Psycho Goreman alien and kids

‘Psycho Goreman’ Brings Kids Back to Horror

According to movie nerd lore, John Carpenter’s The Thing flopped in part because Steven Spielberg’s ET: The Extra-Terrestrial premiered two weeks earlier. Spielberg made us love aliens so much that we couldn’t think of them as body-transforming killers, or so the story goes. But that reading misses an important fact about horror movies in the ’80s: a lot of them had kid protagonists.

And I’m not just talking about romps like Fred Dekker and Shane Black’s The Monster Squad or the Howie Mandel and Fred Savage romp Little Monsters. I mean kids were at the centre of gory, nasty horror movies, everything from cult oddities like Xtro and TerrorVision to high-profile releases such as Halloween IV and Poltergeist. Before the ’90s meta-slasher craze, the 2000s torture porn and J-horror remakes, before even our current era of elevated horror, the line between horror movies and kid flicks wasn’t so clear.

Now playing on Shudder, Psycho Goreman pays tribute to those kid-centric fight films. Written and directed by Steven Kostanski, Psycho Goreman features a plot familiar to anyone whose seen a children’s adventure movie. Siblings Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) discover a glowing gem that frees a fearsome alien monster (performed by Matthew Ninaber and voiced by Steven Vlahos). Although the monster plans to destroy the kids and conquer the planet, the gem forces him to do Mimi’s bidding. Dubbing the creature “Psycho Goreman” or “PG” (in a nod to Spielberg), Mimi and Luke spending their days frolicking with their new alien friend while running from both their parents and from the angelic bounty hunter Pandora (Kristen MacCulloch) who will kill anyone who keeps her from PG.

Psycho Goreman takes this tired “kid meets alien” plot and gives it an insane twist. Sure, there’s all the gore and over-the-top silliness promised by the film’s title. But Kostanski goes further by making Mimi the movie’s true psycho. We first see her in a worm’s eye view shot looking up at her face. Mimi’s pigtails and brightly coloured hair bands belie her fearsome personality, telegraphed by the pitiless sneer she shoots from her mud-caked visage. “Winner is the champion of the universe, loser gets buried alive,” she declares, setting out the stakes of Crazy Ball, the game she and Luke invented. And when she says “buried alive,” she’s not kidding. After defeating her brother, Mimi orders, “Start digging, Luke,” and a dissolve takes us to later that evening when Luke is just finishing his own grave.

In many ways, Mimi follows in the footsteps of Home Alone’s Kevin McCallister, The Little Rascals, and Dennis the Menace (US or UK version). She’s an incorrigible scamp who flaunts all the rules in her pursuit of fun. It’s just that her idea of fun is playfully murderous, which makes her the perfect foil for PG. For all of his bragging about the tortures he will inflict upon the earth, PG sounds a lot like Mimi, with a slightly deeper voice. Sure, he demonstrates his power in a spectacular early sequence, which finds him tearing one criminal limb-from-limb and trapping the other in eternal torment. But he lacks Mimi’s zest for destruction.

Psycho Goreman in a cowboy hat

Horror comedy is a famously difficult genre and mixing cute kids with excessive violence would often have disastrous results. But thanks to Hanna’s committed performance, the film’s gonzo script, and wonderful practical effects from MastersFX and Kostanski (himself a skilled special effects artist), Psycho Goreman works. By leaning into the goofier parts of cosmic horror and the misanthropic parts of kid’s movies, Kostanski strikes a consistent tone. In a children’s film, the subplot about the marital problems between Luke and Mimi’s parents would seem misjudged and depressing; but here, their jabs at one another make for more dark jokes. In a horror film, transforming a kid into a hideous brain creature would be crossing a line; but here, it’s another mishap that befalls a lovable klutz.

With kids back in the horror picture, Psycho Goreman will appeal to every scary movie fan’s (depraved, gleefully violent) inner child.

Thank you for reading! If you’d like to support our website, you can follow us on FacebookTwitter and YouTube

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *