Psycho Goreman Hits Blu-Ray and It’s Heckin’ Great

Photo courtesy RLJE Films/Shudder

I often think about Francis Ford Coppola and the making of Apocalypse Now. It was a production so immense, so troubled, that Coppola himself and the film’s star, Martin Sheen, suffered heart attacks during its creation. It took 16 months to film and, after a while, the psychedelic, drug-fueled allegory of war being hell on earth was virtually recreated on a set full of misfits and troublemakers. It cost $31 million dollars to make ($112 million in 2021 dollars) and caused fractures and seismic shifts in the film community for decades to come. It enjoyed “instant-classic” status and hauled in awards. All the pain, sweat, tears, and medical conditions led to a masterwork of cinema. And sure, it’s great and all, but does it have a giant steam-punkish robot shooting blood at a massive horned creature dressed up in slacks using limbs as weapons?

The answer is, of course not. And while we can certainly get masterpieces of cinema made at the expense of filmmaker’s lives for millions upon millions of dollars, we can have equally masterful cinematic experiences made slapped together simply with duct-tape, lots of latex, and pure fun without a heart condition to be had. That is the beauty of art: some die for it, some laugh with it all for the same goal: entertainment. Am I comparing an American classic like Apocalypse Now to the likes of a $1.5 million (Canadian!) dollar budgeted monster flick impossibly titled Psycho Goreman? Why, yes I am. Frig off if you don’t like it!

Psycho Goreman drinks a soda at a booth
Image courtesy RLJE Films/Shudder

There is a time and place for “serious” cinema and, sure, a hellish production is fun in a can’t-look-away-from-the-accident kind of way. Some will say this type of dedication is indicative of “real” cinema, a discussion that seems to be constantly engaged in during the social media era. But there is something to be said for a film made from simple joy and the ability to laugh at oneself. That the simple mockery of cinema is, in itself, a form of cinematic mastery. Your love doesn’t have to literally kill you. And audiences will feel that positive energy and, in turn, love the art being presented. Psycho Goreman isn’t destined for a Best Picture nomination at this year’s Oscars, but that is more indicative of that committee’s short-sightedness than the film’s actual quality. The craftsmanship and dedication to something so admittedly silly is Best Picture worthy to those who don’t gatekeep art. So yes, producers of the film, if you’re reading this, slap this on the DVD: “Psycho Goreman deserves Best Picture.” I said it.

In all seriousness, RLJE/Shudder’s creature feature is a helluva time and one that can’t help but put a smile on its audience’s faces. A simple plot description can’t exactly describe the mood of the piece, but I’ll do my best. Young firecracker Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and her older brother Luke (Owen Myre) dig up a glowing gem from their backyard which later unwittingly unleashes a space creature called the “Arch-Duke of Nightmares” to roam their neighborhood. When Mimi and Luke discover this Arch-Duke hiding at an abandoned factory, they come to realize the glowing gem controls him despite the Arch-Duke’s naked desire to kill the children and literally anyone he sees.

Since Mimi is a nihilistic child of almost unnatural narcissism, she decides to use her power over the Arch-Duke for fun and games, dubbing him Psycho Goreman, or “P.G.” While Mimi indulges her childish fantasies with PG, including practicing karate, cosplaying as characters from Jurassic Park, playing dress-up, and manipulating the appearance of her boyhood crush, PG’s enemies from space, the dreaded Templars, make their move to eliminate PG forever. Despite PG’s bloodlust, has he found new allies on planet Earth? More importantly (ok, maybe not), has he discovered his sexual identity as well?

Darkscream observes PG from afar
Image courtesy RLJE Films/Shudder

Written and directed by Steven Kostanski, Psycho Goreman (whose initials P.G. are a loving nod to the film/name E.T.) carries on Kostanski’s ongoing tradition of paying homage to genre films of yesteryear. Kostanski, along with his partners at Astron-6, has made it his duty to present the world with self-aware throwbacks to straight-to-video sci-fi and horror cheese-fests with the specific emphasis on those beloved, oft-forgotten filmmakers’ radical ambitions that could never be realized with the micro-budgets they were given. Psycho Goreman, though obviously backed with a lot more money than some of Kostanski’s other projects, still gives off the impression of purposeful “awfulness.” That is, they made an art form of making their production look both cheap/trashy while also impeccably designed and unique.

Kostanski’s early short films were certainly a preview of this concept: mixing complex and fascinating shot selection and editing with beautifully rendered, but entirely “fake” looking, creature effects. The fake trailer for Lazer Ghosts 2: Return to Lazer Cove, for instance, lovingly pretends there was a DTV sequel to a spectacularly dumb high concept sci-fi thriller involving aliens, ghosts, and laser beams! The claymation short film Fantasy Beyond shows time-traveling marauders wielding weaponized guitars, fighting creatures born of paintings. Insanophenia (two oblivious pest control guys fight misshapen “things” in an office building) and Bio Cop (a resurrected policeman just wishes he was dead but, instead, fights crime) continue the tradition of putting maximum creative effort into minuscule-budgeted projects that can’t hope to reign in the filmmaker’s imagination.

Thankfully, this dedication is not lost on Kostanski or Psycho Goreman when presented with a bigger budget (just as it didn’t with Kostanski’s feature film debut Manborg which…I can’t even explain that one without dedicating a thesis paper worth of explanation to you). Psycho Goreman is layered with unique creature design, inventive camera work, and its tongue planted so heavily in its cheek that you can’t help but feel you’re in on the joke.

The Planetary Alliance meet at a large table
Image courtesy RLJE Films/Shudder

Like Kostanski’s short films and Manborg (less so The Void, which was more straight horror), Pyscho Goreman flourishes with its ironic approach and loving homages to a bygone era. The film doesn’t just play as a comedy with set-ups and traditional jokes but, instead, pokes fun at the genre itself by both honoring and parodying the best and the worst of, most specifically, the ’80s and ’90s sci-fi/horror output. The only thing missing from the film is the characters looking at the camera and winking when doing something utterly outrageous.

And nothing is really off-limits. The film shifts from characters singing their own theme song (with PG on drums) to showing PG slaughter children for kicks. One second PG is wearing a dress, and the next he is fighting his former allies, the Paladins of Obsidian, in a forest, utilizing zombie cops and flesh swords to decapitate and maim a motley crew of physical abominations. The film is just…bonkers.

Even the soundtrack, scored by the incredible Blitz//Berlin, focuses on parodying synth scores of the past that you can’t help but love. There is even a late-’80s end credits rap to put a bow on the entire thing! There really isn’t a trope or cliche Psycho Goreman doesn’t play with all while offering some of the most unique and breathtaking creature design work you’ll see. Kostanski keeps the gimmick alive and, if more films like Psycho Goreman can be released, promises a hilarious and well-designed future for genre-loving fans everywhere.

Psycho Goreman was released today on DVD and Blu-Ray. There is also a Limited “Hunky Boy” Ultimate Edition available. You can also catch it on VOD.

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Written by Will Johnson

Will is the author of the little-read books Secure Immaturity: A Nostalgia-Crushing Journey Through Film and Obsessive Compulsive: Poetry Formed From Chaos. Will is a film critic at 25YL but also specializes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the occasional horror review. Will loves his hometown Buccaneers and lives in Phoenix, AZ, USA with his two daughters.

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