Psycho Cop Returns (1993)

In my role as a bad movie apologist I spend a lot of time talking about Psycho Cop Returns, it is one of my all time favourite bad movies, hell it is probably one of my all time favourite real movies. Directed by Adam Rifkin (under the alias Rif Coogan) who is well known for Seventies-set teen comedy; Detroit Rock City, Psycho Cop Returns is the ultimate Friday night beer movie for blokes. If you think about everything you want in a bad movie, this flick has it in spades. So if you think you can handle a movie where the main cast amble through a series of vaguely satanic set pieces punctuated with one-liners that even Arnie would shirk then read on.

From the offset, the film makes itself pretty clear that it is all about the camp. We are first introduced to Brian and Larry discussing their after hours office party in a coffee shop in which the titular character; Officer Joe Vickers, eats a donut in slow motion. Later, after Larry brings some strip-prostitutes to the party, Officer Joe enters the building to cause havoc and to read people their rights. Or more aptly, last rites. The action remains in the office building, until the last few scenes where it spreads out into a generic city.

Set in a universe where every window has the same view of the street below, where the police have an almost psychic bond with elevators and where men with beautiful fiancés would rather get rubbed on by tacky looking strippers, Psycho Cop Returns wears its sexism and gore-lust on the sleeve of its unconcerned-about-continuity jacket. It is abundantly clear that everyone involved was far more interested in having a bloody good time, instead of making a bloody good movie. And it shows.

The acting couldn’t get any worse, with Ted Raimi-alike Miles David Dougal as the main offender. He reads his lines like some kind of exasperated man-child. It doesn’t help that he has some of the most shockingly bad lines in the whole production, for example “I was right! I’m never right but this time I am right!”. Never has there been a script written with such flagrant disregard for how people actually talk. Rod Sweitzer is almost as bad too, delivering his smug yuppie schtick with such little panache that he actually almost creates a memorable performance. The only actor in here with anything even approaching chops is Shafer, who manages to capture over-the-top-pithy-psycho with flair. Being the main villain, Shafer is also given all of the best lines. Take “You have the right to remain dead…” or “Suspect is blonde and considered extremely fuckin’ stupid!” as indicators of the accidental genius that is Psycho Cop Returns.

I’ve mentioned the script a bunch of times, but when you bear in mind that it was written by Phineas And Ferb co-creator and erstwhile Rocko’s Modern Life scribe Dan Povenmire, things start to become more interesting. The fact that the guy responsible for this bargain bucket, blood n’ boobs epic has a direct line into the minds of our children is wonderful and terrifying in equal parts!

There is nudity too, courtesy of Julie Strain, Kimberly Spies and a host of other bimbo types. A couple of fairly graphic sex scenes and one long stripping scene about half way through that sits, very much, out of place. The gore is pretty tame too, which begs the question; why is the DVD release is so heavily cut? Seriously, it looks like it was hacked up by Mary Whitehouse brandishing a chainsaw. I would recommend the VHS release, heartily.

Some of the scenes are so well realised that they look out of place in pseudo-entertaining dross like this, and it is even worse when the makers attempt to shoehorn in some LA riots-based subtext. This is most certainly not the movie for subtext of any kind. And it really is very sexist; women in this movie are just objects to titillate, mutilate and then denigrate with lines like “You act like trash, you get treated like trash.”

It really is a lot of fun though. I can watch this movie again and again without even approaching boredom; chances are if you know me well enough to have ever been to my house then you have been forced to watch this movie. Girlfriends hate it but friends love it, and friends always win out over girlfriends, right? So, if you aren’t afraid of a little harmless misogyny, interjected with some of the best bad acting you’ll ever see, then this is as much your movie as it is mine.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.