Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 26th, 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 11th, 2011
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD MA 6.1 Surround English, DTS-HD MA 4.0 Surround English, DTS HD-MA 2.0 Stereo English
BluRay Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $24.95
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.
Maniac Cop comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This is another strong transfer from Synapse Films, that has natural looking grain, colors and flesh tones always look accurate, details generally look crisp and there are no problems with compression. If anything , the one in which this transfer is the weakest it would be during darker / night time scenes and during these moments the black levels are not as strong as they are during the bulk of this transfer.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD MA 6.1 Surround mix in English, a DTS-HD MA 4.0 Surround mix in English and a DTS HD-MA 2.0 Stereo mix in English. All three audio mixes are in great shape as dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The strongest of these three audio mixes is the DTS-HD MA 6.1 Surround mix in English, which fully exploits every aspect of this soundtrack, ambient noises are well represented and the film’s score always sounds robust.
Extras for this release include two T.V. spots, a Spanish radio spot, a animated promotional art gallery, two theatrical trailers, a French language trailer, six minutes of additional footage that was shot Japanese television and three interviews, the first interview with Robert Z’Dar (12 minutes 12 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), the second interview with Tom Atkins (10 minutes 56 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the third interview with Danny Hicks (3 minutes 22 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). Tom Atkins and Danny Hicks interviews focus primarily on how they became involved with the film and their various recollections working on this film, while Robert Z’Dar’s interview not only covers these two areas, it also touches upon various other films / T.V. shows that he has appeared in. One major extra that was included as part of Synapse Films 2006 DVD release of Maniac Cop has not been carried over for this release, a audio commentary with director William Lustig, screenwriter Larry Cohen, Composer Jay Chattaway and actor Bruce Campbell. Overall Synapse Films gives Maniac Cop its best audio / video presentation to date.