PSYCHO COP RETURNS is a huge leap ahead of part 1. Yes, it’s one of those purposely cheesy self-aware horror movies from the Troma era. Broad acting and stereotypes, big-haired, big-boobed female characters there more for the stripping scenes than for anything else, douchebag characters who frequently hoot and holler about booze and tits, cheesy keyboard-badly-imitating-an-orchestra score. And it’s the type of movie where the third billed actor is “1993 Penthouse Pet of the Year Julie Strain,” kind of like how Don “The Dragon” Wilson’s kickboxing titles were sometimes included on the opening credits.
And it’s not a great movie. But it’s almost instantly clear that they’re trying to do a good version of that type of bad movie. The opening few minutes – two dudes encountering the Psycho Cop (still Bobby Ray Shafer) at a donut shop, followed by an opening credits montage of gorey body parts piled inside his patrol car – shows much more signs of effort than the entirety of part 1. It smacks of “This is gonna be stupid, but let’s go for it!,” and that attitude is pretty infectious.
One example: the slow motion close up of the cop’s mouth chewing donuts, complete with dramatic slowed down munching sound. Part 1 wouldn’t have known to do something that funny or bothered to do it seriously.
The victims this time are a bunch of yuppie assholes throwing a bachelor party after hours at the office, exactly like the dipshits from part 1 would’ve done if they had lived long enough to graduate college and get jobs. They’re obnoxious but sometimes they’re funny guys, like when the guy who claims he doesn’t remember being told he was in charge of procuring booze, then says “Let me check my files” and opens his filing cabinet drawer to reveal it’s filled to the brim with bottles of liquor.
The cop overhears them talking about weed and starts following them around that day. Then he kills Gus, the night watchman, and sneaks around the building tormenting the bachelor partiers to amuse himself. He kills people and sends faxes of the bodies to the room where the party is happening. The nerd Brian (introducing Miles David Dougal) gets what it is but everybody else keeps talking him out of believing it.
The cop is still a satanist. He has 666 written on his glove compartment in blood. He paints a pentagram on the wall and tells some of the partiers about “Officer Vickers” in the third person, pretending to be a different cop looking for himself. It’s implied that he survived being impaled through some kind of evil devil powers or something. Since the filmatists this time felt like using some special effects and makeup, they take advantage of his indestructibility, turning him into a bit of a Terminator. He gets an ax in his chest and can still walk (“Ah! Assaulting an officer. Serious offense,” he quips). After they think he’s been killed by a fall down the elevator shaft he shows up again looking like this:
Why waste a perfectly good half pair of sunglasses, right?
Other things that count as production value compared to part 1: a body falling down an elevator shaft. A body falling off the roof. Street scenes. Rubber body parts. Mild acting.
Although there’s alot of lap dancing and women wearing leather and chain getups and cow-print chaps and stuff, I think there’s a gesture toward feminism toward the end. The real hero ends up being Barbara Lee Alexander as Sharon, a fellow office worker who happens to be working late in the building. She keeps it together while the men freak out, and she leads them around. She pulls a gun on Vickers, burns his face, makes a respectable attempt to kill the unkillable stalker, even follows that with a one-liner. Then she leads Brian to safety. He’s the damsel in distress.
Instead of just fizzling out in the same location like part 1 did, this kinda follows the James Cameron method of seeming like it’s over and then setting up a whole new thing that happens. The fight ends up on the street, where Vickers is repeatedly slapping Sharon outside of a sports bar called The Time Out. The bartender notices and is outraged by the sight of a man hitting a woman, which doesn’t change when he realizes it’s a cop.
All the bar patrons follow him in grabbing decorative hockey sticks and baseball bats off the wall (seems like those might be a safety hazard in a bar, but I’m glad they have them for this). “Back off officer! I don’t care what she’s done!” There’s only one black guy there, the rest are white dudes, but in case the sight of a bunch of citizens standing over a cop and clubbing him repeatedly doesn’t remind you enough of a reverse Rodney King, they have a guy on the balcony of his apartment see it and start videotaping, even show it in shaky video form. So it has a sort of feeling of ordinary people getting a little payback on bad cops.
Credit for the movie’s sense of humor probly goes to Adam Rifkin (director of THE DARK BACKWARD, THE CHASE and DETROIT ROCK CITY, writer of MOUSEHUNT and SMALL SOLDIERS), except he chose not to be credited under his real name. The credits say it’s “Another Rif Coogan Adventure.” The script is credited to Rifkin’s DARK BACKWARD storyboard artist Dan Povenmire, who otherwise has only worked in cartoons.
If you only watch one PSYCHO COP movie, watch PSYCHO COP RETURNS. If you watch only zero PSYCHO COP movies, that wouldn’t be the worst decision you ever made, but this one is kinda fun.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.