Youtube Film Club: Psycho Cop 2 (1993)

After the first “Psycho Cop”, which was a success pretty much solely based on the participation of Bobby Joe Shafer as the titular fellow, the producers and star decided to find a new writer / director (Adam Rifkin, who also directed “Detroit Rock City” a few years later) and have some fun. So, we get a straight comedy, just one with tons of gore in it, all the things that made the first film good and none of the stuff that bored you to tears.

The setup for this one is – there’s going to be a bachelor party in an office building, after all the non-cool people have gone home for the night. This leaves Lawrence, Michael, Brian and Gary, one of them’s getting married but you don’t care which of the dumb male cannon fodder it is and neither do I. At breakfast one morning, two of the office bros are discussing this, including the weed and booze they’re going to have there, and sat a couple of chairs down is the one, the only, Psycho Cop!

You might remember from the first movie, that our friend got a rather blunt wooden stick thrown through his chest by one of the survivors of his first rampage; but of course his eyes popped open at the end, and he seems legitimately to be Satan-powered, so of course you know you can’t keep a good man down. After some mild recovery, it would appear he’s just been sat around for a few years waiting for someone to admit to a crime in front of him; but he’s good to go immediately. I mean, it’s pretty foolish to discuss smoking weed in front of any police officer, but when he’s an undead psychotic Satanist, that’s just rotten luck.

One small point: Joe’s number plate has 666 on it, because of course, but I’m going to guess the DMV won’t issue a plate with that number on it, so the one they have is a 999 number plate, turned upside down. Nice try guys! But the opening credits, where you see all the Satanic symbols (done in blood, obviously) and body parts (as if he’s very absent-minded after killing and butchering people) laid about his car, is amazing.

So, the majority of the movie is set in the office building. We get a good twenty minutes of sitcom-style shenanigans as the party is organised under the nose of unsuspecting boss Mr Stonecipher; as Brian tries to hit on office hottie Sharon; and as a couple commit some adultery in the copy room. It’s well-filmed, everyone’s given some fun lines, and it’s immediately apparent you’re in better hands than you were the first time.

Joining them a little later are a group of strippers, but they’re either the world’s friendliest strippers or they’re really prostitutes who dance a little, as they’re all over the four men from the moment they’re snuck past Gus the security guard. One of them is Julie Strain, who we’re becoming pretty familiar with. I thought it might be the beginning of her career, as she only gets a few lines, but it turns out we’ve already reviewed the earlier “Witchcraft 4”. Damn, that was a terrible one! The other two strippers are also decent actors, Melanie Good and Maureen Flaherty, so it’s all thumbs up so far.

Okay, the stripping section isn’t a million miles from soft porn, with almost naked women grinding on the guys and each other, but…it’s short, I guess? And they seem happy to be doing it all? I know.

So, once again, Officer Joe is the world’s best planner, setting up everything so he can offer up the office workers to Satan, even the ones who don’t seem to have done anything wrong. Although the cannon fodder don’t help by wandering off on their own, or going to the helicopter pad to have sex – to be fair, the helicopter pad scene is hilarious, so I shouldn’t complain. The bits where Joe starts faxing pictures of his victims to the survivors, who just assume it’s a prank, are damned funny too.

Ultimately, it’s a spree killer movie where you’re 100% cheering for the killer, not because the people are assholes, but because he’s amazing. Shafer is perfect for the role, knowing that people turned up for his quips and giving them to us with complete commitment. I’ll let his mini-monologue on the helicopter pad speak for itself (said after he’s shot a guy in the head and thrown a woman off the roof):

You have the right to remain dead. Anything you say can and will be considered very strange because you’re dead. You have the right to an attorney, but it won’t do you any good because you’re dead. Do you understand these rights that have just been read to you? Are you even listening? It would be a lot easier if you were a little more cooperative!

When he confronts the remaining survivors, and tries to pretend to be a normal cop for a few minutes, but is so crazy he can’t quite manage it and doesn’t care, could have been terrible in the hands of a worse actor, but it’s my favourite scene in the movie. People get hacked up and shot in the head and it’s entertaining from beginning to end.

But wait! It’s not perfect, quite. There is a Final Girl, as is standard in these things, but she’s introduced weirdly, as she’s completely incidental to the first half and only really steps up when she joins the rest of the cast. I would assume a scene which introduces her got cut, because otherwise it makes no sense to have her in that role. I was sort of expecting it to be Julie Strain until she met her end too, so be prepared for this to sort of stick to the horror rules, then sort of ignore them. The ending, apparently a parody of the Rodney King beating (look it up and be horrified, younger readers) is a bit weird too, but I imagine it would’ve been a lot more shocking at the time.

Other than that, I have no trouble calling this vastly superior to the original (a trait it shares with “Maniac Cop 2” – oh, for a crossover between those two franchises!) and, considering it’s on Youtube, should be watched by you all immediately. Funny, clever, and extremely violent – the ISCFC trifecta!

