Directed by: William Lustig
Starring: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell
Ok so Maniac Cop is a grindhouse classic such as grindhouse films were by the late 80’s. Lets just get that out of the way. Some of these “classics” are great films while others aren’t really good. The bad ones have cult status usually because of some particular scene or element that pushed the envelope of the era in which the film was made. Maniac Cop is definitely a title that most people have heard of so that gives it status, but is it good?
Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, Phone Booth) provides director Bill Lustig a fairly run of the mill paint by numbers story. A slasher is running around New York City dressed like a cop and committing some grizzly killings. It’s not a Death Wish sort of vigilante thing either. He’s just killing everyone. He’s not stupid though; he manages to frame another cop for some of the murders that’s played by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead). While Campbell’s character rots in jail his girlfriend and his partner team up to discover the true identity of the killer. As you watch the film there’s absolutely nothing story-wise that you haven’t seen before.
The thing is that the film is actually highly entertaining. Lustig crafts a visually interesting version of a hybrid action/horror film here that’s paced near perfectly. He also builds a cast that has solid chemistry and are all literately perfect for the film. Campbell is always entertaining and Robert Z’Dar (Cherry 2000) as the killer cop chews the scenery throughout the film in a truly wonderful way. Lustig does play with the ideas of the ultimate protector being the ultimate killer but more importantly he manages to set up some scary and almost humorous situations in the film too.
The story will not surprise you in the least but how much you enjoy the ride probably will.
This HD presentation was crafted from an original HD master and you can tell. This lower budget movie is nearly 25 years old and overall this disc looks fantastic. Detail and color balance are strong and consistent throughout the film with no issues of blooming and minimal artifacting. The grain in the video comes solely from the actual film itself rather than from compression issues. Black levels could be a little deeper but that’s a pretty minor complaint considering this movie looks better than you could ever hope for.
There are a total of three HD Master tracks provided on this disc. That’s probably a little overkill especially considering how solid the 6.1 track is. Sure the movie is from the 80’s so the source is only going to allow for so much immersion but the work that Synapse has done to make this film a truly surrounding experience is commendable. Balance, dynamic range, and overall low end are all shockingly strong and consistent throughout the film. The one oddity here is that there/s a brief audio dropout toward the beginning of the movie. Considering all of the attention Synapse paid to designing this audio presentation its hard to believe they wouldn’t correct this issue, especially since it doesn’t exist in the other mixes.
Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc release comes packaged in a standard slim blu-ray amaray case with classic Maniac Cop artwork for the cover. It’s good enough but not particularly striking either.
A previous release of Maniac Cop featured a pretty great audio commentary with the director, the writer, the composer, and star Bruce Campbell. For some reason that commentary isn’t provided on this blu-ray and that’s particularly sad because none of these folks participate in the interviews done for the film. Atkins and Z’Dar do participate in the interviews and offer up good but not great behind the scenes information. There are also some deleted scenes and PR material.
Maniac Cop, like The Evil Deadand a few other films has constantly been issued to home video over and over again. With that said this is the best looking and sounding version of the film so far. The bonus features feel really thin and anticlimactic without the commentary and honestly the packaging is dull. All of that siad though; this is still a really fun film to watch and a must for horror films of the 80’s.
Overall (Not an Average)8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10