Blu-ray Review: Psycho Cop Returns



There are times when you want a dumb film. Mostly those times are when you want to not think too hard. Perhaps you have a couple buddies over and want to forget about the news. You want to enjoy your refreshment of choice without judgement. Ultimately you want a cheesy film that won’t ruin the fun by having someone say, “Can you fast forward” or whine to swap for a different disc. You want a dumb film, but not a lame film. Stuff has to happen to keep your attention. Psycho Cop Returns is exactly that film with its generous helpings of sex and violence.

Brian (Miles Dougal) and Larry (Rod Sweitzer) discuss their major plans for a bachelor party after hours at their office. Larry doesn’t care who hears them discuss booze, drugs and strippers in the diner. He should have since sitting at the counter sipping his coffee is Officer Joe Vickers (The Office‘s Robert R. Shafer). He’s such an extreme man of law that he’s on the run from the law for going beyond the law by killing suspects. He gets wind of the party, but instead of busting them for conspiracy, he follows them to the office. Old Mr. Stonecipher (Bill Paxton’s dad John Paxton) has no clue what his employees have plan as they eagerly wait for him to head home. Once he goes home, up come the strippers that include Pethouse Pet Julie Strain and Melanie Good (Seinfeld). The part quickly goes out of control and body parts are Xeroxed and faxed. But as things get wild, the Psycho Cop arrives to break up the fun in a homicidal rage. He has his own version of the Miranda Rights that’s quite catchy. Will anyone at the bachelor party escape his long arm?

Psycho Cop Returns is that rare form of dumb and fun. Films that were made for the striaght to video market were notorious for long boring stretches. These dead spots were necessary to make up the lack of a budget. The 85 minutes have something going on. There’s either partying, nudity or violence on the screen. There’s no desire to hit the fast forward button to get to the next big moment. Of course the big reason is that fact that director Rif Coogan was really Adam Rifkin who had just directed the cult hit The Dark Backwards with Bill Paxton and about to make Charlie Sheen’s The Chase. He was there to crank out a fun film. Dan Povenmire’s script didn’t get bogged down in details of why was Psycho Cop so Psycho. He created characters were those guys who would try to throw a bachelor party in the office. Cinematographer would eventual shoot Boondock Saints. Editor William G. Bernard was really Peter Schink who cut Detroit Rock City and The Dark Backwards. They all had fun on this week long shoot and it shows on the screen.

The best news is that you don’t need to have seen the original Psycho Cop to fully appreciate this film. All you need to know you can is that Joe’s police car is covered in spare body parts and a 666. For those who remember renting the Psycho Cop Returns VHS from Phar-Mor, you are in for a treat. The Blu-ray release of Psycho Cop Returns is uncut. For some reason that Rifkin and others don’t know, all the shots of blood and nudity were snipped. These were rather rough hacks. But now you can see Julie Strain and the other girls strip down. Plus you get to see partygoers get served by Officer Vickers. My guess was released around the time that Mom and Pop stores were being clobbered by Blockbuster. The distributor must have wanted to clean things up in a hopes of being more appealing. The uncut version really ups the game. Psycho Cop Returns is back with a vengeance on Blu-ray.

The videos is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the dark and gritty nature to the film. The resolution adds to the fun as you see how sweaty things got during the party. The audio is DTS-HD stereo. You get to enjoy all of Officer Vickers’ outrageous lines as he tears that office apart to punish the guilty. The movie is subtitled.

DVD has all the features of the Blu-ray.

Audio Commentary with Director Adam Rifkin lets him explain his double life in the ’90s. Rifkin can’t remember if it was shot as Psycho Cop II and released as Psycho Cop Returns. He saws the building they used for the shoot is now occupied by Cartoon Network. The best part of the talk however is the director recounting how Miles Dougal saved his life. They were childhood pals.

Habeas Corpus (42:46) is a documentary that covers so much of the film with input from Adam Rifkin (Director), Robert R. Shafer (Lead Actor), Dan Povenmire (Screenwriter), Peter Schink (Editor), Miles Dougal (Co-Star), Rod Sweitzer (Co-Star), Nick Vallelonga (Co-Star), Barbara Niven (Co-Star) and Melanie Good (Co-Star). Everyone has fond memories of cranking out Psycho Cop Returns in barely a week. Rifkin talks about how he made these quickie straight to video movies to practice for his larger indie films. Robert R. Shafer explains how he was in the same acting class as Nic Cage and Sean Penn. There’s talk of a dirty Simpsons drawing involving Julie Strain. This is as entertaining as the film.

“The Victims of Vickers” (9:32) is a fine interview with SFX Artist Mike Tristano. He discusses the rush of breaking down what needs to be shown and how to work fast on a low budget film that has an extremely limited time. He had to be careful with the blood and body parts in the cop car so they wouldn’t lose their security deposit. He was upset that all the violent scenes were editing out of the original VHS release. He’s excited that this Blu-ray will contain the original version.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Psycho Cop Returns. Directed by: Adam Rifkin. Screenplay by: Dan Povenmire. Starring: Robert R. Shafer, Barbara Niven, Miles Dougal, Rod Sweitzer, Nick Vallelonga and Julie Strain. Running Time: 85 minutes. Rated: R. Released: April 25, 2017.

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