Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.
- Psycho Goreman
- Written and directed by Steven Kostanski
- Starring: Matthew Ninaber, Nita-Josee Hanna and Owen Myre
- Classification: 18A; 99 minutes
Partly because it’s imbued with an overwhelming 1980s sensibility and partly because it is packed with myriad cultural artifacts, the new Canadian horror-comedy Psycho Goreman had me singing a reworked version of We Didn’t Start the Fire. With apologies to Billy Joel (and also you, the reader):
Power Rangers, Super Sentai, Beastmaster, Japanese Hentai
Rick & Morty, Doctor Who, Masters of the Universe
Fright Night, Jason Goes to Hell, My Pet Monster, Tromaville
Monster Squad, Aguirre the Wrath of God, Cobra Commander’s Curse
I didn’t make this movie
It was always churning, since the VHS era’s been turning
I didn’t make this movie, I not only liked it, I sincerely love it
If at least half of the above appeals to you – never mind sounding even vaguely familiar – then my friend, you have struck the perverted nostalgia jackpot with Psycho Goreman. A delirious, disgusting and delightfully dark concoction, this low-budget movie is the latest throwback creation from Steven Kostanski (Manborg, The Void), whose artistic vision seems perma-stuck in the sugary-cereal haze of a Saturday morning circa 1989.
The film opens with a deliberately ludicrous preamble, informing us that an evil being “born before a time before time” on the planet Gygaxx is now entombed on Earth, punished by an ultra-religious interplanetary sect for his reign of terror. But after young siblings Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) accidentally uncover a magical amulet in their backyard, the great monster (Matthew Ninaber) awakens, thirsting for vengeance.
The resurrection is a good news/bad news situation for the evil Gygaxxian. With the amulet in Mimi’s possession, the self-proclaimed “archduke of nightmares,” whom the kids nickname Psycho Goreman (“PG” for short), must do whatever his new master wants. And so begins a crude and full of ‘tude adventure that will test both your pop-cultural memory bank and gag reflexes.
By this point, you already know whether Psycho Goreman is for you or not. And to his credit, Kostanski makes no concessions for the genre-hesitant. If you have never flipped through an old issue of Fangoria or eagerly scanned the back covers of the seedier-looking VHS boxes at your local rental house, Pyscho Goreman might be shocking or even unforgivably vulgar (there is one scene involving a cop and his gun that should neatly align both puritanical conservative parents and “defund the police” progressives). But if you happen to be operating on Kostanski’s very particular and peculiar wavelength, the movie is an absolute riot.
Working with little resources, the director creates a wildly colourful, surprisingly epic universe full of alien landscapes, energetic set-pieces and a fantastical creature design that strikes just the right balance between inventive and derivative. Not only does Kostanski and his crew bring to life a giant riff on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ talking-brain villain Krang, but they also birth an unforgettable monstrosity that I can only describe as being a big bloody bucket full of decapitated heads.
All this, and the film finds ample room for a makeover montage, a genuinely exciting final battle and a pretty darn catchy end-credits theme song. (There is, though, one running gag about Mimi’s crush, a little boy named Alastair, that is so sad and haunting that I am still shaking off nightmares.)
With Psycho Goreman, Kostanski cements himself as the modern heir to Canada’s Tax Shelter Era throne. In the words of Evil Dead hero Ash – surely another remnant of 1980s culture occupying sizable real estate in Kostanski’s head – hail to the king, baby. Hail to the king.
Psycho Goreman is available digitally on-demand, including Apple TV/iTunes and the Cineplex Store, starting Jan. 22
In the interest of consistency, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a critic’s choice designation across all coverage. (Television reviews, typically based on an incomplete season, are exempt.)