PSYCHO GOREMAN is a friggin’ bonkers ride through cinematic WTFery
An evil, overly violent, intergalactic warlord finds himself in league with a bossy, little earth girl. Will this Psycho Goreman learn a valuable lesson from his tiny, new friends, whilst dismembering equally powerful alien foes and wreaking wanton havoc on earth? Frig yes, he Heckin’ will!
Coming to VOD on Jan 22nd through Raven Banner Releasing (and select cinemas, if you live in a lucky part of pandemic infested Canada) is PSYCHO GOREMAN, one of the funniest and oddest festival darlings of the last year. It’s a huge battle between evil and worse evil” where every moment just gets stranger and stranger.
Perhaps the perfect remedy for quarantine, and the general hopelessness that we’re finding ourselves in, is this thoroughly bizarre film full of batshit-crazy visuals and uproariously hilarious, absurdist dialogue.
It’s the kind of film you’re eager to subject your friends to once quarantine ends and public gatherings among friends are the norm again. I’m talking about instant cult-classics like EVIL DEAD 2, THE RE-ANIMATOR, or STREET TRASH. Off-kilter, indie genre cinema from everything and anything by TROMA films to more recent gems like THE FP or DEATHGASM . You know, just weird-ass, genre cinema.
PSYCHO GOREMAN is like one of those instant cult-classic films of yesteryear. It even feels of that era. It’s the kind of movie where for 90 minutes you can just shut your brain off and laugh at the acid-trip tribute to 80s junk cinema and cartoons made to sell action-figures. Marvel at an era full of metal riffs, freaky rubber-suits and puppets, and gross-out splatter FX. This film lives and breathes that wonderful, wonderful What-The-Fuckery.
Or should I say, What-The-Friggery? Because above all, the core of this oh, so violent film, are two little kids: the bratty and bossy Mimi, and her brother/frequent target of her harassment, Luke.
We first meet Mimi and Luke as they’re playing CrazyBall, one of those stupid games that kids invent full of convoluted rules and nonsense. It’s after this very, muddy game that Mimi, as winner, directs Luke to dig up the yard– because kids! Buried in that yard is a powerful space gem that unlocks the imprisoned nameless entity, known to some as the Archduke of Nightmares, a powerful despot hellbent on destruction. The kids soon learn that whoever possesses the gem controls this giant space warlord… and chaotic hilarity ensues!
They rename him Psycho Goreman, PG for short, (renamed as such because “Tyranosaurus Flex”, and “Darklord of Wonderful Smooches” didn’t make the cut) and he soon finds himself at the whim of Mimi’s commands; forced to play games and do her bidding! To make matters worse he’s also hunted by other space creatures… all in midst of family drama brewing between brother and sister!
This is all especially complicated because all PG wants to do is conquer the galaxy, and strike down all that was good and just in the universe. And you know, have revenge on Pandora and the Templars, his interplanetary captors… which is especially tough when you gotta play drums in the kids’ band, take part in all manner of childish hijinks, and compete in CrazyBall with a constantly melting cop and a giant, sentient brain creature… yeah, again, this film gets really, really fucking weird.
PSYCHO GOREMAN is such a perfectly insane film that it’s refreshing that it doesn’t care how perfectly insane it gets. I can’t stress how off-the-wall and fucking crazy this movie is. It’s a great parody of the various films, comics, games, and toys that inspired its making. It’s like E.T. if E.T. could rip you in half, change the very fabric of reality, and alter your being. It’s like TERMINATOR 2 if John Connor was a little girl and a total dick.
Psycho Goreman himself is played perfectly like a classic 80s villain, with a very rich backstory, born in a “time before time, light years away from your own”. We see a glimpse of that world building in flashbacks, and it’s one of the main things that sets this film apart from the rest. It’s that level of detail and care that really sells the material.
PG looks like he’s cut from the same cloth as Cobra Commander, Skeletor or Mumm-Ra, with a bit of POWER RANGERS and Japanese Tokusatsu TV thrown in, too. He’s very rich in 80s and early 90 Saturday Morning aesthetic. He’s a very dark, brutal, immortal overlord. He has immense, off-the-chart, world altering abilities, and is absolutely full of seething rage… until he finds his match in that stubborn little girl. It’s like Thanos being relegated to being a child’s plaything. Which makes every scene where he threatens to bathe in his enemies’ blood, or wishes death upon the “brainless meat children” and their sitcom-esque parents, all the more laughter-inducing.
As for the brainless meat children, there’s Luke (Owen Myre), brother and perpetual victim of his sister Mimi. Luke is the voice of reason and heart of the the film. He’s in frequent conflict with Mimi (she bosses him around quite a bit), and has a key dynamic with PG, even if PG can never remember his name.
And of course there’s Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna), the stand-out scene stealer of the film whose menace rivals PG’s own. Hanna amps up her performance to an 11 as the bratty kid and channels Nicolas Cage-calibre levels of crazy. I’m not even exaggerating. This character is on a whole other level of the “bratty kid” trope.
She’s absolutely delightful and infinitely quotable (to be fair the entire film is quotable, even the throwaway lines are hysterical— it’s that kind of a film). When the mom, Susan, mistakenly refers to her fave pastime as “kooky ball”, Mimi emphatically yells with such sheer, deafening and extended force, “IT’S CRAZY BAAAAAAAAAALL!” Full on wacky. Another time she belts out “CHAMPIONS DON’T EAT BROCOLI!” It shouldn’t even be that funny, but it’s the combination of the absurdity and the delivery.
