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Officer Matthew "Matt" Cordell is the tragic villain and main antagonist of the film Maniac Cop and its sequels.
He was portrayed by Robert Z'Dar (also known as Robert J. Zdarsky).
In the opening credits scene reminiscent of 'Maniac', a man is shown putting on a policeman's uniform with a badge, gun belt, and cap. That same night, a young woman, named Cassie Phillips (Jill Gatsby), leaves a local bar at night where she is attacked by two punks on the street who try to rob her. She runs and hides, then calls out to a police officer she sees in a nearby park square and runs up to him. She gasps when she sees his face and as the two punks watch from a distance, the policeman picks her up with his white-gloved hands and kills her by breaking her neck. The next day, the two punks are arrested where they tell the police that a cop was responsible. Detectives Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) and Lovejoy (Lou Bonacki) see the woman's body at the morgue and Frank believes the punks claim of a murderous policeman.
The following night, a man and a woman are driving through Manhattan late when they stop at a red traffic light. A cop approaches the car on foot and taps on the driver's side window with a billy club. The unseen cop takes the man to the front of the car for a sobriety test and the woman watches as the unseen cop takes a large blade out of the billy club and swipes twice and throws the dead man on the windshield of the car, splattering blood all over the windshield. The woman screams, gets in the driver's seat and speeds away, turing on the wiper blades to wash the blood off the windshield.The next morning, Frank goes to see the police Commissioner Pike (Richard Roundtree) at his office and suggests giving policemen mental tests due to this latest killing. Pike refuses and tells Frank to keep quiet about the killings and makes a veiled threat by bringing up that Frank tried to shoot himself in an attempted suicide several years ago after his partner was killed in the line of duty.
That same evening, a man walking alone on a street has an encounter with the unseen killer cop who throws him against a car and handcuffs him. The man runs when the unseen cop pulls out his blade from his billy club. The cop catches up and shoves the man forward who trips and falls into the sidewalk pavement that is wet cement. The unseen cop puts his blade away and instead suffocates the man by shoving his face into the cement. The next day, work crews are forced to jackhammer the victim out of the dried cement.
After a morning news story of a so-called "maniac cop" responsible for the three recent murders runs, people all over New York are in a panic. In a warehouse section of Queens, a woman has car trouble when a policeman pulls up behind her and gets out. When the policeman knocks on her window, the fearful woman pulls out a gun and shoots and kills the policeman... who is not the maniac cop.
Meanwhile, Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) is putting on his NYPD uniform and he and his wife Ellen (Victora Catlin) argue about his job that he spends more time on the street then home. She says that she's afraid that he might hurt her in his sleep. After Jack leaves, Ellen gets a phone call from an unseen woman who has called her before and tells Ellen that Jack is the maniac cop and that he will kill again. Ellen gets a gun and follows Jack to a local motel somewhere in Manhattan. After talking to the manager (director William Lustig) who tells her that Jack has been there before, she goes to the room where Jack is and catches him in bed with another woman. Ellen points the gun at Jack and the woman without letting Jack explain. Angry over his infidelity, but relived that he is not the maniac cop, Ellen leaves. As she goes to her car, she is grabbed by the real maniac cop and pulled into a van which drives away.
The next morning, a maid at the motel finds Ellen dead in the same room that Jack has rented hours earlier. The hot-headed Captain Ripley (William Smith), Jack's superior, arrives at Jack's house to inform him about his wife's murder and when Jack admits to being at the motel the previous night, Ripley arrests him for the murder. In an interrogation room, Ripley and Frank show Jack a collection of "Maniac Cop" news articles (belonging to Ellen), and read a page from Ellen's diary saying that she thinks Jack is the killer. Jack continues to deny that he is the Maniac Cop but refuses to answer any more questions. Jack's lawyer arrives minutes later where Jack tells him that he has a witness who was with him around the time Ellen was murdered, but he would like to keep her out of it. Frank tells Captain Ripley that he believes that Jack is not the Maniac Cop, but he also believes that Jack is protecting someone. But the slimeball Ripley refuses to accept this and tells Frank that he plots to charge Jack with all of the killings. Frank goes to visit Jack in his cell where he finally admits that he was with Theresa Mallory.
