Director - William Lustig
Cast - Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - $24.95
Distributor - Synapse
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (4/5)
As a kid growing up in the 80's I pretty much ate slasher flicks for dinner. They were the horror trend of the decade, and Hell as a teenager they had everything I wanted in a film SEX and VIOLENCE. When I go back and try and watch a few of these I usually don't make it very far. There are a few that grab my attention in that jungle of slaughtered naked pseudo teenaged mayhem, and those films are directed by William Lustig (and his films don’t typically fall into cliché slasher territory).
Right around last Halloween his distribution company Blue Underground treated us to what I consider the 2nd greatest slasher film of all time (the first being John Carpenter's Halloween). Maniac, now we have the restoration genius at Synapse Films releasing another of Bill's classics to Blu-ray. The Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins starring Maniac Cop.
Maniac Cop staying true it's title is about a maniac dressed in a police uniform stalking the streets of New York. The film stars B-Movie legend Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, umm Evil Dead 2) as Police Officer Jack Forrest who is framed for the Maniac Cop killings after his wife is killed by the titular murderer. While rotting in Ryker's Island Prison Detective Tom McRae (Tom Atkins), and Jack's new police officer girlfriend Theresa work to free him believing the actual killer is still roaming the streets, of course the killer now has his eyes on them.
Maniac Cop is as perfect a title for this movie as you can get. Like the other late 80's cop themed horror film Dead Heat, you pretty much now what you're getting right from the start. That is fine, I like films that are deep, but sometimes I want entertainment, and that is exactly what Maniac Cop provides.
With Maniac Cop Lustig has taken 2 popular 80's film genres, the Buddy Cop action film (ala Lethal Weapon), and combined it with the man in a mask slasher film to create something truly unique. In addition he brings his trademark grittiness to the picture, which adds an air of realism to a situation that is as far from reality as you can get. He keeps a fantastic pace with the picture keeping what narrative there is interesting, and the action flowing. He also wisely keeps the running time short so that Maniac Cop never overstays it's welcome.
While the direction is fantastic this film would really be nothing without it's cast. I have always said that Bruce Campbell is one of those actors that can elevate any scene he is just by appearing in it, and he brings his formidable presence in spades to Maniac Cop. For those more familiar with his more schlocky Evil Dead roles, he does play it more straight here, but it is nonetheless a very entertaining performance. We also have an excellent performance from cult cinema Icon Tom Atkins as Detective McRae, and Soultaker's Robert Z'Dar as the Maniac Cop himself Matt Cordell. The film features another excellent score courtesy of frequent Lustig collaborator Jay Chattaway.
The film is 80 minutes of action slasher mayhem. If you've seen it, the Blu makes it well worth another visit. If this is you're first time, you are in for quite a good time. Either way check it out.
Full Disclosure, I have not seen any of the Maniac Cop films since VHS, so any upgrade was going to be substantial for me. That being said Synapse Films 1:85:1 1080p transfer of the film preserving the films theatrical aspect ratio is a real stunner no matter if you've never seen it before, or if you're coming from their 2006 High-Def Mastered DVD.
The colors on this tranfer are excellent, black levels are deep, and the grain structure is film like and natural giving you the feeling that you are seeing this projected from a newly minted print. There are some minor softness issues during exterior sequences, but this is a minor flaw, and has more to do with the production than the restoration.
The restoration on the video portion was fantastic on it's own, but Synapse has seen fit to include 3 excellently restored DTS-HD English Audio tracks for Maniac Cop. The original stereo track, a 6.1 remix, and a 4.0 stereo surround sound track. For the purpose of my viewing I kept it to the original track with a few dips over to the others, and they were all excellent. Jay Chattaway's soundtrack pumps from the speakers, dialogue is clear and crisp, and everything is mixed well. Synapse has hit another A/V home run with Maniac Cop!
Synapse Films has put together a decent slate of extras for the Blu-ray release of Maniac Cop. The disc kicks off with a series of interviews, the first up is Robert Z'Dar who begins by discussing his career prior to Maniac Cop, before going into his history with that film. We then have an interview with Tom Atkins, who voices his displeasure with the film, but still has quite a few interesting things to say about it. Finally, there is a short interview with Danny Hicks. These interviews are followed up with about 6 minutes in deleted scenes, that are interesting, but it's pretty obvious why they were deleted. We then have a series of trailers some in HD, a few which are more like TV spots are in SD. There are also some radio spots, and a gallery of poster and video art.
Maniac Cop is a certifiable action-slasher classic. It's grimy, sleazy, a bit scary, and a whole lot of fun. Synapse's Blu-ray looks, and absolutely sounds fantastic. The extras are slim, but interesting. Very Highly Recommended.