“I do not care for hunky boys….or do I?”
Mike’s rating: I had a crush on a brain in middle school–just not, you know, literally.
Mike’s review: In this post-MCU era of heavy CGI blockbusters, it’s nice that you can still find the low-budget practical FX labors of love hanging out over on the wrong side of the tracks (Amazon Prime). Proudly adhering strictly to the ethos of the Troma school of filmmaking, Psycho Goreman gleefully wears its cheapness on its blood-splattered sleeve, which is a good thing, but unfortunately they seem to have neglected to include things like plot pacing, jokes that land or interesting characters.
Don’t get me wrong, the concept carries the film a long way and it’s just droll enough to sustain a single viewing. I’m not mad I shelled out five bucks for a rental, but still a couple of weeks out from watching this I’m still not sure I liked it. I mean it was definitely bad… but was it the good kind of bad?
Brother and sister Luke and Mimi (who I began to hate just a few minutes in) are playing a Calvinball-esque game of “Crazyball” in an opening scene shot like a John Woo movie, complete with action dives and kung fu spins. It’s the only action sequence in the film that approaches being visually interesting. Mimi wins, which means Luke must dig his own grave (as one does after losing at crazyball).
Look, how else are they going to unearth the ancient tomb/prison of an intergalactic god monster?
The kids fill the hole in when the stone structure starts to shake and glow, but its occupant claws his way out and wanders off. After brutally mutilating the first three guys he comes across in an abandoned factory, he’s found by the kids. He speaks with all the gravitas of a Marvel villain, refers to himself as the Dark Lord of Nightmares, and threatens the children with gruesome deaths repeatedly. But before he can make good on his promise and win the audience’s eternal affection by murdering the obnoxious elementary schoolers, he discovers that since Mimi kept the glowing crystal of MacGuffin affixed to his prison, he has to do exactly as she says.
Just like that, the little psychopath has her own pet alien warlord to boss around. After some workshopping, the kids name the monster Psycho Goreman, or “PG” for short, and get to work acclimating him to life on Earth. Of course real wackiness ensues when PG’s old evil crew and his holier-than-thou archenemies get wind of his escape and head to Earth to seek him out. This part actually sounds more interesting than it turns out being.
That’s one of the biggest drawbacks to Psycho Goreman: You spend a *lot* of time waiting for something interesting to happen, and when it does, it’s kinda fun but lacks the punch the premise demands. It becomes frustrating. This movie comes *so close* to being a great grindhouse style B-movie but keeps stopping short of the goal. The one joke that consistently works is the fact that this mega powerful ancient being is delivering these soliloquies and threats which are ambivalently received by two thoroughly unimpressed millennial children, and it carries the film through much of the runtime, but by the time we got to the third act I just didn’t care what happened anymore.
The kid’s parents take up way too much runtime. Their primary traits seem to be “lazy” and “shrew” respectively, and we spend a virtual eternity watching their marriage fall apart over it which isn’t really fun or entertaining. Note that I said “traits” and not “arcs” because yeah, nobody in this is going to experience anything that anyone in their right mind would call an “arc.” No lesson will be learned here, nor realizations come to or worldviews challenged, just Mimi deciding not to bully her brother as much, Luke growing a spine for five minutes and PG deciding to murder the universe with the power of love instead of hate.
I guess that’s something?
A word about Mimi. I get that she’s supposed to be obnoxious and entitled and full of herself and it’s supposed to be hilarious that someone like that gets a large psychokinetically powerful space monster to exert her will on others, but it just comes off as mean-spirited when she bullies people, threatens to have PG kill her brother when he won’t do what she wants and gets PG to painfully turn her crush into a sad-looking giant brain. Nita-Josee Hanna maybe does too good a job playing the part because I spent the movie hoping she would eventually meet a “warriors death” (another pretty good joke that I won’t spoil but did actually have me laughing out loud). To a certain degree this is true of the whole cast.
The movie gives us little reason to care about any of the characters and only just stops short of making us actively hate them.
PG himself is a pretty cool character — unabashedly blood-thirsty and completely above the ridiculous antics these children keep dragging him through. The character design is great and was the major draw for me wanting to see this flick. I would have loved to see a movie focused on just this character. The various non-human cast, good and evil alike, are equally as visually arresting but only for a second. The cheapness of the costumes and makeup distracts from the illusion.
It’s hard to gauge if the filmmakers were going for intentional self mockery or fully expected to be taken seriously, but either way it lands with the same uninteresting “thud.” The production values here are virtually non-existent, which isn’t a deal-breaker in and of itself; other low-budget flicks have done way more with way less, but Psycho Goreman skimps where it should have spent and splurges when it should have backed off. PG’s lower half is kinda clearly a rubber suit, and most of the make up looks like it started out amazing in the design phase but fell apart somewhere during fabrication. The camera work is boring, and the production design is virtually non-existent.
Maybe I’m being too harsh here. I was entertained throughout, but by the credits I was left feeling a general lack of satisfaction I ascribe to viewings of true cult labor of love like Killer Klowns From Outer Space or Mandy. So for the horror and slasher aficionados I’ll recommend a rental, but feel free to leave this one out of the collection.