Psycho Cop Returns is a real surprise: on paper, it sounds like a low-budget rip-off of Maniac Cop, which was a big hit in 1988. It is indeed a sequel to Psycho Cop, which was rushed onto video after the success of Maniac Cop. I’ve never seen the first Psycho Cop, but besides featuring Robert R. Shafer as the title character, this sequel is very much its own beast, from what I gather.
It starts with some white-collar workers who are discussing this insane bachelor party for their friend Gary, which they are planning to have after-hours at work. The cop Joe Vickers (Robert R. Shafer) overhears them and confronts them, but soon he leaves them alone… or so they think. Instead, he follows them to their work. It’s soon after the working day and the cop is in the building, as are the strippers the guys have hired. Will Gary, his friends and the strippers get through the evening intact?
Psycho Cop Returns was directed by Adam Rifkin, who is an interesting cult figure within the film world. He is probably better known for writing scripts for kid-friendly flicks like Mouse Hunt and Small Soldiers, Joe Dante’s anti-military satire. He has also directed many films over the years, most notably The Chase and the Kiss-infused teen comedy Detroit Rock City. Rifkin directed Psycho Cop Returns under his exploitation alias, “Rif Coogan.”
The virtues of the film really stem from its humour, which is referential to the history of the genre but also involves having fun subverting the genre at the same time. This partly due to Rifkin’s own twisted sense of humour, but also the script by Dan Povenmire, who was primarily known for being an animator/storyboarder for The Simpsons during its heyday of the mid- to late ’90s. The film is full of great lines, with my personal favourite being: “They are dressed, just scantily clad!”
So while it might look like Psycho Cop Returns was released to cash in on the video market after Maniac Cop’s success, it’s a bit more than that. It has a damn fine script, fun over-the-top performances, and gore, along with solid directing from Rifkin despite its tight, low-budget feel. Vinegar Syndrome has pulled out the stops for this DVD release, which includes a commentary from Rifkin, who is still relatively proud with that he did. There’s also nice 40-minute-plus documentary and, the package is finished off with a featurette with SFX artist Mike Tristano. The set includes the film on both DVD and Blu-ray.