It’s been going on ten long years since The Poughkeepsie Tapes was supposed to come out. To put it in perspective, Rob Zombie was about to ruin Halloween, Fangoria still had magazines, and social media wasn’t the toxic wasteland of shitty people it is nowadays.
As the years passed, the only way to watch The Poughkeepsie Tapes was through bootleg copies found online. You had to be a dirty pirate to watch the movie. The cult status of the film grew and grew, slowly building a mythology around the flick and giving it an underground cult status. Of course, even shitty movies can have cult status (give Cultsploitation a visit for plenty of examples), but the buzz for The Poughkeepsie Tapes always remained positive.
I, myself never watched the movie during those years the crappy bootleg sat online to be downloaded. Now, it seems my patience paid off as Scream Factory has gone ahead and released the film for the first time on Blu-ray. This release is a pretty big historical moment for the horror industry and Blu-ray in general. What makes this release even better is the fact that The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a damn fine horror flick.
With all those true crime shows on TV nowadays, The Poughkeepsie Tapes couldn’t have come out at a better time; well, conceivably ten years ago would have been better. The idea behind the film works quite well. Filmed as a documentary, the movie features interviews with law enforcement and people who have come in contact with the killer. Interterspered throughout the documentary is the serial killer’s tapes of his stalking, torture and killings. It’s all done in the style that everything you are seeing is real.
Of course, the film isn’t real, and that is most evident by the sketchy acting from a few individuals. However, for the most part, the believability of the movie is quite high, and there are times where you will feel like you are witnessing something real. It will make you feel icky and gross. The film isn’t graphic, but it’s the actions of the killer and what you don’t see that makes everything seem disturbing.
I want to specifically call out Stacy Chbosky for doing an excellent job at portraying the main victim of the killer. She is put through the ringer during this movie, and she does it with such conviction, you wonder if some of what you are seeing is happening.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes was a long, long time waiting to be properly seen and Scream Factory has done a splendid job releasing the film on Blu-ray. The video quality is hard to gauge properly as the film constantly shows scenes on videotape and adds plenty of distortion and degradation. The interview portions look great, though.
The audio quality of the Blu-ray is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, and I had no problems with the film. All the dialogue is easy to hear, and the distortion effects are plenty loud.
The Extra Features on the Blu-ray are a bit on the light side, which is disappointing. We have a sit-down interview with Writer/Director John Erick Dowdle and Writer/Producer Drew Dowdle. They discuss making the film, the premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and a bit on the problems of getting the film out to the public. The other interview is with actress Stacy Chbosky, who reminisces about how she got the part and how enjoyable shooting the movie was, given the content of the flick. Finally, we have the original MGM trailer.
To me, The Poughkeepsie Tapes was well worth the wait. It can be downright disturbing at times, and everything the movie does makes you feel like you are peeping into the life of an actual serial killer. Scream Factory has done a fantastic job finally bringing this flick to home media, and they deserve plenty of accolades.