PSYCHO COP - Australian video cover
2 stars   

directed by: Wallace Potts
starring: Robert R. Shafer, Jeff Qualle, Palmer Lee Todd, Dan Campbell, Cynthia Guyer, Linda West, Greg Joujon-Roche, Bruce Melena, Glenn Steelman, Julie Araskog, Denise Hartman, David L. Zeisler

(back of video blurb):

"College students Jack, Doug and Eric are in the money and out to impress their girlfriends with a weekend away at a remote country retreat.

Arriving at the resort, it looks a little creepy. And was that cop on the road following them or just playing games?

As the vacation goes on, the retreat is plagued by a series of mysterious and macabre events. Why has the caretaker disappeared? What do the wooden crosses in the woods represent? Who is the sinister police officer who seems to be watching them?

What starts out as a dream holiday turns into a terrifying nightmare in 'Psycho Cop' as the six young students find themselves caught up in a deadly web of devil worshippers and ritual murders."

choice dialogue:

"Quit being so paranoid, you sound like one of the girls!"

- this movie's cruelty knows no bounds

slash with panache?

If you had to pick a perfect example of a join-the-dots slasher flick then this hopelessly generic addition to the subgenre would fit the bill perfectly.

A group of bratty teens cruise down deserted a highway to their remote holiday retreat. Three boys: Zac (hunky, boufant black haired jock), Doug (hunky, somewhat sensitive, blonde jock) and Eric (hunky ginger jock with a flick); plus three girls, Sarah (bitchy black haired babe), Julie (blonde haired babe whose always brushing her unruly mane - "This heat is ruining my hair!" - seemingly in a tribute to Marsha Brady), and Laura (whose doe-eyes and knotted brow mark her out as a final girl if ever I saw one). They pass a cop sitting in his squad car, and, although they weren't breaking the speed limit, one of them ponders "... that won't mean he won't come chasing after us!". Sure enough, he does. He follows them to the entrance of the house where they're staying before driving off. Obviously relieved, the kids drive up to the house thinking the cop has lost interest in them (little do they know he's already proved his psycho credentials to the audience by, first, washing his hands in blood and offing three people the previous night ... ).

The house turns out to be a luxurious mansion and the group excitedly gets ready to go inside when they bump into the local caretaker, who takes them from behind with his big chopper clasped firmly in his hands. It turns out, however, the axe isn't meant for them, rather he's been gathering some wood up in the woods that surround the property. He mutters, somewhat cryptically, that "The house is in good shape ... it's just had a little bad luck." (which, it turns out, is a particularly whiffy red herring).

We then get down to some character building, well, actually we get a parade of the teens in their skimpiest bathing costumes strutting round the pool listening to some good awful soft rock musak. Of course it isn't before long we see a pair of black leather boots stomping around in the woods near to the house (which led me to wonder if they weren't being stalked by one of the Village People, which, I dare say, would have made for a much more entertaining slasher flick).

It turns out that Mr Psycho Cop has made off with the caretaker's trusty chopper - and he wants it back. He follows the sounds of splintering wood (which, rather strangely, one of the girls sitting by the pool complains, "... gives me goosebumps!"), he gets closer and good-naturedly shouts out, "Just give me back my axe and we'll call it even". It also turns out to be a rather dumb thing to say as the cop steps into view and parts his forehead with said axe. ... Meanwhile back at the ranch one of the guys thinks he's heard screaming, but one of the girls poo-poos it, "Oh, Doug, it's just the rock music!" (I know it almost caused me to start screaming). As the afternoon progresses more and more strange things start to happen, first they find some proto-BLAIR WITCH type sculptures in the woods and then one of them hears on the radio reports of devil worship locally, "666. That's the number of the devil, right?", pipes up know-it-all Sarah.

Doug and Laura think something is really wrong, but just when the rest of the group start to believe them their suspicions are temporarily proved false (and this must have happend twenty frigging times!). As the night sets in, the Psycho Cop takes something precious to each of the group (Beer, ghettho-blaster, hairbrush etc) and tempts them into the darkness to their eventual doom and the requisite, "Oh, thank God, you're a cop! Please help, me and my friends are in terrible trou ... Er, what's that big truncheon for? ... Arrghhh!!!".

That PSYCHO COP is cheesy, really, that should go without saying. It probably has the least amount of surprises (i.e. none) of any slasher flick I've ever seen (and that really is saying something). Most slashers from this period had their own gimmick - something to set them apart from all the others - of course, this film's gimmick was already taken by the much better MANIAC COP. Perhaps I hadn't had enough in the way red vino anaesthetic but I found much of this flick excruitiating, especially the villain himself, who's afflicted with the bane of most post-Freddy slashers: the lame one liner. Now, I'm no big fan of the wise-crackin' monster at the best of times (I like my boogeymen strong, silent and deadly), but, really, this has to be the most annoying would-be-deadly-bozo since that creepy priest in HAPPY HELL NIGHT. Robert R. Shafer, who plays the eponymous, constantly chuckling character tilts his head, bugs out his eyes and says (without the hindrance of comic timing I might add) such crappy bon-bons as, "I'm going to have to throw the book at you!". Laugh? I nearly smothered myself with a pillow.

To be fair, PSYCHO COP isn't a badly made movie but it hasn't got anything you haven't already seen done a hundred times before (the final girl even finds all her friend's bodies arranged artistically in a protracted finale), and, normally, I can get off on the lethal predictability of such fare, but, this flick really took the biscuit. Apparently the sequel is an improvement of sorts, but it will be a while before I can bring myself to watch a second installment (and the liqour will have to be a lot stronger, too!).


BODYCOUNT 10   bodycount!   female:4 / male:6

       1) Male killed (off-screen)
       2) Female body found      
       3) Female has necked snapped    
       4) Male gets axed in the head      
       5) Make has torch shoved down throat 
       6) Female hit by car   
       7) Male electrocuted  
       8) Female killed with knife (off-screen)
       9) Male shot in the head 
     10) Male stabbed in the chest