Meanwhile, Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) is revealed to be a vice cop and is seen posing as a prostitute when she is attacked by the Maniac Cop. Frank arrives and they both open fire on the Maniac Cop who flees. They go to a local bar for drinks to talk about Jack's situation and Theresa says that the only person she told about her and Jack was Sally Noland (Sheree North), a middle-aged crippled policewoman who works in the clerical room at the precinct. Frank goes to see Sally (who walks with a cane and a leg brace) where he tells her about Theresa being attacked.
Later, Frank follows Theresa in his car to a local pier on the Hudson River where she watches her talk to the stout, but still unseen Maniac Cop. Sally tells the killer cop about Jack's arrest and that if he relaxes with the killing spree, Jack will be blamed for all the killings and once they let their guard down, he can go after the commissioner, the mayor and everyone else responsible for his false incarceration. Sally calls the Maniac Cop "Matt" and tells him to save his murderous rampage for the people who only did wrong to him. She spots Frank spying on them and opens fire, forcing Frank to run to his car and drive away.
Frank goes to see Clancy (James Dixon) in the records department and reads old newspaper articles about a policeman named Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar), who was thrown into Sing Sing prison for "violation of people's rights". Clancy tells Frank that Matt Cordell has been dead for over 10 years and that his girlfriend, who was Sally Noland, attempted to commit suicide by jumping out of a window after his imprisonment, but was only crippled with a fractured left leg. Clancy tells Frank that Cordell was a well known and respected cop, but had little regard for the rules of the force. Cordell claimed during his trial that his own superiors plotted to frame him and send him to prison after seeing that he was a trouble maker on the force, but his conviction put the complaint at moot.
Meanwhile, the Maniac Cop, Cordell relaxes at his warehouse hideout where he thinks back to being sentenced to several years in prison by a judge and arrives in Sing Sing where he is recognized by all of the inmates that he arrested and put there. In the showers, Cordell is attacked by three knife-wielding inmates. Cordell puts up a fight and beats up the three men until one of them stabs him in the back. He falls and the rest of the men stab and slash him in the face over and over again.
Frank and Theresa go to see Jack in jail where they tell him about their suspicions that Matt Cordell, who may have died in prison as was detailed in the news 10 years ago, may be committing the murders. Theresa and Jack are left alone to kiss, while Frank goes to the clerical room where he is beaten by Sally with her cane and says "He knows I'm no good to him anymore!" She leaves and suddenly sees a dead cop and screams: "He's here!" The still unseen Cordell appears and grabs Sally and Frank attempts to lead her away. Cordell slams Sally against a wall with clearly superhuman strength. Frank pulls out his gun, but is thrown across the room by the Maniac Cop.
During this, Theresa sees a dead cops outside of the cell blocks and knows the Maniac Cop is there at the station. She lets Jack out of his cell where he takes a gun off a dead policeman and tells Theresa to wait in Frank's car. When Theresa goes outside, Frank is thrown by Cordell through a window and lands on a parked taxi next to Theresa. Back in the station, Detective Lovejoy arrives and points a gun at Jack, thinking that he is killing everyone. He goes for a phone and reacts to touching Sally's dead fingers. Jack punches him out, gets his gun and runs outside where he meet Theresa and they drive away.
The next morning, Jack and Theresa go to visit Dr. Gruber at Sing Sing's infirmary (Jack tells him that he is Frank McCrae and that he has an appointment). After preliminary questions, Gruber finally admits that, on the day that Cordell was attacked in the showers, the doctor discovered that he was still alive, and revived the near-death officer. Despite being stabbed multiple times, Cordell was technically brain dead, yet he continued to live. Sympathetic to Cordell's plight and aware that Cordell was framed by his own superiors, Gruber declared Cordell legally dead and did not see any harm in making people think he was still alive (which he was technically not).
