‘The last thing his victims saw… was his camera.’
The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a 2007 American documentary-style horror feature film directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine; Devil; As Above, So Below) from a screenplay co-written with his brother Drew, who produced. The movie stars Bobbi Sue Luther, Samantha Robson and Ivar Brogger.
When police raid a house in Poughkeepsie, a city north of New York, they discover a profoundly disturbing record of one man’s ugly crimes. Investigators find over 800 videotapes shot by the killer which present a visual record of his murders in all their horrifying details.
Both state and federal law enforcement teams sift through the gruesome images, looking for clues of his identity, the identity of his victims, and where he could have gone. Repeated viewings of the materials reveal little beyond the terrible facts of the crimes, and as the authorities comb through the madman’s images, they find the tapes have had a disquieting effect on them.
The killer does not only capture the murders themselves, but the abductions, torment and postmortems of his victims all the while never allowing himself to be shown on film unless entirely disguised.
After the success of his first abduction and murder, the killer becomes less impulsive in his crimes. Carefully selecting the area in which he will strike next, he convinces a couple, the Andersons, that his car has broken down and they agree to give him a ride to a local gas station for aid.
On the way, he clubs the male in the head and subdues the female using a cloth doused in a chemical solution while filming her face in close up. Investigators understand this would have taken considerable practice to achieve.
“When Poughkeepsie hits its mark, it’s dead on; the movie is scary, creepy, unnerving, bizarre and very uncomfortable to watch. Get ready for an experience like none other and make sure you give Dowdle’s experiment the chance it deserves, many of you will be pleasantly surprised.” Bloody Disgusting
“It’s an occasionally powerful, excessively sadistic little movie that pushes the boundary of misogyny into places films haven’t dared to tread in years. At times uncompromising and oppressively brutal, this is one tape collection that the moviegoing public deserves to be made aware of.” Cool Ass Cinema
“The Poughkeepsie Tapes is definitely not a film for everyone, particularly those who have a low threshold for violence and torture. For those who love true crime and found footage films, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a treasure.” Scream Anarchy
“I can’t even conjure a basis of comparison – the best I can do is the sadism of Hannibal Lecter meets Jigsaw’s planning and coordination. If you love a good horror film – one that makes double-check your doors and windows but still provides an intelligent story – The Poughkeepsie Tapes is an absolute must.” Reel Girl Reviews
“This movie isn’t for everyone, some may find it disconcerting to watch the torture and murder scenes, but for others, like me, it’s not over-the-top, but just the right blend of creepiness and the macabre to keep me watching. This film has cult classic all over it.” Uncoolghoul
“The Poughkeepsie Tapes is likely to appeal to those who love true crime stories and police procedurals, and very morbid ones at that. It doesn’t stray too far into torture territory, but, of course, implying that there’s a lot of that to be had is part of the marketing angle for this film.” Stephen Hoover, Cheap Scares
“Smart scripting adapted from actual serial murderer behavior and trauma survivor mentalities elevates the sense of legitimacy. Subtly haunting music heightens heart-pounding highlights. In terms of leaving an impression capable of creating nightmares, few films command the power The Poughkeepsie Tapes packs.” Culture Crypt
Cast and characters:
- Stacy Chbosky … Cheryl Dempsey
- Ben Messmer … Ed
- Bobbi Sue Luther … Josephine
- Samantha Robson … Samantha
- Ivar Brogger … Leonard Schway
- Ron Harper … Mike Moakes
- Iris Bahr … Psychiatrist
- Todd Cahoon … Ted Bundy
- Henry Dittman … Frank Anderson
- Sean Huze … Hector Gomez
Scream Factory released The Poughkeepsie Tapes as a Blu-ray + DVD combo on October 10, 2017.
- Interviews with writer/director John Erick Dowdle, writer/producer Drew Dowdle, and actress Stacy Chbosky
- Theatrical trailer
Despite being widely advertised in 2007 by MGM, the film’s theatrical release was pulled, and they subsequently never released it on DVD or Blu-Ray. No official explanation was given for the shelving of the film.
In July 2014, the film was briefly given its first official release as a “video on demand” title available through DirecTV. It was then pulled from VOD.
On October 10, 2017, Scream Factory released the film as a Blu-ray + DVD combo. It includes new interviews with writer/director John Erick Dowdle, writer/producer Drew Dowdle and actress Stacy Chbosky.
Our own rating: