Psycho Cop (1989)

Psycho Cop (1989)

He Always Gets His Man … And Everyone Else.

When a group of teenagers decide to spend their vacation in a rural summer house, it seems like it’s going to be the perfect time for some drinking, sex and general all round partying. However they didn’t plan on having their party crashed by Officer Joe Vickers, a Satanist and murderous cop intent on killing anyone in his way..

 

1988 is the year when filmmakers seemingly decided to turn law enforcing patrons into psychopathic killers, intent on wiping criminals and everyone else off the map. Psycho Cop and the vastly superior Maniac Cop were both released in the same year (not sure which was first – I was only 7 then!) and both deal with the same sort of story: a cop goes on a murderous rampage. Only whilst Maniac Cop opted for the serious route with a quality cast and strong script, Psycho Cop seems to have been given what was leftover when everyone else had their fill of ideas. Turning the character of a psycho cop into another Freddy Kruger and setting the whole thing up in the hills is just two of many mistakes that this wretched film makes.

The film doesn’t actually get to any plot until the final five minutes and even then the whole film can be summed up by ‘Satanic cop kills people.’ The film opens with the cop killing a few people and then we meet the teenagers for a bit. After a load of build up, the cop finally starts killing people but again we don’t know who he is or what he is doing. The chronic lack of characters doesn’t help matters, nor does the remote location. Since they have no contact with anyone else, we have to wait until someone shows up late in the film before any explanation is given. By that time, it seems like an afterthought.

To be fair, the idea of a psycho cop doesn’t need much explanation. The guy is a total loon and fires off as many clichéd cop-themed one-liners as you can think of. “You have the right to remain…DEAD” and “you’re obstructing justice” are just some of the many groan-inducing quotes said with cheesy relish by Robert R. Shafer. His overacting is as embarrassing as the rest of the cast’s lack of acting ability. The characters they play are so damned paranoid too. They are forever losing things and looking for them straight away (a chick loses her hair brush outside and then proceeds to look in every single place she didn’t go near during the day like the tool shed). As soon as another character leaves the scene, the others are like “where is…? what has happened to…?” The worst example is that of the caretaker. He introduces himself early on and then disappears, an early victim of the cop. But then characters spend most of the film looking for this guy they just met and worrying about where he may have gone, fearing the worst. He does have a life of his own you know! They are always thinking that they’re being watched too (which they are come to think of it). I can clearly see that the writers tried to make the characters a bit more believable – usually the dumb teens in these films don’t miss their friends. But this is going totally the other way.

Being a slasher film, what’s the crack with the staples of the genre – the gore, kills and nudity? Well there’s little gore, the kills are lame and there’s no nudity! The cop kills his victims with whatever he can find – Taser guns, his own bare hands, his baton, etc. He’s hardly going to win any Jason awards for his creativity with a sharp instrument. Given some of the hot female cast, it’s a crime that there wasn’t a taste of nudity – hell they even have a bath at one point. Come on Wallace Potts, get your cast to stand out of the tub! Potts does try and build up a little suspense it has to be said. But his constant shots of the killer’s boots or the killer walking in front of the camera to watch someone get a little tiresome given we know that it’s the cop. The musical score isn’t too bad – one of those simple 80s synth scores found so often in slasher films. It adds to the nostalgic charm.

 

Psycho Cop deserves a swift kicking from its superior officer – Maniac Cop. Dull, annoying and on for eighty-six minutes way too long, this is one stinker you wish would have been locked up with the key thrown away for good measure.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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