04th Feb2014

Rewind: ‘Maniac Cop’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Laurene Landon, Robert Z’dar, Richard Roundtree | Written by Larry Cohen | Directed by William Lustig


Featuring one of the best taglines ever: “You have the right to remain silent… Forever”, one of my all-time favourite horror franchises finally makes it Blu-ray debut with this release of the fantastic Maniac Cop from Arrow Video. Written and directed by one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmaking teams – WIlliam Lustig and Larry Cohen – who between them have made some of the best cult movies out there, including The Stuff, Q: The WInged Serpent, It’s Alive, Maniac, Uncle Sam and Relentless… The duos peak for me was the Maniac Cop series (admittedly the third film isn’t the greatest movie out there) which balance action and horror to perfection in a tale that mixes both horror and police procedural genres, with a villain who really deserves to be up there in the horror hall of fame alongside Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers et al.

Matt Cordell was a cop, and a good one a that. Only he was too good, wasting criminals at the drop of a hat – judge, jury and executioner style. Tired of answering criticisms of police brutality, the Police Commissioner ensures that Matt is tried and convicted for a crime he did not commit. However once he’s behind bars, Cordell is beat up and killed by the very criminals he put away. But death isn’t the end for Matt Cordell. He comes back from beyond the grave and decides to take revenge on those that “killed” him, be they criminals, innocents or the police force he was once a part of. As the man-hunt progresses to find the ‘maniac cop’, the police find themselves focusing on one of their own, patrolman Jack Forrest (Campbell). Despite protesting his innocence, no one believes Jack, except Detective Frank McRae (Atkins) who comes to suspect that the serial killing cop may be more monster than human…

Maniac Cop and its immediate sequel were two of the first movies I bought on VHS (along with Evil Dead 2 andChina O’Brien) way back when my movie-collecting obsession began to take a grip on my geek-sanity. Since then the film has seen numerous DVD releases, all of which seemed to treat the movie with a modicum of contempt. Hence I’ve avoided all previous disc incarnations. Until now… Released as part of Arrow Films’ highly regarded Arrow Video range, this Blu-ray of Maniac Cop is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio in a swanky new high-def transfer. The picture quality on the new transfer is good. Very good. However the film is is fairly grainy in some scenes, especially those at night, but that can be overlooked given the films low-budget origins. But hey, It looks a hell of a lot better than the last time I saw the film on VHS thats for sure!

This new Blu-ray from Arrow Video includes a brand new High Definition transfer of film presented in its original (and uncut) 1.85:1 aspect ratio; exclusive UK introduction to the film by star Tom Atkins; Doomed Detective: Tom Atkins on Maniac Cop; Lady Of The Night: Laurene Landon remembers Maniac Cop; Scripting A New Slasher Super-Villain: Larry Cohen on Matt Cordell; trailer; collectors’ booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by author Troy Howarth and “The Original Maniac: An interview with William Lustig”, adapted from Calum Waddell’s book “Taboo Breakers”; reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork; and double-sided fold out artwork poster.

The special features are up to Arrow’s usual great standards, but I just can’t help notice the glaring omission of an interview with the Maniac Cop himself Robert Z’dar… I know he appears in the special features on the US Synapse release, so why not here? It’s a small issue with what is a another great Blu-ray release from Arrow Video.

Maniac Cop is out on Blu-ray now courtesy of Arrow Video.


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