A film review by Craig J. Koban March 9, 2021


2021, R, 89 mins

Matthew Ninaber as Psycho Goreman (PG)  /  Reece Presley as Chad  /  Rick Amsbury as Dennis  /  Kristen MacCulloch as Pandora  /  Matthew Kennedy as Kortex  /  Owen Myre as Luke  /  Timothy Paul McCarthy as Father  /  Conor Sweeney as Maddox/Cassius 3000  /  Robert Homer as Vince/Zombie Cop  /  Nita-Josee Hanna as Mimi  /  Anna Tierney as Pandora  /  Adam Brooks as Greg

Written and directed by Steven Kostanski

I'll be frank right upfront in this review: 

You'll either be willing and game to take the plunge into the insanely madcap and schlocky rabbit hole that is PSYCHO GOREMAN...or...you simply won't.  It's just that simple. 

I took the leap, and I'm glad I did so. 

This Canadian made indie is a ludicrous cocktail of a weird B-grade horror fantasy and a family/coming of age comedy, and it's all made by writer/director Steven Kostanski with maximum cheesy, retrograde exuberance and a never-look-back cheeky audacity.  PSYCHO GOREMAN contains a preposterously engaging premise to boot: A young girl is able to control the titular ancient alien monster after it has been awakened from its centuries old entombment on Earth.  Just think of all of the limitless possibilities of a child being granted full ownership of a demonic monster and, yup, this film does a deliriously entertaining job of covering most of them.  There's a free-wheeling spirit of unique craziness and visual mischief that's on chief display here, and once you succumb to the film's eccentric charms then it becomes hard yank yourself out of its vortex.  As far as low budget intergalactic sci-fi/horror/comedies go, PSYCHO GOREMAN is fairly unmatched on a level of pure silly showmanship, not to mention its desire to go just about anywhere for a macabre laugh.  And I laughed a lot and heartily during this film's 80-plus minutes. 

So who (or what) is P.G., you might ask?  Well, the self proclaimed "Archduke of Nightmares" (his preferred title, of course) comes from the extraterrestrial world of Gigax (sly geeky nod to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS creator Gary Gygax) that found himself left for nearly dead and buried on Earth centuries ago after a failed attempt to decimate the known universe (he's physically played by Matthew Ninaber and voiced with maximum straight laced and deadpan freakiness by Steven Vlahos).  With a deep bassy voice that would put Optimus Prime to shame and covered in horns and creepy purple tinted skin, P.G. is most definitely a hulkingly intimidating presence that takes great relish in insta-killing anyone in his path (beheadings seem to be his favorite method).  Anhoo', this gargantuan gargoyle-like beast finds himself accidentally awakened by a couple of kids, Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre), who are both shown early in the film playing a make-believe game of Crazy Ball that culminates with them digging up a mysterious and powerful gem in their backyard.   

Gee, I wonder if this mystical rock is what causes P.G. to be resurrected and, in turn, be controlled by one of these kids that wield it? 



Spoiler alert...yes...and yes. 

Of course, the young kids are initially alarmed at their massive find, and all P.G. wants to do is re-start his murder-death-killing of the human race and everyone and everything in his path...but...he can't.  It seems the holder of that aforementioned stone grants them unlimited control over P.G., and all against his will.  Predictably, this greatly annoys the monster, and it certainly becomes debasing for this architect of pain and suffering to be bossed around by a little earthling who seems to be far too hyper caffeinated for her own good and takes a near zealot-like stranglehold on that rock.  While P.G. tries to hilariously acclimate to becoming Mimi and Luke's new plaything, another Gigax-residing entity called Pandora (played by Kristen MacCulloch and voiced by Anna Tierney) ventures to Earth (along with some colleagues) to confront P.G. and stop him from ever committing any more insane rampages in the known universe, leaving Mimi and Luke stick in the middle of the conflict. 

Okay...so much to unpack here. 

P.G. is established as a haunting figure of pure nightmare fuel early on, which is shown during an early altercation he has with a pair of petty thieves (the gore and violence on display in this film throughout is of the definitive in-your-face variety and easily earns its R-rating).  The creature is almost narcissistic in his self-anointed awesomeness, which makes his later plight of being completely submissive to every one of Mimi's ridiculous commands all the more uproarious.  Because he's reduced to being a living action figure toy for the kids, P.G. is forced to lower himself to things as trivial as, for example, donning hipster clothes and performing in Mimi and Luke's rock band or going on routine errands around town.  One of the most hysterical running gags in PSYCHO GOREMAN is how the children - and pretty much everyone else around them - seem to take the sudden appearance of this horrendous looking and dangerous freak in relative stride.  Even when P.G. breaks out into many (and I do mean many) monologues that elaborates in boastful detail about his universe hopping exploits, these kids seem altogether unfazed and unafraid.  This adds to P.G.'s growing sense of futility with his predicament.  All he wants to do is destroy, and all these kids want is a new friend to warp and mould as they see fit. 

Kostanski drums up scene after scene of wicked campiness and inanely over the top bloodshed (one inspired and darkly funny moment involves P.G. confronting some aggressive, but frightened police officers, and with a wave of his mighty hand he instantly reduces one of them to disgusting goo, but without killing him...his living agony is his real punishment, in P.G.'s mind).  There's another preposterous scene that has the enslaved marauder zap one of Mimi's friends (who also happens to have a crush on her) and turns him into a large gelatinous blob with eyes.  Kostanski also displays ample, wide-eyed fun and some solid visual innovation (all done on the absolute cheap) in showcasing planet Gigax and all of its fantastic scenery and equally outlandish looking denizens.  You gain a pretty immediate sense very early on in PSYCHO GOREMAN that this filmmaker is most assuredly throwing every nickel of his scant budget on screen to make his retro-vision come through, and, yes, this isn't a slick and polished looking genre mishmash akin to a studio blockbuster with ample resources.  No, PSYCHO GOREMAN's unique aesthetic appeal is in how it all looks made up from discarded scrap pieces of other films from yesteryear and all being held together by the smallest of loose threads.  There's a consummate amount of vivid, eccentric energy to all of the costumes, set pieces, and art design here even while the whole endeavor looks - for lack of a better word - cheap.   I appreciated how Kostanski lets his childlike imagination run freely wild here and all while under the most miniscule of micro budgets. 

To be fair, though, PSYCHO GOREMAN will not be for everyone (that's for sure), and many will probably have trouble wrapping their heads around this film's gonzo spirit and gory extremes.  Even the very open minded chap in me sometimes had to scratch my head as to what exactly is this film's target audience.  Obviously, the premise alone has its appeal to young audience members, but the film's parade of bloodletting, bone crushing, and body appendage ripping carnage means that kids won't be able to see it at all.  Contrastingly, though, Kostanski is arguably making his film for adults that grew up in the 80s and 90s that will probably get his film's all knowing and affectionately winking and nodding to the movie and pop culture extremes of that period.  Granted, PSYCHO GOREMAN doesn't advertise itself for playing cute and cuddly with the underlining material, which makes it better for it.  This is an infectiously likeable no-budget cheesefest that - to quote P.G. himself - is a "tale bathed in the blood of a million dead memories." 

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