Psycho Goreman (2020)
Little Girl. Big Psycho.
If you imagine a riff on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) but with the kindly alien botanist swapped out for a bloodthirsty intergalactic warlord who’d look right at home in a GWAR music video, you’re on the right track here. Written and directed by Steven Kostanski, The Void (2016), formerly of cult Canadian film collective Astron-6, Psycho Goreman is a deliberately silly, perverse, OTT, and hyper-violent riff on the old “the kid and the creature” subgenre. It’s like Lassie with gore or a Troma joint with just a skerrick more money and craft. You probably already know if it’s your sort of thing, but let’s try to hit the word count anyway.
Siblings Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) accidentally uncover a mystical gem while they’re farting around in their back yard one day. As it turns out, the rock gives the possessor control over an evil space warlord, “the Arch-Duke of Nightmares” (Matthew Ninaber in a rubber suit, with Steven Vlahos on vocal duties) who was entombed on Earth after trying to destroy the whole galaxy. He wants to get back to rampagin’, but Mimi, an evil-minded little kid who dubs the mutant creature Psycho Goreman (PG for short), likes the idea of having a murderous monster on a leash, and so he finds himself confined to suburbia for now.
Of course, he has enemies in the form of an alien order of Templars, who send one of their own, Pandora (Kristen MacCulloch), to Earth to finish him once and for all. PG has his own army, The Paladins of Obsidian, but they’re pretty happy with the non-genocidal status quo since he got locked down, and so our monstrous mate is forced to defend Mimi and Luke, as well as their bud Alastair (Scout Flint) and folks, Greg (Adam Brooks) and Susan (Alexis Hancey), when all this intergalactic nonsense comes to a head in sleepy suburbia.
It all makes sense on its own terms. Kostanski is riffing on Masters of the Universe (1987), Suburban Commando (1991), and any number of other ’80s home video staples where budget and production circumstances dictated that the fate of the universe be decided in quotidian America (or Canada in this case) rather than a more distant and expensive locale. The classy version of this trope is, I guess, The Terminator (1984). This is the non-classy version.
That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, though. For viewers with the right kind of eyes, especially those who worked the shelves of their local video emporium to the bone back in the day, this is an absolute treat: gory, goofy, crass, but charming and steeped in the lore of the various weird subgenres it’s both parroting and parodying. The whole thing revels in its own ridiculousness. Indeed, the best point of comparison is probably the similarly affectionate and balls-to-the-wall Top Knot Detective (2016) of a few years back, a film I only hesitate to recommend because, well, I’m (briefly) in it, and that feels a bit on the nose.
But as I’ve already said, you know with a glance if this one is going to tick your boxes for you, and if you think it will, you’re almost certainly right. Buy beer, order pizza, and enjoy.
3.5 / 5 – Great
Reviewed by Travis Johnson