• Maniac Cop 2 (Blue Underground) UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: November 16th, 2021.
    Director: William Lustig
    Cast: Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, Laurene Landon, Robert Z’Dar
    Year: 1990
    Purchase From Amazon

    Maniac Cop 2 – Movie Review:

    Once again written by Larry Cohen and directed by Bill Lustig, 1990’s Maniac Cop 2 picks up directly where the first film left off. In fact, it starts out by recycling a bit of footage from the original as we see Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) head off the pier with Matt Cordell (Robert Z’Dar) impaled behind the wheel. Jack and fellow NYPC officer Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) assume, like everyone else, that Cordell is dead but shortly after when Jack is gutted like a fish near a newsstand, it becomes obvious that the Maniac Cop is still around.

    Mallory tries to convince everyone she can that Cordell is alive and killing again and eventually the police psychiatrist, Susan Riley (Claudia Christian) sees Cordell in action and is made a believer. She in turn helps to convince Detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi) to look into things. Meanwhile, Cordell is causing trouble wherever he goes and soon teams up with a psycho killer named Turkell (Leo Rossi) who specializes in killing strippers. Turkell figures he and Cordell would make a great team, but Cordell has his sights set on revenge and looks to take out those who sent him to the prison where he was ‘murdered’ in the first place…

    Maniac Cop 2 is a solid follow up to the original picture and while the emphasis here is more on action than on horror, we get some pretty decent gore scenes highlighted by a fantastic sequence in which the undead Cordell storms a police precinct and lays waste to dozens of cops. Plenty of nasty squib effects in this one! What really impresses this time around is the stunt work. Obviously the first film features that fantastic set piece that is repeated at the beginning of this second film but here Lustig and company up the ante. We get a great scene where a character is handcuffed to the outside of a moving vehicle moving quickly through some city streets that shows off some great physical stunt work and then there’s the films fiery finale, all done with practical effects and ingenuity long before CGI made things like this much safer and easier to do.

    Another aspect of the movie that impresses is the cast. Campbell’s billed up top but his character is out of the picture pretty early on, leaving Landon and Christian to do much of the work before Davi’s character becomes more central. As the movie transitions and sets up the different characters the cast, for the most part, rise to the occasion. Landon is a bit wooden but Christian is great as the shrink and Davi is as reliable as ever as the skeptical detective who eventually comes around. Leo Rossi plays his psycho killer in an over the top manner that suits the movie while Z’Dar once again impresses with an intense and almost entirely physical performance. Throw into the mix some good supporting work from Michael Lerner as a top brass NYPD representative, the late, great Charles Napier as a muck raking talk show host and the lovely Paula Trickey as sexy stripper Cheryl and things shape up quite well in this department. The movie also features a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameo from none other than Danny Trejo, whose silent character shares a cell with the great Clarence Williams III from The Mod Squad!

    Lustig also manages to capture some prime New York City sleaze in a few scenes where we follow Turkell into Times Square in search of his prey. Look for landmarks like Show World and a few interesting marquees in this scene. Lots of gritty atmosphere in this one, and while Cordell is basically turned into a Jason Vorhees/Michael Myers type of unstoppable killing machine here, the story elaborates on his backstory enough to flesh out the character just a little bit more while the movie goes at a breakneck pace from one set piece to the next. It might not be deep, but Maniac Cop 2 sure is a helluva lot of fun.

    Maniac Cop 2 – UHD Review:

    This UHD 4k upgrade of Maniac Cop 2, from Blue Underground, arrives in an HEVC encoded 2160p high definition transfer with HDR framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it looks pretty much perfect. Detail on the last Blu-ray was impressive but this 4k upgrade just gives us that much more to take in, providing superior color reproduction and noticeably stronger black levels. Depth is excellent and increase in resolution provides quite a bit more detail, depth and texture. The picture retains the natural film grain you’d want it to but is almost entirely devoid of actual print damage. Skin tones look perfectly natural and the image is free of any noise reduction, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues. In a word, Maniac Cop 2 looks amazing on UHD.

