Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blu-ray Review: MANIAC COP 2 (1990)

MANIAC COP 2 (1990)
Collector's Edition Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack

Label: Blue Underground
Release Date: November 19th 2013
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: R
Duration: 87 Minutes 
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX, Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: William Lustig
Cast: Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Robert Z'Dar, Leo Rossi
Tagline: You Have The Right To Remain Silent... FOREVER!

Matt Cordell the Maniac Cop returns from his watery grave yet again in this action-packed sequel from director William Lustig (Maniac) and writer Larry Cohen (The Stuff, Q the Winged Serpent). Having somehow survived being impaled through the chest at the end of Maniac Cop (1989) he back on the beat and patrolling the streets of NYC with a vengeance. His first order of business is to interrupt a robbery in progress at a bodega where a junkie with the gnarliest teeth you've ever seen is holding a shotgun to the face of the cashier, when he finds that the cash drawer is empty the junkie directs the cashier to start scratching off lottery tickets looking for an instant winner, the cashier is surprised when one turns out to be a 5K winner, and that's when Cordell arrives on scene. The shopkeeper cannot believe this fortune turns of events, he plans to pocket that winning ticket for himself but then the Maniac Cop blows im away to the surprise of the disbelieving junkie. As cop cars arrive the undead cop disappears leaving the armed junkie trying to explain that one of their own perpetrated the murder, but the NYC cops blast him to pieces. It's a great opener and the film rarely let's up from there, this is quite the sweet slice of brutality.

Also returning from the last film are officers Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell, Mindwarp) and Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon, The Stuff), whom after passing a psych evaluation are placed back on active duty by Commissioner Doyle (Michael Lerner, Barton Fink). Forrest is happy just to be back on the force but Mallory is convinced that Cordell will return again and causes quite a fuss about it, and she's right. For my tastes Campbell and Landon exit the film a bit prematurely, the Maniac Cop definitely holds a grudge, but in their place are cop psychologist Susan Riley (Claudia Christian, The Hidden) and hard-boiled Detective McKinney (Robert Davi, The Goonies). 

Minor spoiler alert, Forrest is taken out by Cordell when the Maniac Cop takes his patented knife-baton and stabs him through the neck, it's pretty brutal but the character deserved better, I wanted more Campbell! Afterward Cordell steals a vintage police cruiser and chases after Mallory and Riley, there's a great chase sequence with bare tire rims sending sparks flying. In the aftermath Maniac Cop snaps Mallory's neck but only after she attacks Cordell with chainsaw! With Mallory out of the way Cordell handcuffs the psychiatrist to the steering wheel of the car before sending her careening out of control down a busy street, the action sequences here are fantastic, with a bit of a larger budget it's great fun to see what Lustig throws up onscreen! 

There's an weird subplot with a serial killer named Turkell (Leo Rossi, Halloween II) who's killing strippers around NYC, Maniac Cop shows up during one of his attacks and the two become fast friends, with the serial killer leading Cordell back to his pad for some bonding between killers, it's the weirdest onscreen team-up ever, but somehow it works, gotta hand it to Larry Cohen for a wacky but awesome script on this one. When Turkell lands in a jail cell soon after he tells the cops that his buddy Cordell is coming to bust him out and he ain't just blowing smoke, Maniac Cop arrives and completely destroys the police station, it's a bloody massacre. Oodles of bloodshed and broken glass, Lustig seemed to really enjoy breaking glass in this film, and setting people on fire, but more on that in a minute.

Somehow all the major players end up back at Sing Sing Prison so that Cordell can have his revenge on the death row inmates who fucked-up his face and killed him in prison years earlier. It's during this killing spree that Maniac Cop is bombarded with Molotov cocktails and engulfed in flames, but that does not deter him in the slightest - he just keeps killing the three inmates who mutilated him! The man-on-fire stunt work during the last 10 minutes of this film are so worth the price of admission on their own, it's awesome! Manic Cop 2 is a bad-ass revenger, and even when it gets a bit silly it never get's too silly for it's own good, I loved it. 

Blu-ray: Blue Underground have gone all out for Maniac Cop 2 (1990) on Blu-ray with a brand-new 4K hi-def transfer from the original camera negative, it's fantastic. Color reproduction is excellent, the darker scenes look pretty crisp and there's some nice depth, clarity and fine detail is strong, no complaints with the video in any way whatsoever, there's even a nice layer of natural film grain with no harmful noise reduction, this is outstanding.

The English language DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is pretty active, nice use of the surrounds to create an immersive experience, Jay Chattaways creepy and atmospheric score sounds great, fans of the score will enjoy the isolated music track on the disc. 

We get some great extras beginning with an Audio Commentary with Director William Lustig and Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, plus a making-of documentary featuring director William Lustig, writer Larry Cohen, actors Robert Davi, Leo Rossi, Robert Z'Dar, Michael Lerner, Claudia Christian and composer Jay Chattaway. Davi is great fun as he talks about being hoodwinked into taking on the role by Lustig, while Lerner laughs about playing an Irishman. Director Lustig and actress Claudia Christian sorta take a few jabs at each other during their interviews, neither seem enamored with the other. During the Cinefamily Q+A from back in 2012 Lustig let's loose a ton of great anecdotes about Larry Cohen, Joe Spinell, Leo Rossi and Robert Z'Dar plus the great crew who worked on the film and the possibility of a sequel/reboot. 

Finishing-up the special features we have trailers, a deleted scene featuring Sam Raimi (Evil Dead), a gallery of posters and pics plus the aforementioned isolated music track and it's D-Box Motion Code enabled, it's a great set of extras. There's the added bonus of a standard-def DVD disc mirroring the features and supplemental materials of the Blu-ray, and an embossed slipcover, this is a very nice edition from Blue Underground. 

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with Director William Lustig and Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn
- Back On The Beat - The Making Of MANIAC COP 2 (46:42)
- Cinefamily Q+A with Director William Lustig (28:36)
- Deleted Scene (1:31)
- Theatrical Trailers
- Poster and Still Gallery
- Isolated Music Track (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0)
- Enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems

Verdict: Maniac Cop 2 (1990) is a pretty kick-ass revenger with supernatural elements, we get some fantastic action set-pieces, brutal deaths and a fantastic finale that's engulfed in flames. it's action-packed from start to finish and a shit-ton of fun, a very worthy sequel to Maniac Cop (1989), this is recommended with extreme prejudice. When the topic of 90's horror comes around I don't think Maniac Cop 2 gets it's due, this was a blast. 3 Outta 5