The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) Poster

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The Profile Doesn't Fit The Tapes
schweinehunder4 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was patiently waiting for this film to be released for some time now, and I had overall fairly high expectations. In the end I wasn't overly impressed, but I cannot say it comes as a surprise to me. Basically the movie is a mock documentary about the career of a serial killer, and I would like to start off by saying to those of you who rate this as "bad movie" simply because it's not violent, explicit or gory enough, you should at least figure out what you're rating before making an ass out of yourself. This cannot be rated as a standard horror movie, because it's not. Basically what you're rating is fake snuff, packaged into a fake crime documentary envelope the likes of which you don't get to see on "american justice" with the supposed snuff footage attached. So therefore, if you say it's a BAD movie because it's boring, then what the hell are you watching a mock documentary for in the first place?? Simply, if you find shows like "American Justice" or "Cold Case Files" boring or uninteresting, and enjoy pure gorefests and slasher flicks rather than real life crime, you will NOT like this movie. However if you are interested in crime profiling, and actually research criminal cases, you will probably find this interesting and it would be worthwhile to see.

The main problem I have however, is the whole profile of the killer. To me, "The Brothers Dowdle" made the mistake of trying to make the serial killer out to be an exceptional ultra meticulous serial killer, (unlike any the world has seen BEFORE!) rather than just an average serial killer. The biggest problem with this premise is that every time we see the killer on camera, he is usually doing extremely high risk things, which a clever killer wouldn't do, and in the end he seems extremely LUCKY half the time, rather than being aided by meticulous planning. Examples: The way he stalks Sheryl Dempsey for so long, putting himself in plain view before finally abducting her. Showing up and confronting Sheryl Dempsey's mother at her house while an ongoing crime investigation is taking place. And the worst is how he invites the 2 girls who live on his block into his house, while Sheryl Dempsey is hiding under the table. If they knew she was under there, or the neighbours had heard any screams coming from the house at any time, it would have meant instant death, much like when the neighbours of Jeoffrey Dahmer were concerned with the peculiar odours coming from his basement. Also the way he abducts young girls on their own property in broad daylight is very high risk, and he would have clearly had some failed attempts, thus having witnesses. I also really did not like how the crime investigators supposedly consulted Ted Bundy for advice on the case (He was in fact consulted for advice about The Green River Killer).

Another big problem is that when they find out exactly WHO the killer is and where he lived, they go into absolutely no detail as to what KIND of person he was in daily life, where he worked, how people around him regarded him, which again does not really give the viewer any chance to examine his character in any relation to the profile he's given. The almost comical fact of the matter is that when you closely examine serial killers on a personal level, they present themselves as plain and mundane, almost boring individuals most of the time, which in fact was what allowed a killer like Gary Ridgway to become THE most prolific American serial killer of all time, because though at many times he was a suspect, he was written off every single time because he seemed like such an average Joe, which by contrast the killer in THIS film was an extreme oddball. This fact is I suppose, a good excuse for the creators to keep him as mysterious and therefore menacing as possible, while at the same time making no real account for his apparent success at killing.

In the end after watching this movie, I came away with the impression of having watched an overall sloppy premise, and though it was an interesting attempt, these Brohers Dowdle clearly take themselves for something much more impressive than they actually are. Had they had consultation from real crime investigators when writing the script, which is what Martin Scorcese did, when directing his extremely impressive true crime based dramas, this film would have definitely been more impressive. In the end the ultimate point is, if you ARE interested in crime documentaries, why even bother with this fake contrived junk when you can watch the real thing in documentaries about real life killers? As mentioned before, you certainly won't be watching this movie for violence or gore.
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This is a gem.
yzzordorex sayar'u6 May 2007
I'm so incredibly tired of the sequel-slash-remake factory of Hollywood horror. This film is a very welcome change.

I've heard some criticism of the performances, and I cannot concur. The lead actress who portrayed Cheryl Dempsey did a really wonderful job. The slight unevenness adds to the realistic feel of the film. Without giving anything away, I must say that the true horror is not to be found within the videotaped torture. As brutal and horrific as that is, the real frightening stuff lies in the aftermath.

