Review: The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)

For whatever reason, whenever a film is completed it sometimes has a tough time getting its theatrical or DVD/BLU-RAY releasing deal. A few years back, after its completion Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno sat on the ‘shelves’ for about two years before it even got a theatrical release. So it happens from time to time. The film I will briefly look at today, had a strong viewing at the Tribeca Film Festival, but was then plagued by an even longer stint on the ‘shelves’ before its eventual release.


FBI investigators are led to an abandoned home where they uncover boxes full of numbered VHS tapes. After viewing the tapes, they all depict odd fetishes, and horrific scenes of violence, torture and murder. Investigators later dig up several bodies in the back yard of the same abode. All of these VHS tapes involve an as of yet uncaught serial killer named ‘Ed’, a man the media wittingly named The Water Street Butcher.

…A little background on the turmoil this film has had to endure first…

The Poughkeepsie Tapes was filmed, produced and finished by the end of 2007. It was scheduled to be theatrically released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in February 2008, but that release never took place. It then had its premiere on April 17, 2008 at the Tribeca Film Festival, but then the film sat collecting cobwebs until it had a brief VOD release in 2014. It then returned back onto the shelves until July 2017. It was then that the fine folks at Scream! Factory decided they would release The Poughkeepsie Tapes for mass consumption on DVD/BLU-RAY in October 2017. Whew! You got all that? Which now brings us to the review I’m publishing today nearly 10 YEARS LATER!

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a faux mockumentary-style film, chronicling a serial killer’s reign of terror for over a decade. With the help of the VHS tapes as visual aids and evidence to the crimes, we hear interviews from investigators and the criminal profilers of these cases in depth. The flick was written by the Dowdle brothers Drew and John Erick and was directed by the latter. The brothers Dowdle truly used the documentary-style of filming to their fullest advantage. Using totally unknown actors for the roles really helped. With the highlight being Stacy Chbosky’s (Quarantine) portrayal of The Water Street Butcher’s only surviving victim Cheryl Dempsey. If you didn’t go into the film knowing it was fictitious, you may not have even realized it was fake.

Now what I truly do not understand, is why the fuck did this film collect dust for almost 10 years? Nothing in this movie explains why it was neglected for so long. I mean, there’s nothing incredibly shocking or taboo that would’ve given the film a stigma for protest. There’s not even much blood shown on screen. Hell, it’s not even really that fucking scary. But, it was extremely effective in its approach and originality. The Poughkeepsie Tapes was not an amazing movie by any means. It was just a good movie that told a very well-rounded story. The ending left me wanting more, being left open for future tapes to be found. But, I don’t think a sequel will ever see the light of day after the turmoil this film has been through.

Which is a shame…

IMDb: 6.1/10

ZombiSurvivor: 6.6/10


Thanks for reading and remember…



About Jared Letourneau 157 Articles
Hey there boils and ghouls! My love of horror films came on a dark and stormy night.... ....Truthfully, it probably happened in 1980-something during a sunny day when I was 5 or 6. That movie was JAWS. I had never been so terrified to go swimming and I live in a land-locked state! I have been a Horror Hound ever since. Having seen hundreds of films, some good and some downright dreadful, my love for horror cinema has grown stronger than ever! I have a Sci-Fi nerd wife, which allows us to share movies with each other(while she puts up with MOST of my movies). A couple of my favorite directors are Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter. Contributing here at T.H.S and being able to work with these other folks will be a treat I look forward to. I will share secrets after a few drinks and I also enjoy long romantic walks in dimly-lit cemeteries. My fave top 5 films are: 1)Dawn Of The Dead (Original) 2)The Thing (Carpenter's Remake) 3)Zombie 4)Texas Chainsaw Massacre (O.G.) 5)Friday the 13th pt IV: The Final Chapter Stay Scared! -ZombiSurvivor