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Reviews & Ratings for
The Poughkeepsie Tapes More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Completely Pointless

Author: jfgibson73 from United States
17 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fake documentary about a serial killer who was so good he never got caught. Part of the movie has investigators talking about the crimes, and the other half is home video footage the killer shot. We see him abducting a variety of victims, torturing them in a dungeon-like environment, and killing them.

Having watched a lot of low budget movies, I can usually accept a low standard for acting. In this movie, however, it was different. The actors playing the law enforcement roles were so forced, it was distracting. On the other hand, the scenes that were meant to be the killer's footage were pretty believable and much more naturalistic. That's probably what highlighted how bad the analysis segments were.

At one point early in the movie, I came close to not watching the rest. It just didn't seem like entertainment, but an excuse to show terrible acts. I was curious to see where they went with it, but in the end there isn't really any payoff. The killer just disappears, allowing the police to find some of the tapes so they know what he did. I've watched other movies that have bleak endings, but somehow, this one just didn't seem to have a reason for being.

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Hack Horror

Author: Jess C from United States
28 January 2015

Look, this movie is definitely disturbing on many levels and that is exactly why I gave it 2 stars even though I wanted to give it none. "Found footage" style is the new go-to for every hack in Hollywood and I'm tired of it. It was barely good back in 1999 when Blair Witch was released. Every moronic filmmaker with a flimsy idea and no money wants to use this method. So why is this one worse than most? Because it used something real. Something this was a REAL tragedy that ruined quite a few families. And I'm not being a moralist here; I would not have had any problem with this film, had it only been artistic, original, or inventive in any way. But it wasn't. It was just another gross-out ripoff trying to suck from the teat of the Saw franchise, but even worse because actual women were murdered by this guy. So I was bothered and disgusted for NO reason, because I could have watched a legitimate documentary about this case. Or, even better, a well-made movie based on characters that weren't either victims of actual, serious crimes or fat pieces of psychotic s*** that died in their prison cells.

Do we really want to appreciate anything made by sick, non-imaginative a-holes who spent this much time trying to emulate a snuff film? I sure as hell don't. This was an abomination and I regret every minute I spent watching it.

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A surprisingly good little film

Author: badbones777 from United Kingdom
1 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was quite impressed with this film and definitely think it's worth a watch.

It is low budget and in some instances the acting isn't stellar and occasionally some of the really dark sequences make it a bit too dark to see what is going on - normally this works fine as it makes your imagination do a lot of the work, but in one or two cases I really would have liked it a little brighter just so I could follow what was happening (mainly involving the killer moving and I didn't fully catch exactly what he was doing.) This is however a fairly minor gripe and I enjoyed the film and found it pretty engrossing.

As many people have noted, the standout parts of the film involve the gradual breakdown and degradation of the Cheryl Dempsey character and the Master/Slave relationship that develops between herself and the killer. It was a surprisingly effective story and I don't think the film would be anywhere near as good without it.

For the most part I like that the vast majority of the killers motives and so on go completely unexplained (though it does lead me on to one of my gripes later on). One of the FBI profilers offers some conjecture as to what might have driven the killer to do these ghastly murders but that is about it. The film also does a pretty good job of making you dislike the killer (some of the stuff he does is pretty awful and sadistic) and wanting background that is never provided - in most cases this works well as it makes the viewer feel the same level of exasperation as the authorities.

That said....

there were a few things that didn't work for me -almost all of them mechanical/technical details.

1.) There is too much emphasis on how awesomely great the killer is. By this I mean things like not a single finger print being found at the house, etc didn't work for me. I began to wonder at one point if they were building toward a superhuman/supernatural angle and it did spoil some of my suspension of disbelief.

2.) Partially tying in with the above point - the whole James Foley storyline. i seriously think this entire thing could be cut form the film and it would make the film a lot better. For starters, it only serves to make the killers skills laughably good rather than intimidating (the whole taking his sperm donations from a fertility clinic......I guess it's not impossible but I found the level of planning/resources and time involved in the frame job so ludicrously unlikely that I think the film suffers for it).

Secondly, given that the killer actually approaches Cheryl Dempsey's mother and she becomes aware that he is the killer before he leaves just makes the whole Foley angle even more ridiculous. If Mrs Dempsey has met the killer then unless he was masked/heavily disguised (which would be rather odd at a crime scene) then she must have known enough to know that Foley was not the killer (I don't think she comments on the Foley angle at all in the film). I certainly think she would know enough to help narrow down some of the profiling issues the authorities have been having, unless the killer actually looks like Foley, but even then, that's a pretty good lead. No, for me the Foley angle weakens the film considerably.

3.) While I realise that a lot of stuff goes unexplained in this (and as I mentioned above this is mostly actually a positive thing) I think at least some hint of a reason as to why the killer chooses Cheryl to be his "Slave" rather than a victim would have been good.