The writer & director Brothers Dowdle were present at the Tribeca screening which I attended along with two of the actors. The brief Q & A after the film was thoroughly enjoyable. Envisioned as the first part of a trilogy, this is not to be missed by fans of the serial killer genre. I'm looking forward to the next installment.
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Cheryl Dempsey makes the film worthwhile
Alistar Baker18 July 2011
This horror flick is unique in the way it leaves a lot to the imagination. Most of the acting is poor, but the story of Cheryl Dempsey makes the movie worthwhile. In fact, her story, could have stood on its own. The character is portrayed well, and it is very hard to forget what happens to her and how she is affected. Because of how devastating her story is, and because a lot is left to the imagination as to how her story progressed, the movie is actually worth watching for horror buffs. If they'd left her story out, most of the movie would be a waste of time. Her story also makes the serial killer in the story much more engrossing, since it gives a kind of unusual psychological depth to his character which is often missing in horror.
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can't get this movie out of my head!
Stauch8 May 2007
I'm a big fan of the horror genre, but I've gotten used to "disposable" horror flicks that stop being scary the moment the lights come up. So I'm especially grateful to admit-- I CANNOT GET THIS MOVIE OUT OF MY HEAD! I thought it was scary in the theater, but it's just become so much scarier in the week since I saw it at the Tribeca Film Festival (where the audience, BTW, went nuts for it. it was the big "buzz" film at TFF.)

I don't want to add any spoilers so I won't go into detail, but MAN, there were a handful of "video footage" scenes that were so scary, I haven't been able to wash my face without keeping one eye open while I splash with water, you know what I mean?

For me, the thing that makes it so scary is 1.) it's all so hyper realistic 2.) the characters (some of them) are so vulnerable and authentic and even kind of lovable that the scares have a lot more impact. If you're hoping to see just another popcorn movie where the gang of vapid teenagers gets butchered, this probably ain't the film for you. On the other hand, if you wish they were still making movies as meaningful and scary as Rosemary's Baby, Repulsion, The Shining, Texas Chainsaw, Henry Portrait Of... and even (to mention a newer flick) The Ring, then you absolutely have to check out this new cult classic.
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Bad script and acting kills any chance (pun intended)
crooow-23 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This fake documentary had promise. I didn't mind the grainy film shot by the killer. It masks most of the actual violence (which they have characters tell you about afterward). It got more graphic near the end and I didn't need/want to see that but what can you expect going into a movie like this? What made this almost unwatchable was the incredibly bad script and bad acting by the peripheral players. The killer and victims were believable. The police, parents, news reporters and FBI agents were not. In one interview an FBI agent says "You know the funny thing about this?" which was unbelievable from all angles (including the delivery). Another interview has an agent saying "Maybe he thought I would admire him but I could never do that after what he did to Cheryl Dempsey". Oh so you were thinking of possibly admiring him? A couple of the cops were believable but it was so distracting to have these completely ridiculous interviews interspersed with the actual investigation footage and the killer's tapes. I persevered to the end but I thought about turning it off many times. For people who said that made it more realistic, try watching actual interviews with police and FBI agents on IDTV.

The other aspect was that the police work didn't hold together. They claim to have the killer on a gas station video covering his face and they also have the mother of a victim who saw him up close so they have a sketch and his car and yet they have zero clues. And the killer got enough sperm from a sperm bank from one police officer with a history of violence and no alibis who was near all the victims so that the killer could frame him? Ridiculous. I guess the sperm bank just gives out huge samples to random guys in their mid-20s with no documentation. And you can go in and request a specific person's sperm and keep it "fresh" enough to plant on multiple victims.

The more I think about it, the stupider this whole movie is becoming.
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Certainly not perfect, but effective nonetheless.
FrightMeter20 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"The Poughkeepsie Tapes" is a tough film to review. Much like any recent horror film, there are going to be people who love it and people who hate. Reading some of the recent reviews here and on other prominent horror sites, one would think this film is as sloppy and as terrible as "Ax 'Em" or "Dark Fields." In fact, though this film has a plethora of problems, I believe it is an effective, creepy, and thought-provoking little film.

It is presented as a documentary. Basically, a serial killer has been terrorizing the community of Poughkeepsie, New York for years. Cops are baffled by the cleverness of the killer. He is even able to frame a police officer, who is executed for the crimes. When they discover the home of the serial killer, police and FBI find hundreds of VHS tapes, each detailing the crimes of this vicious killer. We are shown footage of these tapes, interwoven with interviews of police officers, family members of victims, and even a victim herself to get a perspective of the killer and his crimes. Some of the footage is downright creepy and disturbing, including the murder of a young child and torture of several victims. The mask the killer wears is also quite creepy.

One of the main problems with the film is in presentation. We are suppose to be viewing "real" footage of the killer and his crimes, but can't help to notice the convenient "suspenseful" background music that plays during each clip. Did the killer go in and edit and add music to each of his tapes? The killer's identity remains a mystery throughout the whole film and it is a stretch to ask viewers to believe the he was able to get away with some of the stuff he did (framing a police officer). The acting by some is rather hokey, but I can't decide if it was meant to be that way because is is suppose to be "real" people being interviewed, or if these people are just bad actors.

