Review: Maniac Cop (Blu-ray)

Synapse Films brings William Lustig's classic New York killer cop romp to Blu-ray for the first time!

  • Director: William Lustig
  • Starring: Robert Z'Dar, Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins
  • Year: 1988
  • Runtime: 87 Minutes
  • Company: Synapse Films
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.85:1 - 1080P
  • Audio: English 6.1 Surround, DTS-HD MA 4.0 & 2.0
  • Region: All
  • Released: 10/11/11
  • -Purchase-

An unknown psycho (Robert Z'Dar, The Night Stalker) dressed in a police officer uniform is making the streets run red with innocent citizens blood after numerous killings in New York. The city is in a widespread panic, leaving denizens frightened of anyone wearing a badge. Lt. Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins, Night of the Creeps) leads the investigation on tracking down the maniac, suggesting the killer himself may be an actual cop in his precinct. Beat Cop Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead Trilogy) gets caught in the suspicion mix after his wife is dispatched by the copper assailant, whilst having an affair with his sexy partner Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon, Hundra). It's up to the three of them to track down the identity of the brute villain and uncover the truth before he strikes again.
On the surface, Maniac Cop may look like a cheap flick bent on cashing in on the success of police related hullabaloo that was all the rage circa late 80's. While it certainly helps marketing wise, Maniac Cop is undoubtedly an underrated slice of New York set horror that rivals most claimed cult classics of the genre.
The teaming of cult independent director Bill Lustig (Maniac) and Writer/Producer Larry Cohen (The Stuff) for 1988's Maniac Cop is a match made in exploitation-horror heaven. Add in legendary actors Tom Atkins, Bruce "The Chin" Campbell from beloved B films, plus hulking slack jaw Robert Z'Dar as the titular maniac cop and you have yourself a flick that's more than just a standard scare-a-minute slasher.
Atmosphere is key here and Lustig fills the 90 minute run time with plenty of it. Shadows, fog, tightly framed shot scenes and Jay Chattaway's (his Maniac score is highly effective also) haunting score give off a supernatural feel that is very much associated with the mystery of crazed copper Cordell. Lustig once again uses New York's (actually shot in Los Angeles but you'd never know) late night locale for added creepiness that heightens the overall tone.
I believe Maniac Cop is long overdue for some praise amongst horror hounds. I love the classics just as much as any other self respecting fan but you get tired of cheering on the same film over and over again. Maniac Cop is ripe for some much needed attention. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WATCH THIS...FOREVER!

    • Video
    Synapse has once again gone beyond the call of duty with their latest HD release. Maniac Cop has undergone a 2K HD restoration from the original theatrical elements and it absolutely shows from film's opening frame. It's a clean and crisp transfer that is an absolute upgrade from it's DVD counterpart. A massive amount of detail is abundant in every scene throughout. Notable examples are Z'Dar's freakish makeup during closeups. Even wide shots show a great deal of meticulous textures that simply look stunning. It helps that the film's cinematography is calculated and smooth. Colors are well represented, skin tones look perfectly natural also. Add a nice consistent layer of filmic grain and you have a beautiful looking Blu-ray courtesy of Synapse's outstanding efforts.
    • Audio
    This disc comes with three Audio mixes; 6.1 DTS-HD MA, 4.1 DTS-HD MA Surround & 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo. Sole language is English and bares no subtitles. The 6.1 track offers a solid all around surround experience. A nice deal of effects and score keep the rear channels active throughout. The 4.0 & 2.0 mix both are efficent but not near the grandness of the 6.1 offering. Dialogue is always clear and never distorted. Synapse can do no wrong AV wise!

    Bonus Features
    • Interview - "Maniac Cop Memories"
    Robert Z'Dar sits down to reminisce about his time on Maniac Cop. The "big chin" discusses his early roles and how Lustig instantly wanted him to play zombie copper Cordell after seeing his villainous turn in The Night Stalker. Z'Dar talks good about the production of Maniac Cop, the film's sequels aren't mentioned however. It's hinted at that Z'Dar and blonde babe actress Laurene Landon were more than co-stars on set and that he may owe her $700. Classy.
    • Interview - "Out of the Window"
    The one and only legendary Tom Atkins talks about his role as Lt. Frank McCrae in Maniac Cop. He expresses disappointment at being killed off early in the film. He says the experience on set was great but Night of the Creeps is still his favorite.
    • Interview - "3 Minutes with Danny Hicks"
    Literally, three minutes with Sam Raimi regular, actor Danny Hicks.
    • Still Gallery
    An animated gallery of tons of promotional art for Maniac Cop set to Jay Chattaway's score.
    • Additional Scenes
    These scenes were filmed for the Japanese release, dealing mostly with the Mayor. It honestly adds nothing to the plot, just meant to pad out running time.
    • Theatrical Trailers
    Two American trailers and one French trailer, that spoil the film, are included.
    • TV & Radio Spot
    Two TV spots and a Spanish radio spot round out the disc.
    Unfortunately, the Audio Commentary with Director Bill Lustig, Producer/Writer Larry Cohen, Actors Bruce Campbell and Composer Jay Chattaway is not included. So hold onto your original Synapse DVD for that. Cult Video Bonus Feature producers extraordinaire Red Shirt Pictures produced all of the included interviews, in HD to boot. All around a fantastic bevy of supplements despite the absence of the commentary.