Synopsis: After unearthing a gem that controls an evil monster looking to destroy the Universe, a young girl and her brother use it to make him do their bidding.
Stars: Matthew Ninaber, Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre, Adam Brooks, Alexis Kara Hancey, Kristen MacCulloch, Reece Presley, Rick Amsbury, Matthew Kennedy, Timothy Paul McCarthy, Conor Sweeney, Robert Homer, Anna Tierney, Rich Evans
Director: Steven Kostanski
Running Length: 99 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: During the tumult of 2020, one big positive I took was getting to see more indie horror films long before they became another new release to add to a growing queue of titles I would struggle to return to. With space on the schedule thanks to the studios moving their bigger projects out months or years, my inbox became an increasingly fertile ground for all kinds of features with creatures both real and imaginary. Most were expectedly good, some unexpectedly great, and of course we had a stinker or two that just balanced everything out in the end in my eyes. Each week there seemed to be something new to spook you and it’s important to keep these studios/titles/filmmakers in mind as we head into 2021 when we start to get back to “normal.” That’s a thought for another day though because there’s another title out that’s worth your time here and now and while Psycho Goreman may have some rough edges and more schlock than shock, it’s a goofy good time that can serve as a throwback for fans wanting retro kicks or a perfectly enjoyable modern take on a popular formula.
As the film opens, an introductory scroll tells us of the Archduke of Nightmares and how he was defeated by the good people of the planet Gigax. Imprisoned on Earth for his crimes and separated from his power source, a glowing gem that was buried deep within the soil, his reign of terror over the galaxy was put to an end and everyone lived happily ever after. That is, until the present day when suburban siblings Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) accidentally awaken the demon during their afternoon match of Crazyball and hypercompetitive Mimi winds up with her bratty hands on the amulet he is desperate to be reunited with to regain his full strength. Realizing that as long as she has what he wants he’ll do anything for her, she names her new pet Psycho Goreman (PG for short) and sets about wreaking almost as much havoc as PG did, sometimes with more disastrous results.
In between montages of PG learning about the people of Earth, there are secret neighborhood crushes turned into a oozing oversized brain and a run in with the police that turns into a face melting bad time for one of the officers. To the increasingly horrified Luke, this is the stuff of nightmares, but to Mimi it’s her own plan for world domination coming to fruition…just a few years earlier than she expected. As Mimi and Luke befriend PG, who grits his teeth as Mimi’s personal gopher, galaxies away his revival has sent an alarm to the Gigax elders and alerted them that their ancient nemesis may be making a return visit. In short order, the alabaster warrior Pandora (Kristen MacCulloch) is sent to Earth to make it clear they aren’t accepting visitors. Then, when a horde of PG’s former fiendish allies also descend upon the small town and several double-crosses are revealed that loop in the kids’ squabbling parents (Alexis Kara Hancey & Adam Brooks), Mimi and Luke turn to their beastly bud for assistance and find that PG might turn out to be the savior of Earth and not its destroyer.
Writer/director Steven Kostanski has a clear affinity for the low-budget efforts from studios like Troma, Full Moon Entertainment, and Empire Pictures. These production houses churned out cult classics that might have been stuck together with goopy glue and popsicle sticks that still had remnants of a Fudgsicle on them, but they were so much fun to watch you hardly minded. Film production has come a long way since then so Psycho Goreman uses its low budget in all the right places, going sparse in the way of special effects and focusing on make-up and costuming instead. That’s where the creative energy really starts to flow and there are several of the old PG friends that were designed to be so disgusting and/or funny that you very nearly want to stand up and applaud the imagination brought to life.
That same energy flows into the performances as well, starting with Matthew Ninaber under layers of latex (and, later, some goofy costumes to disguse himself) as the titular character. The suit is always a suit but it has a surprisingly effective presence even when you can see it puckering in at odd angles on the actor. All of the actors in full costume deserve major props for navigating what I’m sure where hard conditions to film in; it can’t have been comfortable, but the results are well worth the efforts. If the humans feel a little second banana, it’s only because they are so ordinary compared to the extraordinary nature of their out-of-this-world co-stars. Audiences are either going to love Hanna’s preposterously awful Mimi or wish she’d get a laser blast to the cranium post haste and while it took me longer than it probably should have to warm up to her, by the end I understood why she had to be drawn with such big bold lines.
Definitely bound to appear on every “Best Movies You Haven’t Heard Of” lists for whatever streaming service this one lands on and more than likely headed toward a status of cult, Psycho Goreman is a fun film that takes itself only as seriously as you’d let it. It delivers everything it promises and more, with a plot that’s more fleshed out than usual, excellent physical effects that blend nicely with computer generated ones, and performances that sell the material without turning it into a poorly timed farce. The final act (and specifically the last 15 or so minutes) is really going to tweak a sweet spot for horror fans but by then I’m betting most viewers will already have been won over by PG’s R-rated antics.