Despite the flaws, "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" does some things extremely well, mainly making the viewer uncomfortable. The killer is pretty brazen, and it is horrifying to think that, yes, there ARE people out there like that. Like the film says, there are anywhere from 25-40 active serial killers working at any given time in the United States. The black and white footage of the "crimes" is pretty effective and provides some great tension. There is also one scene where the killer is walking on all fours toward a victim with his creepy mask on that gave me chills. Though the ending is unsatisfying, it almost couldn't have ended any other way.

Overall, I have seen MUCH worse. Those dismissing this as nothing but brainless torture porn obviously have short attention spans or just weren't paying all that close attention to it. The film is constructed and edited very well (despite the flaws I mentioned above) and the story is actually pretty solid. I can tell a lot of thought went into this film. It could have been better, but that can be said about any film. Go in with an open mind and watch this with the lights off at night. I am willing to be you will be looking behind you and checking to see if your doors are locked more than once.

FrightMeter Grade: B
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disturbing lost flick
trashgang7 September 2015
Another found-footage flick that people said, you must see it and I tried to track it down, for years. When it came out it vanished from the planet like nothing, it never had a proper release or was seen in the theaters. Strange things went on with this flick and even up to today it doesn't have a proper release, only available on VOD. So I thought yeah well, this is going to be a terrible flick if it didn't has a release but God was I wrong.

Must say that I was warned that it was a disturbing flick and yes, it was. Always loved flicks about serial killers and this found footage is one with that theme. We do follow the cops trying to nail the killer and slowly we do see the video's the killer has left behind and it all starts so easy and low profile but towards the end it really get you by the throat. Even as it isn't that gory at all still the score used and the way it is filmed you will forget that you are watching a film. You are dragged into a documentary and into the sickness of a killer's mind.

As strange as The Poughkeepsie Tapes is it is a gem. It was made a good two years before the receding tide of found footage flicks out now. Due to budget concerns they may have pulled the plug on the promising film. This is all really speculation, for there was never any public statements about the decision to not distribute the film. MGM still owns the rights, and other studios have offered to buy it. The hole might be dug too deep now, the film is possibly no longer culturally relevant for a theatrical release, and the studio may be hiding in the underbrush, waiting to pounce it on an unsuspecting public. The fear that is may get lost in the already crowded sea of found footage trash to sift out of Hollywood. A second release date was scheduled for January 2, 2009 but that date too faded into memory. A must see.

Gore 1/5 Nudity 0/5 Effects 3/5 Story 4/5 Comedy 0/5
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Not nearly as shocking as it thinks it is
Warning: Spoilers
After a massive collection of tapes containing video of the torture & murder of hundreds of innocent men & women is found in an abandoned house, an investigation forms to discover who is responsible for the decade-long terror put upon the town of Poughkeepsie.

After being pushed back more than a Detroit Lions offensive lineman, 'The Poughkeepsie Tapes' finally saw the light of day here in early 2009. Rumours and news swarmed around this film since its announcement. When trailers were released, arguments and debates (stupidly) broke out on the validity of the tapes. Let it be clear: None of it is real. It may be based on something real, but these are not real tapes (which is quite obvious while watching). But, that doesn't mean it can't still be good, right? Well, while that is true. . . there are more than a few other reasons why this wasn't good. At all. I think, of the technical aspects, one of the major flaws of the film is the acting. Just about every actor in this film is just plain painful to watch. I don't think I actually saw a single believable character in the film, especially the FBI agents. If I ever met an FBI agent that acted like some of these people, I would greatly fear for the security of our nation even more than I already do. In addition to that, what FBI agents would actually do a film like this? Not the film we're watching, clearly, but what the film represents: The documentary. For a fairly recent serial killer of this magnitude, the majority of this information would be kept locked away from the general public for a long while. Obviously that would ruin the 'effect' of the film, but the lack of realism was really damaging to a film trying to be as real as possible. Also, I had a major problem with both the cinematography and the film quality of the tapes. I mean, this killer is quite clearly invested in his 'work.' The profiler states that he thinks the killer did this as a way to enjoy the murders long after they ended, that he was very meticulous about the filming. . . yet, the majority of these tapes are grainy and choppy and low quality? Why? Why wouldn't he have good film/video? Even a basic $300 video camera will deliver reasonable quality (at least it would have a night vision function, which clearly his camera did not). I get that it was a way of differentiating between the tapes and the other parts of the documentary, but I think a viewer is smart enough to realize that when a woman is in her underwear bouncing on a balloon (seriously), it's not going to be one of the FBI agents. As far as the content of the tapes, I wasn't very impressed. They weren't overly shocking or gruesome, barring a couple examples. They weren't well done or convincing. They didn't scare me. The majority of them were just laughably bad, like a 'Scary Movie' spoof of the 'August Underground' movies (which, in themselves, are laughably bad enough as it is). But, I suppose that's what it kind of is. Not a spoof, really, just what seems like a more tame, more mainstream attempt at an 'August Underground'-type film. . . but, really, it's just bad.

