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

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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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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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Ed Wood Phoned in Better Garbage

Author: themurphile
5 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie has only one quality worthwhile and that's the actress portraying Cheryl. The mother shows zero emotion and the law enforcement characters have clearly no idea how law enforcement agents speak. One of them gives a pretty detailed description of a victim who they later show who looks absolutely nothing like the description. Mention is made of intestines being strewn about "like Christmas lights" but when shown the victim we see a small smudge of blood on his face and that's pretty much it.

A lot of obvious things happen which you see coming from a mile away and the details of the story are not altogether original to begin with. Understanding that the poor quality of the footage is deliberate and part of the story, most of it is so bad you can't even tell what's supposed to be going on in he scene.

One of the worst movies I've seen in a while but as my title alludes, if you like Ed Wood style terrible movies then it is entertaining for that purpose. If you think you're getting a good story with remotely tolerable acting then buckle up for the rocky road ahead. My only regret is the inability to give fewer than zero stars to this horrendous piece of garbage.

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A Highly Underrated Found Footage Horror That's Definitely Not For The Squeamish!

Author: CinemaClown
10 October 2015

Definitely amongst the better examples of found footage horror, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a downright shocking, extremely disturbing & profoundly scarring experience that offers an unnerving insight into the psyche of a sadistic serial killer, is filmed in a manner that makes its images look highly gruesome & realistic, and contains segments that's going to make its viewers flinch multiple times throughout its runtime.

Shot in a faux-documentary style, The Poughkeepsie Tapes follows police investigators who recover around 800 videotapes after raiding an abandoned house in a city just north of New York. Within these tapes are recordings that unveil a sadistic killer's decades-long reign of terror during which he abducted, killed & mutilated nearly as many victims and recorded his crimes on camera. As they go through the tapes one by one, they find themselves severely affected by these horrific images.

Co-written & directed by John Erick Dowdle, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is based on the real- life crimes committed by the notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy, and captures his crimes in a very grainy, messed-up & low-resolution style which does conceal the gruesome details of those recorded footages to an extent but in turn also allows the viewers' imagination fill in those gaps, thus leaving its audience utterly disturbed by the inhuman nature of it all. But it isn't just one brutal sequence after another for there is more to this film.

It attempts to shape up the psychological profile of the serial killer although that part isn't very refined. The documentary style of shooting, interspersed with those tinted recordings bring a discomforting layer of its own, its 86 minutes of runtime is steadily paced, and even its cheap looking production ends up working in its favour. There's one particular scene in the story where we meet the killer's only surviving victim and to witness the entire effect of the prolonged torture on her psyche is not only troubling but equally heartbreaking as well.

On an overall scale, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is undeniably a difficult film to sit through but it also left me pleasantly surprised with its interesting plot, captivating narration, menacing tone, relatively fine performances from its amateur cast and its uncanny ability to instil fear without showing everything on the screen. The tension is palpable at times and although it isn't devoid of its shortcomings, The Poughkeepsie Tapes ends up faring much better than my initial expectations and is one chiller I don't mind recommending to every horror fan out there. Definitely not for the squeamish!

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A skeleton of interesting ideas destroyed by shoddy execution

Author: James J. Dominguez (DexX) from Melbourne, Australia
23 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Oh dear. I had been told this was an amazingly disturbing film, genuinely horrific, a must-see for fans of the genre. There was so much hype that I just had to see it.

Oh dear.

There is a kernel of a good idea here: a serial killer so meticulous that he changes his MO periodically to throw investigators off his scent. The sub-story of "murder by bureaucracy" is also a creepy concept, worthy of a whole film in its own right - a cop framed by a serial killer to take the fall for his murders, and revealed to be innocent only days after his execution? That's a great idea, but it's wasted in this film.

Sadly, these interesting ideas are destroyed utterly by a laughably bad script, idiotic attempts at police procedure, and universally appalling acting. Not a single performance in this entire film is convincing. Every single person who appears on screen or is heard in voice-over sounds like exactly what they are: bad actors reading a bad script.

For those seeking a dumb, trashy thrill, it doesn't even satisfy on that level: a handful of reasonably effective scenes of psychological horror are padded out by interminable periods of hilariously bad actors trying and failing to sound like cops and FBI agents.

This is a bad mockumentary, a bad horror film, and a bad thriller. It fails on almost every level. Don't waste your time with it.

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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:

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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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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