Release Date(s)1990 (November 19, 2013)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A+
Like a lot of sequels, Maniac Cop 2 picks up where the original film left off. We learn that Cordell (the maniac cop in question) survived his deadly encounter at the end of the first film and he’s still out for revenge against the people who’ve wronged him. With a higher budget, the filmmakers were able to pull off a few new things and create a terrific sequel, one that many feel is better than the original.
Like the last film, the cast is pretty great. Unfortunately, there’s no Tom Atkins this time around, but we do get Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon back, albeit briefly. Robert Z’Dar returns to the title role, but we also get the great Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, small parts featuring Charles Napier and Clarence Williams III, and in one of the main roles, Leo Rossi. You can also spot Sam Raimi again, as well as Frank Pesce and Danny Trejo if you’re paying close enough attention.
As I stated previously, many people feel that Maniac Cop 2 is superior to its predecessor, including the director himself, who feels that it’s his finest film. I think I would have to disagree, especially when watching these films back to back. The film is enjoyable enough and has some great moments and characters in it, including Leo Rossi’s character, but the drama doesn’t seem to have as much teeth as the first film. The main reason for that is the fact that they have to embellish on Cordell’s backstory a bit more, and in the process, we begin to feel more sympathy for his character than necessary. To me, this is usually the mistake that sequels to movies of this type tend to make. The less threatened we as an audience feel toward the killer, the less effective the killer is for the tension. But on the plus side, there’s definitely some more memorable moments this time around, including some great car chases, fire stunts and some other nice set pieces. Even with its problems, Maniac Cop 2 is still a lot of fun. It’s not nearly as tense as the first, at least to me, but you can’t overlook it completely. It’s also surprising to me that a sequel got made in the first place, considering that the first film didn’t even recoup its cost, nor garner favorable reviews from critics. Even the budget was higher than the first film, which doesn’t seem to happen to that often either, especially for cult films. All in all, it’s definitely the second-best film in the series to me and a worthy follow-up to a great B movie.
The film’s Blu-ray transfer, courtesy of Blue Underground, is jaw-droppingly excellent. Sourced from a 4K scan of the original negative, this is one of the best-looking presentations I’ve ever seen for a low budget horror film. Fine detail is absolutely abundant and a nice even level of film grain runs throughout the film. Colors are well-balanced, as are skin tones, and blacks are spectacularly deep. Contrast and brightness are also well-balanced. There are no unnatural anomalies to speak of either; none in the original film elements or the final presentation. Overall, this is a top notch and all-around impressive-looking Blu-ray transfer. The same goes for the audio presentation, which comes in four options: English 7.1 DTS-HD, English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital, and an isolated 2.0 DTS-HD music track. Sadly the film’s original soundtrack is presented in lossy quality, but the 7.1 track more than makes up for it. It makes use of the speaker set-up remarkably well with amazingly quality. Dialogue is always crisp and clean, as are the sound effects and score. Surround activity, especially ambience, is great, and the film’s score is mixed well into the proceedings. Even the LFE has plenty to do. The bottom line here is that this is an all-around gorgeous presentation, one that isn’t hampered by its low budget limitations at all. Being that this is a region-free release, there are a multitude of subtitle options for those who might need them.
Even the extras are fantastic on this release. First up is an audio commentary with director William Lustig and filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (a friend of Lustig’s, I’m assuming), the Back on the Beat: The Making of Maniac Cop 2 documentary, a Cinefamily Q&A with William Lustig, a deleted scene, the film’s theatrical trailers, a poster & still gallery, a D-Box Motion Code option, and an Easter egg (hidden on the extras menu) featuring a Movie Time Review of the film. On the DVD release, you’ll find all English Dolby Digital sound options, the same subtitle options and the same extras. So, whichever disc you pop in, you won’t be missing out on any bonus content.
Blue Underground really put the extra money into putting out a top tier release of a cult classic, and it shows in every category. Maniac Cop 2 is an amazing Blu-ray release. Fans of the series should be more than satisfied with its content, and new fans coming in should find plenty to enjoy. Highly recommended!
- Tim Salmons