Final Verdict: 3.5/10

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Terrifyingly terrifying
Steve Pulaski2 June 2012
I've been seeking a resource to watch The Poughkeepsie Tapes since I saw the original trailer in 2008. After that, no word was ever spoken about the film again. I heard of no release, no screenings, and no mainstream DVD. What happened? As of today, at least to me, it's all still a mystery. Finally, I have seen the film in its entirety, and I hesitate not to label it one of the creepiest faux documentaries I have yet to see.

Found footage films are a dime a dozen, with already several released this year alone. They are an easy way to make a buck; shoot a film for no more than roughly five million dollars, and wind up making an explosive profit. It's as easy as that. Very few bring such motivation, confidence, and shining capabilities to screen, but The Poughkeepsie Tapes pleasingly differentiates itself from just another fake piece of work in the sea. Many found footage pictures today occupy a certain cinematic quality about them. Some of them, like the extraordinarily underwhelming Paranormal Activity 3, feel a tad too polished, and because of the extreme popularity of the franchise, seem to have taken a much more Hollywood route. The Poughkeepsie Tapes doesn't do that, and always remains in the field of campiness and believability.

It centers around the humble town of Poughkeepsie, New York, where, after police raid a house in the city, a stash of over eight-hundred VHS tapes of grisly murders committed by a sadistic man behind the camera are found. They are greatly detailed, even with static in the background and color and audio distortion personifying such an effective state of realism that I am without words. I've raved about cinematography and atmosphere in films many, many times before, but here, it is beyond haunting. A work of photography and directorial skill of immense levels.

We are presented with interviews of FBI officials, psychologists, police offers, victims' parents, and more. Every so often, the clips are punctuated by a videotape itself, showing one of the killers' acts of torment or assault. I was hauntingly reminded of August Underground, a dirty, degrading picture that showed two nameless characters running around going on a sick and unjustifiable murdering spree. The Poughkeepsie Tapes occupies more than just mindless snuff, but depth, efficient backstory, and impeccable detail in its photography, execution, and realism.

Some of his first tapes show him praying on the innocuous and the vulnerable. One of those is Jennifer Gorman, an eight year old girl playing in her front yard with her dolls, who is beaten over the head and abducted by the killer. As time goes on, his killings expand to acts that had to have required planning, strategy, along with a touch of crazy. One of the victims we closely identify with goes by the name of Cheryl Dempsey, a teenage girl whom he kidnaps one night while she is alone with her boyfriend. She is abused sexually and physically, being kept in his basement, as well as being referred to as "slave," which he continuously hammers into her head as her new name.

As the film progresses, things become deeper, more intriguing, and inevitably, more and more consuming. Images and sequences increasingly become exceptionally haunting, some of them for some people could be scaring, and many are some of the finest work in the genre from the last decade. John Erik Dowdle has effectively created a brilliant horror gem, one of keen timing and direction, and one of style and detail that doesn't rely solely on loud, abrupt musical chords and cheap exploitative jump scares. It sets itself up to be an involving piece for those seeking one, and allows itself to be discussed long after the credits finish rolling. Stay after if you're interested in seeing one more terrifying shot.

NOTE: For those interested in seeing the film in its entirety, the full film has been posted on Youtube in one convenient part, Starring: Bobbi Sue Luther, Samantha Robson, Ivar Brogger, and Iris Bahr. Directed by: John Erik Dowdle.
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Incredibly well written and very disturbing
Seth Clayton4 October 2010
Rather than a cheesy rip off or mindless moronic gorefest this film takes a terrifying concept and gives it a body. The effects are slightly low budget and but very powerful when combined with the psychological effects of the story. Without going into detail, somethings are slightly off and open small holes or just seem pointless altogether. But they are few and far between. "Ed" the Killer is portrayed very well as a psychopath with sociopathic tendencies.