Beyond that though it is a good film and I would recommend watching it.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Viewers Guilt

Author: O H from United States
3 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is scary, definitely, I think it is so scary that a lot of people have to write either really bad reviews or really good reviews as a defense mechanism because it is so scary.

I disagree with the people who are saying that the character Cheryl Dempsey had Stockholm Syndrome. I think it is suggested that the fake-documentary producer is the killer, and that she is being intimidated into saying she cares about him. I think also it is suggested that the viewer of the movie is the killer on a certain level, because in that one scene the interviewer is speaking from off camera, it sounds like he is pressuring her to make some pre-arranged statement.

Maybe there were a couple of low points where the plot was weak or the acting was bad, but it would not be possible to sustain the level of outrage throughout the whole thing. The killer is so evil in some of the scenes that there isn't any way to sustain that kind of awfulness.

I also was upset that we didn't get to see the killer arrested by a butch female cop, or beat to death. If there is a sequel they have to do that. It's a shame for all that built up hate against the killer to go to waste by not killing him off at the end. The movie isn't trying to make a statement about our culture, but there are definitely parallels to what Christopher Columbus and the Confederate plantation owners were doing.

After I watched this, I wanted to go and beat up some slave owners, beat up some serial killers and rapists, and beat up anyone who is involved in domestic violence. The killer is a real evil guy in this movie who breathes heavy like a pervert.

There's some things in horror movies that don't necessarily have to be brilliant, just show the bad guy doing horrible things so that you don't like him. I totally disagree that the girl was supposedly in love with the killer based on Stockholm Syndrome, I think it was just plain intimidation. She keeps saying "what do you want me to say", as if in response to someone off-camera bothering her to say something, she doesn't just come out and say "he loves me" un-prompted.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A failed attempt to shock

Author: lilypad-657-403326
15 January 2014

First, this kind of mockumentaries with interviews never appealed to me. Second, this particular one is just absurd. I can't really imagine FBI agents casually revealing such information or the evidence the tapes are supposed to be. Third, what was supposed to be shocking and uncomfortable to watch, turned out to be just poorly made, sometimes even funny (in the ridiculous way). The quality of the recordings, intentionally bad, is actually SO bad that I don't think any serial killer with a serious approach would agree for such a shortcoming in his masterplan. After all we're supposed to get an impression that this murderer is like nothing the FBI has ever seen before, aren't we? Well, as much as I wanted to be crept out, I'm just slightly disgusted. Of course, the movie is kind of disturbing, but it's the same feeling you'd get while doing some reading on any actual serial killer. Heck, you'd be probably feeling much worse since the Poughkeepsie killer is fictional. Others are not.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Deserves a much wider audience

Author: Tysoncarter from United Kingdom
9 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is filmed as a faux-documentary which recounts the story of the 'Water Street Butcher', a serial killer who terrorized a town called Poughkeepsie, NY for over ten years.

I thought The Poughkeepsie Tapes was an above average horror film. We were shown a very methodical killer who very much enjoyed playing games with his victims.

Gore wise most events happen off camera, but by far the most unsettling parts of the movie happen in the killers basement or dungeon. Here we see him tie up his victims, either to pipes or in different positions to get his point across he is in charge.

The film primarily focuses on one victim in particular, a girl called Cheryl. After abducting her and imprisoning her in his basement, the killer seems to develop a special interest in Cheryl and becomes determined to keep her alive as his personal slave. In the beginning this involves just a few words, making her call him master for example. Eventually he takes this further to the extreme of introducing Cheryl to another victim in the dungeon and then he orders Cheryl to kill the new victim.


We even see the killer re-visit Cheryl's home and meet her mother, which results in a traumatic revelation for her mother which I didn't quite buy into 100%. How did she know it was him?? A feeling?? I guess the point of the scene is too show just how twisted this guy is, as he took great delight in meeting the mother.

I like the fact that Cheryl was found alive, albeit in a very bad way. Missing parts of her body and having suffered endless torture, seeing and listening to her interview at the end was so sad, it showed his methods had unfortunately worked and she could no longer live without him. Her suicide was the only way to end it really, it would have been no life for her to carry on as she was.

The negatives are mainly about some of the acting. It is a low budget film, and does look like it due to the nature of the VHS quality of the found footage. The look of the film doesn't detract anything from it, but whilst some actors/actresses were great, Cheryl in particular, some of the cops for instance were a bit wooden. Also the use of a soundtrack in parts over the footage was strange, not sure the killer would have had time to add some mood music but again the good outweighed the bad. With a bigger budget and more studio support this really could have been a horror film that was widely seen and highly regarded in the genre, as it is it tends to divide opinion from the small minority that have seen it. A shame really as the idea and concept deserves much more.

