Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 13th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1988
Director: William Lustig
Writer: Larry Cohen
Cast: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Robert Z’Dar, Sheree North, Jake LaMotta, Sam Raimi, William Lustig
BluRay released: October 31st, 2011
Approximate running times: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £27.99
Synopsis: A madman dressed like a police officer is brutally slaying the citizens of New York city.
Maniac Cop was directed by William Lustig, who’s other notable films include Maniac and Vigilante. The screenplay for Maniac Cop was written by Larry Cohen, a filmmaker in his own right. Some of his other notable films as a director include Black Caesar, Hell up in Harlem and God Told Me To. Maniac Cop would mark the first of four collaborations between William Lustig and Larry Cohen, the other three films include Maniac Cop 2, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence and Uncle Sam.
Another frequent collaborator of William Lustig’s on Maniac Cop was composer Jay Chattaway, they would work together on a total of five films, beginning with their most memorable collaboration being Maniac and culminating with Maniac Cop 2. The Cinematographer on Maniac Cop was James Lemmo, who’s other notable credits as cinematographer include, The Driller Killer, Ms. 45 and Madman.
Content wise, Maniac Cop is equal parts Slasher film and Revenge film. The plot revolves around a disgraced police officer, who’s manages to come back from the dead and goes on a killing spree. And just like the aforementioned Slasher film’s there is a randomness to the killers’ selection process of its victims.
Being that this is a film about a psychopath cop, who kills indiscriminately, it should not come as a surprise that there are many things is this film that require the viewer to take a leap of faith. To help soften some of these suspended belief moments, the film does a very good job establishing the killers motivation, via a brief flashback and a few scattered moments in which other characters reveal more information about the killers’ back-story.
From a production stand point, there is not a single area in which this film is lacking. The visuals perfectly set to mood, especially the kill scenes and the aforementioned flesh-back sequence. Pacing is never an issue as the narrative moves along at a brisk pace. And the entire are all very good in their respective roles, with the film’s most memorable moment coming from Robert Z’Dar in the role of the ‘Maniac Cop’. Though his performance is rooted in the physicality of the character and not is what he has to say or any emotions, since his this character is all but devoid of any emotions. He stills manages to dominate every scene he is in, despite the limitations of the role. Another performance of note is Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) in the role of Jack Forrest, a wrongly accused man that has been set up as the fall guy. Ultimately Maniac Cop is well made exploitation film that gives the audience what it wants and then some.
Note: This review is based on a test disc and may not be representative of the final product.
Maniac Cop comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Though Arrow Video’s transfer appears to have come from a source that is comparable to Synapse Films recently released BluRay release of Maniac Cop, there are a few areas in which they differ, colors look more robust (almost to vibrant) and the black levels also look drastically different on this new release from Arrow Video then they do for the Synapse Films BluRay release. Overall to the naked eye though these releases might look similar, there is at least one area in which the Synapse Films BluRay release is vastly superior, their transfer has had extensive clean on work done to remove print debris, vertical hair line starches and various other source related damage. Also there are many instances on the Arrow Video BluRay release in which some of these source related print damage issues have not been cleaned up, like they have on the Synapse Films BluRay. It should be noted that I received a email from William Lustig, who has relayed to me that neither Arrow Video’s or Synapse Films transfers represent the intended "look" of this film.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Stereo English and removable English subtitles have also been included with this release. The audio is in very good shape as dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include a brief intro with actor Tom Atkins, 2 T.V. spots, two theatrical trailers and three interviews, the first interview with Tom Atkins (20 minutes 14 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), the second interview with actress Laurene Landon (13 minutes 26 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the third interview with screenwriter Larry Cohen (18 minutes 55 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). The interviews with Tom Atkins and Laurene Landon cover similar ground, they both discuss their roles, their thoughts on other cast members and director William Lustig (whom Laurene Landon does not have found memories of) and they both also discuss various other films that they have appeared in. Also the Tom Atkins interview covers many topics that he discussed in his interview that appeared in the Synapse Films release of Maniac Cop. Without a doubt, the most interesting of these three interviews is the one with Larry Cohen, who discusses the first time he met William Lustig, how he came up with the idea for making the film Maniac Cop, the other films that has had worked with William Lustig on (two Maniac Cop sequels and Uncle Sam), the cast, his dissatisfaction with the casting of Robert Z’Dar and how Maniac Cop did not perform as well as he thought it would have theatrically. He also touches on various other films that he wrote screenplays for or directed. Rounding out the extras is a collectors’ booklet that contains a brand new writing on the film by author Troy Howarth, a interview with William Lustig that originally appeared in author Calum Waddell’s book ‘Taboo Breakers’, a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork and a double-sided fold out artwork poster. Overall Arrow Video gives Maniac Cop a strong BluRay release.