24th May2017

‘Psycho Cop Returns’ Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Robert R. Shafer, Barbara Niven, Miles Dougal, Rod Sweitzer, Nick Vallelonga, Melanie Good, Julie Strain | Written by Dan Povenmire | Directed by Adam Rifkin (as Rif Coogan)


You know, it wasn’t until the release of Detroit Rock City that I realised that a) Adam Rifkin and Rif Coogan are one in the same; and b) just how many of Rifkin’s films I considered amongst my favourites at that time: Never on Tuesday, The Dark Backward, The Chase and, of course, Psycho Cop Returns. Mainly because they were films I remember renting on video  (you couldn’t escape trailers for The Dark Backward back in the VHS era) and seeing on Sky’s movie channels in the days when you could be guaranteed to find an “obscure” film screening as filler between their big-name flicks!

Psycho Cop Returns came at a period in horror movie making, which also included the likes of The Tower and Hard to Die (aka Sorority House Massacre III), that were seemingly “inspired” by Die Hard; setting their terror tale in the confines of tower-blocks. Though most of these films were, in essence, just replacing the cliched cabin in the woods and sorority house settings that the slasher genre was synonymous with at the time. Here we have a film that takes the idea of the 80s yuppie throwing an after-work blow out and takes it to its ridiculous, gore-filled extreme. And like many a horror villian, our antagonist cracks wise as he kills… Hey, lets not break with that horror convention eh?

For those that haven’t seen Psycho Cop Returns, the film is a sequel to the more stoic 1989 original film; and once again follows Officer Joe Vickers (Robert R. Shafer), the meanest and deadliest cop in LA, who loves nothing better than leaving behind a never-ending stream of bloodied bodies – all in the name of justice. The fact that he also happens to be a Satan worshiping member of the undead doesn’t help much either! After overhearing some office workers discussing a secret drug and sex filled after-hours party they’re planning to host that night, Vickers decides to take the law into his own hands, disposing of the party-goers in a series of gruesome, yet hilarious, ways.

I remember Psycho Cop Returns was, at least on its original UK release, was one of those films that seemed to be advertised in EVERY movie magazine I read. Though to be honest my reading at the time consisted of TV Zone, The Dark Side and Video World Magazine… The latter of which was the ideal place to advertise an OTT slasher film filled with T&A! That’s not to say the film was easy to track down on release; because it wasn’t. I distinctly recall having to travel three towns over – to my nearest “chain” video rental establishment – to finally rent the film. But now we have a brand-new, high definition Blu-ray release of Adam Rifkin’s sequel from Vinegar Syndrome, complete with the now-obligatory “O-Card” limited edition (a trend I cannot get behind – just give me the damn movie and decent extras thanks) and a print that is truly gorgeous!

Extras on this release include an audio commentary from director Adam Rifkin; Habeas Corpus, a “making of” that features interviews with the likes of Rifkin, editor Peter Schink, screenwriter Dan Povenmire, and actors Robert R. Shafer, Barbara Niven, Melanie Good, Nick Vallelonga, Rod Sweitzer, and Miles Dougal; and The Victims of Vickers, an interview with SFX artist Mike Tristano.

Ultimately Psycho Cop Returns feels like one of the last bastions of slasher movie making – a fantastic blend of gratuitous boobs and copious amounts of blood, the likes of which would be forever changed just three years later, when Wes Craven’s Scream hit cinemas. The film is available now from Vinegar Syndrome.


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