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Maniac Cop [DVD]
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Police brutality never felt so good!
Notorious video nasty creator William Lustig and B-Movie legend Larry Cohen return to the dirty streets for a unique high speed collision of the slasher movie and police thriller in Maniac Cop, a blood splattered tale of brutal cop vengeance from beyond the grave.
When reports come in of a man in a police uniform committing gore drenched bloody murder on the city streets, officer Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) stands accused. Now, with few friends, powerful enemies and a psychopathic slayer still at large, it s up to Jack to prove he s not guilty and bring down the killer.
Now, Arrow video brings the Maniac Cop back from the 80s video vault to stalk the night time streets once more, looking for fresh victims...
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On the mean streets of New York, innocent folk are being slaughtered by a killer wearing a police uniform: Is this a crazed lunatic on the rampage or indeed a real cop gone rogue? As the death toll rises and the cities' bigwigs attempt a cover-up, Detective Frank McCrae ('Halloween III' stalwart Tom Atkins) - all generic raincoat, fedora hat and side arm, heads up the investigation and all evidence points to hotshot young cop, Jack Forrest (a post 'Evil Dead' Bruce Campbell). In order to prove his innocence, Jack must team up with the grizzled McCrae and his partner Theresa (Laurene Landon) to put a stop to this maniac cop's murder spree but the truth of this unknown assailant may prove more shocking than the crimes themselves…
Riding a thin line between horror, action and social commentary, Larry ('Q The Winged Serpent'' and ''Its Alive!') Cohen's screenplay is fertile enough to ensure director William ('Maniac', Vigilante') Lustig gets the ultimate bang for anyone's buck on what is essentially a very low budget production. The concept isn't just the standard Freddy/Jason garden variety slash-a-thin of the time and has actual adult characters running throughout, rather the usual teens in peril…The whole political aspect with City Hall adds another dimension and gives the viewer something else to chew on, besides the murderizing and throat slashing. Lead Atkins heads up the movie well ably supported by Campbell and key character turns from Ken Lerner, William Smith and Richard Roundtree adder a much needed richer tapestry to what could have been a regular action/horror hybrid… And kudos to Robert Z'Dar who doesn't simply play the title character as a stuntman: His maniac cop has an almost tragic Frankenstein quality to him and greatly elevates the proceedings.
Arrow Films' UK Blu-Ray release features an amazingly detailed transfer with vibrant audio - each gunshot rings out in high velocity and every kill is dutifully rendered. The extras ain't too shabby either: Apart from that snazzy 2k restoration, we get interviews with Tom Aitkins, Laurene Landon, Larry Cohen and the usual treats of reversible cover art and trailers, etc. All in all, this is a slam dunk release (especial for the price Amazon are charging) and worthy of a place in any horror (or action) junkie's collection. Recommended.
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.
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