There’s a new god in town, and his name is Psycho Goreman…
…Looking around the collective horror sphere these days, the genre is in a better place than it ever has been, with diverse new voices emerging to tell horror stories that reflect fears from all over the world. But, arguably one thing we don’t see enough of anymore are those goofy, non-cynical films that provide that sense of entertaining relief when the ugliness of the world becomes too much. Writer/director Steven Kostanski’s Psycho Goreman has arrived like a roaring gift from beyond the stars to give fans exactly the sort of gory, over the top dose of filmic medicine we all need.
In the film, bossy little girl Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and her spineless brother Luke (Owen Myre) discover a powerful gem that just happens to control the most evil, skull-crushing, sadistic villain in the universe, The Arch Duke of Nightmares, whom Mimi promptly renames Psycho Goreman (Matthew Ninaber), because that’s way cooler. A bit of a psycho herself and in need of a friend, Mimi ignores the danger of getting on PG’s nerves, forcing him to become her best friend, all while PG plots on how to get a hold of the gem and destroy every living being in the universe. Oh, and there just so happens to be an intergalactic warrior known as Pandora (Kristen MacCulloch) coming to Earth to stop PG by any means necessary.
Cue ninety minutes of pure, unfiltered joy incarnate.
If you’ve seen any of Kostanski’s work, you should have a decent idea of what to expect from Psycho Goreman. Co-director of The Void and director of Manborg and Leprechaun Returns, it’s safe to say Kostanski has a style, and that style is practical effects and gore galore within stories that have little if any constraint. And if you are a fan, get excited, because Kostanski has outdone himself with Psycho Goreman in every way possible.
From the minute Psycho Goreman is introduced, ripping the heads off of two unfortunate bums in a torrent of blood, Kostanski sets the stage for an eye-popping gorefest that never lets up. This film features all of the bone-breaking, gut-busting, intestine-ripping, face-ripping, body-melting carnage you could possibly ask for. To say Psycho Goreman lives up to its title would be an understatement. Psycho Goreman transports viewers to an all new plane of violent wonder. And ninety-nine percent of it is done with glorious practical effects that will blow your puny, human mind.
But it isn’t just the gore that stands out. Kostanski and the team at Masters FX have put together an assortment of creature creations with so much detail and care that we just don’t see enough of in modern horror. From the vaguely Rawhead Rex inspired Psycho Goreman to the cyberpunk nightmarish “angels” the Templars from which Pandora descends, a council of various alien races hunting PG and even a giant brain blob, Psycho Goreman is a creature feature in every sense of the term. Every single one of these monsters has a larger than life feel, which Kostanski manages to accomplish by dropping them in mundane settings. So, rather than a monster fight in some elaborate, underground dungeon, we get creatures beating on each other in a parking lot. Think of the Power Rangers, where the Rangers fought rubber-suit monsters in grassy fields or backyards. The focus is never on the surroundings, and always on the monsters. The way it should be.
But floods of gore and an array of badass creatures do not by themselves make a good movie, and that’s where the cast and ultimate heart of Psycho Goreman comes in. Mimi and PG, two evil beings driven by chaos but who are maybe a bit misunderstood, is a relationship that is beyond endearing. As a bit of a brat completely lacking in empathy, Mimi walks a tightrope between fun and outright obnoxious, yet Hanna plays the role perfectly with attention-grabbing energy. For every moment that Mimi is a bit of an ass, there’s another where she stands up to PG and bosses him around, unafraid of the consequences, and there’s something so satisfying, cathartic even, in watching this little girl bully a bully. Kostanski also somehow finds a way to make us want to hug PG the same way we might want to hug E.T. Sure, he’s a malevolent monster that will literally devour you whole the first chance he gets, but when PG turns down a magazine from Mimi and says “I do not like hunky boys…or do I?”, it’s hard not to see in PG what Mimi sees, and what all of us fail to see in those we fear: something more than just what we’re afraid of. Like Phoebe and Frankenstein’s Monster in Monster Squad, the two have a strangely sweet bond, only much more murder-y.
At the heart of Psycho Goreman is an unexpected warmth that cements it as a truly special love letter to goofy monster movies of old. Within the relationships of PG, Mimi, Luke and their always fighting parents Greg (Adam Brooks) and Susan (Alexis Kara Hancey) is a meaningful discussion on friends and family, and how those bonds can be stretched to their breaking point, but will not snap as long as we give each other the love and appreciation the other deserves, the rest of the world be damned. We’re all flawed. Some of us can even be monsters, big and little. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a heart. Even Psycho Goreman, who would be happy to rip yours out and show you.
Most importantly, Psycho Goreman lives in a world of charming imagination. It’s the only film out there where you’ll see monsters ripping each other’s spines out in one moment, and battle in an epic game of dodgeball the next. Kostanski never wants you to take this film seriously. The only goal here is to laugh while blood drenches the screen. If you’re not laughing, it’s only because Psycho Goreman has already shredded your soul.
I’ve been a fan of Kostanski for a long time, but Psycho Goreman is Kostanski’s crowning achievement, and it’s not even close. This film feels like the culmination of everything Kostanski has been building to as a filmmaker. A film with heart and soul that is as funny as it is bloody, without an ounce of cynicism to be found. Psycho Goreman is the kind of movie that begs to have cult screenings at packed theaters, or featured at sleepovers with excited kids about to lose their damn minds over what is destined to become a new favorite.
“Watch out world. It’s Mimi’s time to shine,” declares Mimi at one point. And she’s right. 2021 did not start well, but Mimi and Psycho Goreman are coming to crush the darkness in the world and light it up with a gleeful experience you won’t soon forget.
Psycho Goreman will be in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on January 22nd from RLJE Films.
By Matt Konopka