Judge Patrick Naugle is here to serve and protect. From what, I have no idea.
You have the right to remain silent…forever!
It's the return of everyone's favorite crazy undead cop, Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar, Return to Frogtown). When a voodoo priest brings the slain office back from the dead, he goes on a rampage to avenge a fellow officer, Kate Sullivan (Gretchen Becker, Ed Wood), who was shot in the line of fire and now lies comatose in a hospital. As the investigating officer, Sean McKinney (Robert Davi, The Goonies) digs into the case, he finds surprises that he never saw coming…as well as a crazed killer who is taking out innocent civilians one by one!
I know that I've seen director William Lustig's original Maniac Cop (released in 1987). I don't recall much about it, except that it starred Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness) and was sort of a weird police procedural/action/horror hybrid. If memory serves, it was a movie that had a lot of promise but the execution left something to be desired. The first film was successful enough to spawn a sequel, 1990's Maniac Cop 2, which I probably saw over two decades ago on VHS. If that was the case, I recall absolutely nothing about it. Considering how many terrible B-movies and horror films I've sat through, I'm surprised I never saw 1993's Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, the last film in the series.
The Maniac Cop movies are all cult classics. Really, a movie like Maniac Cop is the near definition of a cult movie: it's offbeat, violent, silly, and above all, relentlessly entertaining in spite of its low budget origins. The screenplay is by the prolific Larry Cohen, a man who has specialized in high concept movies with very low budgets (the It's Alive series, Q: The Winged Serpent). This is the same writer who gave us The Stuff, a movie about murderous yogurt. So you can see what we're working with.
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence wavers between being an action movie, a police thriller, and a horror flick. It's like getting three different movies in one! The plot is as crazy and scattered as its titular villain. Directed by William Lustig (who helmed the first two films, as well as the cheapie classic Maniac), there was much clashing between the director and producer Joel Soisson (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure). Eventually Lustig walked off the set, never to return, and the movie's direction is credited to the notorious Alan Smithee, a pseudonym for a director who has declined credit on a movie. This is probably the reason Maniac Cop feels so disjointed; too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the meal.
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence rambles on for a good hour and a half, and there's a reason for it; in the bonus materials, director William Lustig notes that when the shoot was finished they'd only collected 51 minutes worth of usable footage. Clearly they went back and shot a lot of filler, and it shows. The film's scenes meander from moment to moment, never really adding much to the movie. There's an element of fun missing in Maniac Cop 3. It's clear that Cordell is 'back from the dead', but little is discussed about why or what he is (a zombie, obviously). In fact, you never really even get a really good look at Cordell, just shadowy glimpses of him as he walks down dark corridors and side streets.
A surprising number of semi-high profile actors show up in Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence. Robert Davi—a character actor who has never been given his proper due—makes a fine leading man. Pock marked and seething with Italian machismo, Davi nonetheless retains a bit of decency behind his slick smile. The actor has often been cast as the bad guy, but he's equally adept at playing the good guy, too. Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley (who starred as Freddy in the terrible remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street) plays a strung out junkie who goes crazy inside a convenience store. Also featured is late The Breakfast Club baddie Paul Gleason as a fellow detective and Jackie Brown's Robert Forester as a doctor who ends up on the wrong side of Cordell's nightstick. Finally, there's Robert Z'Dar as the Maniac Cop, whose chin would put Jay Leno to shame. Z'Dar is a menacing presence, even though he's not given enough to do in the final cut of the film.
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence is presented in an excellent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer in 1080p high definition. For a film of low budget origins, Blue Underground has made sure that this transfer absolutely sparkles. The transfer was struck from a 4K scan and sports a near perfect image. There's a fine layer of film grain that is never distracting to the viewing. Colors look spot on and black levels sharp and dark. Fans are going to be thrilled with the way Maniac Cop 3 looks. The soundtrack is presented in a newly created DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround mix (as well as Dolby 2.0 Stereo), both in English. The audio track is a fine mix of both subtitle and no so subtle sound effects. Joel Goldsmith's (son of Hollywood legend Jerry Goldsmith) crackling film score is prominently displayed. Also included are subtitles in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), and Russian.
Extra features including a half hour retrospective on the film (including interviews with Robert Z'Dar, Robert Davi, William Lustig, and others), roughly fifteen minutes of deleted or extended scenes, an original stills gallery, a text synopsis of the movie, a bonus DVD copy of the film, and a theatrical trailer.
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence is the last in the series…for a reason: it's just not very good. It's an alright time filler at one in the morning, but when compared to other horror movies of this ilk (i.e., slashers), it pales by comparison. There are rumors that a remake may be in the works (it's even discussed in the supplemental features), and for once I approve—this is a series that can be improved upon. As it stands, the last Maniac Cop flick goes out with a whimper, not a bang.
Worth checking out, if you're a big horror buff. Otherwise, just another in a long line of forgettable sequels.
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