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"The Poughkeepsie Tapes"-a faux documentary about the activities of the mixed serial killer from Poughkeepsie called The Waterstreet Butcher garnered tons of hype before its official release.The premise of the film is certainly interesting:the police raids a home of suspect and finds it empty aside from boxes of VHS tapes.On these video cassettes are hundreds of hours of footage recorded by a serial killer as he filmed the abductions,torture,murder and disposal of his victims."The Poughkeepsie Tapes" plays like a tame version of "August Underground" series.The amount of violence and terror is surprisingly minimal.What drags "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" down is truly horrible acting.The interviews with investigators(there is even laughable "dismemberment expert")are terrible as was the archive footage of court proceedings and press conferences.The killer is also ridiculous as he giggles and yells and acts more like a total buffoon."The Poughkeepsie Tapes" is not shocking or disturbing.The torture and murder scenes are usually off-screen and they lack a bite.If you want to see truly horrifying serial killer movie check out Austrian "Angst" from 1983.5 out of 10.
This type of film is not new or unique however I have yet to see one with this level of detail and creativity put into it. Given a higher budget I think this could have possibly been a truly horrifying experience. As it stands however it is simply too flawed. The handi-cam footage is laughable when it is not annoyingly dark or shaky. The gore is disappointingly tame. The biggest flaw however lays within the acting. To pull off a film like this you must be careful to recruit actors talented enough to nail their part. Sadly too many of them miss their mark which all but kills the documentary feel the creators were going for. I would rate the story/idea a TEN but the execution and presentation a THREE or FOUR. ~PGDGM~
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What's the scariest thing you can imagine? How about forcibly losing
your own mind and becoming another person? How about that happening to
someone you love, someone in your family? That to me is the realistic
core of the horror of this film.
On the surface this is initially quite a normal low budget 'fake documentary' style film. You may even be a little bored for a while.
The genius stroke is how this film somehow drags you in and makes you care about the victims (especially one), even while the law enforcement officials drone on ineffectively and you scoff at the whole thing to start with. .
I won't spoil it, but this film is essentially a fake 'documentary' about a serial killer. What really makes it stand out is the attention paid to the victims. It has the horror of Henry:Portrait or Confessions of a Serial Killer but much more.
This really stuck in my head - in a bad way! I've rarely ever seen anything so cruel (and horribly believable) in a film.
The excellent: Truly unsettling use of POV hand-held camera footage,
made all the more nauseating given the shoddy VHS-transfer look.
Visionary storytelling with multiple narrators with their own motivations (the Water Street Butcher himself, his victims, their families, law enforcement, etc).
A very masterful amount of restraint in what is actually shown on screen and what isn't. Face it, after the last thirty years of horror movie filmmaking, we as audiences are almost surprised to not see every last drop of blood, inch of skin or swing of the weapon.
The good: Pace, peaks and valleys are really well edited together. Cinematography is smart. And when it's working for the story, the b-roll cutaways and oversaturated time lapse landscape shots really punctuate the narrative.
The less than good: Some actors' performances drag it down. The son of the convicted, the mother of the abducted and a couple of the forensic/FBI guys really come off as cartoonish.
Those same b-roll and landscape shots that gave the film's morose tone and suffocating environment their occasional bursts of almost Gus Van Sant-eque surrealism just appear three times too often. Every time a new cop/authority is introduced, you can literally count the two "before we said action" frame up shots with their voice-over. Same goes for the undercrank landscapes - they're great - but overused.
That all said, the less than good just can't overshadow how brilliant this gloves-off, hyperreal piece of true horror is. Taking cues everywhere from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer to POV type films like Blair Witch to smart approximations of low-budget documentary work, you really do get sucked into the ride. As many have commented, this is not the six-horny-kids-get-slaughtered-off-black-man-first formulaic dirge. And though those movies have their own place and occasionally have some fun or interesting permutations on the recipe - The Poughkeepsie Tapes belongs on a different shelf altogether.
