An early seventies low budget oddity, Walter R. Cichy's Cop Killers is a fun, trashy, and horribly dated film that never the less proves to be an entertaining little drive-in movie and a nice time capsule of the decade in which it was made.
When the film begins, Alex and Ray are out in the middle of the desert waiting for a plane to fly by and drop off a large stash of cocaine which they plan on selling to a third party for a hefty some of cash. They make the drop point, snatch the dope, and hop into their Rolls Royce and head on down the highway only to find four cops hot on their trail. A shoot out occurs and the four cops wind up dead and so the boys wisely decide to ditch the Rolls and find a new vehicle. When they come upon a ice cream truck they carjack it and take the effeminate driver along with them only to toss him out the door to his death in the desert that surrounds the highway.
With the pedal to the metal, it doesn't take long before a biker cop nabs them for speeding but the precedent has been set –these guys don't fear Johnny Law which they prove by sending this little piggy to his grave too. They hit a gas station and wind up swiping a car and a pretty little hostage named Karen after taking care of her boyfriend and the gas station owner with some help from Mr. Shotgun, and then they're off to meet their contact.
Tension starts to mount when Ray tries to rape Karen in the car. Alex doesn't like this and they start to argue. Eventually they hit a hotel for the night and Ray goes off to make a few phone calls. When he comes back and finds Karen in the sack with Alex, he flips out and let's them all know he's the boss but there's no time for games, they've got a hippy to hook up with! Will Alex and Ray make the drop off in time to meet the helicopter and make their escape to Mexico or will the fuzz catch up and make them pay?
Bloodier and with a bigger mean streak than you might expect, Cop Killers is hampered by a predictable plot and some truly bad acting on the part of almost all involved. The hippy that our two hoods meet up with towards the end of the film steals the show with his pretentious psycho-babble and his two lovely free loving ladies, while Alex and Ray (played by Bill Osco and Jason Williams respectively) chew through the scenery like a pair of starving beavers through plywood. With the performances as ham fisted as they are it's a little hard to take any of this seriously but it does make for plenty of unintentional hilarity, particularly when you take into account all of the cliché ridden tough talking dialogue that we hear from Alex throughout the film.
William R. Cichy does keep the movie clicking along at a decent pace and even when we know what's going to happen and how it's going to play out the film is never dull. The desert locations do add some atmosphere to the film that helps it out a little bit but the ending car chase scene goes on far too long for its own good to the point where the tension that is built during the last fifteen minutes or so is blown. Over top of all this is a completely inappropriate soundtrack that makes you scratch your head and wonder what the producers were thinking when they put these soothing, soft rock sounds over top of what was obviously intended to be a hard hitting, violent exploitation movie. Plenty of curiosity value and some fun violent set pieces make this one worth checking out for fans of seventies oddities, but don't expect anything along the lines of similar movies like Easy Rider, even if it's obvious that the filmmakers were trying really hard to get there.
Media Blasters presents Cop Killers in a pretty rough 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that unfortunately is not in the best of shape. The film was shot on 16mm so some grain is to be expected and if heavy grain were the only problem, this disc would like fine – sadly, the colors are pretty flat looking and the image has more than its fair share of print damage throughout. There are also some moderate and noticeable mpeg compression artifacts evident during playback and some fairly heavy aliasing as well. For a 16mm production, Cop Killers is watchable, but that's about it and it doesn't appear that any restorative efforts were put into this presentation.
The quality of the English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix is roughly on par with the quality of the transfer. There's hiss present in more than a few scenes and the dialogue and sound effects are rather flat. The odd score sounds better than you'd imagine but periodically there are some fluctuations in the levels that might cause you to have to adjust the volume from time to time. Not alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captions are provided.
The main supplement on this release comes in the form of a commentary track courtesy of Jason Williams and moderated by 'Adam Trash.' Williams does a pretty good job of detailing the low budget origins of the film while the moderator makes sure that he stays on track and keeps the information going. Despite one or two moments of awkward silence this is a fairly lively talk and we learn about how Williams came to be cast in the part, what it was like working in the desert with director Walter Cichy, and how he later went on to play the titular lead in Flesh Gordon. Williams comes across as a pretty likeable guy so after the commentary is done, take the time out to watch his video interview in which he covers some other aspects of Cop Killers including his costars and some of the locations used in the shoot.
Rounding out the supplements are a small still gallery, a trailer for Cop Killers, and trailers for other Media Blasters and Fangoria International DVD releases.
While the film is predictable and derivative and the presentation leaves more than a little to be desired, Cop Killers still manages to have that sort of drive-in seventies charm that cult movie fans groove on. The commentary and the interview are a nice touch and add some insight into this oddity, and while neither the film or the package are strong enough to warrant a recommendation, this one certainly makes for a fun rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.