‘Psycho Goreman’ Review: A Goofy and Bloody Genre Throwback
By Daniel Rester
Just by the title, you should know if Psycho Goreman will interest you or not. It’s the latest from writer-director Steven Kostanski, a member of the Canadian production company Astron-6. They are known for focusing on indies with ‘80s-centric genre characteristics. This one is a sci-fi horror comedy that feels like a mix of a Troma film and ‘90s tokusatsu shows, blending cheap gore with rubber suit silliness.
The title character, played by Matt Ninaber and voiced by Steven Vlahos, is an ancient evil being who is woken up by young siblings Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre). They discover him after digging him up in their backyard, along with a glowing gem that controls him. Mimi decides to force “Psycho Goreman” (a name she gives him) to do whatever she wants, while he vows to kill the children if he gets ahold of the gem. The three start to become friends while a group called the “Planetary Alliance” seek to stop Psycho Goreman once and for all.
The best thing about Psycho Goreman is the character of Psycho Goreman himself. The imposing purple alien is darkly hilarious in how consistently angry and violent he is. He isn’t opposed to beheading people he doesn’t like, but he also finds the meaning of love during his journey with Mimi and Luke. Awwwww. Being a fish out of water, he is also amusing when he is trying to figure out how certain things on Earth work, such as a TV or a silly game called “Crazy Ball.” The work by Ninaber and Vlahos really brings the character alive in a ridiculously fun way.
Kostanski’s vision for this thing is bizarre and fresh while also throwing back to an era of particular practical effects. All of the colorful creatures in Psycho Goreman are a mix of rubber suits and makeup, lovingly crafted to look as odd as possible. Some of the villains and heroes look straight out of a Power Rangers episode.
The gore effects are also wild, with a double decapitation early on letting you know the bloodiness you are in for. Scenes involving a particular “warriors death” eating method also have a can’t-believe-they-went-there quality in a good way. Somehow this violence doesn’t feel too out of place with the cartoonish character and set designs. Kostanski blends them together in playful and seamless ways.
While I’m glad that Psycho Goreman exists in all of its glorious weirdness, I also feel like it should be way better and less uneven than it is. Unfortunately, Mimi is a dagger in the film’s side, with the character coming across as too abrasive and annoying and Hanna overplaying her every emotion. There’s also a really stupid day-on-the-town montage about halfway through and all of the film’s heartfelt family moments fall flat (the parent characters are especially bad). The film’s offbeat charm begins to wear thin in general as well about halfway through, which makes some of the second half feel like a grind and a so-bad-it’s-good affair.
Psycho Goreman is certainly for a niche crowd and will definitely develop a cult following over the years. It feels like Suburban Commando (1991) on crack and covered in blood, managing to be its own film while also nodding to specific ‘80s and ‘90s tropes; there’s even a silly rap song about the character over the film’s end credits. Kostanski’s picture starts promising and remains clever and entertaining enough in order for me to slightly recommend it. However, it is also disappointing in how much of a mixed bag it becomes by the ending.
My Grade: 6/10 (letter grade equivalent: B-)
Running Time: 1h 35min