October 2021 Horrors – The Tapes of Poughkeepsie (2007)

Poughkeepsie bands, 2007.

Directed John Erick Dowdle.
With Stacy Chbosky, Ben Messmer, Ivar Brogger, Lou George, Michael Lawson, Samantha Robson and Ron Harper.


Authorities stumble upon a cache of hundreds of VHS tapes recorded by and describing the crimes of a meticulous and sadistic serial killer.


It doesn’t appear that a week has passed without a streaming service releasing another true crime documentary about a notorious serial killer. And while it may seem like I’m complaining about this macabre glut of material, I’ll freely admit that I’m a junkie for this stuff. This brings me to Poughkeepsie bands, a morbid film that offers a compelling and disturbing take on the found imagery subgenre that seems to have been tailor-made for true crime junkies like myself.

Poughkeepsie bands, a bit like the shiny Mungo Lake, departs from the usual approach to found footage by presenting itself as a pseudo-documentary, with disturbing and frightening footage interspersed with interview footage, fake news footage commenting on events, and obligatory newspaper close-ups . These elements combine to make you feel like you’re really watching one of those real crime documentaries that Netflix produces every two weeks.


The documentary angle is perhaps the part I found the most engaging, as it allows me to play the role of the wheelchair criminal profiler and try to delve into the mind and motives of a killer in series. Except he’s no ordinary serial killer. The killer (Ed, as he is called in one scene) is the one I really hope will never exist in the real world. A highly intelligent sadist whose evolution we follow as he goes from an impulsive killer to a psychopathic genius who makes Hannibal Lecter look like a dumbass.

An example of Ed’s intelligence comes when, after carefully choosing his victims, he changes MO completely and goes on a rampage targeting sex workers with such frequency that he seems to have lost control. of his impulses. Instead, as we find out, the opposite is true. And it’s a carefully crafted diversion to get rid of the permissions of its real targets. While other examples of his increasingly elaborate plans and intelligence may perhaps stretch their gullibility, I was nonetheless completely invested and downright pissed off. I was particularly struck by a scene in which an FBI profiler highlights the near impossibility of creating a psychological profile, going through a list of descriptions of many different profiles of ages, ethnicity and age. intelligence variables that are also somehow the same person.


Where the movie really grabs you like a vise is when we finally get to see what’s on the titular tapes. Shot like from an old VHS camera, the footage deliberately distorted to make it look aged, the material shows Ed as he stalks his victims. Sneak into their house, kill or kidnap them before torturing them in his basement lair. These moments are nightmarish, especially a scene in which Ed sneaks into a victim’s house, places the camera on a shelf, and then hides in a closet. The following moments leave a crippling knot as his unsuspecting victims calmly talk about mundane matters. All the while, our eyes are on that closet door, left open enough that we can still see him in his strange plague doctor mask, lurking.

Where things get tough to watch is when we see Ed torturing his victims, especially a young woman named Cheryl, whom he subjects to increasingly sadistic abuse in an attempt to induce some sort of syndrome. of crooked Stockholm. While these scenes aren’t necessarily soaked in blood (though some push it), the distorted camera work, dark lighting, creepy masks, and relentless sadism displayed (with the scenes “scarred” by almost constant screaming ) make these scenes a real disturbing watch. However, while initially shocking, the tape sequences quickly become repetitive and boring, especially because of the relentless misery they instill.


While the film has quite a few advantages, it is not without its flaws. Acting, especially in documentary segments, is a mixed bag. Some adapt well to interview segments and manage to deliver compelling performances as characters. Like an FBI profiler whose very fact and decidedly non-dramatic performance allow him to appear almost authentic. Others go in a different direction and maybe put too much emotion in their roles, such as a female FBI agent who puts too much emphasis on her portrayal, making it very obvious that she is an actress playing a role.

While I enjoyed the cursory look at Ed’s psychology discussing who and how he kills, I was disappointed that we never know why he kills. And that’s the main problem with the movie, it teases us with little nuggets of information that make us watch, but it never manages to give us a fully satisfying payoff.


Poughkeepsie bands will not be for everyone. The documentary segments are well put together and effectively mimic the feel of a real crime documentary. However, its plethora of torture scenes last far too long and far too often, resulting in a tedious and obnoxious watch. Fans of real crime will likely find Poughkeepsie bands to be an imperfect but fascinating watch. Those with a nervous temper or who like to sleep at night will probably wish they had never seen it. Check it out if you are curious.

Evaluating the Flickering Myth – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Graeme robertson


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