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In New York, a man in a cop's uniform starts killing people for no apparent reason.
For more about Maniac Cop and the Maniac Cop Blu-ray release, see Maniac Cop Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith (I), Robert Z'Dar
Director: William Lustig
» See full cast & crew
Maniac Cop Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 30, 2011
Bill Lustig's "Maniac Cop" (1988) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Films. The supplemental features on the disc include trailers and TV spots; video interview with actor Tom Atkins; video interview with actress Laurene Landon; and a video interview with writer/director/producer Larry Cohen. The disc also arrives with a lavish illustrated booklet, reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork, and a double-sided fold out artwork poster. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
A vicious killer (Robert Z'Dar, Tango & Cash, Shadow of the Dragon) is on the loose in New York City and the police are having a difficult time figuring out his identity. His victims have nothing in common, other than the fear still lingering in their dead eyes. As bodies continue to pile up, panic takes over the city.
Veteran detective Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins, Escape from New York, Lethal Weapon) is ordered to find the killer. But before he can deliver, a younger cop, Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell, The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness: Evil Dead 3), is framed and placed behind bars -- his wife is brutally killed in a hotel room rented by Forrest and his lover, Theresa (Laurene Landon, Hundra, ...All the Marbles), also a cop. Everyone but McCrae is convinced that Forrest is the 'maniac cop' killer that has been terrorizing the city.
Commissioner Pike (Richard Roundtree, Shaft, Deadly Rivals) and Captain Riley (William Smith, Emperor of the Bronx, A Mission to Kill) are ready to close the case, but McCrae decides to continue his investigation and prove that Forrest is innocent. On the night when he heads to a sleazy bar to meet Theresa, the 'maniac cop' appears and nearly kills both of them. Before he disappears, they manage to get a decent look of him and soon after discover that he matches the profile of Matt Cordell, a well respected former officer who years ago was brutally murdered in a state prison.
Bill Lustig's Maniac Cop is undoubtedly one of the very best B-movies that emerged during the '80s. It is seriously flawed but admirably unpretentious, lacking substance but having plenty of style – though not the kind of style great movies have but that special campy style that is best appreciated in the wee hours of the night.
The movie blends elements from a couple of different genres - classic giallo, horror, and poliziotteschi - but it has a unique identity of its own. It builds like most classic Italian slashers do, which is why it is often incorrectly labeled as such, but eventually morphs into something different. In other words, despite its strong European characteristics, Maniac Cop is undoubtedly an American movie.
The movie's biggest weakness is its script. The key sequences - such as the one where the killer goes berserk in the police building – are utterly unbelievable and the characterization leaves plenty to be desired (the disappearance of one of the main protagonists halfway through the film is puzzling to say the least). The editing is also unconvincing, especially after the killer is identified.
The raw look and unpretentiousness, however, give the movie its special campy flavor. From the very first sequence it is made perfectly clear what type of a ride the viewer is in for. Naturally, it is hard to be disappointed because the rest of the movie simply delivers more of the same.
Judging by the various interviews included on the Blu-ray disc, most of the actors were well aware of the script's limitations, which is why they did not try to overplay their characters. Unsurprisingly, the acting never detracts from the unique atmosphere, it effectively adds to it.
Cinematographers Vincent J. Rabe and James Lemmo, who worked with acclaimed director Abel Ferrara on his cult film The Driller Killer, deserve a lot of credit for the sleek murder scenes. The first scene with the clueless girl looking for help is particularly good.
Maniac Cop Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Bill Lustig's Maniac Cop arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Films.
Aside from some random specks and tiny scratches popping up here and there and some scattered extremely small artifacts, the high-definition transfer really is very pleasing. During close-ups detail and clarity are quite impressive (see screencapture #1) while during the nighttime sequences there isn't even a hint of the blockiness that plagues the R1 DVD release of Maniac Cop (see screencapture #4). Color reproduction is also very convincing - the variety of blues, brown, and grays look rich and stable but never boosted. Some crushed blacks occasionally creep in, but I did not find them to be overly distracting while viewing the film (see screencapture #3). The best news is that there are no traces of excessive sharpening. The grain has not been tampered with either, though some extremely light noise is occasionally mixed with it. Unsurprisingly, despite the minor issues mentioned above, the film does have a pleasing and stable organic look. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Maniac Cop Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Arrow Films have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
I have not tested the Synapse Films Blu-ray release to see what the more elaborate DTS-HD Master Audio tracks that are on it add up, but as far as I am concerned the original two-channel loseless audio track serves the film exceptionally well. It boasts a surprisingly strong set of nuanced dynamics that enhance the action scenes as well as the atmospheric music score without creating any balance issues. In other words, you won't have to reach for your remote control to adjust the volume. For the record, there are no sync issues or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Maniac Cop Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are in 1080p. Therefore, they are perfectly playable on all North American Blu-ray players, including the PS3.
Maniac Cop Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Some B-movies simply age better than others. Consider Jess Franco's films - some, such as Venus in Furs, Vampyros Lesbos and The Girl From Rio, look a lot more appealing today than they did back in the '70s, but others, such as White Cannibal Queen and Diamonds of Kilimandjaro, still look terrible. Bill Lustig's Maniac Cop is like some of Jess Franco's good films - it is seriously flawed but unpretentious and charming. These type of films are perfect for late night viewing. RECOMMENDED.
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Maniac Cop Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Maniac Cop Blu-ray in the Works - June 10, 2011
British distributors Arrow Video have revealed that they are preparing a Blu-ray release of William Lustig's cult film Maniac Cop (1988), starring Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead), Tom Atkins (The Fog), and Laurene Landon (Hundra). The exact street date and technical ...
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