The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Maniac Cop (1988)


I've had this one in my Instant queue for a while now, and just never got around to it. Then Netflix held my feet to the fire, because they pulled it from Watch Instantly on December 1st, so I had to make sure I watched it before then, and I did.

Maniac Cop takes place in NYC, and is about an evil cop that is going around killing people, which causes citywide panic as people feel they can't trust the police. First, it looks like Bruce Campbell is the guy, because his wife is one of the victims, but then it looks like he was framed. That's when signs point to a cop (Robert Z'Dar) who was thought to be dead-- one who was sent to jail and attacked by his fellow prisoners, getting cut up really bad. The only problem is, how can Campbell A. prove his innocence in jail, and B. prove that a dead cop is the real killer.


What were these people thinking?!?!? They had Robert Z'Dar, one of the greatest and most enormous faces in cinematic history, and they carved it up! Are you fucking kidding me? Who thinks of this crap? What moron said "Hey, let's get the make-up guy in and make his face look like shit"? Seriously, I'm at a loss for words. Here we have this amazing cast, with Bruce Campbell, William Smith, Tom Atkins, Richard Roundtree, and I thought Robert Z'Dar. I guess I was wrong, huh? Is it too much to ask that when I see Robert Z'Dar listed in the cast, I expect his gigantic mug filling my TV? Apparently it is, because some people who make movies are morons.

And that's too bad, because this was good. A solid late 80s slasher with some good action in spots, and great performances by Campbell, Atkins, Roundtree, and Smith. How hard would it have been to just not carve up Z'Dar's face. Just say "hey, I know the script calls for a carved up face, but we've got Robert Z'Dar here, let's make some changes. This is perhaps the greatest face in cinematic history, it's our obligation as decent, compassionate Americans to give people the face they expect to see." I've just lost my faith in humanity a little more after this.


This is only our third Bruce Campbell movie, and only the second where he actually has more than one scene. Campbell is a straight up professional actor. You can see it in a scene with someone like William Smith, who's great, but is a gruff big guy who plays gruff big guy roles. Campbell is a throwback. In the 30s and 40s, all movies were cast with Bruce Campbells in all the supporting roles. Now we tend to have rappers and tough guys take more of those parts. Some of those tough guys, like William Smith or Danny Trejo, are great, but they're the exception in my mind, not the rule, and it's a shame that we don't have more Campbells out there. Another great Campbell is John C. McGinley, who is great in Scrubs.

This is also only the third Richard Roundtree movie at the DTVC, but unlike Campbell, that's more of a disappointment, because he has a greater DTV oeuvre. I will try to correct that in the future. One thing that makes me mad (not as mad as I was about Z'Dar's face, of course) is how the Shaft TV movies haven't been released on DVD yet, and TNT with their stupid New Classics and Without a Trace reruns never show them anymore either. Okay Matt, breathe deep. This Z'Dar thing is getting out of control.


The truth is, I only have myself to blame here. Robert Z'Dar has tons of DTV films out there, more than Richard Roundtree, and he should have more than just the two films I have of him, though I feel like he has more, and I just haven't tagged him enough. Who knows, we'll see. Anyway, 2010 will be the year of Robert Z'Dar, as I will do my best to get another ten or so movies up by next year's induction. Let's be clear here, I won't be inducting Robert Z'Dar, I'll be inducting his enormous face. A grievous cinematic wrong has been committed here, more grievous than Pearl Harbor. Okay, maybe as grievous as Pearl Harbor, but that's still pretty bad, and it's up to me, as the DTV Connoisseur to do something about that.

Do I need a conclusion? Do you need me to tell you whether or not I think you should watch this? Go ahead, watch it. Maybe you'll kick some puppies or tell kids there's no Santa Claus after, how does that sound? I, for one, will not be watching this travesty of everything good and right in the world ever again. Robert Z'Dar's face should be a national monument, not carved up in some silly 80s slasher flick.

For more info:


  1. I actually dig this one! Z Dar gets his face carved up, cause they want a villain, like Freddy Kruger or Jason Voorhers which were all the rave in the horror world back in the 80s.

    But aside from Z's face getting a face lift, this movie has a decent story to it, and I enjoyed it. I have to admit though that during some of the chase sequences, with those old police cars, I felt I was watching an episode of TJ Hooker or something!

    Campbell also appears briefly in the sequel to this one.

  2. There is not justifiable reason to carve up Robert Z'Dar's face.

  3. Doesn't Sam Raimi have a cameo in one of these films? Or is that his brother Ted?

    Love Bruce Campbell and it's nice to see him getting some mainstream exposure with BURN NOTICE which is actually a pretty good show.

  4. He's actually a reporter in the parade in this one, and I totally missed it. He plays a newscaster in the second one, so I'll keep my eye out.

    Again, Bruce Campbell, true professional actor, and I agree that Burn Notice is a solid show, even more so with him in it.

  5. I have to beg to differ on this one Matty...They were indeed going for a Freddy Krueger lookinhg face. I like the first two in the series. I think it's worth it solely for the face in cement scene.

  6. I agree that the face in cement thing was great, and I agree that they were going for the Freddy Krueger thing, I just feel very strongly that when you cast someone like Z'Dar, it's time for a rewrite, ie, no messed up face and no shadowy visage. I want that enormous mug taking up my entire widescreen TV for at least 50% of the film.