That same day, the St. Patrick's Day parade is being held. While Jack waits outside in Frank's car, Theresa goes to police headquarters to warn Commissioner Pike that Cordell will be coming after him. Theresa makes her way to the commissioner's office where she tells him who she thinks the real Maniac Cop is, but Pike and Ripley believe that Theresa aided in Jack's escape and refuse to believe her. (It is implied that both Commissioner Pike and Captain Ripley were part of the conspiracy to frame Cordell for trumped-up criminal charges to get rid of him). A policeman arrives to arrest Theresa while Pike and Ripley leave and they are both murdered by Cordell in a bathroom. The cop handcuffs Theresa to him and as they are walking down a hallway, Cordell appears and stabs him in the stomach with his billyclub blade. Theresa gets to a room where she managed to uncuff herself and climbs out onto a ledge as Jack watches. Just then, a group of policemen, whom still think that Jack is responsible for all the killings, see him and throw him into a police van.
The still-unseen Matt Cordell pulls the driver out of the police van and drives away with Jack. Theresa gets in cop car with another officer and they follow them to Pier 14, which is Cordell's hideout. Cordell stops the vehicle in his warehouse hideout and he starts to axe the door open. When Jack attempts to break out, Cordell (who's horribly scarred and decomposing disfigured face is finally seen) picks Jack up and throws him on Theresa who arrives and approaches with a shotgun. Cordell picks up the shotgun and blows away the other cop as he runs in. Jack knocks the gun away from the maniac cop, and he is punched by the super strong undead Cordell. When police sirens are heard, Cordell gets back into the police van and attempts to drive away. Jack jumps on and attempts to stop him from escaping. While driving erratically on the pier, the van runs into a suspended tube that crashes through the windshield and pierces Cordell's chest. The truck, Cordell and Jack fly off the end of the dock and crash into the water.
A little later, while Jack and Theresa watch, the paddy wagon is pulled from the water by a police salvage team, but Cordell is not inside. Unseen down in the water a short distance away, Cordell's hand comes out.
Maniac Cop 2
Surviving being impaled by a pipe and plunging into a river at the end of the previous film, the undead Maniac Cop Officer Matthew Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) acquires a junked police cruiser and continues his killing spree through New York, attacking a convenience store in the middle of a robbery and killing the clerk (the thief subsequently being killed in a shootout with police). As Cordell stalks the streets his enemies Officers Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) and Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) are put back on active duty by Commissioner Edward Doyle (Michael Lerner) who has the two undergo a psychiatric evaluation under Officer Susan Riley (Claudia Christian); while Jack is content that Cordell is long gone and wants to go on with his life, Teresa is convinced that Cordell is still alive (his body never being recovered) and is still plotting his revenge on the city for ruining him.
While out at a newsstand Jack is knifed through the neck by Cordell, leaving Teresa distraught and prompting her to decide to appear on a talk show to inform the public about Cordell, the police having kept Cordell's supposed return covered up (Commissioner Doyle was involved in originally framing Cordell and sending him to Sing Sing). While en route to a hotel in a taxi Teresa is joined by Susan and the two are attacked by Cordell, who kills the cabbie and forces Susan and Teresa off the road. After handcuffing Susan to the wheel of a car and sending her into the busy streets, Cordell kills Teresa by snapping her neck. Gaining control of the car Susan crashes and is found by the police and given medical attention.
Elsewhere a stripper named Cheryl (Paula Trickey) is attacked in her apartment by serial killer Steven Turkell (Leo Rossi) who has strangled at least six other exotic dancers over the course of several months. As Turkell brutalizes Cheryl, Cordell arrives and disposes of a pair of officers earlier called by Cheryl before helping Turkell escape. Grateful for the help, Turkell befriends Cordell and takes him back to his apartment, where Cordell stays for a short while before leaving. After Cordell leaves, Turkell goes out to find another victim, but is ID'd at a strip club by Cheryl and arrested by Susan and Lieutenant Sean McKinney (Robert Davi). Placed in holding cell in the police station, Turkell taunts Susan, telling him Cordell will break him out. Turkell's assumption proves correct, with Cordell breaking into the police station and massacring the bulk of the police force in a hail of gunfire before breaking Turkell and several others out. Using Susan as a hostage Turkell, Cordell and another criminal named Joseph Blums (Clarence Williams III) hijack a prison bus and head to Sing Sing, Turkell having convinced himself Cordell wants to free all the inmates and create an army of criminals. Following Cordell are McKinney and Doyle, the former convincing the latter to reopen Cordell's case and dig up and then rebury his casket with full honors, McKinney believing this will appease Cordell.