    New to this UHD release is a fantastic Dolby Atmos track that really sounds excellent. It’s incredibly immersive, really bringing the score to life and adding some extra depth to the sound effects used throughout the movie. It’s crystal clear and perfectly balanced, subtle at times and aggressive when it needs to be. It’s very impressive, with loads of surround activity to really bring you into the film. Additionally, a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is also included, as is Jay Chattaway’s score in an isolated 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track.

    Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH, Canadian French, Latin American Spanish, Portuguese, Castilian Spanish, Parisian French, German, Italian, traditional and simplified Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.

    Extras on the UHD include the audio Commentary with Director William Lustig and Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn that was included on the previous Blu-ray release. Anyone who has heard a Lustig commentary track knows that the guy is a pretty good story teller, particularly when he’s enthusiastic about his subject, as is the case here. Refn is obviously a fan of the film and he basically plays moderator here, interjecting his thoughts throughout but wisely letting Lustig do most of the talking. Here he expresses his admiration for the talented cast that he got to work with on the picture, noting how this really helped make the movie as fun as it turned out to be. He also discusses some of the concepts explored not just by this second film but by the original Maniac Cop film as well. This is a strong track, well-paced and informative with a decent sense of humor behind it at times as well.

    The UHD disc also includes four trailers for the film, menus and chapter selection options.

    Included inside the case alongside the UHD is that aforementioned Blu-ray that also includes that same commentary on it, but outside of the audio commentary be sure to check out the Back On The Beat - The Making Of Maniac Cop 2 featurette. This is a fantastic look back at the making of the film with plenty of fun archival clips and photographs but more importantly, it’s got a lot of interesting cast and crew interviews here. William Lustig shows up to talk about why this sequel came into existence in the first place while Larry Cohen is on hand to share his thoughts on the movie as well. Cast members Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner and Leo Rossi are all here as, of course, is the Maniac Cop himself, the mighty Robert Z’Dar. We also get some insight from stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos. This leaves no stone unturned, we hear a bit about how Claudia Christian and William Lustig didn’t exactly become fast friends on set and Z’Dar talks about how long it would take to get into makeup and how tricky it was to eat because of this. Lustig notes that most of the movie wasn’t actually shot in New York City where it’s set but just across the river in New Jersey, while Razatos shares some interesting stories about some of the technical challenges that arose during the shoot in regards to the action scenes. All involved look back on the movie with some fondness, even Christian. This is interesting, insightful and well put together and it’s a great compliment to Lustig’s thorough commentary track. The highlight? Rossi talking about doing some character research at a Times Square peepshow and then getting bounced for making too much eye contact with the girl! Lustig also talks about censorship issues (or the lack thereof with this entry) and about the film’s distribution.

    The disc also includes a Cinefamily Q&A with Director William Lustig that took place at a theatrical screening of the movie. Here Lustig talks up the film and discusses the making of the picture with an audience. It covers some of the same ground as the other featurette but Lustig is an interesting guy to listen to, so it’s also worth checking out.

    Also found here is a single deleted scene that features Sam Raimi as a TV news anchorman. It’s amusing enough and worth checking out. Rounding out the extras are four different theatrical trailers for the feature, a pretty huge still gallery of posters, behind the scenes images and home video release artwork, an isolated score track, animated menus and chapter stops. The Blu-ray disc is enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems. All of this fits into a black keepcase but that case fits nicely inside an embossed slipcase.

    Maniac Cop 2 - The Final Word:

    Blue Underground has really given Maniac Cop 2 very nice 4k upgrade with this UHD/Blu-ray combo pack release. The film holds up well, a really good sequel to the original with some solid action and horror set pieces and an impressive cast. While we don’t get any new extras here, the 4k presentation and new Atmos track really do impress from start to finish, making this hands down the best way to enjoy the film.

    Click on the images below for full sized Maniac Cop 2 Blu-ray screen caps that don’t look as good as the UHD reviewed above (but reviews without screen caps are boring)!