PSYCHO COP RETURNS promotional artwork
(aka PSYCHO COP 2)


3 stars  
directed by: Adam Rifkin as Rif Coogan
starring: Robert R. Shafer, Barbara Niven, Rod Sweitzer, Miles Dougal, Nick Vallelonga, Dave Bean, John Paxton, Julie Strain, Melanie Good, Maureen Flaherty, Justin Carroll, Carol Cummings, Al Schuermann

choice dialogue:

"You have the right to remain dead!"

- Psycho Cop is back up to his old tricks.

slash with panache?

[review by JA Kerswell]

Like a zany comic book come-to-life, Adam Rifkin's satanist killer cop movie operates in its own world of punny mayhem, nudity, gore and comic stings on the soundtrack. Whilst your mileage may vary - after all, the wisecrackin' killer was almost a decade old by this point - this belated sequel to 1989's PSYCHO COP is a rollicking good time if you're in the right frame of mind. Subtle it ain't, but at a zippy 85 minutes it is the perfect beer and pretzels Friday night slasher.

  Psycho Cop has returned and he hasn't taken an anger managerment course!

Off the bat, we know we're not in Kansas anymore. The Psycho Cop (Robert R. Shafer returning to the eponymous role) overhears a couple of yuppies - Larry (Rod Sweitzer) and Brian (Miles Dougal) - discussing an after-hours bachelor party they are planning to throw at their office block that night. Like a shark sniffing blood, he latches onto the pair and their promise of nefarious doings. He follows them back to their workplace in a cop car strewn with body-parts and 666 scrawled on the glove box in blood. Tony is already creeped out, but Larry poo-poos his fears and further seals his doom by calling the cop "officer inbred".

Sure enough, the office seemingly only employs horny ageing jocks and buxom young women in business suits. Behind the back of their uppity boss, the workers organise their planned night of debauchery and when he finally leaves they bribe the doorman to let in a trio of sex workers to join the party (including B-movie royalty Julie Strain). Only Tony is still nervous and is made only more so by the fact that a cop car is parked outside! Sure enough, Psycho Cop charms his way into the building before quickly offing the security guard with a spike to the eye - quipping to the corpse: "Why don't you keep an eye out whilst I'm gone?". He quickly begins giving the horny, partying office workers and their guests the short end of not only his tongue but whatever sharp implement comes to hand ...

  You'd have thought Satan would like sexy office hiinks, but not this acolyte.

It is never explained why a satanist would be against people having a good time? Nor where the Psycho Cop has been for the past four years? But it hardly matters. Rifkin is intent on delivering a good experience. The film changes gears several times from broad comedy, to a t&a show (mostly enhanced breasts but you do get sweaty, thrusting male buttocks for some kind of balance!) to an effective high rise slasher showdown between the less-than-sober survivors and the wisecrackin' nutso in a uniform. The film also has little time for characterisation beyond the broadest strokes. Only Barbara Niven (as Sharon the beautiful, yet serious, accounting executive) seems like a real human being. Again, this isn't a criticism. Rifkin treats PSYCHO COP RETURNS almost like a silent movie - even complete with comic stings on the soundtrack. Every emotion or action is amplified and exaggerated. No more so than Miles Dougal as Brian (the only employee aware of the threat), whose panicked facial muggings are like Jim Carey on speed. This exaggerated style is perhaps akin to a young Sam Raimi, and it's no surprise that Rifkin had a background as a cartoonist. The film's tone was further shaped by the treatment of screenwriter Dan Povenmire, who was working on The Simpsons at the same time he wrote this. Shafer, as the deadly Officer Joe Vickers, chews the scenery with relish and spits out one liners with demented abandon. Clearly everyone making this was having a blast and the fun is infectious.

  Only Sharon (Barbara Niven) feels like a real character in Rifkin's horror cartoon come to life.

Rifkin doesn't skimp on the grue, either. In its uncut form - and this film was butchered in a number of home video formats before its recent restoration by Vinegar Syndrome - it more than delivers in the gore department. The film looks great in its restoration of a 35mm print, which makes it look like a much more lavish production than it actually was. PSYCHO COP RETURNS is similar in tone to Jim Wynorski's HARD TO DIE (1990), which also features zany murders in a high rise office block. The setting is perfect for a cat-and-mouse slasher. A more serious example is Fred Walton's effective TRAPPED (1989), with Kathleen Quinlan and Bruce Abbot battling a psycho killer in a high rise. All, of course, were inspired by the box office bonanza of the Bruce Willis action flick DIE HARD (1988). An even earlier variation is the suspenseful proto-slasher I'M THE GIRL HE WANTS TO KILL (1974), which was part of the Brian Clemens' THRILLER TV series.

PSYCHO COP RETURNS was filmed in Los Angeles over the course of a week. It got a very limited theatrical release in Dallas, Texas. The only other credit for Rifkin's alter-ego Rif Coogan was the similarly goofy THE INVISIBLE MANIAC (1990). The director purposefully credited two identities - one for his exploitation/horror titles and another for his more mainstream or otherwise more highbrow creative work. Like his earlier film, Rifkin gives a role an actress better known for her adult career. Carol Cummings had previously appeared in the slasher THE LAST DANCE (1992) and here dies in a gory death scene presumably inspired by one of the kills from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981).

Perhaps surprisingly, the film climaxes with a clever inversion of the Rodney King controversy - where the killer cop is attacked by a group of people in the street. It ends with the clear suggestion that the seemingly indestructible police officer will return again - and actor Shafer has said he was contracted for three more movies as the title character - no more PSYCHO COP movies have been made. At least yet ...


BODYCOUNT  bodycount!   female: 4 / male: 5

1) Male has pencil stabbed through eye
      2) Male pushed to his death
      3) Male shot through the forehead
      4) Female thrown to her death
      5) Male impaled on spear
      6) Female impaled on spear
      7) Male has brains blown out
      8) Female shot in the head
      9) Female has neck broken



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