‘’You have the right to remain silent... Forever!’’ How cool is that tagline? It was conceived by Director William Lustig within seconds of Maniac Cop being pitched to him by cult movie icon Larry Cohen over coffee. It was around 1987 and they were looking for a fresh concept for the ‘slasher’ movie genre. Disfigured child murderer Freddy Krueger and hockey masked psycho Jason were in their hay day releasing a new movie almost annually and Michael Myers was about to hit the big screen again in Halloween 4. Slasher horrors were big business but finding new and interesting ideas was something else. The idea of a police man, who should be a protector going on a rampage and killing innocent New Yorkers was pure gold...
Whatever your thoughts are around Maniac Cop here we are 23 years later and it is about to be released in glorious high definition by those wonderful folk over at Arrow films. Their previous releases have shown real care and attention to some of the finest cult films in existence. Jonnys cult films takes a closer look at the upcoming Blu ray.
Initial impressions of the packaging are impressive. As with other Arrow releases we have a white card sleeve showcasing new and original artwork by Rick Melton. The inner jacket is reversible so you have the choice of which design you go for. I have other Arrow films in my collection and go with Rick’s cover every time. Inside we have a double-sided poster and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Troy Howarth and an interview with Director William Lustig, adapted from Calum Wadell’s book ‘Taboo breakers’. I for one really appreciate supplemental materials like these and wish that more film companies would put them in their releases. My only gripe is that the card sleeves are quite flimsy and are marked/damaged easily.
Upon putting the disc into the PS3 drive I am treated to a retro style trailer for Arrow back catalogue releases. Next is the films main menu screen. It’s a static image of Rick’s cover with the Maniac Cop theme playing in the background. It’s a simple almost nursery rhyme tune that begins to grate after a short time. Disappointingly there is only a 2.0 basic soundtrack in English language only. There should be at least a 5.1 sound mix or DTS, HD master audio which is a shame. English subtitles are available for the hearing impaired. On the plus side the film is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio. This I do like. Also worthy of note is the newly produced high definition transfer. The picture quality is good. So good that the film crew were all the more noticeable in the window reflections! It is fairly grainy in some the darker scenes but is a lot sharper and more vibrant than any of the previous DVD incarnations and is in a completely different league to the crappy VHS copy I watched growing up! It is still a little ‘misty’ throughout but considering that the print is nearly a quarter of a century old and shot on the best equipment that the $1.1 million budget would allow I can forgive it for not looking as good as Avatar. It will never look any better than what we have here... I must also point out that the length of this cut is just under 85 minutes. There is a slightly longer cut which was released for Japanese television but this is not it. To this day I still have not seen the longer cut but I am told that the extra minutes involve a minor political subplot. I don’t think we are missing any gore at the hands of our pals over at the BBFC!
Now, onto the ‘special’ features. Here is where Maniac Cop uses its right to remain silent. With the exception of a few plot spoiling trailers and TV spots there are only three short documentaries filmed for this release. They are nicely presented and avoid the usual political correctness that you usually find. It’s nice to hear Tom Atkins reminisce over his long career in cult films. It’s interesting to hear Laurene Landon admit that she offended William Lustig to the point that she was written out of the sequels. And I enjoyed Larry Cohen talk about his fantastic career. It’s just there isn’t enough stuff to back up this release. There is no input from William Lustig, Bill Campbell or the Maniac Cop himself Robert Z’Dar. We have no commentaries or the featurette’s that were present on older releases of the films. Neither are the additional scenes from the Japanese edit mentioned earlier.
Sadly, Maniac Cop is a bit of a disappointing release. Whilst the picture is an improvement the lack of sound options and no additional languages is a glaring omission. The features we have on offer are good but there is far more available that wasn’t used. Most of the big names associated with the production have ignored this release which begs the question should the consumer do this as well? On the plus side Arrow have wrapped it in fantastic packaging!
Maniac Cop is available from Arrow Video. October 31st and is an ABC disc for all regions.
GAV THE BIG MAN.