is a “grindhouse” flick about an honest policeman who was framed after he got too close to uncovering corruption in the police department. He was later killed in Sing Sing and reborn as the undead Maniac Cop, who goes on a killing spree, murdering criminals as well as the innocent. The film was directed by William Lustig, written by Larry Cohen, and included Bruce Campbell and Richard Roundtree among its cast. Lustig and Cohen also created two direct-to-video sequels, ‘Maniac Cop 2’ and ‘Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence’. Robert Z’Dar played the Maniac Cop in all three films, and Campbell returned for the first sequel. HBO distributed the third, so that may explain the cable network’s involvement in this reboot.
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“I’ve always been a devoted admirer of John Hyams. We’ve been talking about a re-imagining of the ‘Maniac Cop’ films for a number of years, but as we continued to work on the material, we found ourselves wanting to explore the world we were creating in greater depth. Turning ‘Maniac Cop’ into a series will allow us to realize our wildest ambitions and to reach an enormous audience though partners HBO and Canal+. This show will be an unadulterated, action-packed horror odyssey. Given the current state of the world, though, ‘Maniac Cop’ will also be a strong commentary on the decline of civilization.”
Refn’s earlier movies were incredibly gritty, including his first picture ‘Pusher’, which spawned two sequels, and ‘Bronson’ starring Tom Hardy. His more recent projects have remained gritty, but have taken on a more stylized approach, including ‘Drive’ with Ryan Gosling, and ‘The Neon Demon’ with Elle Fanning and Keanu Reeves. His most recent project was the (yep) gritty and stylized Amazon series ‘Too Old to Die Young’.
Hyams directed Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in ‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’ and ‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning’. He served as executive producer, writer, and director of the zombie series ‘Z Nation’ and its recent Netflix follow-up ‘Black Summer’. Most recently, he directed episodes of ‘Chicago P.D.’
Are you a fan of the ‘Maniac Cop’ franchise? How do you feel about HBO releasing a reboot series?