MANIAC COP 3: BADGE OF SILENCE (1993) Blu-ray/DVD combo
Director: Alan Smithee (William Lustig & Joel Soisson)
Blue Underground

You can't keep a good "maniac cop" down but you can put him in a bad movie, and that's what happens with Blue Underground's MANIAC COP 3, nevertheless given a special edition on Blu-ray/DVD combo.

Having cleared undead maniac cop Matt Cordell of the crimes he was framed for, Lieutenant McKinney hopes that burying the cop with honors will put him at rest at long last. He thought wrong, for a Palo Mayombe – a Santeria off-shoot – high priest (Julius Harris, LIVE AND LET DIE) has brought Cordell back from the grave again (for unclear reasons). Before McKinney can even suspect that Cordell is back and on the rampage again, his friend Officer Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Becker, THE DOORS) – nicknamed "Maniac Kate" for her aggressive conduct – is shot in the line of duty and left comatose with the press smearing her reputation (and concealing evidence of her innocence) and the city eager to sweep a lawsuit by junkie suspect Jessup (Jackie Earle Haley, who else) under the rug. Cordell comes to believe that Kate is a kindred spirit and hides in the hospital, killing off anyone who tries to tries to take Kate off life support (including DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES' Doug Savant as an arrogant surgeon and MEDIUM COOL's Robert Forster as the unethical head of trauma). It is actually Jessup's doctor – Susan Fowler (Caitlin Dulany, PROJECT X) – who tells McKinney about the mysterious large cop who watches over Kate at night; but they have no idea what Cordell intends for Kate or for Jessup who he has set free and armed in the upstairs jail ward.

MANIAC COP 3 is a mess, or rather "a morass of bad ideas" (as original director William Lustig describes it on the disc's accompanying featurette) beyond the basic premise of a BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN follow-up to MANIAC COP 2 (which Lustig had pitched as "FRANKENSTEIN meets THE FRENCH CONNECTION"). The pacing is uneven with obvious dialogue scenes not only obvious in their padding, but in the way they are inserted into other sequences creating a cross-cutting style of editing that stretches out action that should be quick. Unlikable characters are also given very little set-up beyond what almost immediately prefigures their comeuppances (from Savant's arrogant surgeon and Forster's callous head of trauma, Paul Gleason's city hall functionary and Jessup's scumbag lawyer, to the pair of nasty news photographers who taped Kate's shooting and edited the footage). It seems that Cordell only waits around so long to take Kate in order to pad the plot with a little violence and a lot of exposition, with providing McKinney with the information to clear Kate so secondary that it occurs offscreen. The recycling of footage from the first MANIAC COP in MANIAC COP 2 worked to clarify the backstory with flashbacks for those who had not seen the first film; but the recycling of footage from MANIAC COP 2 here just seems cheap (from the six minute opening sequence with only a scattering of new footage intercut to the lazy use of the tail end of the shot of Cordell and Turkell climbing to the roof of a building as coverage for the shot of Kate climbing to the roof of the pharmacy).

It has the overall feel of one of a nineties Dimension Films productions – before this film's production company Neo Motion Pictures rechristened itself Neo Art & Logic and joined the Weinsteins in a flood of direct-to-video MIMIC, HELLRAISER, and DRACULA 2000 sequels – in that it feels like they either cut the film to the bone or never had sufficient coverage. In the disc's accompanying documentary, producer Joel Soisson documentary states that he threw together the script from Cohen's ideas and that the latter with Lustig's rough cut only running fifty-one minutes. He wrote additional static padding dialogue scenes that Lustig understandably did not want to film so he walked off the production. Soisson directed the new scenes, but the film's direction is attributed to "Alan Smithee" (on the documentary, Lustig states that the film had no director in the sense of someone in charge of shaping the overall vision and it shows). The only ones who come out of this looking good are the cast and cinematographer Jacques Haitkin (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) whose work here is consistently gorgeous and moody. Joel Goldsmith's score is evocative of Chataway's work but feels cheaper and uninspired. Although set in New York, the film is obviously lensed at least partially in Los Angeles since the abandoned church location is the same one seen in PRINCE OF DARKNESS (and it seems an intentional reference to the Carpenter film since the "St. Goddard's" sign remains).

Released to direct to video by Academy Home Entertainment (and to Image Entertainment laserdisc and HBO the same year), MANIAC COP 3 hit DVD first in 1999 from Platinum Disc Corporation in a fullscreen transfer (presumably the existing video master and partially opened up/partially zoomed in). First Look released it on their own short-lived DVD label (since absorbed into Millennium Entertainment) in 2004 in an anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 transfer. Blue Undergound’s 4K-mastered 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray and 16:9 DVD represent the first time that the film has been issued on home video in its correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio (and in its unrated version at 84 minutes and 33 seconds, although the fullscreen VHS release was reportedly unrated). Compared to the Millennium transfer, Blue Underground’s slices only a sliver more off the top and more at the bottom of the frame (the left and right sides of the frame are more or less identical between the two transfers). The new transfer is also darker but the brighter versions looked flatter despite some slightly more saturated colors. Audio options are reduced from the first sequel to a 5.1 remix (DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu and Dolby Digital on the DVD) and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track of the original Dolby Stereo track. Subtitle options are also reduced yet still numerous with English SDH, French (Canadian), French (Parisian), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (Castilian), and Spanish (Latin American).

The disc's extras are also not as extensive as MANIAC COP 2, with no commentary or Nicolas Winding-Refn involvement. Soisson and Lustig have apparently settled their differences since both appear in "Wrong Arm of the Law: The Making of MANIAC COP 3" (25:03) offering – along with Cohen – slightly different perspectives on the shambles of a production. The actors – Davi, Z'Dar, Becker, and Dulany are on hand here with brief remarks – of course were kept ignorant of the behind the scenes troubles and speak of the production crew as a whole as being supportive. The disc also includes ten minutes of seven relatively unimportant deleted scenes which are mostly scene extensions (although one of them does explain a jokey reference to Elvis in the final cut). Unlike the deleted scene in MANIAC COP 2, the scenes here are of similar visual and aural quality (the sound to all of the scenes is in Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Blu-ray and the DVD) to the feature. The disc also includes the film's theatrical trailer (1:47), poster/still gallery, the film's original synopsis (text screens), and an embossed slipcover. (Eric Cotenas)