The torture videos themselves are not nearly as disturbing as the underlying theme that someone could actually do this. A real breath of fresh air in a genre that seems to be nothing more than retreads of the same garbage. The blood is minimal and the film relies on the tone to frighten and disturb the viewers. It really is a shame that this film didn't make mainstream.
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Good directing altogether but falling short in the characters
deslegumes23 May 2010
Although this in essence is a truly scary horror movie which will undoubtedly scare happy teens for years to come, the characters in it are sadly - despite very good acting skills on some parts - largely unrealistic in the way they are portrayed. It became a bit annoying in the end, because they were all acting in that particular way, indicating that this perhaps was just a directing mistake - or I speculate it could also be that it was done intentionally to "take the edge off" and make the movie a bit "less" frightening actually (though unlikely).

My issue is that there is a bit "too much" acting; people who have been involved in cases like these, be it up close or just a reporter, tend to speak about them in a detached, matter-of-fact way. This is both natural and helpful, and is probably a kind of defense-measure on part of the human psyche. The officers, forensic investigators, family and so on are often here showing the "theatre" syndrome, exaggerating both voices and body language.

Maybe I'm just boring, analytical and interested in details, but don't forget - every good police officer or forensic detective probably are as well :-P

If you don't care or saw the movie and didn't notice anything unnatural, then good for you - you got your moneys worth :)

For a comparison in what I mean, take a look at *any* episode of *any* true crime investigation, e.g. Crime Investigation Australia.
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On the Contrary.
theClock7 May 2007
I found this film to be thoroughly Horrific. There are times when viewing this film where you are compelled to avert your eyes. I mean, Guttural, sections where you make a decision of vision morality. I love this about the Poughkeepsie Tapes. I love the Killer. I love his victims. I believe that there are so many formats, switchbacks, characters, and moods contained in this documentary-styled omage to a truly "true-crime stylized film that one must take away a few beautiful essentials. I truly nod a congratulatory appreciation for what the Dowdle Brothers have created. Thank You. I hope all who dare to see this film, appreciate it for the Intricate Experience it Possesses.
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And that's being generous.
infraredcentipede30 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I've heard a lot about the Poughkeepsie Tapes. Seen pictures, heard stories, received the general hype. Let me start out by saying I love horror done right. Throw that overproduced saw horse manure out the window, and forget about cheesy slasher flicks, give me something that is going to stick with me for a long time and disturb me in ways I didn't think possible. Having said all that, I was very interested in this movie, and couldn't wait to finally see it, even though I am a bit late.

The Poughkeepsie tapes struck me as an August Underground type film. Much of the movie was seen through the killer's perspective, giving a much needed break from traditional horror films, and this portion was poor quality, giving it an old home movie type feel. These are all good things. However this movie was plagued by bad acting, poor character development, and generally uninteresting plot, making much of it painful to watch. Most of the actors forced their lines, taking away much of the realism I think the film was trying to go for. None of the killings were particularly stunning or gruesome. In fact, I don't remember too much blood or gore at all comparatively speaking. The killer himself was barely developed, other than constantly hearing about how unique and brilliant he was at killing. Most of his tapes were filled with heavy breathing and maybe a few awkward lines that generally made me cringe from how bad they were spoken. Even August Underground, which many people thought was bad, developed the killers in a way that let the audience get to know them. The Poughkeepsie Tapes, however, developed nothing more than a man who takes some of his fetishes too far.

Overall, this movie would have been good for a college film project, but falls short of anything fantastic, or even mildly entertaining.
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A chilling movie!
deatman919 October 2012
I watched this movie the other night and I was pleasantly surprised. The acting is was really good from the serial killer it was a very creepy performance. The acting from the rest of the crew was not that good but this movie is definitely worth a watch.

This movie is a found footage mockumentary. So the movie takes off with a bunch of interviews of police and FBI who found hundreds of tapes containing murders and torture.

This movie was actually better then I thought it would be. It was actually really creepy. The bad quality of the camera kind of annoyed me but it was good overall
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This movie has a lot more creative juice than I was expecting...
mickeyshamrock5 May 2008
Based on the trailer for THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES I thought I was going to hate this movie – not because it looked disturbing but because it looked really lame. Truth is – it is a little lame, BUT the movie has a lot more creative juice than I was expecting and ultimately I found myself enjoying it. Similar to J.T. Petty's S&MAN or Remy Belvaux & Andre Bonzel's MAN BITES DOG, THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES is a pseudo documentary about a serial killer. While S&MAN and MAN BITES DOG are superior films, THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES excels due to its strict adherence to/understanding of the documentary format. Personally I didn't find the film as disturbing or horrific as I assume it was trying to be, however it did contain enough well thought out moments to convince me that the writer and director had done their horror homework (in particular a very William Castle "esque" sound bite/moment toward the film's finale). 2 little notes: the first 15 minutes are kind of slow so give the movie time AND I don't see this as a "theater" movie (I saw a DVD screener). THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES feels like a small screen movie. Have a few beers and toss it on during a late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
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Got Through Half...and that was enough!
andell6 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a faux documentary that is not based on a specific case itself, but rather on a series of real cases which are alleged to have "inspired" the purveyors of this trash! And yes, I realize that this film will almost certainly attract a core of cultish fans, but inevitably it is trash.