I could go on with the quotes, but they need to be experienced on your own. It’s epic, exaggerated, and awe inspiring all at once. Mimi is constantly in tantrum mode and spouting lines right out of adverts, cop shows, and pop culture. It’s sometimes borders on surreal, but so perfect in the context of this film. Especially once she starts interacting with PG, and really let’s him know who’s in charge.
The exchanges between the two of them are perfect; her frequently dismissive of anything he’s saying. Mimi is so overly confident to a cartoonish degree, where PG does not even register as a threat, partly due to the gem, but probably also because Mimi is terrifying in her own right. Other moments involve Mimi taking PG shopping for in an inevitable fashion montage, Mimi teaching PG about hunky boys, and of course, about swearing.
Yes. Mimi teaches Psycho Goreman how to swear. But you know, the “rated PG” kind.
In a great juxtaposition of the over-the-top gore is that this film still has that kids movie vibe, where to kids, words like “heck” and “frig” are the worst! We see this culminate to the greatest degree in a spectacularly absurd musical number with the lines “I’m the heckin best. Frig all the rest” which really becomes one of the core theme to this film, and certainly gets stuck in your head. While it may never be a contender for “best song at the Academy Awards”, considering the last few years of nominations, it very well should be.
As for the Parents, well, they’re the typical loving and supportive “sitcom Mom & Dad”, but even that is askew. The father, Greg (played to gut busting perfection by ASTRON 6 regular, Adam Brooks) is so aloof in the going ons that he takes laziness to new levels. It’s like he’s the deadbeat dad that was too lazy to leave. There’s legit laugh-out-loud moments with Greg, often having some of the best lines in the film. He’s got a fun chemistry with his wife, Susan (Alexis Kara Hancey), the perfect comedic foil to his lethargy, which pays off in the end, because every character has a role to play in this story. Even school friend Alasdair becomes a fan favourite in this movie.
As for the other Aliens in this film, there’s the phenomenal Paladins Obsidian, PG’s old buds, and the Templars and the planetary alliance, including Pandora, PG’s central antagonist and this universe’s “hero”. At times Pandora rivals most Marvel Cinematic Universe villains as being memorable. In fact the epic battles involving these characters are more fun and definitely memorable than most recent big budget flicks in recent time.
PSYCHO GOREMAN was written and directed by Steven Kostanksi, known for his work with ASTRON-6. Those are the same Canadian folk that brought us MANBORG, and the W IS FOR WISH segment from ABC’S OF DEATH 2, of which PG seems heavily based on. This film is very much in that horror-comedy vein of the previous flicks with ASTRON-6, butt it also has some more of that fucking fantastic creature FX that was seen in Kostanksi’s 2016 masterpiece THE VOID.
Again, this film is very much a love-letter to 80s VHS days, complete with ridiculously exaggerated over the top gore. It has everything from dual head rips, copious splatter, people turned to living goo, or worse… There’s such a love put into these FX, something Kostanksi has been doing for years in the FX dept on big-budget hollywood flicks.
In this one he teamed up with Canadian FX department, MASTERS FX to put these creatures together. Every space alien felt like a living action figure, brought to life via rubber suits and old school practical effects. The result is very reminiscent of something from the Cantina scenes in STAR WARS (or more recently THE MANDALORIAN), The Last Starfighter. Many of these characters would have been at home with my MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE or NINJA TURTLE toys.
Comparisons though, simply does not do it justice, and is a disservice to how original these designs actually are. The entire Paladins Obsidian And Planetary Alliance sequences are easily my favourite creature fx in recent memory for the clever designs alone. They are so very fantastical and outlandish, that they really hit the next level. They’re so creative and incredible with such thought and skill. Words can’t even do it justice.
Just sidesplitting, imaginative robots, aliens, and devilishly amusing nightmare fuel. It’s the kind of thing I wish there were toys of as a kid, because I would have collected them all. Hell, my inner sci-fi, schlock nerd still wants to collect these all. I need Kostanksi and company to fast track a Paladdins Obsidian spinoff because these characters are too perfect to not be seen again.
Everything about this film is thoroughly enjoyable. From the opening narration about the planet Gigax (a wonderful nod to D&D creator Gary Gygax) to the end credit title song (that felt like every late 80s end credit rap song), you’re in for an endless ride of stupid fun. If you’re knew to Steven Kostanksi’s world you’re in for a very bizarro treat. If you’re an old fan, you’ll cheer at the BIOCOP cameo.
There’s so much going on in this film and not a moment is wasted. It’s pure friggin’ joy. And it’s actually got a heart and good message somewhere in there amidst the chaos. There’s character growth. And yeah, there’s a lot of weird shit.
Admittedly, I had been waiting for this film for a long while. Especially knowing how great THE VOID was. This film definitely lived up to the hype, if not more so. There are times when watching a film and I know immediately that I want to own it. PSYCHO GOREMAN is one of those films. I want that film on a shelf right there alongside WOLFCOP and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN; two other terrific and fucked up Canadian Indie Genre flicks.
Yeah, this film is clearly not for everyone. It’s definitely niche. It’s definitely aimed at genre and oddball cinema fans, and kids that grew up in the 80s and 90s… and that’s part of the charm. PSYCHO GOREMAN is beautifully self-aware with how ludicrous everything is, that it proudly wears that on its sleeves. We need more of that. Especially right now. Everything in the word is a fucking mess right now, and we need more things like PSYCHO GOREMAN to numb that pain and make it better. Pure escapist what-the-friggery. If you disagree, that’s okay, but Mimi would probably tell you it’s the heckin’ best, and you can go Frig yourself.
PSYCHO GOREMAN is in theatres (check your local listings) and streams on VOD on Friday, JAN 22nd. Limited edition Physical release due on March 16th!