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PG: Psycho Goreman Review: A Fun, Gore-Encrusted B-Movie Brims With Heart


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B-movies have been a product of the Golden Age of Hollywood, the genre being kept alive with the success of notable films like The Mask of Fu Manchu and Think Fast, Mr. Moto. Exploitation films paved the way for B-horror as a cinematic genre, with The Toxic Avenger launching Troma into B-horror stardom, its signature tropes being extreme gore and violence, over-the-top practical effects, and often-hilarious camp acting. Steven Kostanki’s third solo directorial effort, PG: Psycho Goreman, is a clever, self-aware celebration of these absurdist strains, combining outrageous genre-spoof of β€˜80s sci-fi and horror with Japanese tokusatsu rubber-suit villains like the ones in Masked Rider and Ultraman. Often ridiculous, yet perennially fun, Psycho Goreman is a clever, schlocky genre-mash with characters one cannot help but ultimately root for.

Psycho Goreman opens just as one would expect it to, with bright, blood-red expository text against a dark, murky background, not unlike a Star Wars opening crawl. The audience is introduced to the history of the Archduke of nightmares, a vile, menacing figure said to have terrorized the planet Gigax with his horrific, almost god-like powers, who has been banished to a far-away planet so as to preserve peace in the galaxy. This is when the camera cuts to siblings Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre), who are engaged in an intense game of Crazyball, while exchanging murderous stares and roughhousing one another in the mud, as a heavy-metal guitar riff plays out in short bursts. Mimi, with her exaggerated aggression and smug self-assurance, wins the game, casually demanding that her brother be buried alive as punishment, while Luke grudgingly agrees.

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While digging his own grave, Luke stumbles upon a red, glowing object embedded with a puzzle box-of-sorts, which Mimi manages to solve with a random sequence of eenie-meenie-miney-mo. While Mimi pockets the glowing gem without second thoughts, she is unaware of the fact that she has mistakenly resurrected the Archduke of Nightmares, who runs amok in an old shoe factory and start ripping heads off in an extremely gory fashion. The siblings soon discover the monster, who seems unable to harm them as long as Mimi holds possession of the amulet, garnering the ability to control him. This leads to an especially hilarious sequence, with the kids brainstorming and naming the monster Psycho Goreman (Matthew Ninaber) or PG for short. As PG growls in anguish while expressing his desire to bathe in the blood of the two β€œpuny, primitive beings," he stops short when he notices a shirtless male model on a magazine Mimi gives him, declaring his love for β€œhunky boys.”

A ridiculous, yet wildly-entertaining adventure ensues, with the kids helping PG learn the ways of humankind, while the audience is treated to the state-of-affairs back on Gigax, which is as overtly-parody-esque as it can get. A robot-like angel named Pandora (Kristen MacCulloch), PG’s vicious arch-nemesis, wishes to defeat him once and for all. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Mimi’s parents casually accept PG into the family, although they seem terrified of him. The brilliance of Psycho Goreman lies in the fact that it refuses it take itself seriously, even during somber, emotional moments that are quickly undercut by surreal absurdity and tongue-in-cheek humor.

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This is topped by the decision to use practical effects in the gore scenes, which impart a delightful aura of vibrant hyper-reality to the film, especially when Luke’s friend, Alastair (Scout Flint), is transformed into a pink, emotive, brain-like blob, who struggles to navigate daily life with his tentacled arms. The result is a beautiful meld of divergent genres, rife with familial drama, sibling rivalry, alien societies, and personal histories stretching back to primordial times.

Having said that, Psycho Goreman can potentially come off as too on-the-nose or brash for some, as without its glitz and glamour, the narrative falters on the ground of imaginative storytelling, being too engrossed in its own parodied retellings. Psycho Goreman is not interested in offering moral lessons, addressing serious themes, or character development for that matter, and all performances come off as too campy and inconsistent. However, in essence, Goreman is an absurdist roller-coaster capable of offering much respite during these trying times, providing a trip back to nostalgia-laden B-horror with garish intergalactic costumes and bloody, decapitated heads.

PG: Psycho Goreman is now available courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder on direct-to-VOD since its release in theatres on January 22, 2021. It is 95 minutes long and remains unrated as of now.

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