Blu-ray

{Blu-ray Review} Psycho Goreman (2020)

A few months back, Psycho Goreman (PG) created a lot of buzz in the horror community, especially for a low-budget horror-comedy. I loved the cover and trailer, so I was already pretty much sold on the movie when Tracy, Signal Horizon’s TV/Streaming Editor, raved about PG. However, what really piqued my curiosity was a 1,500-word one-star review on Amazon. So when RLJE announced a Blu-ray release I jumped on board to check it out.

Unlike the classically disconnected one-star reviews related to slow shipping, damaged packaging, or slow wifi, this Verified Purchaser was focused, detailed, and, even a bit, persuasive with regards to the disdain felt for this film. His central thesis was Psycho Goreman lacks morals. After writing in great detail, and pleasantly spoiler-free, the reviewer used the ‘beloved’ Toxic Avenger (1984) as the moral standard that Psycho Goreman failed to meet. I’ve heard many things about Toxic Avenger, setting a high moral standard has never been one of them.

Later the reviewer stated, “The character of Psycho Goreman starts evil and is evil at the end. The Templar Knight is evil. The table of alien representatives are corrupt. The family is obliviously stupid and dooms the entire world. The poor little boy turned into a monster stays a monster (oh, and his parents ignore him at the end). The movie takes no stance on the disposability of any of the peripheral murdered people.”

Despite trying to dissuade movie-goers, this reviewer actually convinced me that I had to watch PG as soon as possible. Luckily, RLJE FIlms and Shudder released Psycho Goreman on Blu-ray, complete with over two hours of bonus features. As soon as it arrived, I removed all distractions and sat down to find out if our very own was Tracy Palmer morally bankrupt or if this Amazon reviewer was over-feeling this one?

So who did it listen to? It didn’t take me long to realize that Tracy is not only a lovely person, but she also has great taste in movies, because Psycho Goreman was fantastic. Once the film’s opening crawl, which reminded me a lot of the opening crawl in The Monster Squad (1987), slowly rolled through the screen, I realized this movie was never meant to teach a moral lesson. This movie, like so many independent films, was about an ambitious and talented filmmaker creating a movie designed to give viewers the simple gift of a good time. If there is anything the world needs as it passes the one-year mark since the start of the Covid Pandemic, it’s a good time.

The film’s director, Stephen Kotanski (Leprechaun Returns, The Void), made a name for himself working in special effects and make-up, which are one of the movie’s strengths. In fact, the costumes, make-up, set design, and practical effects alone make this film an absolute gem. Visually it reminded me of a cross between some of my favorite low-budget films, The Demon’s Rook (2013), Turbo Kid (2015), and, Skull (2020).

I absolutely loved Kotanski’s commentary on the film as well as the behind the scenes look at the effects workshop as the creatures, including PG were meticulously molded, shaped, and painted. I especially loved the use in miniature sets in this film. The bonus feature “Miniature Madness” was fascinating to watch. The idea of creating an alternate realm on a space approximately the size of a kitchen table, was mind-blowing.

Kotanski created a fascinating monster. Psycho Goreman (Matthew Ninaber-body & Steven Vlahos-voice) is a cross between Rawhead Rex (1986), The Terminator, and, Big Bang Theory’s, Sheldon Cooper. PG’s voice  is a nerdy, pretentious, and single-minded killing machine, who is controlled by an amulet in the hands of a precocious and deranged little girl, Mimi (Nina-Josee Hanna). I say deranged because at one point Mimi orders PG to turn her friend, Alastair (Scout Flint) into an oversized brain with bug eyes, and tentacle limbs. That said, she does allow Alastair to continue hanging out with them, so she’s not a totally callous person. Her facial expressions alone had me laughing on several occasions.

Mimi’s extreme personality is balanced out by her brother, Luke (Owen Myre). Luke is rational, yet unsure of himself. As a result, he is picked on by his little sister. As the story progresses, the question becomes will he realize his full potential by the end? Both kids do a wonderful job. Kotanski mentioned how many auditions they held to find the right match of child actors, and that focus paid off.

As the story progresses, things get more complicated, strange, and enjoyable. The alien council is fantastic and one of the council members, Kortex (Matthew Kennedy) has a memorable bonus feature interview that I watched a few times in a row. Next, are the adults in this film. Kotanski took the R.L. Stine approach to adults. They are either incompetent, aloof, or nonexistent. This brings us to Mimi and Luke’s father, Greg (Adam Brooks).

Despite being a lazy husband and father, he is really funny. Kotanski wrote the role specifically for Brooks, and even went as far as saying in the special features, “If Adam didn’t want to do it, then I probably wouldn’t have made the movie. He made Greg charming and pathetic at the same time, which is my favorite kind of character to have in a movie”

Brooks delivers some of the best lines in the movie, none better than when his wife, Susan (Alexis Kara Hancey), pops open the microwave to find every inch is covered in a mystery-meat that has exploded:

Susan:, “Greg, what the hell did you do to the microwave?”

Greg: (Responds from his La-Z-Boy) “I cooked a great meal for my family, that’s what. You’re welcome.”

Susan: “Well, it’s totally wrecked.”

Greg: (Becoming noticeably emotional, whispers): “You are welcome.”  

Before Susan can respond, she sees PG standing over her children in the back yard and leaps into action to save Mimi and Luke. On the way out the backdoor, she grabbed a wooden baseball bat, jukes by brain-form Alastair, without noticing his altered state, and slams the bat into PG’s arm.

The bat snaps and PG is unphased. From the back door, Greg yells, “My lucky bat!” and leaps over the massive blob that is Alastair, ignoring both Alastair and the massive beast looming over his family, as he grabs what is left of his most prized possession, a baseball bat.

This scene personifies what makes Brooks so perfect for the role. He gives a half-assed effort, screws up royally, yet still expects to be praised and does not lift a finger to rectify the situation. For a character that was written to be so unlikeable, Brooks manages to come across as redeemable, especially during the climactic battle scenes.

Finally, while Psycho Goreman is far from perfect, it is extremely well done and lives up to the hype. Does this mean, “I am mentally 12 years old with a massive horror collection…but is confused by Hereditary and think The Witch was slow,” as the one-star Amazon reviewer’s dissertation suggests?

Maybe, but let’s be honest, no one understood the ending of Hereditary and The Witch was hella slow.

PG comes out today from RLJE.

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