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Blu-ray Review: MANIAC COP 2

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Blue Underground resurrects Matt Cordell from his home video graveyard with a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of William Lustig’s balls-out insane, 80’s action-horror sequel, MANIAC COP 2!


Recounting the original film’s impaling finale (featuring one of the greatest stunts in cinema history), Maniac Cop 2 slices open with a very eerie opening credits crawl in a steel cold junkyard. As the camera slowly makes its way around the car cemetery, a shadowy patrol car roars to life amongst the heap; Matt Cordell (once again played by iron jaw Robert Z’Dar) – the Maniac Cop – has once again returned to stalk the streets of New York. Seeking revenge against officers Forrest (Bruce Campbell, The Evil Dead) and Mallory (Laurene Landon, It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive) for sending him to a watery grave, Cordell quickly (and surprisingly) dispatches the cult stars in gruesome fashion.

Now believing their fallen comrades warning of the Maniac Cop’s tendency to stay undead, Lieutenant McKinney (Robert Davi, Die Hard) and officer Susan Riley (Claudia Christian, The Hidden) have to also contend with serial killer Turkell (a massively bearded and unrecognizable Leo Rossi, Halloween II), who’s struck an unholy alliance with Cordell. As the body count rises and the truth behind Cordell’s incarceration unravels, can McKinney & Riley stop the wrong arm of the law before it’s too late?

Let’s not beat around the bush here; Maniac Cop 2 is the best horror-sequel of all time. Yes, of all time. Hyperbole be damned, Bill Lustig’s followup to his 1988 killer-cop chiller contains absolutely everything you could possibly want in a film of this ilk. Bigger death-defying stunts; viscera erupting squibs; vehicular mayhem; and a wider terrain of locations to unleash all B-movie hell. Even the cast is top-notch, featuring a terrific ensemble of character actors (including Coen Bros. regular Michael Lerner, Clarence Williams III, Charles Napier, and even James Earl Jones’ Dad!) that elevate the material, and in some cases give career defining performances. Look no further than Leo Rossi’s Turkell, a southern transplant with a penchant for hookers and killing. Rossi performance is debatably more maniacal than the Maniac Cop himself; a sterling testament the ability character actors possess. More-more-more is the modus operandi here thanks to a hefty increase in budget, giving Lustig ample opportunity to propel Maniac Cop 2 to its superior sequel status.

Something simple (but most sequels mind-numbingly violate) I love about Maniac Cop 2 is its attention to continuity. All of the core players are back (I mean, Campbell and Landon return to die within the first 20 minutes. That’s dedication!), and it feels like a fully realized successor. Continuity may not bother the causal viewer, but it’s something that either makes or breaks it for me. For instance, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, a film I adore for a myriad of reasons, but obsessively for its accurate continuity. Not only does Heather Langenkamp return as the greatest final girl to ever grace a horror saga, but so does her cinema father John Saxton. Both could have been ignorantly dismissed by studios execs and recast entirely (see Phantasm II, Halloween 6, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), but it’s that connective tissue that bridges the film’s together (whether the film picks up hours, days, or years later) and soothes my OCD.

Maniac Cop 2 is a true direct continuation of where its predecessor left off. It’s not just a reason to make another buck or cash in on the sequel-crazed 80s; Cordell has some unfinished business that ties directly to his past (seen in a brutal flashback scene from the first film), and it doesn’t feel repetitive in a stalk-kill-repeat sense. The titular slasher isn’t just a mindless being, screenwriter Larry Cohen actually gives Cordell a rounded arc that allows for a redemptive path, one that just happens to feature copious amounts of bloodshed and murder. You feel pity for the monster, and you can’t help but cheer endlessly when the scum he’s after receive their crushing comeuppance.

Speaking of bloodshed, sit back, fasten your seatbelt, and prepare to gaze upon a smorgasbord of stunts that will dropkick your jaw out of a window and down forty stories. I’m talking a police station massacre that rivals, if not supersedes, the T-800’s raid in The Terminator. A stunt involving Claudia Christians being handcuffed to the steering wheel (something Lustig admits he lifted from Jackie Chan’s Police Story) and dangling on the side of a runaway car, is completely ridiculous in the best way possible. All of this and so much more was executed with precision thanks to stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos, a man who is still being set on fire and hurled out of buildings for the glory of cinema. Basically, Maniac Cop 2 is the kitchen sink of stunts in a horror film, and should be held in high regard as the standard for sequels.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary – Director William Lustig & Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Documentary – “Back On The Beat: The Making Of Maniac Cop 2
    Supplemental wizards Red Shirt Pictures continue to do what they do best with a 40 minute, retrospective piece on the making of Maniac Cop 2. Participants include director Bill Lustig; actors Leo Rossi; Robert Z’Dar; Robert Davi; Claudia Christians; and Michael Lerner, who all talk in-depth about the production.
  • Cinefamily Q&A with Director William Lustig
  • Deleted Scene
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • Isolated Music Track

Screenshots:

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  • Jerry Smith

    Great stuff, Justin! I definitely need to pick this one up.

    • http://iconsoffright.com/ Justin Edwards

      Thank you, buddy!