Maniac Cop has long been one of those films on my “to see” list that I never go around to. Having waited all these years I’m glad to say it did not disappoint.
In New York City a cop has gone on a killing spree, leaving many innocent victims in his wake and Frank McCrea (Tom Atkins) is in charge of figuring out who the killer is. In the beginning all signs point to Jack Forrest (a very young Bruce Campbell) who now must do everything he can to prove his own innocence. Eventually evidence points to Matt Cordell, there is only one problem with that: Cordell has been dead for several years.
Maniac Cop is a wonderful mix of horror and action. There are great car chases, many wonderful death scenes that rival the Friday The 13th series and other slasher films, and it’s all surrounded by an original and interesting story and some surprisingly good acting for this kind of film.
What makes this film really work is the back-story of Cordell. He was bad-ass cop who got the wrong end of the stick and now he’s back for revenge. It’s just too bad that McCrea and Forrest got caught up in his plan. This film does something interesting with its characters. For the first half the film, McCrea is the hero and Forrest spends most of the time in a jail cell (and off camera). however at one point the film shifts and suddenly Forrest becomes the hero. Most might look at this as bad storytelling, but here it somehow manages to work.
It’s a very well shot film as well. Cordell is kept in shadow throughout most of the film so the audience is never sure who he is. The cinematography even allows the audience to believe that Forrest could actually be the killer for a little while. However, nowadays, Campbell is so well known that no one is going to believe he’s the killer for a second.
Bruce Campbell really shines, giving one of the best performances of his career. He takes this role very seriously and doesn’t give us his usual over the top shtick. He gives us brief idea of what his career could have been like if he and the powers that be had taken him seriously. And there’s a Ted Raimi cameo in there too for the fans.
Then, of course, there is Mr. Maniac Cop himself, Richard Z’Dar. I’ve only recently discovered him but I’ve been trying to watch as many films of his as I can and this one really ranks up there as one of the best. He doesn’t have any dialog, but he doesn’t let that stop him from selling Cordell.
Maniac Cop could have turned out to be just another lame B horror film from the ’80s, but an interesting story, some above-par acting and some great gore and action elevate it to a cult classic.
This film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and DTS-HD 6.1, 4.0 and 2.0. This film looks amazing. This is a really crisp and clean transfer that looks and sounds top notch!
Extras are slim but here’s what’s included:
Interviews: (26 min.) The interview with Z’Dar is fantastic. He extremely well spoken and has a great view of cinema and his career in it. He is also very funny. The Atkins interview is really good too. It’s funny to listen to him bitch about his death scene. Also, Danny Hicks spends a few minutes talking about the film, mostly he talks about Bruce Campbell getting him the job. Animated Promotional Gallery (3 min.) Take a look at all the different posters. Additional Footage shot for Japanese TV Broadcast: (6 min.) This mostly exposition dialog featuring the mayor, which is kind of funny. An a whole bunch of Trailers and TV Spots.
Being a Bruce Campbell and Robert Z’Dar fan, I’m shocked it took me this long to see this film, but I’m glad I waited cause this Blu-ray edition looks fantastic and is loaded with some great special features.
Synapse Films presents Maniac Cop. Directed by: William Lustig. Starring: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Robert Z’Dar, Theresa Mallory and Richard Roundtree. Written by Larry Cohen. Running time: 85 min. Rating: R. Originally released in 1988. Released on DVD: October 11, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Bruce Campbell