Maniac Cop (1988) – By Duane L. Martin

Maniac Cop has been around for a long time now, and has been available on DVD from Synapse for quite some time, but now they’ve given it a great blu-ray release as well!

For those who haven’t seen it, the basic premise of the story is that a cop named Matt Cordell (Robert Z’dar), who was VERY good at his job and played by his own rules, was eventually sent to prison for taking down bad guys without following proper procedures. While in prison, he refused to be put into isolation, and eventually he was attacked and horrifically sliced up by the other inmates. Near death and suffering from brain damage, the prison doctor took pity on him and faked a death certificate so he wouldn’t have to get sent back into the prison system. Now on the outside, he’s less than alive and out for revenge. With the help of his former girlfriend who’s an information officer for the police, he starts killing innocent people and sets up another cop (Bruce Campbell), seemingly chosen at random, to take the fall. Now Jack Forrest (Campbell) is in jail, set up for the murder of his wife that Cordell actually murdered, and now his girlfriend and his only alibi, a fellow cop named Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon), is on the run from the killer. Inspector Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) knows the truth of what’s going on, but will his efforts to protect Theresa and stop the killer be enough? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

Bruce Campbell isn’t his typical comedic self in this film, but he does put in a typically great performance as the cop fighting to clear his name and protect his girlfriend. Laurene Landon, who oddly enough I also just saw recently in the film Hundra, also put in a good performance. Tom Atkins, who’s a very recognizable face from a lot of different things, was great as the inspector, and probably the character in the film you feel the most for and identify the most with. He’s a very likeable, honest cop who unfortunately has to serve below a commissioner and a captain who are both closed minded and ignorant of what’s really going on. Robert Z’dar on the other hand, doesn’t really have much going on in this film other than killing the occasional person and causing violence and mayhem whenever he appears. There is no dialogue at all for his character other than a gutteral kind of a scream at the end, which isn’t surprising really since he was supposed to have suffered from brain damage and it’s never really clear whether his character is alive or dead.

This blu-ray release includes the following special features:

  • 1.85:1 aspect ratio and 6.1, 4.0 surround and 2.0 stereo soundtracks as well as a 1080p high-definition widescreen transfer.
  • Maniac Cop Memories – An interview with Robert Z’dar (HD)
  • Out the Window – Interview with Tom Atkins (HD)
  • Three Minutes with Danny Hicks featurette (HD)
  • Animated Promotional Art Gallery (HD)
  • Aditional Scenes Filmed for Japanese Television
  • Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots
  • Spanish Radio Spot

What this release doesn’t include that the DVD release does is an audio commentary with Bruce Campbell, writer and producer Larry Cohen, director William Lustig and composer Jay Chattaway. The DVD release doesn’t contain the interview with Tom Atkins, the Danny Hicks featurette or the animated photo gallery.

This is another one of those cult films that a lot of our readers will want to have in their collection. Don’t expect to see much (or any) comedy from Bruce Campbell in this one, as it’s more of a serious role, though he does manage to get in some slapstick type action during the final sequence. All in all, while the film isn’t a masterpiece, it is worthy of its place in the great hall of cult films that most true genre fans know, love and revere. If you haven’t seen it, you’ll want to make sure you see at least the first one. I can’t comment on Maniac Cop 2 or 3, as I haven’t see those…yet. Maybe Synapse will get those released on blu-ray as well. We can only hope.

The DVD of this film is available now. The blu-ray release covered in this review will be available as of October 11, 2011. You can pre-order the film through Synapse’s website here, or you can pre-order it through Amazon here.