Maniac Cop (1988) (NTSC)

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Released 22-Nov-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 85:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By William Lustig
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Tom Atkins
Bruce Campbell
Laurene Landon
Richard Roundtree
William Smith
Robert Z'Dar
Sheree North
Nina Arvesen
Nick Barbaro
Lou Bonacki
Barry Brenner
Victoria Catlin
Jim Dixon
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Jay Chattaway

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† A big man dressed in a policemanís uniform is murdering people in New York. The public are scared, the Commissioner and Police Chief want the crimes stopped. When the wife of uniformed cop Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) is murdered, he becomes the prime suspect, especially as notes are found in his wifeís diary accusing him of being the serial killer. But Detective Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) has his doubts, especially as Jack has an alibi; he has been having an affair with fellow cop Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) and was with her when his wife was murdered. Someone is trying to frame Jack, someone who has contacts within the NYPD, and to the surprise of McCrae the clues point towards disgraced policemen Matt Cordell (Robert DíZar), who is supposed to be dead. But is he?

†††† Maniac Cop, made in 1988, is a low budget cult gem that spawned two sequels (in 1990 and 1993). It is an iconic and unashamedly 1980s B- movie; the dialogue and acting are cheesy, the sets (such as they are) look cheap and fragile, the hairstyles of the women are huge and the stunt performers show obvious padding. Yet the film is very entertaining from start to finish due a better cast than usual and to a tense, interesting script that delivers a number of red herrings and surprisers. The script of Maniac Cop is by Larry Cohen. He became known for writing Itís Alive (1974), and the numerous sequels, but continued to write interesting and tense scripts such as Phone Booth (2002). The cast is also good and includes Richard Roundtree as the Police Commissioner, a wonderful gravelly voiced William Smith as Captain Ripley (he has currently 273 credits listed in the IMDb and was Conanís father in Conan the Barbarian (1982)), and Sam Raimi favourite Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead (1981),Army of Darkness(1992)) but the standout performance comes from a grizzled Tom Atkins, who is fabulous and who brings a depth to his role that is seldom evident in B-films.

†††† Maniac Cop is not really a slasher or horror film, although there is blood and gore, and the direction by William Lustig, who is better known as a producer, is fairly pedestrian. But Maniac Cop wastes no time in getting started with a couple of tense and exciting scenes as the first murders are committed, and seldom stops from there. Sure it is cheesy, but Maniac Cop is unpretentious and delivers enough thrills, scares and excitement to provide some wonderful entertainment. A great B-film, made as they should be made!

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Transfer Quality


†††† Maniac Cop is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. This is an NTSC print.

†††† Maniac Cop is a low budget movie filmed in 1988, and the print is as one might expect. Detail in close-ups is fine, but wide shots, especially those establishing shots at night, are not particularly sharp although some sequences, such as an early murder with the shattered glass of the car windscreen and blood, are nicely detailed. Blacks break up a bit, and shadow detail is not pristine, but colours are fine, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast even.

†††† The print has frequent small artefacts, both positive and negative, but nothing serious.

†††† There are no subtitles.

†††† The small imperfections in the print remind us that we are watching a low budget 1980s B-movie. The artefacts are never intrusive, however, and add to the experience.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† The only audio choice is English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. Maniac Cop was originally shown with a stereo mix, and that is what we get on the DVD despite the signal showing up as a 5.1 mix as I heard nothing from the rears or the subwoofer.

†††† Dialogue was always clear and centred. The front speakers produced music, car engines but the sound was generally flat and the gunshots sounded hollow. As noted, I heard no rear speaker or sub-woofer action.

††††Lip synchronisation was good.

†††† The original score by Jay Chattaway was cheesy in places and creepy in others. It thus perfectly suited the tone of the film and added to the enjoyment.

†††† The audio track was stereo, but did what was required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Trailer (2:28)


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R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The Region 1 US version of Maniac Cop includes a good range of extras, including an audio commentary by the writer, director, composer and actor Bruce Campbell that is reported to be very good, plus a featurette with Robert ZíDar, a trailer and TV spots and the additional scenes that were filmed for the Japanese TV version. Region 1 wins hands down.


†††† Maniac Cop deserves its icon status. It is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, has a tense and interesting script that delivers and a better cast than usual including Bruce Campbell and Richard Roundtree. And those 80s hair styles are magnificent.

†††† The video and audio are acceptable. Sadly, we only get a trailer and miss out on all the other extras available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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