Released: 3rd March
Seen: 16th June
Sometimes it really does surprise me just how understated some reviews can be about certain films. Due to this being a very small blog, I don’t really get to be ahead of the curve that much. I’m not on any press lists unless Soda & Telepaths hooks me up, screeners for any of the major streaming services don’t tend to fall in my lap and throw on top of that the reality of me being in Australia which is usually late to get a lot of these weird films. That’s why there’s still at least 2 major Oscar films I never reviewed, it takes a while for me to get to some of these films and usually there’s a critical consensus about them already by the time I see them… The critics have undersold how gloriously bonkers Psycho Goreman is, in their defence the brilliant insanity of this film is something that might be beyond mortal comprehension but let’s try.
Psycho Goreman takes place in a sunny little town in middle America where a small everyday family lives. We meet youngsters Luke (Owen Myer) and Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) who are playing a game of Crazy Ball (a game of their own concoction that makes no sense but is a major element of the story). Luke loses this game and has to dig a hole in the yard that Mimi can bury him in as his punishment for losing. He ends up accidentally digging up some weird box with a pretty gem on the top of it, a gem that Mimi takes because she’s the winner and the two of them give up on the burial plans in order to go to bed.
Turns out that inside that box is an intergalactic demon known as the Arch Duke of Nightmares who decides he wants to kill everyone on the planet because that’s what evil intergalactic demons do. Unfortunately for him, Mimi is a far more evil being than he will ever be and she also has that gem which, turns out, gives her the ability to control the intergalactic demon. She renames him Psycho Goreman (Matthew Ninaber doing the physical work, Steven Vlahos providing the voice) and has all the fun she can possibly have with her new murderous companion and her constantly tormented brother. Meanwhile, the celestial being Pandora (Kristen MacCulloch) is determined to find Psycho Goreman and kill him, since it’s clear the idea of capturing him had no effect.
Psycho Goreman is played almost exactly like those corny 80s films where a couple of kids find some kind of weird creature, except with so much blood and guts that it’s hilarious. The tone is just so perfectly matched with the weird style of those cheap films that were the dominant form of family-friendly fare back in the day that when they start spraying the hoses of blood around it’s jarring for about a second before the laughter kicks in and it just does not stop. Psycho Goreman is a film that knows exactly what it’s trying to do and it goes all the way with the idea, not pulling a single punch for fear of alienating the audience. It’s an R rated family-friendly adventure film and it’s damn proud of it.
Everything from the creature designs to the style of acting is almost a perfect time capsule of an era when you would find a dozen of this kind of film on every shelf at the local video store. Every weird space alien looks like a Power Rangers character that was rejected for being too terrifying and they all look glorious, in particular the titular Psycho Goreman who somehow looks silly as hell and actually intimidating in equal measure. He becomes a rapidly lovable world ending creation that just delights every time he’s on the screen.
Every character is such a broad cartoon version of the tropes from this style of film that it’s absolutely delightful. Mimi is easily the evilest character in film this year and the actress is reveling in that evil. The lazy father, the hyper worried mother, the put upon brother and even the brainy best friend are all here and all of them are turned up to 11… in the cast of the brainy best friend, quite literally (you’ll understand that better when you see the film but… yeah, very literally brainy). No one here is even bothering with subtlety or nuance and why the hell should they? It’s a film where a giant purple alien tears the heads clean off of people’s bodies and someone is squashed into a cube of meat, subtle left the station long ago.
It’s also just a joy to see practical effects again, you can almost hear the effect team giggling with impish glee as they find new and weird ways to either turn people into whatever abomination they want to put on the screen or a fun new kill that’ll be disturbingly hilarious when it happens. They were so clearly given complete freedom to make whatever gloriously weird thing they could come up with and they took it (Just wait till you see the weird sentient can of meat with a skeleton head on top… that’s a thing that exists in my head now and it’s glorious!).
Nothing about Psycho Goreman is done by halves, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a balls-out stupid family-friendly gorefest that is somehow exactly like a lot of films you’ve seen before and like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It plays with the tropes of the genre, but it plays rough and doesn’t really care if it gets them covered in blood. It’s just brainless silly fun that has no high ambitions beyond being the biggest stupidest thing you’ve seen in a while. Psycho Goreman is having the best time just being Psycho Goreman, you might as well get on its level and enjoy it too.