Amityville Cop opens with a beautiful night shot of a city. We’re not told what city, but it certainly isn’t Amityville. That’s probably because this film has nothing to do with Amityville. Writer Geno McGahee (Satanic Meat Cleaver Massacre, Rise of the Scarecrows) and director Gregory Hatanaka (Heartbeat, Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance) just slapped the title onto a Los Angeles lensed Maniac Cop ripoff.
Miller (Jason Toler, Crack House of the Dead, Kill Plan) and his partner Val (Nicole D’Angelo, Body of the Night, Sinful) have gotten the city sued yet again, this time for beating up a suspect. But, since they say that he had it coming, Chief Benson (Jeffrey Moon, Devil’s Canyon, xXx: State of the Union) lets them off with a warning.
Meanwhile, someone with a distorted voice and a police uniform is spouting off lines from one of the weaker Judge Dredd comics as he executes speeders and loiterers. It all has something to do with a Satanic Priestess, Empress Ciara, played by Laurene Landon who was in the first two Maniac Cop films. And Chief Benson is somehow involved.
Apart from one of the franchise’s stars and the black magic elements from Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence, we also get the first film’s attack on the police station. Only here it happens during the lamest New Years’ party in history. Watching these guys make generic dancing movements that don’t match the music is painful.
First there was Dwellers, which managed to turn the plot of C.H.U.D. into an almost unwatchable mess. Now Amityville Cop does the same with an entire trilogy. Much of the blame can be laid on the character of Miller. He’s supposed to be funny like Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, He has the same build and skin colour as Murphy but none of his comedic talent. And the script doesn’t have the kind of obnoxious but funny lines that he excelled at delivering, it’s just obnoxious.
If the film had even half the energy of the Maniac Cop films it might still have been salvageable. But Amityville Cop just plods along with the occasional half-hearted action or kill scene. It also makes heroes out of the least likable characters in the film so it’s even harder to give a fuck about what’s going on.
And while I really hate to rag on a film simply because of its budget, Amityville Cop cuts corners in ways that look really bad. The demon cop pulls someone over, we see the reflection of flashing lights on their car. But we don’t see the car even on the driver’s rearview monitor. In another scene, the cast is obviously pretending to drink coffee out of empty cups. My favourite though is the blast from an RPG that’s represented by fireworks.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You can make a good, even great, film on a pocket change budget. But you have to write the script for that budget, that’s what films like The Thing Inside Us and They Look Like People did. They didn’t call for a major explosion and try to pass off footage from a New Years’ Eve fireworks show like it.
Given the events of the past year, the protests over police brutality, the defund the police movement and the counter-protests against it, a film like Amityville Cop could have been a vehicle for social commentary on either side. Or a provocative piece of satire. Or even an intentionally divisive kick in the groin. Instead, it’s a dull mess that fails at even being an entertaining horror movie.