Director: Walter R. Cichy
Shriek Show/Media Blasters

Made by individuals who specialized in pioneering X-rated films, as well as being the creative team behind the smash hit FLESH GORDON, COP KILLERS is an independent exploitation effort that was destined for obscurity if not for this DVD release. Sailing on the rebellious freedom of films like EASY RIDER and the anti-hero outlaw antics of films like BONNIE AND CLYDE, COP KILLERS is a very violent and enticingly crude piece of celluloid that attempts to make its point on an early 1970s porno film budget.

Two young longhaired drug dealers, one of them the extremely nasty and vicious Ray (Jason Williams, FLESH GORDON himself) along with his slightly more humane partner Alex (Bill Osco, who also served as producer), go on a killing spree after they run into a handful of cops at a roadblock. Having knocked off all the officers in quick succession, they steal an ice cream truck from its sissy driver (who is held hostage until they can’t take anymore his wining, dumping him on the freeway), murder more cops, and steal the car of a blonde girl (Diane Keller) whom they kidnap after a mini-massacre at a filling station. Constantly on the run, the boys and their fair-haired prisoner reach their connection and plan to collect a paper bag full of cash in exchange for the dope they possess, hopefully before the law finally catches up to them.

Reportedly produced on an impossible $50,000 budget on location in Arizona, COP KILLERS is by no means a great or polished affair, but its generous portion of screen violence and the anticipation of what the immoral duo will do or who they will rub out next, make this appealing enough for followers of 1970s drive-in trash. Shot on Super 16 and later blown up to 35mm (much like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT from the same period), the photography and direction are clearly amateurish, as is the majority of the cast, most of which are locals who were all too willing to appear in a non-union affair such as this. Portraying the ultimate scumbag of a screen villain, Jason Williams is excellent as the hateful lowlife who’s only out for himself, murdering his way through one situation to the next, molding out a character without a likable bone in his body. Although the film is heavy in its death toll, it never exceeds to anything shockingly disturbing, but lightly touches upon rape, drug use, four-letter words and brisk orgy activity to justify its "R" rating and satiate the thrill-seekers who made out during screenings of this at southern drive-ins. In one of his first film jobs, future Oscar winner Rick Baker supplied the gory make-up on the various victims, including gushing stabbings, flowing gunshots and mutilated body parts.

Shriek Show presents COP KILLERS in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, and even though it’s a 35mm blow up from Super 16, the image looks pretty good. The low budget nature of the photography allows for the expected limitations in the transfer, but the image is still pretty clear and colors look natural. There is a fair amount of dirt and debris in the source print, but nothing too distracting. The mono audio is also limited, but completely decipherable and music and dialogue come though fine.

Extras include “Confessions of a Cop Killer” which is a video interview with star Jason Williams, who discusses his early days as a struggling Hollywood actor, getting involved with FLESH GORDON, and filming COP KILLERS in the interim of FLESH GORDON needing to have its animation completed, as well as its negative confiscated by authorities crashing down on pornographic movies. He goes on to talk about producers Osco and Howard Ziehm, how they operated, what kind of distribution the film got, working with Rick Baker and more. Williams is also present on an audio commentary moderated by Adam Trash, which is surprisingly informative as the actor remembers a good number of details about making the picture, including lots of fun trivial things -- from prosthetic arms and legs on several actors, to pointing out the soundman in full view in the backseat of a car, to revealing that the actresses willing to disrobe were paid a bit extra, etc. Williams also talks a bit about FLESH GORDON and other exploitation films he acted in during his career. An image gallery only exposes two video covers, and the explosive theatrical trailer (which hypes Williams as the “star of FLESH GORDON”) displays a 1977 release date, provong this came out many years after it was actually made. Trailers for other Shriek Show releases round out the extras. (George R. Reis)