The film was originally released in 2007. When I say released I mean shown off at a few festivals where it received a good reception and great word of mouth and then was strangely pulled from all release schedules. Here we are in 2012 and there has still never been a cinema or DVD/blu ray release of the film. They even put a trailer out before a few other major releases but again it just slipped into oblivion. When I see the state of a lot of horror films in particular that get a big worldwide release and suck big time, it shocks me when a low budget but above average film is just left to rot on a shelf. People need to see this film. On the IMDb forums people still talk about this film regularly. 5 years on from its non-existent release and people have somehow managed to see it and still talk about it. Such a shame that this may never get the wider audience it deserves. At the very least it should be made available on DVD or on-demand video services. If you do get chance to see this, which whilst it may be tough is not impossible (some websites were offering it as a free to watch film if you sign up - that's how I found it) or through some miracle it gets a disk release I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you are into your horror films. I know for sure I have seen much worse and whilst it may not be the gore-fest that some people lust after, it has enough in my opinion to satisfy all horror fan needs.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

I don't know why but it did.

Author: john-duffy21 from United Kingdom
15 August 2011

Strange one this. I've seen many a "disturbing" film and consider myself to be immune from the effects from such films, however this one was different. By no means is it a good film, it's quite slow and boring in places, the acting is truly awful (apart from the red head) The killer is so diabolically evil, it's stupid (he's bordering on pantomime villain), the violence is over the top and mainly unseen but when it is, it is really bad make up/FX and so unbelievable it made me laugh, also it's a little to long. But something about the sub plot and it's images made me feel very uneasy and stayed with me days after, in fact on the night after watching it alone (my wife refuses to watch "crap like that" as she says) I couldn't sleep until I left the landing light on and did so laughing as knew how stupid it was.

Only watch if you really want to but let me recommend Lake Mungo instead.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Sleep inducing drivel

Author: Cedric_Catsuits from United Kingdom
12 August 2013

I admit I gave up on this half way through, but nothing I saw led me to believe it was about to get any better. The use of the 'tapes' may have been for 'realism' but they are so poor in quality it makes much of the film unwatchable.

This is supposed to be a horror film? Certainly there was nothing horrific in the first half. Films with such low production values need to pile on the blood and gore or spine-tingling thrills to get any sort of reaction, but this is just mildly unpleasant and utterly pointless.

I guess it's just another bunch of clueless amateurs jumping on the budget horror bandwagon, and failing miserably. How this averages a 6 is beyond me - there must be a lot of people with low expectations who don't watch many movies, because if they did have something to compare this with they would see how dreadful it is.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not impressed

Author: sticksandbricksx from Sydney, Australia
17 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The begging of this movie was good, so don't get me wrong. However, after the first 10 minutes or so I was really not impressed. I've watched it twice and still don't understand what they were trying to achieve. For example- the balloon fetish, what in gods name were they trying to achieve by showing us that scene, it doesn't tell us very much about the killer. The movie had a lot of graphic detail so +1 to the producers and writers for that but I would of loved it if they had of showed some more of it in the tapes. I feel as though if they had of this movie would of had the thrills and chills it's lacking. Also, it would of been great if we got to know a bit more about the killer, to understand furthermore why he does what he does in such a way. Is it an act of violent sexual desires or is he killing for the sake of killing, in a very merciless manner. This movie is not for you if you like to see more action and less talking. Also, this movie is not for you if you want something to scare the Christ out of you.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Interested story, HORRIBLE ACTING

Author: delucaalex from Canada
12 March 2011

I have to start off by saying that I am an avid horror/gore movie fan. From big Hollywood to cult classics. This film had potential, the story was interesting and honestly the script was passable. The acting however is so bad that it was painful for me to watch it to its end. The actors over-act, the directors tries to do a little to much in some scenes... which does ruin any potentially horrific scene. It is honestly these little extra efforts that- in my opinion, turn this film from B movie to a terrible attempt at a true Hollywood horror movie type. One thing this director should of done is just kept things simple. Less characters: too many FBI agents, "professionals" and other characters that simply get lost and are forgettable ( is there really a need for 3 news reporters?). Unecassary dialog: when the "killer" tapes his basement/dungeon scenes, he simply talks to much to his victims- the way the actor speaks his lines and the dialog ruin these hopeful gruesome scenes. "What is your name?....Slave is your name" too cliché in my opinion. I do agree about the awful quality of the tapes from a supposed meticulous serial killer- even cameras on cell phones took better videos in those days. Another thing that is laughable is the use of 3 real life reporters- HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE acting and pointless. The way one of the reporter stands in front of the crime scene/house is exactly the same despite it being two different news reports. The way she holds her mic and stands is the same and just looks awfully funny. All the way down to bystanders walking in the background during interviews looks fake- a few of these "actors" couldn't even act a simple background walkthrough without making it look fake.

The IDEA of this film was great.It could of been a decent film, with: 1- much less characters, 2- More simplisitic dialog, 3- simplifying the scenes ( no need for so many cheesy props - overuse of police car lights, police tapes,etc). Its these little things that made me cringe so many times during this movie. But overall the bad acting will be something everyone will notice it for me. If you can get past the horrible acting and cliché dialog you will find this to be an interesting story. Just so many unfortunates.

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