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A maniac, maniac that's for sure.
on 25 December 2013
Up until the early 90s New York City was a very different place when compared to the vibrant cosmopolitan/metropolitan of culture and coffee shops with free Wi-Fi of today. It was a very dirty city filled with porno theatres, pawn shops, and crack houses where you couldn't walk ten feet without getting mugged.
In the absence of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, morally sound/suspicious cop Matt Cordell makes it his duty to lay waste to the criminal scum infesting the city, but soon he goes too far and his maniacal ways catch up with him.
Grizzled Detective McCrae and rookie beat cop Forrest (that would be Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell himself) team up to track down Cordell, who has been dubbed the 'Maniac Cop' by the New York media, who have stirred the city into a frenzy by implying ALL cops are to be considered suspicious.
There's more plot than is necessary for what is, in essence, a disposable 80s slasher flick, but it's nice to have those satirical layers, which are even more relevant now in an America with a rising police state in which even small, local forces are being heavily militarized with so-called 'rights' going out the window. In 2005 the Supreme Court ruled that police do not have duty to protect and serve anymore, only to enforce laws. Contemporary America is a breeding ground for many Maniac Cops, which lends the movie and ironic and prophetic edge, and makes it ripe for a remake.
Writer Larry Cohen (who also gave us The Stuff, Phone Booth, and Cellular) and director William Lustig have no illusion that they are delivering a trashy exploitation flick and everything in the movie is a testament to that from the harsh, sleazy cinematography to the mostly unattractive locations. Lustig even casts a woman with a disgusting cold sore in a bit part with many facial close-ups. Gross! But for a film set in New York it is so very, very obviously film in Los Angeles with anonymous flyovers of New York pasted onto it. Not really a big problem, but extremely noticeable. The only real gripe I have with Maniac Cop is that it sets up a lot potential that is never properly realized. The sequels were bigger and glossier, and aesthetically very different, making this first entry a bit of a weaker false start, but it is entertaining and Matt Cordell, despite being the antagonist, is a sort of tragic anti-hero in the mold of Jason Voorhees which is a mark of a superior slasher flick.
The Blu-ray features the movie in all of it's grainy, grindhouse glory. There's not a significant amount of damage to the print but the stress lines and dirt are quite obvious, if not intrusive. The 1.85:1 1080p picture is an accurate representation of what the movie would have looked like in cinemas back in 1988 and I am happy with that. The LCPM 2.0 sound good, but the source audio was never going to be great, though Jay Chattaway's engaging score comes through clear as a bell. There are a decent amount of extras including some interesting interviews. The BD itself comes in a slipcase with a clear 'window' and a reversible cover featuring FOUR different poster arts. A booklet containing notes on the movie is found within as well as a folded, double-sided poster.