By 1989, the golden age of slashers had been exsanguinated. If you consider Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood the genre prototype, and the blueprint for this kind of film, Psycho Cop represents a coda of sorts. Hell, they both contain the meat cleaver between the eyes kill, which by this point had become so overused that even Jason Voorhees had moved on. Also, the film comes shortly on the heels of the audacious Maniac Cop, minus the story, subversion, effects and star power (hello, Richard Roundtree, Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins).
The best cop-centric movies are the ones which question our relationship with law enforcement, like Robocop, while the worst (and this includes Psycho Cop) barely make use of the conceit to generate thrills.
For instance, the fiberoptic cable-thin plot (serial killer cop goes after college students on a weekend getaway) doesn’t even require a police officer as the antagonist.
After all, the film lays its cards on the table in the first 15 minutes as the partiers notice they’re being tailed by a cop acting strangely. So it’s not like he’s using his authority in any way that could be construed as particularly devious or clever, such as going after a lone female motorist on a desolate stretch of road, or using his authority to gain entry into an apartment. And since he mostly lurks in the woods outside the students’ Air B’n’B-styled accommodations, it hardly matters if he flashes a badge.
The most egregious aspect of Psycho Cop, however, apart from the static direction that wouldn’t pass muster as a CPR training video, is the near-constant references to beer as a plot device. Now, I like beer as much as the next guy (unless that guy is Ben Affleck, allegedly) but my god…”we’re out of beer,” “pass me a beer,” “we went through a case of beer?” “Did Zack go to get beer?” gets really old and comprises at least one-fifth of the runtime.
So, what we’re left with is a Ten Little Indians-styled stalk-and-slash with a bunch of very interchangeably ripped frat guys, their hot girlfriends, but strangely, no nudity and one liners, which like the beer…fall flat.
*1/2 (out of 5)