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September 24, 2011

Movie Review: Maniac Cop (Blu-ray)

William Lustig's (Maniac, Uncle Sam) Maniac Cop has seen some very solid cult fandom over the years, which certainly makes it feasible that genre DVD specialists Synapse Films would tackle the feature for a new Blu-ray Special Edition. While not really a slasher film as the title may imply, Maniac Cop is more of a hybrid of action, crime-thriller and horror. The host of cult film favorites that make out the cast - Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Army Of Darkness), Richard Roundtree (Shaft), Tom Atkins (Night of the Creeps) and Robert "The Chin" Z'Dar (Samurai Cop, Tango and Cash) is enough reason for me to flip it on. Tom Atkins is the man here, and as close to a hero as you'll get in Maniac Cop. Sorry Bruce, we'll get to you later.

Buy Maniac Cop on Blu-ray

Innocent people are dying in the streets of New York at the hands of some unknown assailant who’s only been described as wearing a police uniform. The media are calling him Maniac Cop, his real name though is Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar). Years earlier Cordell was framed for a crime he didn't commit when he got to close to breaking open a case with the mob. Cordell is sentenced to prison where his welcome is certainly not the most warm by the many of convicts that he personally put behind bars. After being attacked, mutilated and left for dead, Cordell becomes an afterthought by those who've wronged him. Cordell has definitely not forgotten.

It appears the person killing some of these innocent people could be Cordell blowing off steam in between pursuits of vengeance .Cordell's attempts to perform the same injustice him by using a young officer, Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) as a scapegoat when his wife (who he's cheating on) is found with her throat slit. Naturally, this set up works. Cordell continues to murder while poor dopey Jack sits in the klink. It's all up to Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) to get down to the facts of what's going on. Franks relentless as he follows some possible leads that nearly get him killed. Those of you expecting an Ash-like performance by Campbell in Maniac Cop will be thoroughly disappointed as Forest is more a bumbling fool than a heroic figure. Have no fear, Atkins is here!

Maniac Cop packs in the blood and the occasional humor but it also has some impressive action sequences that include chases and some very dangerous looking stunts. Larry Cohen's script is fairly simple, but it works. For what it is, a wild, violent action/horror film the narrative is more than appropriate.

Synapse Films continues to put forth a sound effort for their Blu-ray releases. The majority of Maniac Cop takes place at night so this can in itself prove to be a challenge when doing a restoration. Synapse does a beautiful job in maintaining the correct balance of colors during these darker scenes without losing any important detail. The day scenes are even more impressive compared to previous releases. Maniac Cop looks as good as ever on Blu-ray.

Several solid extra features are included on the disc: Maniac Cop Memories - An Interview with Robert Z' Dar, Out the Window - An Interview with Tom Atkins, Three Minutes with Danny Hicks, Additional scenes for the Japanese broadcast and some trailers to round out a generous assemblage of Maniac Cop goodness. The Z'Dar and Atkins interviews standout . Atkins talks a little about his fight with Z'Dar which he seemed to get the short end of even off screen with some of the lumps he took from the brute. The additional scenes feature Lustig regular Leo Rossi in some scenes as well as a nifty alternate ending where the Cordell gets one last kill in (off-screen).

This is without a doubt an enjoyable release all around. Maniac Cop fans will be very pleased to see that yet again Synapse Films has put togethor another first-rate Blu-ray - this time being William Lustig's cult classic.

                                     (Photos courtesy of Rock!Shock!Pop!)

1 comment:

  1. Gah, I really want to get it but the price tag is a little high, imo. Wish there were a commentary.

    Great review!