Mr. B.I.G. himself Bert I. Gordon trades in magnified insects for giant explosions in THE POLICE CONNECTION (aka THE MAD BOMBER), out on uncut DVD from Code Red Releasing.
When a “mad bomber” (THE RIFLEMAN himself Chuck Connors) – as the police computer classifies his suspect type – blows up a high school and a hospital, Lieutenant Geronimo Minneli (Vince Edwards, TV’s BEN CASEY) is on his trail. He may have a witness in a young mute woman who was raped at the hospital just before the explosion, but she is too ashamed to identify her attacker. In any case, Minneli reasons that it is unlikely that the bomber would stop to rape a woman after planting the bomb, and that the rapist and the bomber are likely different people; therefore, the rapist himself might be the only one who can help the police catch him. Since the police do not know the bomber’s modus operandi, but they do know the rapists, Minneli starts questioning his past victims. His commanding officer (Ted Gehring, THE PARALAX VIEW) think Minneli is wasting his time, but subsequent bomb threats turn out to be pranks or unrelated until the bomber blows up a hotel. When the bomber’s letters to the press threaten even bigger catastrophes to punish those who wronged him, Minneli sends out decoys (including one of his earlier victims, a stripper played by POINT OF TERROR’s Paula Mitchell) to find the rapist. He comes up with Fromley (Neville Brand, EATEN ALIVE), but Minneli will have to find a way for Fromley to incriminate himself in the rapes in order to get him to identify the bomber.
Seeming like a made-for-TV potboiler spiced up with decidedly R-rated violence and gratuitous nudity, THE POLICE CONNECTION is a trim and economical thriller (only the school bombing is extensively visualized onscreen); but the bombing scenarios and the characterization of the bomber himself are no longer so fantastic. There’s an off-putting air of misogyny that runs throughout the film; aside from the rape scenes and the display of nudity by Fromley’s middle-aged wife (Ilona Wilson, DRUM) framed as additional evidence of Fromley’s perversions, Dorn plants bombs at a women’s liberation meeting (although it is later revealed that the target was the hotel not the specific meeting, but he does chose that particular ballroom to plant the bomb after sticking around to listen for a few minutes). Edwards’ detective is rather one-dimensional, but it’s fun to see Connors in a TV-unfriendly role (although THE RIFLEMAN did have a rather high body count) and a sober Brand relishing a scuzzy role. Director Gordon shot the film himself, and his daughter Carol Gordon is credited with “subliminal photography” meaning the still photograph views of the bomber’s tragic past that flash before he strikes. TV prints were more appropriately titled THE MAD BOMBER, and this may have been the original title since it actually appears over the moving background of the first shot while the “Jerry Gross presents THE POLICE CONNECTION” title card is tacked on at the start of the film.
When the film was released on DVD by Geneon as THE MAD BOMBER, it was in its shorter, censored television cut; and there’s was much to cut here as Code Red’s progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer of the R-rated version lingers on the nudity of the rape victims, full-frontal strippers, and extended views of Mrs. Fromley, as well as a couple bomb-ravaged corpses (including the unconvincing-yet-still-shocking-just-for-being-shown aftermath of the bomber’s comeuppance). Image quality is quite good throughout with vibrant colors and a sharp image. The night (and day-for-night) stalking scenes are a bit murky, but the original cinematography is to blame. The 1.78:1 framing seems spot on (then again, it was probably composed for 1.85:1 so compositions making use of the full height of the frame can stand the loss of additional slivers of info). The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is in good condition, and Michael Mention’s score isolated on a second Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. There are no other extras, but the satisfying single-layer disc also includes trailers for JUST BEFORE DAWN, THE FOLKS AT RED WOLF INN, CLASS OF ’74 (producer Arthur Marks reworking of GABRIELLA, GABRIELLA with which it shares a disc), SPLITZ, THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR, and GOLD OF THE AMAZON WOMEN, as well as the now-familiar start-up trailer for FAMILY HONOR. (Eric Cotenas)
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