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The Poughkeepsie Tapes
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Poughkeepsie Tapes More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

And that's being generous.

Author: infraredcentipede from United States
30 April 2011

*** This review may contain 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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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Bad script and acting kills any chance (pun intended)

Author: crooow-2 from United States
3 September 2014

*** This review may contain 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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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Looks like a home-made you tube video that got 37 views and 37 thumbs down.

Author: Spyan from France
24 August 2011

*** This review may contain 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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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A chilling movie!

Author: deatman9 from Canada
19 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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19 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

This movie has a lot more creative juice than I was expecting...

Author: mickeyshamrock from United States
5 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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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

worst. torture porn. evar.

Author: CptFastbreak from Germany
5 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

OK, so I guess IMDb automatically detects the presence of the word "spoiler" in the review and puts up a warning, but there's really nothing to spoil here - see below.

I heard that this flick had some problems with censorship and will probably never be released in Germany, so naturally I got curious. Boy, what a letdown. For once, I would actually have been grateful had censorship spared me this crap. The plot can be pretty much summed up in a sentence: it's a mockumentary showing home videos a serial killer made with him abducting and torturing people, and in between you hear folks from FBI and such fawning about how great and "crafty" he is and how they could never catch him. And that's it. There's no plot or character development, no twists and not even a real ending, it just plays out exactly in that way, only it is painfully stretched over 90 minutes. I don't even get how you could put up spoiler warnings for this one, since there is nothing whatsoever to spoil here.

I'm not much into the whole torture porn genre, but even if I were, this doesn't have the gore factor to really fit in that genre. The killer's home videos are painfully badly made, or maybe he stored them next to a huge electro magnet, I don't know. His killings are as cliché as can be, with his victims young women and such. Basically, if you find yourself confused by the complicated plot in Saw or Hostel, or you find that your average porn movie has too much character development to keep track of, yet America's Funniest Home videos are too gory for you, this may be the film to watch, otherwise, watching your fingernails grow for 90 minutes would be scarier and more interesting. Maybe this guy tortured his victims, but probably his craftiest move was that he got to torture large audiences with this snooze fest.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Quite effective, but could have been better.

Author: BloedEnMelk from Netherlands
27 March 2011

*** This review may contain 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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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Incredibly well written and very disturbing

Author: Seth Clayton from Tobaccoville, North Carolina
4 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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17 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Got Through Half...and that was enough!

Author: andell ( from Toronto, Canada
6 January 2009

*** This review may contain 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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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Most realistic found footage film you have ever seen.

Author: Jesse Boland from Burnaby, BC Canada
17 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you love real truthful films then you need to see this one. There has never been a more realistic found footage film ever. However if you are easily frightened, and have a delicate sensibility, then : Don't ever watch this movie! It is too well produced, and too real. I have not seen it for year, but it still makes me think hard about people to this day. Warning this movie will effect you, and you can not unsee it. I'm not joking though you can not handle this movie. You will be sorry, or you won't. But you will be changed. If you like movies like V.H.S. or the even deeper V.H.S. 2 then you should not miss out on the Poughkeepsie Tapes. Enjoy!

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