“You have the right to remain dead. Anything you say can and will be considered extremely strange, because…you’re dead. You have the right to an attorney…a fat lot of good it’ll do ya, because you’re dead.”
It’s probably no surprise to Third Eye regulars, or listeners to Weird Scenes, or anyone who’d heard the April Fools Day Slasherama I did with SOV slasher director Tim Ritter on the Third Eye podcast half a decade ago…but alongside the many cult and arthouse film genres I gravitate towards and adore, I am also a slasher film fan.
Now, as with everything else (from music to film and beyond), we’re really talking about the storied anything goes/question authority 1970’s, the dayglo/goofy 1980’s and the last gasp of the indies in the early to mid-90’s…there really hasn’t been a hell of a lot worth paying attention to since, and that applies rather well as a rule of thumb across the board.
But even so, my knowledge and collection of slashers ranges well into the obscure, and one of the most difficult to lay hands on (and hence, one of the more recently acquired and viewed in relative terms) were the two Psycho Cop films.
Now, personally, I absolutely loved the first one. A prime example of the oft derided “comedy slasher”, Psycho Cop was as no budget as they come, with a group of typically doofy 80’s yuppie teens heading out to the family summer home for shenanigans…only to run into the freaky axe-wielding caretaker and the oddly relentless blue shirted nazi…er, “police officer” who seems to be around every corner, watching their every move.
Of course, it’s no surprise to anyone that the cop is not only a quota-seeking, profile-happy overcompensating fascist (cough), but a satan worshipping serial killer. And then the expected fun begins…
It’s atmospheric, amusing fun, and hits all the right beats for a slasher of its era…and it’s always been surprising how much even slasher aficionados seem to relegate the film to the bottom of their approval ratings. Sure, it’s no masterwork for the ages. But it’s a slasher, what the hell were you expecting?
But while that film still lounges in R2 OOP DVD limbo, its vastly inferior sequel…gets an extra packed Blu-ray restoration. Say huh?
Well, there’s a very obvious reason for this…and that’s because the (similarly R2 OOP DVD) sequel has heretofore only been available in a butchered, gore-free version. It’s like those old softcore cuts of 70’s porn films. What the hell are we watching this for, if not the “money shot” kills of all these hateful characters? So there’s a demand for a “directors cut” restoration out there…probably among slasher fans who’ve never seen just how bad the rest of the film actually is.
So that aside, what you get with Psycho Cop 2 is…really nothing whatsoever like its progenitor. Dropping the standard annoying teenagers, isolated location and any degree of atmosphere, director Adam Rifkin (here working under a pseudo, as he did for all of his “less than mainstream” fare) introduces us to some even more grating than usual yuppie businessmen, whose obnoxious boys club/used car salesman personalities arouse even more ire and disdain than the average annoying but strangely loveable for it 80’s slasher victim fare.
Yeah, the whole point of a slasher film is that you root for the killer, because these doofuses are so stupid and irritating that you can’t wait to see them get bumped off in inventive ways. But with Psycho Cop 2? Maybe it’s just something that you develop when you have to work in an office for a living, but you really can’t wait to see every last one of these assholes get their just desserts.
Anyway, the ingenious plot here…which would never fly with any corporation nowadays, mind – is that these junk-grabbing geniuses decide to hold an impromptu bachelor party for one of their own…in office, after hours.
Seriously. That’s the plot.
So after the usual corporate antics like making photocopies of your bare ass and faxing it to your favorite girl…or the boss, by mistake, our intrepid party planners get a bit too blabby in front of erstwhile patrolman Joe Vickers (Robert R. Shafer, looking pudgier than he did in the original Psycho Cop a few years prior) at the local donut shop (where else?)…who decides to pay a visit to the office. And “(he) never drink(s) when (he’s) on duty”.
The bulk of the film consists of said “bachelor party”, with bad (and very, very fake) L.A. hair metal several years after that scene was decimated by the grunge onslaught and a trio of decent looking if unspectacular strippers (Andy Sidaris regular Julie Strain bears the phoniest stuffed breasts of the trio, Melanie Good and Maureen Flaherty make up the remainder of the rent girls on display) wiggling their moneymaker and sporting at least one interesting outfit (hello, Ms. Good).
Folks pair off, a rather late working coworker (Barbara Niven) stumbles
across the whole fiasco, and Vickers starts knocking off the malfeasants, doofy Freddy Krueger quips in tow.
Shafer, for his part, continues to deliver his uber-camped up, one liner-prone Vickers, though it really does feel like he’s far more eye rolling-prone and nudge nudge, wink wink this time around (likely picking up on the far more foolish and giddy vibe on set). The others…well, Niven tries hard and the strippers are reasonably attractive, that’s about the best you can say for it (insert hearty laugh here).
Personally, I’d have preferred a full on Psycho Cop collection, which would have left Psycho Cop 2 the less enticing half of a complete set of Rifkin/Shafer comedy-horror rarities, but given the restoration of the gore scenes snipped from the already hard to find R2 release, I’m sure there are folks out there who think “this one’s already essential!”
Matters are decidedly enlivened by a rather fun, upbeat 45 minute extra on the making of the film with (get this): director Rifkin, stars Shafer, Dougal, Sweitzer, Vallelonga, Niven and Good, screenwriter Dan Povenmire and editor Peter Schink (who claims his quick cut editing of the strip scenes turned out to be his launching point/de facto demo reel to better things!)…all of whom come off good natured, good humored and unlike some of their characters onscreen, quite likeable. The positive energy is downright infectious, and leaves the viewer walking away expecting a far better film experience than Psycho Cop 2 could ever actually provide.
There’s also a 9 minute chat with special effects man Mike Tristano on the kills, and a commentary track with Rifkin for those inclined.
Look, there’s not a lot I can say for Psycho Cop 2. For me, it’s pretty much the absolute nadir of the 80’s-early 90’s vintage slasher genre…and I have strong affection for Psycho Cop, Evil Laugh and even Shadows Run Black, so realize what I’m saying here. To quote “Legendary James” Brown’s “funky President”, people, it’s bad.
But there’s definitely a bit of eye candy…a whole hell of a lot of overly obvious, camped up, eye rolling Borscht belt humor, and of course both Shafer’s quotable quips and a restoration of the strangely edited gore scenes. If you’re into the film or always wanted to see it in its complete glory…this is the one for you, kid.