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PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN (2020)
Directed & written by Steven Kostanski
Starring Matthew Ninaber, Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre, Adam Brooks, Kristen MacCulloch, Rick Amsbury, Scout Flint, Stacie Gagnon, Alexis Kara Hancey, Robert Homer, Matthew Kennedy, Timothy Paul McCarthy, William O’Donnell, Roxine Latoya Plummer, Reece Presley, Reece Presley, Conor Sweeney, Anna Tierney, Steven Vlahos, Stuart Wellington
Find out more about this film here!
The twisted mind behind THE VOID, THE EDITOR, MANBORG, and FATHER’S DAY with another offbeat and exciting genre mashup. Behold PSYCHO GOREMAN!!!
When a pair of kids, Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre), playing an innocent game of Crazy ball in the backyard accidentally unearth a power gem, it unleashes a long-buried scourge of the universe. Dubbing the monster Psycho Goreman (PG for short), Mimi and Luke control it as long as they possess the power gem. Meanwhile across the universe, the Gigax Council—the same group of beings who imprisoned Psycho Goreman long ago, get word that he is loose again, so they send a powerful warrior Pandora (voiced by Anna Tierney and played by Kristen MacCulloch). Back on earth, the kids are having a blast having Psycho Goreman (voiced by Steven Vlahos and played by Matthew Ninaber) do whatever crazy stunt they can think of, but creatures from across the universe are descending upon earth to enact either revenge on what Goreman did in the past or punishment for escaping his prison.
OK, I’m going to come right out of the gates saying PSYCHO GOREMAN is not going to be a movie for everyone. If you have difficulty lowering your snout to watch films from Troma like THE TOXIC AVENGER or Toho-inspired monster flicks like THE GUYVER, then you’re not going to be the type of person this movie is made for. If you didn’t grow up on POWER RANGERS, most likely the over-the-top fight scenes, bulky costumes, and broad drama will be seen as too goofy to be invested in. There’s an undeniable sense of innocence and wonder to PSYCHO GOREMAN, despite the massive amounts of gore and all shades of wrong going on. I’m sure there are fuddy-duddies out there that simply can’t find it in their hearts to give PG a chance. If that’s you, that’s fine. I’m sure there’ll be another A24 sorrow porn release coming out soon that takes horror deathly seriously for you to wallow in.
The rest of us will be over here having a blast with the latest from the deliciously demented mind of Steven Kostanski. Boiled down to basic elements, Steven Kostanski is a lover of all types of genre films. His past works have paid homage to John Carpenter (THE VOID), Italian Giallo (THE EDITOR), cheap sci fi (MANBORG), and grindhouse debauchery (FATHER’S DAY). His newest film takes those Toho monster movies and adds a little bit of Troma goodness to make a film that way better than it should be. PSYCHO GOREMAN is full of surface level laughs, soppy gore, and hokey, but fun stunts and effects. But it also is smartly written, devilishly clever, and executed at a masterful level of direction, performance, and storytelling that you simply don’t see in this type of movie. I’ve followed Kostanski and his crew of madmen since the proof-of-concept video for FATHER’S DAY came out in 2011. It’s amazing to see the leaps and bounds Kostanski has grown since then. While some might say Kostanski may have taken a step back to his zanier roots after delivering the comedy-lite Lovecraftian goodness that was THE VOID, I see PSYCHO GOREMAN as more of a return to form for Kostanski’s off-kilter sense of humor and appreciation for off-the-beaten-path cinema. Elements of everything from THE GUYVER to THE GATE to PHANTASM are in PSYCHO GOREMAN and I found this blend is nothing but a genuine good time from beginning to end.
The ongoing joke in PSYCHO GOREMAN is the tentative relationship between PG and Mimi. Filled with unbridled energy, Mimi is exuberant in pretty much anything she does. She dives headfirst into anything with little thought other than the world revolves around her and she cares nothing for those who say otherwise. In many ways, PG is the same way as his singular goal is destruction and terror. The fun is in the way these two extreme personalities work with one another—or maybe a closer description is how they tolerate one another. While some might argue that this is basically a one-joke film, the joke worked for me every time they went to that well. It is—Mimi or some other kid says something innocently and then Psycho Goreman responds with some kind of extreme villain line involving evisceration, destruction, or annihilation. It happens over and over, and for some reason, I never go sick of it. Some might feel differently but seeing this juxtaposition of extremes worked for me every time.
If the actors were all in with this concept, there’s no way it would have worked. But PSYCHO GOREMAN and all of the insanity that is his world is played straight all the way through. Steven Vlahos has just the right tone and base to his voice, sounding somewhat similar to a slightly more bent Optimous Prime, as the voice of PG. His line delivery is serious in tone, which makes it all the funnier the more mundane the situation he finds himself in. Sure his over the top line delivery works well on the battlefield, but set it in a diner eating pancakes and it is my kind of bonkers. I understand if viewers might be overwhelmed and annoyed with Nita-Josee Hanna as Mimi, but I have a niece that is pretty much a carbon copy of her hurky-jerky, devil-may-care attitude, so I was endeared to her performance. The little gal’s got confidence, I’ll give her that and somehow, her gigantic personality is able to go toe to toe with this intergalactic menace. I also have to mention the amazing comedic muscles of Adam Brooks, who has been in all of Kostanski’s films. Brooks’ line delivery and physical comedy is perfect. He plays the lazy dad here and does so marvelously. It could have been a bit part, but the way he plays the character makes him a true standout. I laughed most of all at Brook’s antics.
PSYCHO GOREMAN is a practical effects showcase. I would say 95% of the effects seen in this film are practical which is a feat in this modern CG age. The thick costumes may bring back memories of the bulky monsters in POWER RANGERS, but that just adds to the fun. I did have some issues with the facial appliances of most of the monster effects. I wish the sculpts could have been thinner and more conformed to the actors faces. During the scenes where the monsters talk, it just didn’t look good to see the lack of movement in their faces, specifically Psycho Goreman and Pandora. Them being such prominent players in this film, I wanted them to have a better range of movement in their faces, but they just didn’t have enough for my tastes.
That said, I loved the gore and carnage that show up in PSYCHO GOREMAN. Not only are heads and spines torn from bodies in bloody glee, but there is a creativity to the terrors PG doles out. I loved the idea of one of PG’s victims reliving the moment he crosses over between life and death for eternity and the accompanying effects. Another standout is a cop that is turned into PG’s minion who looks as if he was turned inside out. There is a creativity behind these effects and character designs that you’re simply not going to see anywhere else. A myriad of creatures are made to populate the world of PSYCHO GOREMAN, each given not only a fun name, but also a history and characteristics that make them feel like actual characters rather than puppets and appliances. Two of my faves are Tube-Man (who seems to be a brain and eyes floating in a test tube that reacts like Beaker from the Muppets) and Death-Trapper (a walking meat grinder who grinds up his victims and shoots the blood and gore at his opponents).
I could see T-shirt, lunchboxes, and action figure lines come from PSYCHO GOREMAN. There’s a very mainstream, yet edgy quality to this film over most of Kostanski’s films. I know I’d pick up a set of figures. In many ways, PSYCHO GOREMAN feels like it was built from the same mold of the TOXIC AVENGER and I think your feelings on Troma’s mascot are going to reflect how you feel about this film. If Troma’s idea of wonky fun isn’t your thing, I’d say neither would PSYCHO GOREMAN’s. But while Kostanski brings a level of craftsmanship, humor, and skill that is much more impressive than Troma, the tone remains consistent, while still surprisingly family friendly. I had so much fun with PSYCHO GOREMAN. Though he may disagree, PG is the hero we all need in these dark times!