It's excellent, and just a few turns of the screw away from flawless. Given the company it keeps on your Netflix queue, that's saying a lot.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes is tragically good, meaning, there is something
extremely special about this film delivered in very rare moments. For
starters, it's a mockumentary about The Poughkeepsie Killer, a
surprisingly intelligent serial killer who tapes everything he does and
goes out of his way to make his killings look eerie and downright
First off, we're introducted to FBI and Morgue interviews, and it starts showing some clips of the serial killer's recordings, which get on your nerves at first glance not because they aren't creepy, but because the director of this film (this is a mockumentary, after all) applied way too much noise and static to the VHS clips to make it even look realistic. What was the killer supposed to be filming with, a 1901 crank film camera? Beyond this introduction though, you get over the clip's annoying quality, and the movie starts to make your jaw drop. The interviews quickly get boring, but the clips get extreme and downright (and you'll just have to see to believe) beautiful. The cinematography of the killer's tapes is downright awe-inspiring, and brings back a horror style not seen since the days of black and white film. Mardi Gra costumes, monster-esquire body movements...unrealistic horror beauty at it's finest, and the moment this starts happening, I started wishing the whole movie was just the tapes, and not any silly interviews. There are 'hundreds' of these 'tapes', that the police in the film found, and well, this film makes you want to see the rest of them!
Now, that's not to say this film doesn't have it's detective twists, it's neat police work, etc etc, but this film would have been a underground legend if it had been a hour and 30 minutes of just the tapes alone, because there's so few of them in the film, that the beauty of them leaves you wanting to see so much more. One look at the homage the tapes give to the Phantom of the Opera type stylings and you'll no doubtly agree.
Great movie, it really is, and it will leave you in some kind of awe!
I was expecting this film to be a gore fest & to some extent it really
was, but it also surprised me with its interesting plot, amateur but
fine acting & its documentary style of filmmaking and the way it
balanced everything so nicely. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a mockumentary
that follows a fictional serial killer and tries to delve into his
psych by showing some of the tapes he made to capture his killings. The
violence, tortures & gore in the tapes are very messy to look at but it
still & somehow adds up to the disturbing experience as the real horror
of this film isn't what you see but what it leaves out for you to
Overall, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is neither a bad film nor is badly filmed. The camera is used accordingly & the pictures in recorded tapes look grainy, messed up, very low resolution but they also seem pretty realistic. It's an impressive feature to come out from a low-budget production & I'm still amazed that I actually liked this film. Had no expectations from it at all but it turned out to be something so much better than a typical slasher films. A must watch for fans of gore & horror and definitely not for the squeamish.
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.
To speak about The Poughkeepsie Tapes is always a risk. Too many masks. The hero, the demon, the myth, the serial killings, the character of historiography and the silhouette of Bram Stoker. The leader from chronicles and the model for Russian czars. A story without frontiers and rules. And, for the circle be full, the Communist vision about past, part of an absurd ideology. So, Procust bed. And, in this case, a good result. A story about courage and injustice, patriotic values and crumbs of Medieval facts, politically correct and not very far from facts. A sage interpretation of a period with small extravagant sparkles. John Erick Dowdle at perfect place, in struggle to create an interesting character, Stacy Chbosky in same eternal role and director under PCR pressure. Today, an ironic remark is obligatory. But the 1000 years was not a comfortable decade in a murderous mindset. In this case, like more others, a gentle smile is enough. And search to discover the dust of that period in its movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To the people who thought the acting sucked? Trust me it didn't. The reason why this movie never made it to the theatres was because it was disturbing because it's actual footage from a town on Poughkeepsie Ny, a place about 20 minutes away from where I live. The news stories surrounding this terror people lived were actual footage from channel 5 and 2..DO YOURSELF A FAVOR..DON'T CRITIQUE THE ACTING WHEN PARTS OF IT WERE ACTUALLY REAL...I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS! google the Poughkeepsie killings back in 2001 and earlier when the actual tapes were found. Seriously this director knew what he was doing in this because he has friends that lived through this. Berate it all you want! like I said..do your history before critiquing the acting being HORRIBLE,AVERAGE or SO SO.
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