Investigating ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ Cat Johnson July 24, 2015 Features 2597 The mystery surrounding The Poughkeepsie Tapes and its lack of official release becomes more apparent, as well as deeply annoying, the more I dig into it. This horror mockumentary was pulled just five weeks before its release date back in 2007, with a whole host of theories online as to why. According to IMDB, the film was completed and “Its theatrical trailer attached to several widely-released horror films in 2007. The film never received an official theatrical, DVD, or Blu-ray release. No official explanation was given as to why it was pulled.” Call me a sucker if you like but the more unobtainable a film is, the more I want to watch it. The first, and probably only, public screening of The Poughkeepsie Tapes was in May 2007 at the Tribeca Film Festival, where there were apparently mixed reviews. The film was then made available ‘on demand’ for a brief period in 2014 by Direct TV, an American broadcaster, after a seven year absence before it was pulled for no apparent reason. A couple of months ago, the full film popped up on YouTube and has managed a grand total of 32,431 views since then. Anyway, enough of the history lesson. The theory is that The Poughkeepsie Tapes is based loosely, and I mean loosely, on true events. Given that there was a serial killer by the name of Kendall Francois active in Poughkeepsie in the 90s, I can kind of buy into it a bit. Written and directed by John Erik Dowdle, the same guy who wrote the screenplay for Quarantine, directed Devil and who also has a fair few other titles under his belt, the film is actually pretty depraved and twisted. For a mockumentary, heaven forbid, it just seems to work. The very brief synopsis is… In an abandoned house in Poughkeepsie, New York murder investigators uncover hundreds of tapes showing decades of a serial killer’s work. How original. We flip between ‘real life’ interviews to footage shot by the serial killer, who gets up to some really grim acts of torture. A series of victims, male and female, are murdered and captured on film in the process, but one of his victims remains throughout as his slave. A young woman named Cheryl Dempsey is captured, held hostage and tortured beyond belief. Without completely giving the ending away, eight years later Cheryl is released as virtually a shadow of her former self, suffering from Stockholm syndrome and also minus a hand. Her thoughts and actions following her release are particularly disturbing. Some of the footage just doesn’t work, I mean why is there a cop in an apron flipping burgers at a barbeque while discussing the brutalities of this serial killer for a supposed documentary? Ridiculous. However, a lot of the footage is completely spot on. There are a variety of bizarre masks and, weirdly, movements that are quite clearly just fucked up. It’s quite clever and I like it. I can honestly say that if this film was widely available, I’d be a bit disappointed. I think it would lose some of what makes it… that little bit different. If you can get past some of the usual mockumentary blunders, it’s actually a pretty interesting film that you won’t regret spending 84 minutes of your life on. Find it. Watch it.