Rating: thumbs up

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Youtube Film Club: Psycho Cop (1989)

This marks the start of a season of reviews of movies with “Cop” as the last word of their title. Even though we’ve already reviewed “Samurai Cop”, “Hollywood Cop”, “Vampire Cop”, the other “Vampire Cop”, all three “Maniac Cop” entries, “Omega Cop”, “Karate Cop”, “Android Cop” and “Demon Cop”, there are many more out there which require us to tell the world about. If you have a favourite, please leave a comment!

Director Wallace Potts seemed an interesting fellow. Like fellow ISCFC-covered director David DeCoteau, he got his start directing gay porn (according to the sole review of his “Dude” from 1979, it’s pretty classy stuff, as some adult entertainment of the time had actual production values and so on) and was the lover of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in the 70s too – he was the chief archivist of the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation from 1992 to his death in 2007. Aside from an “additional dialogue” credit on Mad Max-alike “Terminus” in 1987, and a segment of a portmanteau film with the clunky title “Tales Of The Unliving And The Undead”, this represents the entirety of his mainstream filmmaking career, and I’m sort of fascinated in why it started and ended so quickly.

Anyway. Our hero, referred to in the credits as “Psychocop” but going initially by the name Officer Joe Vickers, really loves Satan. He draws pentagrams everywhere and writes 666 too (referred to as the sign of the devil, when I thought it was the number of the beast? Ah, I don’t keep up on my Satanism, sorry), and when a newly married couple takes a wrong turn at a remote gas station, they’re in bad territory and do not last long at all.

Officer Joe has the most charming laugh and crazy eyes, and really relished the role, you can tell. He’s funny as hell, with every one-liner being a delight – I mean, they’re cheesy as hell, but it’s all in the delivery. “You have the right to remain…DEAD!” or, just after ripping a fella’s heart out, “have a heart…ha ha!” Kudos to Robert R Shafer (who you might remember from “The Office”) for spinning wheat into gold with his amazing performance.

Because without him, this would be really tough to deal with. A group of six college students, three gay guys and their female friends, go for a trip to a luxury cabin in the woods. Wait, they’re three couples? Huh? Sorry, let’s start again. Three gay actors who are very bad at playing straight go on a trip to a luxury cabin in the woods, and Officer Joe decides to murder them all and have some fun while he’s doing it. And that’s it, pretty much. It’s a delightfully standard slasher movie, with its “Meet the Meat” segment, jump scares, the guy who insists “everything is fine” long past the point when even the most rational person would be panicking, the killer who appears gifted with powers of teleportation, and no-one actually discovering a dead body til almost the end of the movie.

There’s an intriguing wrinkle with the caretaker character, who you think is going to be central to things. He shows up with an axe (a suspiciously brand new-looking one, but whatever), says he’s around all the time, shows them round the house, and then…he’s one of the early victims, getting an axe to the head. He points out that the lights go off at midnight and there’s a weird thing with the hot tub, so you assume it’s foreshadowing for stuff that’s going to happen later, but no – I’m not sure whether it’s just bad writing or a clever joke on similar scenes in other movies. The caretaker is referred to, after his death, something like 30 times, which seems weird but then a lot of “Psycho Cop” is weird.

There are lots of moments that have you wondering at the thought processes behind the writing. There’s the odd focus on soup; the way one of the characters goes looking for her missing toothbrush outside, in the bushes, in the dark; and, oddest of all, the way one of the guys keeps trying to get one of the women to go into the woods with him for sex, but she says no, complaining of mosquitoes. Well, that’s not the odd bit, it’s how they’re in a gigantic house with multiple bedrooms. Why not just suggest you go to a nice comfy bed, mate? Have you got an outdoor sex fetish?

I assumed at the beginning that the movie was filmed by Mormons, as everyone is very soberly dressed (with the exception of a brief sunbathing scene, there’s not a millimetre of skin on display), but I’m guessing it’s more to do with the sexuality of the director. And it’s a good thing, as no-one’s watching “Psycho Cop” to see women disrobe – you’re watching it to see quips and kills! Even though there’s one horny guy in it, it’s a very sexless movie.

It’s also, I hasten to add, absolutely terrible. No reason is given for any of this stuff happening, and without Shafer, it would be a joyless slog through “teen” death like we’ve seen a million times before. One presumes it was inspired by the previous year’s “Maniac Cop”, but whereas Maniac Cop was good, this was awful; seriously, they have nothing in common, although “Maniac Cop 3” sort of dips its toe in supernatural waters, the same as this does (worshiping the devil isn’t just for fun!).

It’s available for free, is entertaining as hell, and absolutely should be added to your bad movie night rotation. And there’s a sequel which is listed as a comedy too! If I can track it down, I’ll review that one for you too.

Rating: thumbs up

Vampire Cop (1990)

Now that's how you do a tagline!

Now that’s how you do a tagline!

As a bad movie enthusiast, I occasionally worry about running out of the really weird, low-budget movies whose reviews have littered these pages and which have become so famous. I think “there’s only a finite amount, right? One day I’ll have seen the last really bonkers one”; but every time I feel that way, I pop on something like this and discover a masterpiece.

