Monday, October 4, 2010

The Poughkeepsie Tapes

This is a hard film to track down. I have been hearing about it for over a year. Waiting for a theatrical or DVD release, but nothing ever happened. After watching The Last Exorcism (and reading some reviews of the film), I came across an article talking about The Poughkeepsie Tapes and my need to see this film was reignited. Luckily, I was able to find the film online.

As I have said before, I am a fan of horror films. Add to this, I am a fan of horror films using documentary style methods of telling their stories. The Poughkeepsie tapes does exactly this. The entire film is set up as a documentary. The audience is treated to witness statements, FBI interviews, and news clippings of crime scenes. The piece of this film that makes it stand about your typical documentary- The Poughkeepsie Tapes themselves.

The film is a history of a serial killer named the Water Street Butcher. Towards the end of his killing spree, police found clues leading to the home of the killer. They searched the home and only found hundreds of VHS tapes. Films the killer had shot of himself capturing, torturing, murdering his victims. This is voyeurism to a whole new level. Throughout the film, clips of the murders/kidnappings are shown. The footage is grainy, dark, confusing. This adds to their creepiness.

This is a horror film. A faux-documentary. This is not real. The acting is not fantastic. But, the fear is all over the place. The footage of the killer's slayings is extreme on occasion. The body count, the blood, the screams... this is dark territory. There were moments when I was a little uncomfortable. The film doesn't just scare, it creates nervous paranoia.

The most horrific story line of the film is the capture of one specific victim, Cheryl. He keeps her as a "slave." Teaching her to love him, call him only "master," and to take part in the killings. She falls in love with him during the many years she is kept prisoner. When the police finally discover her, she continues to abuse herself. Eventually ending her own life. Leaving a love letter to her "master" who she hoped would have come back to save her.

These are the pieces of the film which really haunt you. The film clips. The evidence. There are a lot of hokey moments, bad acting, and unnecessary moments. But, fans for horror films would be smart to get their hands on the film.


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