For those not in the know, the Poughkeepsie Tapes is about a killer nicknamed the "Water Street Butcher," who was never caught and left a gruesome compilation of video tapes in which he approaches, stalks, chats up, attacks, murders and then in some cases, even dismembers and disposes of his victims.

As cliché as can be, his victims are almost exclusively female, and range in age from children up to adults: however there is nothing even remotely new here. "Buffalo Bill" in "The Silence of the Lambs" carved tailored patterns out of the flesh of his victims; the best the "Water Street Butcher" can offer us is a jittery, poorly lit compilation of torture porn scenes which "incriminate" him, but which do not actually lead us towards a conclusion that makes the torment of watching this all the less rewarding! I'll be the first to admit that I didn't make it to the end of the film. Not because I was frightened, but rather because I had reached the level of tolerance with the film, and simply was no longer interested in sitting through this movie any further! At some point, there has to be more to make these films worthy of their audience besides saturating us with images of dead bodies having heads sawed off and women being tortured and murdered! The gore fiends will almost certainly flock to that materials, but most of us are more discerning and aren't really inclined to invest in so unpleasant a movie going (or video) experience.

I don't recommend this film, not even as a rental!
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This film is more like "The Bored-keepsie Tapes"
Cody Rapp (biscutbuu69)21 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A found footage documentary-style horror film from 2007 from the director of "eternal classics" like "Quarantine" the horrid remake of the Spanish film 'REC' and 'Devil" a boring, not scary, unoriginal, and predictable excuse for a horror film comes this one the "Disturbing" film "The Poughkeepsie Tapes".

This film has been buried for about seven years, it never got a DVD or theatrical release, and no one really knows why. The film surfaced on the internet about a year after it was made, now seven years later it is getting a Video on Demand release and apparently a DVD release. This film should have stayed buried.

This film is made like a documentary with the actors playing detectives, cops, psychologists, etc talking about a series of murders and disappearances that took place in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York. Now apparently the murderer escaped before his home was raided and when the house was searched the police found hundreds of video tapes of unspeakable acts being committed.

The film sounds generally interesting and possibly even disturbing but it is not interesting or disturbing in the slightest maybe the film would have worked if it wasn't for the fact that the acting is completely worthless and usually bad acting isn't a problem with me but when that is what is supposed to hold together your film and make it realistic its a big problem. Also I understand that the footage the killer shot is supposed to look amateur but it comes off as an attempt to make an "August Underground" film but with a purpose and an even worse late 90s VHS camcorder. When "August Underground" is more interesting and realistic than a "Documentary based on fact containing real footage the murderer shot himself" you know you have done something wrong. The film starts as a film about a murderer that turns into a documentary about Stockholm syndrome which was the only realistic and shocking part in the film and that is only about ten minutes. This film according to the tag-line is a true story and that everything in the film is real, guess what that's a lie! The film has been called a new classic among the found footage sub-genre and I am going to say that statement is wrong. Not only is it unrealistic, not entertaining or interesting, or shocking but it is boring! And this is coming from the guy who willingly sat through four hours (and that is only half) of the Andy Warhol film "Empire" a film made up entirely of one shot of the empire state building. So I know what a boring film is but this film is just as boring and sure while the real meat of the film is with the footage found in the murder's home even those segments of torture are boring and easy to sit through without flinching.

I cannot describe the level of hatred I feel towards this film or why I feel it exactly but I do and I warn you the film still might be on Video on Demand and is on the internet do not watch the "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" its just not worth it watch a good horror film instead. 1/10
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Looks like a home-made you tube video that got 37 views and 37 thumbs down.
Spyan24 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well, well, 6 stars rating on god how the audience's standards have dropped.

This movie is absolute rubbish. I felt ashamed enduring that hour and a half load of stupid. I can't believe this came out in theaters, it's direct-to-DVD material at best.

One of the worst and most annoying thing in this "film" was the acting, or over-acting might be a better term : I don't think there were any professional actors in this whole movie. Not a single one of them could act to save their lives, to a point that was almost embarrassing. For a film that's supposed to be realistic, it really ruined everything, each interview sounding and looking as phony as a rubber shark. You just sit in front of your screen wondering if this collection of gung-ho rednecks actually think they are doing a good job. Even B movie casts act better, but can handle 2nd degree.

