I have a soft spot for trashy 80s slasher movies, and this one has all the key ingredients. The victims are annoying ‘teens’ who want to party. They cause false jump-scares by suddenly grabbing each other. They talk aloud to themselves when they’re alone. They walk backwards without looking where they’re going. Cars don’t start when you need a quick getaway, and women trip over when chased by a killer. And of course there’s an unstoppable psycho there – for no particular reason – who can be in several places at once.
What provides the extra cheesy, crusty topping that makes this more fun than some other low budget slashers, is the unintentionally amusing writing. And Phyllis-from-The-Office’s husband (“Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration”) as a devil-worshipping, serial-killer police officer, who comes out with one-liners, and walks like he’s been on a horse for way too long.
The ‘teens’ are dressed up in 80s garb, driving their flashy open-top car to a holiday house they rented with loads of money from stocks & shares or something like that. Yes, I was already wishing Psycho Cop would hurry up and find them. Especially the annoying girl who was brushing her hair obsessively despite the car roof being open. And brushing her hair by the pool later. And brushing her hair in the house. And – well, all the flipping time. You could play a drinking game for every time she does it, except you might not make it conscious to the end of the film.
At the rented house we meet the caretaker/security man/blond surfer dude who lives in a ramshackle caravan in the grounds. He’s quickly disposed of when his axe goes missing (we know it’s missing because there’s a big axe-shaped silhouette conveniently painted on the external caravan wall) and it suddenly reappears in his forehead. He falls down silently. Back at the house pool, Doug suddenly sits up – “I thought I heard someone screaming.” This seems unlikely because of (a) the royalty-free music they’re playing very loudly, and (b) NOBODY SCREAMED.
This ‘screaming’ is referred to again, several times, despite never happening. Yet when other victims really do scream nobody notices. Meanwhile, the killer continues wisecracking, doing his curious uncomfortable-looking walk, and hiding in the shed next to an inflatable zebra.
The stupidity of the victims makes the murders laughable rather than shocking. One victim stands on the spot while the killer hurtles towards her in a car. When she finally turns and runs into the woods, she takes a path wide enough for a vehicle to chase her through the trees and squish her. Surely that would be more difficult than simply running where the gaps are narrower, or tree trunks would get in the way?
Other bizarre scenes involve two of the girls sharing a bubble bath together, for no obvious reason, while the other girl stands by, worrying that someone walked past the window. Presumably someone with incredibly long legs, since they’re on the upper floor.
The cop has the Mark of the Devil (written in biro on the back of his hand), there are some wooden crosses, and a sacrificial cat. But overall the satanism doesn’t have much to do in the plot (except maybe justifying how a psychopath with a false name gets a job in the police force after getting out of prison).
I loved this movie. It’s hard not to shout at it sometimes, when the victims do ridiculous things, or improbable stuff happens. But it’s also hard not to laugh too. This one is a fun night in.
Psycho Cop aka Psychocop (1989) is available to purchase from amazon.co.uk, amazon.com and other retailers.
Psycho Cop/1989/Smoking Gun/Dir: W Potts/Prod: C Elwes, J Rains