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Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

Blue Underground
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/19/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/4/2013

Over the decades, we've seen many changes in home video. From VHS tapes to laserdiscs to DVDs to Blu-ray Discs, the technology for watching movies at home is always evolving. (Yes, I'm ignoring streaming movies here.) And with every change in viewing medium, movie fans wait for their favorite movies to appear, which sometimes takes a while. (Why isn't Phantasm out on Blu-ray yet?!) One would have to imagine that filmmakers would like to see their movies re-released on home video in new formats, but most have no say over this. But, what if the filmmaker also ran a home video company? That's exactly the case for Director William Lustig, the founder of Blue Underground. While the company has released various movies, mostly focusing on European horror films, Lustig also digs into his own vault for releases, such as Maniac Cop 2.

Maniac Cop introduced us to Officer Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar), a good New York City cop who gets too close to a high-profile crime. He's framed and sent to prison, where he's attacked by the other inmates and left for dead. Cordell then returns to the streets as a madman who kills polices officers, aids criminals, and generally creates mayhem. Police officers Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) and Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) stumbled upon this case, and as the first film ended, they watched Cordell drive off the end of a pier.

As Maniac Cop 2 opens, Forrest and Mallory are congratulated by Police Commissioner Doyle (Michael Lerner), but they are told that they can't return to active duty until they meet with Susan Riley (Claudia Christian), a police counselor. Riley doesn't believe their stories until she sees Cordell in action for herself. Knowing that Cordell is back in action, Detective Sean McKinney joins the case. They soon learn that Cordell has taken on an accomplice, Turkell (Leo Rossi), and that he has plans to get back at both those who set him up and those who attempted to kill him.

If you've spent 6 seconds around horror fans, you know that they love the Friday the 13th series and that many of them are just nuts for Jason Voorhees. However, something which is rarely discussed is the fact that the entire series makes no sense, as Jason goes from being a child-sized ghost at best in the first to a murderous adult in the second and subsequent outings...with no explanation. We get something similar with the Maniac Cop films. In the original, Cordell is attacked and left for dead, and then re-surfaces to seek his vengeance. Yet, he has superhuman strength and invulnerability. His face is scarred, but still decidedly human. In Maniac Cop 2, Cordell appears to be a zombie. His face is like a skeleton and nothing -- not bullets, not fire -- stops him. When fans think of the Maniac Cop films, they associate them with Director William Lustig, forgetting that genre vet Larry Cohen actually wrote the movies. Cohen has been involved with some wacky movies (It's Alive, Q) and he's proven that he's quite imaginative, but the movie's failure to let us know exactly what is going on with Cordell is a gaping plot-hole.

Beyond the story issues, Maniac Cop 2 is a competent, but lackluster, action movie with horror overtones. There's no denying that Lustig is very good at shooting action sequences, especially those which utilize fire gags. He and stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos bring us a very unique twist on a stalk and chase in the finale, by bringing fire into the mix. There is also a car chase which takes an idea scene in Body Parts and turns it on its head. Outside of the action sequences, the dialogue is pretty stilted and the scenes involving Turkell are cringe-worthy. Christian and Davi bring their best to the silly proceedings, but they can't overcome the fact that the story simply goes in circles. And, for me, the fact that Bruce Campbell's role is basically a cameo really hurts the film.

As with the first film, Maniac Cop 2 left me with the feeling that the movie's ideas weren't fully formed. The idea of a murderer dressed a police officer is an interesting and decidedly un-P.C. one, but the movie can't seem to decide exactly who Cordell is and what his motives should be. Again, the action scenes are fairly impressive for a low-budget movie, but they can't save the overall film from feeling like a re-tread.

Maniac Cop 2 offers a nice interrogation of a blind witness on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Blue Underground. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps. This is a new 4K transfer which was taking from the original camera negative and presumably overseen by Lustig. The image is sharp and clear, showing only hints of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, most notably blues, but the image is notably dark in some shots. The level of detail is good, with only a few shots going soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a surprisingly detailed track which displays a nice mix and brings in many individual sounds into the stereo and surround tracks. The action sequences really bring the rear channels to life and we can feel the love which was put into this track, as the stereo separation is well-done and the piece is nicely detailed. The subwoofer is no slouch either, as the explosions sound fine here.

The Maniac Cop 2 Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director William Lustig and Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. "Back on the Beat: The Making of Maniac Cop 2" (47 minutes) offers interviews with Lustig, Writer Larry Cohen, Davi, Christian, Lerner, Rossi, Z'Dar, Special Effects Makeup Artist Dean Gates, Stunt Coordinator Sprio Razatos, and Composer Jay Chattway. The piece takes a detailed look at how the project came together, the characters and cast, the Cordell makeup effects, and the stunts. There's no on-set footage, but we get extensive anecdotes from the participants. "Cinefamily Q&A With Director William Lustig" (29 minutes) was recorded after a screening of the film in 2012. Lustig is very animated and seems to enjoy telling the stories. The Disc contains one DELETED SCENE which runs about 90 seconds and features a cameo by Director Sam Raimi. We get four TRAILERS for the film -- International, UK, French, and German. The extras are rounded out by a POSTER & STILL GALLERY.

Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long