The director I guess liked to think he was filming disturbing footage : believe me there is nothing disturbing in watching a bad actor with a cape, cheesy mask and a ruff around his neck (??) struggling like an idiot in front of a camera pretending he's psychotic, or some tart sitting on an inflated balloon. This sounds stupid doesn't it? You wouldn't believe how stupid it actually is when you look at it. Quite some laughs.

The cheap special effects were beyond cheap and weren't coherent at all (I sat bewildered as a victim got her obviously prosthetic throat slit, then saw her corpse in the grass with her neck as good a new), though I liked that part when the killer comes out of the background walking on all fours wearing a mask on top of his head but whoops...that was a rip-off of "In The Mouth of Madness" and it was so unrealistic it had nothing to do in supposedly "authentic" footage. Why would a genuine psycho go through all that, win the Oscar for special effects? Another thing that kicks the "what you are watching is real" vibe right in the nuts.

I also hated how the director clearly makes a hero out of a child-murdering killer, who, thanks to the dreadful acting and costumes, doesn't have enough charisma, personality or mystery to sell it whatsoever (he's supposed to be a genius Zodiac-type dude who outsmarts the cops, although as most reviews on IMDb pointed it out, turns out to be a clichéd, undocumented, ignorant, remixed stack of appalling character try out). Turn the TV off and read some books for Nixon's sake. The guys from Slipknot are more believable. He just sounds like a ridiculous 17yrs old looser trying as hard he can to be disturbing, thoroughly convinced the audience is terrified by his "performance". What is this, preschool? Sorry Ben, but it takes talent to pull out the Anthony Hopkins act. Go practice for another 25 years in front of a mirror and try again.

The same can be said about the editing (pseudo jumps cuts and visual distortion ripped-off a 1990 MTV grunge music video), the directing, the acting... really one great fail of a "flick". I feel like insulting the director for thinking I would get into this pile of steaming dung but he's not even worth it. Please, carry on pretending you're a director but don't get upset if professionals burst out laughing when you screen them your garbage.

To sum it up, an amateur teenage attempt at a disturbing pseudo real documentary lacking absolutely everything to achieve it's goal. This getting 6 stars is a disgrace, and the audience is to blame here for thinking this turd-sandwich is enjoyable. Stupid directors satisfy stupid people. Leaves me scratching my head with my stump.

May I suggest REAL movies like Wolf Creek, The Silence of the Lambs, Zodiac, Seven or even 8mm?
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Horrible! Painful to watch...
ashleedawg (ashleedawg)6 January 2009
Perhaps if they spent a little bit more money on this movie, it would have been a little more believable and thus would have been a little bit more enjoyable to watch. I get the impression that they were trying to do 'Blair Witch Project' meets 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' but Blair Witch was way more believable with the home-made-feel and Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a decent plot behind it. I'm not a big fan of horror/gore movies but both Blair Witch and Texas Chainsaw were enjoyable.

'The Poughkeepsie Tapes' kept me wondering where the punchline was going to be. It was silly how the camera constantly avoided the action, and so little money was spent on faking injuries. Funny how everyone that gets cut up is always found laying injury-side-down.

I would recommend that you don't waste your time watching this movie.
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Quite effective, but could have been better.
BloedEnMelk27 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'm somewhere between a 6,5 and 7,5 if it comes to rating this movie, so I'll keep it on a 7. It is creepy and effective, but I think more could have been done with it to make it come above average.

The story of this movie is a simple one. In the house of a serial killer there are a lot of tapes found. On those tapes are the abductions, torture and murders of his victims. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is about this found footage, and in between the footage we see interviews with all kinds of people. FBI, students, parents, friends, and a surviving victim.

A few things that annoyed me were the background music and the quality of the 'found footage'. If you are a serial killer, and you want to videotape everything you do, then why do it on such a low-quality camera? IMO it would be a lot more realistic if the 'found footage' quality was a lot better. And, found footage doesn't come with sound effects or a sound track.

An other annoying thing was the surviving victim. It made me think of a real girl who was abducted by nutcase Cameron Hooker in 1977 and been hold captive for 7 years, spending a lot of that time in a box. It is also reminding of an equally sick nutter called Gary Heidnik who kept (and killed) girls as slaves in his cellar. But though the surviving victims were obviously extremely traumatized for life, the Stockholm Syndrome of the girl in the Poughkeepsie Tapes is totally over the top. Which makes it more unbelievable. Speaking about unbelievable, what about the time he spends hidden in the girls room, with the camera still going? Does he have an everlasting tape?

