Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 REVIEWS OF XMAS: Maniac Cop (1988)

Welcome to Day 1 of the 12 Reviews of Xmas here at Exploitation Retrospect. From now through December 24th we'll be bringing you a fresh review each morning from one of our contributors. Let's kick things off with a guest appearance from Brian Harris of Wildside Cinema and filmBRAWL fame with a look at the William Lustig/Larry Cohen classic MANIAC COP from 1988, now available on Blu-Ray thanks to Synapse.

When a handful of horrific murders hit NYC sending citizens into a panic, the culprit looks to be none other than one of the city's finest moonlighting as a brutal serial killer. Det. Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) suspects that there's more to the story than meets the eye but his investigation is stalled when one of his fellow officers, Patrolman Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell), is taken into custody and charged with the multiple homicides. Not content with the evidence against Forrest, McCrae teams up with Officer Theresa Mallory to weed out the identity of the true killer before more people die.

Written by legendary exploitation filmmaker Larry Cohen (BLACK CAESAR) and directed by wunderkind exploitation filmmaker William Lustig (MANIAC), the 1988 slasher film MANIAC COP has quite a bit going for it including the presence of genre icon Bruce Campbell (EVIL DEAD 1-3), veteran thespian Tom Atkins (HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH), Blaxploitation favorite Richard Roundtree (SHAFT), the beautiful Laurene Landon (HUNDRA), George 'Buck' Flower (ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS) and RAGING BUL himself, Jake LaMotta!

Outside the stellar casting, the kills are delightfully brutal, bloody and effective (necessary for a good slasher film) and the grit of Lustig's direction and Cohen's writing really "shines" thru, giving the production an atmosphere of ugly reminiscent of the NYC exploitation of the grind house era.

Naturally it all boils down to the antagonist; a slasher film is only as good as its slasher and that's where MANIAC COP really stands head and shoulders above the competition, literally! The formidable size and acting ability of the maniac cop, Robert Z'Dar (CHERRY 2000) is truly impressive and equally as intimidating. Is it any wonder Z'Dar returned two more times to the role of the hulking man-monster Matt Cordell?

Concerning Synapse's Blu-ray Disc release itself, this is about as good as it gets despite the lack of audio commentary by any of the actors, director or writer. The special features include three interviews, a promo art gallery, deleted scenes, trailers and radio spots. Something international fans should take note of is this BR is all region which means it can be played globally as can the three interviews, as they're all presented here in HD.

The HD 1080p 1.85:1 presentation looks gorgeous, certainly light years better than any VHS/Laserdisc release, with just the right amount of grain and contrast to pop on my Samsung LCD flatscreen. It's not like MANIAC COP was an incredibly sharp and colorful film to begin with but the remastering definitely brings out depth and detail without looking overly tampered with. While Blu-ray consumers are going to expect an outstanding clean up and a step up in quality, long time fans won't want their film appearing "too clean." Synapse has certainly balanced that delicate chore nicely.

Images are crisp, the sound is more than adequate for a basic sound system and the extras are fun and informative. Landon's terrible acting and the lack of any feature-length audio commentary aside, MANIAC COP is an entertaining film on a must-have Blu-ray release. Grab it!

Buy MANIAC COP on Blu-Ray at Amazon.

We receive a small commission for purchases made at Amazon through this blog. Thanks for your support!

No comments: