REVIEW: Psycho Goreman (2020)

psychogoreman_posterI am just going to go out on a limb here and guess that writer/director Steven Konstanski played with Masters of the Universe as a kid.

It is not just the strong 1980s vibe of his film Psycho Goreman. It is in the ridiculous and on-the-nose naming conventions of the various characters and monsters, and the patently ridiculous design work employed in visualising them. Then there is the storyline, which very much feels like it was plotted by a sugar-addicted 11-year-old whose parents were not attentive in monitoring their movie viewing choices. Not that I’m complaining: Psycho Goreman is a marvellous segue out of the ridiculous and into the oddly sublime. This film consists entirely of smart, deeply talented people deliberately making something utterly childish and silly. It is absolutely wonderful.

Siblings Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) dig a hole in their back yard, uncovering a strange glowing gemstone. By possessing the stone Mimi gains control of the long-buried Arch-Duke of Nightmares (Matthew Ninaber, and voiced by Steven Vlahos), an all-powerful alien despot and intergalactic villain. Once he is resurrected – and renamed Psycho Goreman by an enthused Mimi – his enemies travel to Earth to eliminate him at all costs.

Psycho Goreman may be plotted as if by a child with an action figure collection, but it is also gleefully packed with buckets of blood, gore, and furiously over-the-top violence. It is fabulously self-aware, scabrously funny, and posits that the only thing more diabolical than the Skeletors and Megatrons of the universe is a ten-year-old child. Nita-Josee Hanna is an absolute gem as the selfish, brutally cruel Mimi. Adam Brooks is also in top form as her slacker father Greg. In this kind of ridiculous comedy, timing can be everything – and they absolutely know how to nail a joke.

The film is a must-see for fans of practical effects, hosting a cavalcade of deliberately silly alien warriors, monsters, pulsating brains, and Transformer-like angels. 35 years ago it would have seemed impressively cutting-edge. Today it looks marvellously cheesy: one alien observer, a toothy sort-of-brain in a jar, was my personal favourite – every viewer is going to have one.

This is ultimately the kind of film that is by-and-large review-proof. A quick watch of a trailer or a read of its general premise will let you know if you are the target audience for this – and if you feel you are in that target audience I would strongly suspect you will enjoy Psycho Goreman. It is, in many ways, the easiest kind of film to review. It knows what it is attempting to do, and it does not deviate from that goal. What is more, it achieves it with a pitch-perfect execution.

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