 

This may be a tricky movie to track down, especially on this side of the Atlantic, and not just because it’s fairly obscure. There are lots of self-published “dark romance” novels about vampires and cops, the Rick Springfield “Forever Knight” pilot has been renamed “Twilight Vampire Cop” by some enterprising soul, there’s a Japanese film called “Vampire Cop Ricky”, another movie called “Vampire Cop” from 1993 which was eventually renamed “Midnight Kiss”…but of this, no trace. Hell, if “Hollywood Cop” and “Demon Cop” can get distribution and bad-movie love, this deserves to be there with them!

Vampire Cop (1)

The first ten minutes of the movie, as well as having one of the most amazing opening songs of all time, appears to be the psychic visions of a sleeping Melissa Moore (who we loved in “Samurai Cop”, talking of amazingly bad movies whose titles end with that word). Some drug deals go down, a guy appears to buy two women from a bikini beauty contest (?), a scumbag tries to rape a woman, and we meet the mysterious backlit vampire. Over and over again, the guy is backlit, even after we know who it is and it makes no sense for him to be stood that way – well, it might make more sense to say they repeat the same bit of footage, a complaint we’ll return to later. Moore is Melanie Roberts, a TV news reporter, and after being approached by a woman who the vampire saves from rape, decides to do some investigation.

 

Our hero is amazingly billed on IMDB as “Vampire Cop Lucas”, just in case you confused him with one of the movie’s other Lucases, and is played by a guy called Ed Cannon, for whom this was his one and only acting credit. He’s bloody terrible, in case you were wondering, but I’m kinda interested in how he got the role, and his acting seems to mainly consist of baring his awful vampire teeth and slowly walking towards people who are shooting at him. Well, that and sex. The love scenes are enough to make me bored of sex, as they just go on and on, making sure the man is as fully covered, and the woman as naked, as possible. Poor Melissa Moore has to take a phone call related to her job with one of her boobs hanging out!

Vampire Cop (4)

I’ve still not really described the plot of the movie, have I? The local drug kingpin wants to keep the cops and reporters off his back, and does this by giving lots of money to charity (and killing a surprising number of people, including taking a chainsaw to a police Lieutenant who’d just gone on the air to say he was going to bring the guy to justice!) He realises Lucas is a vampire and wants the power for himself, while Lucas, on the other hand, despite having lived for over a century, has inexplicably become sloppy, biting his enemies and letting them turn into way more powerful enemies. He’s also not exactly a nice guy, being seen killing and eating at least one prostitute – which was perhaps justified as cleaning up the streets? God knows. Anyway, good ol’ Vampire Cop kills and eats his way to victory, with Moore pretty much just along for the ride (although she does finish off the last bad guy by exposing him to sunlight, and then is given perhaps the stupidest ending of any movie ever).

 

Somewhere in this movie is a sense of humour. The news producer talks about his favourite former segments, which include “Transsexual House Pets” and “Men Who Name Their Testicles”, and one of the Kingpin’s goons (no names on IMDB, so I can’t narrow it down) is clearly having a good time. But these moments which are funny on purpose are few, and far between. The stuff which is brain-hurtingly bad by accident is far more plentiful.

I've got no idea why this bloke was in the movie

I’ve got no idea why this bloke was in the movie

I’d lay good money on this movie having an interesting backstage story. First up, it’s only 82 minutes, with an extremely slow credit sequence taking up a good 7 of them. The Vampire Cop just disappears a few minutes before the end, never to be seen again, which makes me wonder if he was a little “difficult” – also, check out the number of times the same footage of him driving his car and standing there backlit is repeated over the course of the movie. And then there’s the slow motion! Almost every scene has some slow-mo in it, including those for which it actually works against the story, or is just meaningless (Moore running down some stairs at her beach-house, for example). So, if you take out the credits and the repeated footage, speed up the irrelevant slow motion, and halve the sex scenes (which would still leave you with a heck of a lot of sex) this movie would be about half an hour long. But it’s a fun, bizarre half an hour!

 

It’s a movie set in a variety of ugly spaces. One scene set in Moore’s bedroom pans across a little too far so you can see the other bed in what is very obviously a hotel room; in fact most of the movie seems like it was filmed on the fly in whatever cheap motel had an offer on that day. To this barrage on the senses, you can add the cheap, gaudy cars that everyone drives too – drug dealers and cops alike.

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I feel bad for Moore, exploited in movies like this and “Samurai Cop”, and I feel bad for that one good actor (not enough to find out his name, obviously). But everyone else pretty much deserves whatever they get. Writer/director Donald Farmer appears to have spent his career making movies of this sort – “Cannibal Hookers”, “An Erotic Vampire In Paris” and “Chainsaw Cheerleaders”, among others. If only they’re all as wonderfully terrible as this!

 

Wholeheartedly recommended (if you can find it) for your next bad movie night.

 

Rating: thumbs up