Mania Grade: B-
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- Rated: R
- Starring: Robert Davi, Robert Z'Dar, Jackie Earle Haley, Gretchen Becker
- Written By: (Alan Smithe) William Lustig
- Directed By: Larry Cohen
- Original Year of Release: 1993
- Distributor: Blue Underground
- Run Time: 85 minutes
- Special Features: See Below
Maniac Cop 3 Blu-ray Review
An enjoyable monster mash
By Chuck Francisco
November 22, 2013
Maniac Cop 3 now on Blu-ray
© Blue Underground
Maniac Cop 3 is a surprisingly enjoyable monster mash. Having never really paid much attention to its accompanying behind the scenes drama, I didn't even recall that the director credits lists not William Lustig but Alan Smithe (a common pseudonym used when directors don't want their name on a picture). To be absolutely clear Maniac Cop 3 is easily the weakest film in the trilogy, but for genre fans who hunted video rental stores throughout the halcyon nights of the nineties this release signals the arrival of a cherished companion.
This third and final entry in the saga of undead vigilante cop Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) sees our favorite slasher cop resurrected via voodoo ritual. His return to the land of the living is a hellaciously painful ordeal (much like the suffering of Return of the Living Dead's zombies), and so he's perpetually murderously vindictive. Robert Davi returns as a ripped from the pages of noir pulps detective, who is sympathetic to Cordell but nonetheless must put a stop to his activities. Gretchen Becker comes on as firebrand tough cop Kate Sullivan, who is wounded in a botched take down of psycho criminal Frank Jessup (a much younger Jackie Earle Haley). She's rendered comatose and brain dead, while a pair of sleazy tabloid journalists release an edited version of Kate's showdown with Jessup that brands her a bad cop. A good cop falsely accused of being on the wrong side of the law you say? Maniac Cop to the rescue! Cordell begins systematically tearing down anyone who might harm Kate or her reputation in an attempt to protect her and make her the bride of Maniac Cop.
Yes maniacs, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence's one line pitch sold this as a Bride of Frankenstein inspired work. Unfortunately there was a great deal of conflict between the investor group and director William Lustig, the latter of which eventually left the picture. As a consequence there's a sense of almost greatness which pervades the entire spectacle. There are cool moments galore here, but they're woven together into a drafty quilt which doesn't live up to the amazing high point of Maniac Cop 2. Still it's incredibly hard to argue with the record holder for longest car chase scene containing one driver ablaze for the duration- remember that this is all done with practical effects so a man was really burning in nearly all of those shots (a handful were done with a dummy on fire). And it looks great, even if it carries on a bit too long. This sequences was definitely stretched out to meet contractual runtime requirements. Robert Davi also earns a Max Payne bullet time high-five for his gurney gun fight acrobatics. A bit simple by today's standards, that moment could easily slot into any action movie of the 80's, doing it proud.
The Blu-Ray release lives up to the Blue Underground reputation for impeccable image transfer quality, having been created from the original uncensored camera negative. The result of which is a superbly clear picture which still retains that characteristic film grain that so enchants the viewing experience. The usual of cluster of special features (trailer deleted scenes, etc) are anchored by a solid behind the scenes documentary, whose participants are bluntly honest about the tumultuous process involved in making this film. It's refreshingly forthright and, because of that, spellbindingly intriguing. It's quite lengthy and, as with the Maniac Cop 2 feature, it brings together a broad swarth of those involved in the production.
Should you pick up Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence? I think you should. It's a slam-bang juxtaposition of action and horror/slasher, with a dash of voodoo mumbo jumbo seasoned to taste. Non-genre fans might find it as lackluster as director William Lustig did, but thirty something genre fans will find that this massages their nostalgia pleasure points perfectly.
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.