A psycho killer is on the loose again, and his name is Mick Taylor

John Jarrett in Wolf Creek. Photo: supplied

John Jarrett in Wolf Creek. Photo: supplied

There's a madman on the loose – and not just any old madman.

For better or worse outback psycho killer Mick Taylor is one of the most instantly recognisable figures – perhaps even one of the most iconic – to have emerged from the Australian cinema in recent decades.

As given life by the terrifying John Jarratt – all weatherbeaten hide, wiry bristles and grunting    chuckle – he's a two-legged razorback driven by slavering, homicidal sadism.

But given the current worldwide focus on men's abuse of women, is it really the ideal time to be bringing out another season of a show about a man who famously delights in severing women's spines and subjecting them to various other forms of torture?

Indeed, is there ever really an ideal time for such a thing? Viewers who press play on this second season of Wolf Creek with anything less than wholehearted bloodlust are likely to find themselves cycling between distaste for the grotesque violence and a desire to give the show a chance for other reasons.

The season begins in jarringly unpleasant fashion with rifle crosshairs caressing an unsuspecting woman out walking her dog.

But the rest of that scene, which otherwise involves just Taylor and a similarly rough-hewn outback gun-shop owner played by Chris Haywood, is captivating stuff.

And when the camera moves outside, the big sky, sizzling powerlines and dead rabbits hanging from a wire fence combine to generate a thrilling sense of menace.

So the series proceeds, the enjoyable aspects of cinematography, characterisation and performance alternating with repulsive, senseless torture and murder.

Taylor's victims this time around are a busload of tourists setting out from Adelaide on an outback adventure. Led by good-natured bus driver Davo (Ben Oxenbould), they're a diverse mob that includes a chatty, eccentric Kiwi (The Hobbit's Stephen Hunter), an American war veteran (Christopher Kirby), a know-it-all British psychiatrist (Matt Day) and various other sorts from across Australia, Europe and North America.

With the writing making them mostly quite likeable – and with Jarratt making Taylor so mesmerising – it's hard not to ponder whether the story couldn't have been tweaked so that Taylor wasn't really coming to kill them all, and was in fact out to save them from radioactive mutant goannas or something.

Of course, once you find yourself wishing that you were watching an entirely different show you're better off doing just that.

Wolf Creek (season 2) streams on Stan from December 15.