Mania Grade: B+
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- Rated: R
- Starring: Robert Davi, Robert Z'Dar, Claudia Christian, Leo Rossi, Michael Lerner
- Directed By: William Lustig
- Written By: Larry Cohen
- Distributor: Blue Underground
- Extras: See review
Maniac Cop 2 Blu-ray Review
Best film in the series gets the royal treatment
By Chuck Francisco
November 11, 2013
Maniac Cop 2 now on Blu-ray
© Blue Underground
Maniac Cop 2 bears the sort of title that screams out to adolescents searching for something brazen among the wire racks of a video store. It's quite fitting then that as the final chain video rental stores collapse under the their own antiquated corpulence (Blockbuster has succumb to its death throws finally), this VHS darling should receive its own Blu-ray.
Maniac Cop 2 resumes (or exhumes?) the misadventures of unkillable murder cop, Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar- oh Z'No!). While among the living, Cordell was on the trail of corruption at city hall and so he was framed then sent to Sing Sing where gang members killed him. Now he stalks the streets in a quest for vengeance against the police force which wronged him. This sequel begins with a recap of the previous film's ending, which serves to give genre fans more Bruce Campbell than they get in Congo, but not by much (The Hudsucker Proxy levels of Campbell?).
Robert Davi and Claudia Christian take over as the mismatched police pair struggling to convince everyone that they aren't crazy. This is great casting as both Davi and Christian are visually striking; Davi has classic noir tough guy lines, and Christian has piercing eyes and classic European features. Davi's detective Sean McKinney is a fedora equipped, chain smoking, scowling gumshoe from a bygone era, brandishing a level of cool which is noticeably absent from modern police sagas.
Director William Lustig considers Maniac Cop 2 his best film, which is understandable since it stands above his other work as his most technically spectacular movie. Cordell's precinct assault is more visually interesting that of the Terminator (it's true), and the New York City careening car sequence is absolutely butter. This latter sequence, showcasing a car riding upon two rims, really shines thanks to Blue Underground's attention to delivering high quality transfers. The radiant sparks serve as a fireworks display of violence and destruction; this is probably the most interesting sequence in the film from a visual standpoint.
Does this mean than Maniac Cop 2 is a better film than its predecessor? Unequivocally it is. Maniac Cop 2 switches tonal gears with the expert proficiency of a Tour de France winner, which allows Lustig the chance to make this a slasher film, a noir detective story, and a prison hostage tale, all in one long breath. Each piece works independently but their multiplied synergy demands the attention of any serious horror or action fan. This is a much better film than it is remembered as and it's about time fans give it a new look.
From a technical standpoint Maniac Cop 2 has only ever looked this good at the theater. A new 4K HD transfer was created from the original camera negative and a new master Dolby 7.1 DTS-HD soundtrack accompanies it (for those with the tech to take advantage). The package is garnished with a rich array of special features, the highlight of which is a newly produced "Making of" piece which spends significant time with the entire principal cast, as well as director Lustig (produced by Red Shirt pictures, who are responsible for many of Shout! and Scream Factory's featurettes). The commentary track pairs Lustig with film historian and Drive director William Winding Refn, and it's honestly a great conversation to be privy to. Theatrical trailers, deleted scenes, and an isolated music track are rounded out by the recording of a live Q&A session held after a screening of the film by Cinefamily.
This is a must have addition to every genre fan's library. The combo pack include both a Blu-ray and a DVD, and the whole shebang is loving wrapped in a handsome cardboard slipcase.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.