Monday, November 21, 2022

Maniac Cop – Arrow Video

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1988
Director: William Lustig
Writer: Larry Cohen
Cast: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Robert Z’Dar, Sheree North, Jake LaMotta, Sam Raimi, William Lustig

Release Date: October 31st, 2011
Approximate running time: 84 minutes 57 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK)

"When reports come in of a man in a police uniform committing gore drenched bloody murder on the city streets, officer Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) stands accused. Now, with few friends, powerful enemies and a psychopathic slayer still at large, it's up to Jack to prove he's not guilty and bring down the killer." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “Brand new 2k restoration of the original theatrical cut”.

Maniac Cop comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 34.6 GB

Feature: 22.8 GB

Though Arrow Video’s transfer appears to have come from a source that is comparable to Synapse Films' recently released Blu-ray release of Maniac Cop, there are a few areas in which they differ. The colors look more robust (almost too vibrant), and the black levels also look drastically different on this new release from Arrow Video than they do for the Synapse Films Blu-ray release. Overall, though to the naked eye these releases might look similar, there is at least one area in which the Synapse Films Blu-ray release is vastly superior: their transfer has undergone extensive cleaning to remove print debris, vertical hair line starches, and various other source-related damage. Also, there are many instances on the Arrow Video Blu-ray release in which some of these source-related print damage issues have not been cleaned up, like they have on the Synapse Films Blu-ray. That said, William Lustig relayed to me in an email that neither Arrow Video’s nor Synapse Films' transfers represent the intended "look" of this film.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD stereo mix in English, and removable English subtitles have also been included with this release. The audio is in very good shape, as the dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs to be.


Extras for this release include an introduction that plays before the film with actor Tom Atkins (38 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), 2 TV spots (50 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), theatrical trailer 1 (1 minute 54 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), theatrical trailer 2 (2 minutes 11 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Tom Atkins titled Doomed Detective (20 minutes 14 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actress Laurene Landon titled Lady of the Night (13 minutes 26 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Larry Cohen titled Scripting a New Slasher Supervillain (18 minutes 55 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), reversible cover art, a double-sided fold out poster (first pressing only), and a booklet (first pressing only) with an essay written by Troy Howarth, and an interview with director William Lustig that originally appeared in author Calum Waddell’s book Taboo Breakers.


Maniac Cop was directed by William Lustig, whose other notable films include Maniac and Vigilante. The screenplay for Maniac Cop was written by Larry Cohen, a filmmaker in his own right. Some of his other notable films as a director include Black Caesar, Hell Up in Harlem, and God Told Me To. Maniac Cop would mark the first of four collaborations between William Lustig and Larry Cohen; the other three films include Maniac Cop 2, Maniac Cop 3: The Badge of Silence, and Uncle Sam.

Another frequent collaborator of William Lustig’s on Maniac Cop was composer Jay Chattaway; they would work together on a total of five films, beginning with their most memorable collaboration, Maniac, and culminating with Maniac Cop 2. The cinematographer was James Lemmo, whose other notable credits include The Driller Killer, Ms. 45, and Madman.

Content-wise, Maniac Cop is equal parts slasher film and revenge film. The narrative revolves around a disgraced police officer who manages to come back from the dead and goes on a killing spree. And, like in the aforementioned slasher films, the killers choose their victims at random.

Being that Maniac Cop is about a psychopath cop who kills indiscriminately, it should not come as a surprise that there are many things in this film that require the viewer to take a leap of faith. To help soften some of these moments of suspended belief, Maniac Cop effectively uses flashbacks to establish the killer's motivation. Also, there are a few scattered moments in which other characters reveal more information about the killer's backstory.

The entire cast is very good. With the most memorable moment coming from Robert Z’Dar in the role of the "Maniac Cop," Though his performance is rooted in the physicality of the character and not in what he has to say or any emotions, since his character is all but devoid of any emotions, he still manages to dominate every scene he is in, despite the limitations of the role. Another performance of note is Bruce Campbell's (The Evil Dead) in the role of Jack Forrest, a wrongly accused man who has been set up as the fall guy.

From a production standpoint, there is not a single area in which Maniac Cop is lacking. The visuals perfectly set the mood, especially the kill scenes and the aforementioned flesh-back sequence. Also, pacing is never an issue as the narrative moves along at a brisk pace. Ultimately, Maniac Cop is a well-made exploitation film that gives the audience what it wants—and then some.

Maniac Cop gets a good release from Arrow Video that comes with a trio of informative extras. That said, the transfer not representing the director’s intended look leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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