Movie Review: THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES (Blu-ray Combo Pack)

THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES was written and directed by John Erick Dowdle and stars Stacy Chbosky, Ben Messmer, Samantha Robson, Ivar Brogger, Amy Lyndon and Bobbi Sue Luther.

Throughout the 1990s, a serial killer terrorized upstate New York. After a decade-long crime spree conducted largely under the radar of law enforcement, the killer left behind the most disturbing collection of evidence homicide detectives had ever seen – hundreds of homemade videotapes that chronicled the stalking, abduction, murder and disposal of his victims. The Poughkeepsie Tapes examines these horrific tapes at length: what they reveal about the killer, why they were made and how FBI profilers have used them to better understand violent, psychopathic behavior. The Poughkeepsie Tapes combines interviews surrounding the devastating impact of the “Water Street Butcher,” with shocking footage from the tapes themselves.

During the 90’s a deranged serial killer was on the loose in upstate New York and he left behind a collection of 100’s of videotapes that local law enforcement finally uncovered nearly a decade later after a long search. These tapes show this madman’s horrifying journey as he would pick out, kidnap and murder his unsuspecting victims. This man would kidnap these people and take them back to his “secret layer” where he would take his time in torchering them to death. He got his sick kicks out of dishing out mental anguish to these people while he would find creative ways to inflict physical damage to them. Everything from a punch to the gut to disembodiment. The killer carefully crafted each step of his murders so that he could never be tracked down and captured.

After a decade waiting I have finally witnessed The Poughkeepsie Tapes and it left me feeling a little split in how I feel about the movie. The story was interesting and all of the acting was good but this gets close to torture porn and the video footage gets really rough at times. There are some extremely terrifying and unsettling scenes in the movie. The movie itself plays out as a faux documentary and is shot found-footage before it even became a thing. The Blair Witch Project sort of paved the way for movies like this but there’s another kinship between these two horror movies and that’s the fact that some viewers might think that they’re actually watching actual footage of these terrifying events take place. This happened with Blair Witch! Rest assured, this is only a movie and nothing real like that would ever be released to the masses.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image and list of special features. The reverse sleeve also features an image from the movie. Each disc also features its own individual artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality varies with each scene because the movie was shot found-footage style and the footage is supposed to be filmed by an old school V/H/S camcorder so the rough look is intentional and unfortunately some viewers might not like it. Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much.

Bottom line is, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is an obscure horror movie that completely disappeared from my radar after I saw the theatrical trailer play in front of another movie a little over a decade ago. Now that I’ve finally gotten to watch it and even though I enjoyed it, the movie didn’t blow me away. Some movies got shelved after MGM and Orion started going through their financial woes and sadly this was one of them. The movie did find its way online illegally back in the late 2000’s and slowly built up its audience that way. Crazy, right! This is not going to be a horror movie for everybody but the diehard horror hounds that have been dying to see it will finally get a chance and you will have your own opportunity to make your own judgements. In my opinion, it’s not a great movie but it is a very unique one that’s releasing at the perfect time of year since we’re coming up on Halloween. The Poughkeepsie Tapes finally makes its home video debut on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack on October 10th and is worth checking out. Also, remember to watch all the way through the end credits. A big thanks goes out to Scream Factory for digging this one up and releasing it for the horror fans.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 86 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

DVD Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)

DVD Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special Features: There’s nearly an hour of extras that includes NEW interviews with writer/director John Erick Dowdle, writer/producer Drew Dowdle and actress Stacy Chbosky and the creepy theatrical trailer.

  • Sorting Through the Tapes (33:33)
  • The Willing Victim (22:42)
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:39)


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