23 October 2011

Blu Ray Review: Maniac Cop


Reviewer: Harry Davenport
Rated: 18(UK)
Release Date: 31st October, 2011 ( Bluray)
Director:William Lustig
CastTom AtkinsBruce CampbellLaurene LandonRichard Roundtree
Maniac Cop was directed by William Lustig and spawned two sequels. It tells the story of a cop who rises from the dead to take vengeance on New York. The maniac is a tall invincible brick house, a cross between Michael Myers and the Terminator. He is played by Robert Z’Dar, a hulking man with a bizarrely shaped face and huge chin, which makes Bruce Campbell’s (who is known as “The Chin”) look minuscule. Campbell plays the hero along with Tom Akins in a cast full of suitably B-movie cameos (Richard “Shaft” Roundtree, Jake “Raging Bull” LaMotta and Sam Raimi). The film doesn’t have many highlights except maybe the ending, which features a stunt that makes no sense and is poorly thought out. This new, clear looking version simply takes away some of what makes this sort of film special; that sense that you had to seek them out and then make do with VHS copies or badly transferred DVDs. The film is not strong enough for a single Blu-Ray disc. It would be great if it contained the whole trilogy.

Maniac Cop 2 is what the first film should have been. It is exciting, funny and well directed. Robert Davi is a wonderful lead and the prosthetics of the Maniac Cop are far more sinister (in the first film he basically has bad teeth). The second film also seems to finish off the story set up in the original. For me, Maniac Cop 2 lies in the very small category of films that are better than the originals – and no, I am not talking about Godfather Part II and Aliens; they are perfect but they are not better than the originals. I am talking about X-Men 2, The Empire Strikes Back, The Wrath of Khan, Evil Dead 2, and only a handful of others.

Maniac Cop 3 is not particularly strong but has a few good moments and also features my least favourite beard in the world. There is an actor named Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter who briefly appears. His facial hair will always be burnt into my brain from Michael Jackson’s Black or White video. He is one of the people who morph at the end. He has dreadlocks and an elaborately trimmed beard and narrow moustache, which appear to have been pasted on off-centre. It is frustrating to look at and has caused me many sleepless nights. It is also of note to add that Maniac Cop 3 is the last film in which Davi shares cinema screen time with his fellow “Agent Johnson”, Grand Bush, who he appeared with in Die Hard and Licence to Kill.

Instead of the sequels we have some rather odd interviews with two stars of the film and its screenwriter. Tom Akins gives an interview where he states he has seen the film once and that everyone he worked with was nice. He also introduces the film in an odd manner, with an enormous plot spoiler about his own character, beaming as he does so. Laurene Landon, who plays the bimbo cop love interest, has not aged well and tells a story about her crush on Bruce Campbell and how they went on a date after his divorce only for her to find she no longer liked him. A very inappropriate story for a special feature. She also states she only did the movie because a character had the same name as her mother. The scriptwriter, Larry Cohen, says how he wrote it in 10 days, which is no surprise; it is completely by the books. The Blu-Ray quality is very good, but the film is not as well made as its sequel and so the only use for High Definition is one scene where you can see a horrible sore on the side of an actress’s mouth.

I wish they had put on all three films on one disc. Then this would have been a must own. Because, frankly, Maniac Cop isn’t anything without Maniac Cop 2.

Film Rating: 2.5/5





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