Getting into the prison using Blums's (who was set to be transported to the prison the following day) paperwork Cordell and the others kill a guard for his keys. Shortly after entering death row, Cordell is contacted over the prison PA system by Doyle, who admits to Cordell that he was set up and states that his case has been reopened. After hearing Doyle's announcement, Cordell abandons Turkell, Blums and Susan and heads deeper into the prison, where he is attacked with a Molotov cocktail by the three inmates who originally mutilated him. While burning, Cordell finally gets revenge on the 3 people who mutilated him, along with another inmate (Who didn't mutilate him), afterwards, he is attacked by Turkell, who realizes Cordell was never his friend and only used him. As Cordell and Turkell fight, the two crash through a wall and fall onto the bus below, the two killers seemingly dying when the bus explodes.
Sometime later, Cordell is buried with full honors alongside other fallen officers, two of the few attendees to his funeral being Susan and McKinney. As Cordell's casket is lowered McKinney throws Cordell's badge into the grave and leaves with Susan, giving a monologue about how there is a little bit of Cordell in every officer and that every member of the force needs to rise above becoming a Maniac Cop. Before the credits roll, Cordell's hand busts through the lid of his casket and grabs his badge, foreshadowing that he will return.
Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence
A priest practicing the Voodoo arts resurrects Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) who takes his badge and comes back from the dead to do his bidding. Meanwhile a pair of cameramen who are hoping to make it big come across a convenience store robbery where a police officer named Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Becker) intervenes in a hostage situation where she manages to wound the suspect, but she realizes that the clerk is his girlfriend and she had let him in purposefully to rob the store. There is a cross fire and while Kate is severely wounded and she ends up killing the clerk in return. When rushed to the hospital, she is rendered comatose and brain dead, much to the chagrin of investigating officer Sean McKinney (Robert Davi) who had caught the report of Katie using excessive force in a hostage situation seeming to make the clerk an innocent victim and in response threatening to free the badly injured Frank Jessup. Meanwhile, stalking Katie's progress, Cordell goes to the hospital to watch her. He kills one of her supervising physicians with defibrillator paddles and the physician, set to sign the warrant to cut Kate's life support, by exposing him to high amounts of X-Ray radiation. The reporters who had framed Kate are then murdered as well.
While McKinney and a physician Susan (Caitlin Dulany) are investigating the murders and the strange behavior experienced by the comatose Kate. Their investigations lead them to Houngan (Julius Harris) who admits that he had brought Cordell back from the dead and he is interested in Kate who is on the verge of death. At gunpoint, Cordell forces Houngan to attempt the resurrection on her, but he is unable to do so, stating her spirit is refusing to return from the dead to be with him. Cordell kills Houngan and both he and Kate are set on fire in the process and she is immolated. As they escape, Susan and McKinney are chased by Cordell who survived the fire while remaining ablaze, he chases them in a beat up police car while they ride in an ambulance. They manage to throw an oxygen tank into the burning car before both crash, before Cordell can back up on the other disabled vehicle, the canister goes off, blowing up the car. Later the charred corpse of Cordell is rolled into a morgue next to the burned remains of Katie. While the lone coroner, who rolled Cordell into the morgue, is busy with his computer, the camera pans to Katie's hand which shows Cordell's hand moving over to hold Katie's hand.
- Cassie Phillips
- United Nations Delegate
- Ellen Forrest
- Officer Sally Noland
- Numerous unnamed police officers
- Police Captain
- 4 Sing-Sing prison inmates
- 2 security guards
- Detective Lieutenant Frank McCrac
- Commissioner Pete
- Officer Bremmer
- Officer Fowler
- 2 paramedics
- Traffic officer
- Taxi cab driver
- Captain Ripley
- Mayor Jerry Killium
- Officer Jack W. Forrest Jr.
- Store Clerk
- Officer Theresa Mallory
- Range officer
- Prison guard
- Steven Turkell
- Pedestrian Hickler
- Doctor Powell
- Officer Butler
- Doctor Peter Myerson
- Houngan Malfaiteur
- In the first film, Matt was screaming in pain when he was impaled by a suspended pipe going through his chest, despite the fact he can't feel pain due to being brain dead. It's possible that he could have simply gotten angry that someone attacked him, rather than feeling pain.
- Matt only said a few words in the second and third film.