Maniac Cop Review
The FilmLarry Cohen should have something named after him. He is the patron saint of all number of B-movies and an ideas factory of the novel and twisted. Watching Maniac Cop again it struck me that the puckishness of the film's ideas and screenplay is what makes it so much fun and not Lustig's rather basic direction. It is rather a pity that Cohen didn't decide to direct this film himself as more could have come from the humour and the satire of the piece.
Bad things are happening to innocent people. A woman is mugged and fights off her attackers only to have her neck snapped by a cop, a young motorist is beaten to death during a drink drive test and a pedestrian is drowned in wet cement. Public fears are raised and a hunt for cops with a grudge unearths the name of Jack Forrest. Detective McCrae thinks Forrest has been fitted up and discovers that the killings may be coming from beyond the grave. Can they stop the Maniac Cop and prove Forrest's innocence?Maniac Cop is a B-movie slasher pic that does exactly what it says on the tin. The plentiful murders are provided often enough to justify the title and the film has great fun with playing with the public's attitudes to the police. When the public start to become hysterical about a killer policeman, it's hard not to enjoy the vox pop TV news coverage -"In my day you respected the police and if you didn't they roughed you up a little so you would. I guess nowadays they have to kill you to be noticed".
The film dusts off a few genre staples and uses them to good effect - the cop screwed by City Hall, the dirty politicians, and damsels in distress. Cohen's familiarity with the movies he apes and his warmth for cinematic cliché are a large part of the fun here as well as the solid casting and acting. As for Lustig's direction, it often means that actors are not quite in the same picture as one another and that the comedic moments remain little more than subtext. As the hero Bruce Campbell does violence and fun well but his arched eyebrows rather interfere with more dramatic moments. The rest of the cast are familiar character actors mining the script for any nuggets it may have, whilst Robert Z'dar lumbers round like a NYPD version of Frankenstein's monster.Maniac Cop is a superior genre flick largely courtesy of the screenplay and production from Larry Cohen. The film promises gore and offbeat violence and delivers it in spades. Sequels followed but this film didn't need the company.
Technical specsBuilding on the solid release that Synapse gave America on DVD, this all region blu-ray presents Maniac Cop with more respect than it's early life on DVD offered. Colours are well judged with some small variation in the brightness that is probably due to the materials used, and contrast is well managed with good levels of detail even in the darker moments. This is definitely a step up from the Synapse in terms of a/v quality with a little extra definition and sharpness without any obvious edge-enhancement. This is a AVC/MPEG 4 encoded transfer with a framerate of 23.98 per second, and a filesize of 22.8GB. A single stereo LPCM track does a decent if unsurprising job of accompanying the film and I would note that surround mixes do exist on other standard definition releases. The solid clear audio is complemented by some HOH English subs.
Special FeaturesWe weren't sent the box case and booklet that come with the retail release so I am unable to comment upon them. Our news item detailed the extras included there as:
* Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
* Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
* Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by author Troy Howarth and The Original Maniac: An interview with William Lustig, adapted from Calum Waddell's book Taboo Breakers
This release includes new HD encoded interviews with Tom Atkins, Laurene Landon and the great Cohen himself. Atkins is quite frankly gorgeous, he comes over as defiantly un-bitter, laconic and a real respecter of the genre, I was left clinging to the hope that I can get him to adopt me. Landon is much less impressive and time has not been kind to her which makes some of her anecdotes of flirtation difficult to relate to. Cohen talks about how he and Lustig thought up the film on a whim, shot it in 10 days and had a surprisingly easy time until the sequels.
1080P trailers and a TV spot reel complete the extras here.
SummaryA decent transfer and the usual loving extras from Arrow add up to a very decent package for a very enjoyable film.
7 out of 10
6 out of 10
6 out of 10
7 out of 10