The good thing though is that there are some very unsettling parts in this movie, and overall it does feel pretty realistic. One thing I liked for example was that the normal voice of the killer was indeed very next-door guy, which is a good contrast for those moments where he is a total sick bastard. There were some moments I could feel my hair standing up.

I can imagine that for people who are not used to disturbing movies, this one is very disturbing. But if you are pretty thick-skinned like me and you watch a lot of movies, then you might be disappointed. Still, I did enjoy it, it could have been a lot worse, but then again it could also have been better.
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Falls oh so short
chrisher-18 March 2009
I looked forward to this movie for the better half of six months, so when I finally got my hands on a copy I couldn't wait to be scared . . . How disappointed I was.

Don't get me wrong, this film has its moments, there are genuinely terrifying scenes that are shot by the killer himself through his camcorder. But these are few and far between. In its place, we are 'treated' to documentary footage detailing the rise of this mad man and how incredibly smart he is, in addition to a sentimental love sub plot which is just bizarre and un-realistic (which makes no sense when the root of the horror lies in realism).

I expected so much form this movie and wanted to love it and embrace it much like I did REC, but when the quality of narrative is this lacking, it really isn't worth the time of day. What's more, it is incredibly frustrating to see what could have been, concentration on murder footage and less reliance on badly acted talking head segments.

If you like pure horror than stay well away form this sorry excuse. A waste of a brilliantly original idea.
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Uh... No, it's NOT real.
johnbohl13 December 2007
An interview at the Tribeca Film Fest with director John Dowdle revealed - when asked if this movie is based on an actual killer in Poughkeepsie - that (and I quote): "It's actually a combination of a number of them, but there's one -- Edmund Kemper. He was a really, really scary guy and we took a lot of pieces from him and we took some from the Green River Killer. There was a guy in Chicago we took pieces from. There was a duo in Michigan who worked together and filmed everything they did, and we took some stuff from them. Some from Ted Bundy too. So we sort of combined a lot of different real stories. Remember that couple that kidnapped a 19-year old girl and kept her as a slave for six years? We took pieces of that as well." So all of you out there insisting that this is a true story about a Poughkeepsie killer who video-taped his murders are making fools of yourselves.
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Not Real, Not Entertaining, Not a good movie
Nick Catalano20 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have to say, this was the biggest waste of my time in a movie I have seen.

The acting is horrible, the premise is stupid, and if you sit through this and don't laugh there is something wrong with you. No, it is not real. I have met the filmmakers who had the 'lead actress' (who supposedly killed herself) with them... which makes sense since she is MARRIED TO THE DIRECTOR. Poughkeepsie did have a serial killer a few years ago, so I understand how some people may think this is real, but this has nothing to do with that. I think they just choose that town so that people would think 'is it real, wasn't there a serial killer there in the 90s' It not only is not worth the money it is not worth your time.

Originally this was intended on being a straight-to-DVD release, and it should have stayed that way.
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Don't Waste Your Money!
redfriend123 June 2008
I was shocked when I heard that this film got picked up for distribution! I saw it at The Tribeca Film Festival last year, and felt totally cheated! I was lured in by an interesting premise in the film guide, but the writing and execution was very poor! Some of the acting was laughably bad. The worst part of all, was that in the Q&A after the film, the film maker and the lead actress were really arrogant and full of themselves! We just sat through their film which you'd call 'flawed' if you were feeling generous, and they were standing there literally calling themselves 'geniuses'. yuck! Please don't reward these folks with your hard earned money!!!
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Tries to hard to be shocking
Gethin Van Haanrath20 June 2009
The Ploughkeepsie Tapes is an absolutely awful movie. It's not even a movie, I would call it a slaughter/torture porn film for people to watch in groups during sleepovers to scare each other. This movie is written by people with the minds of teenagers, for people with the minds of teenagers.

There's very little purpose for the movie other than to utterly horrify the viewer with gruesome details of a fake serial killer. At one point the police go into extreme detail about the intestines of a victim being ripped out and "laying on the floor like Christmas lights". There's absolutely no realism. I didn't believe for a second that it was anything but a mockumentary. The acting and writing were atrocious.

It's pretty much Blair Witch Project meets Saw. It's the mockumentary style which has been done many, many times. It's been done a lot better in Blair Witch, Cloverfield, and dare I say, Diary of the Dead.

And unlike Saw and Blair Witch, there are no characters to root for, all the viewer gets is screaming victims, who are introduced, murdered or survive and get tortured.

This film is pretty much the equivalent to a sucker punch to the balls. You know those youtube videos where nothing is happening and then someone pops up and screams very loudly? That's what this movie is. I'm not sure who enjoyed this movie? Probably the same people who think Ouija boards are scary.
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