Filmed in a documentary style complete with JitterCam, ''The Poughkeepsie Tapes'' is a movie that is best seen with the lights on.

It chronicles the (fortunately fictional) spree of killings in Poughkeepsie, New York, that are all videotaped by the killer, who comes to be known as the Water Street Butcher. [[HilarityEnsues Hilarity,]] {{Gorn}}, [[GambitIndex gambits]], terror and [[LargeHam ham]] ensues.

The film was made during 2008 but never got a theatrical release, though a rough-cut of the film has been leaked online and is screened at film festivals. After years of being in limbo, it finally saw a home video release from Creator/ShoutFactory in October 2017, being released on Blu-Ray and DVD under their Scream Factory label.

!!This work features examples of:

* AdultFear: After this movie you'll likely never help out strangers on the road or let your kids play on the front lawn or fundraise door-to-door.
* AmbiguousDisorder: It's never really made clear what exactly is wrong with the killer. He displays traits of psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissism, but is implied to have the capacity for remorse, and as such, goes out of his way to distance himself from the reality of his murders by employing theatricality in his tapes. He also deliberately invokes this to confuse the public into thinking his killings are unrelated.
* AntiClimax: Around three-fourths of the way through the movie, the police claim that they've captured the killer. [[spoiler:They're wrong.]]
* ApologeticAttacker: Cheryl, who is forced to slit a woman's throat.
* AxeCrazy: The killer.
* BatmanGambit: [[spoiler:Carver, realizing that he's getting too much heat for his crimes, starts exclusively killing prostitutes to make the public believe that they're safe. During this time frame, when the public is still searching for his new persona, he frames a cop for his tenure as the Water Street Butcher, believing he would receive the death penalty for his murders (which he does). As such, he's able to commit at least one of his "regular" murders undetected by law enforcement and then slip away.]]
* BeingTorturedMakesYouEvil: A straightforward example of this trope.
* BeingWatched: Cheryl can feel the murderer watching her immediately before her kidnapping.
* ChewingTheScenery: "Your name ... IS SLAAAAAVE!"
* ConfusionFu: The Water Street Butcher switches up his M.O. often and even within these different phases demonstrates odd inconsistencies. This is part of what makes him so hard to catch, since it makes him nearly impossible to profile and difficult to realize it's the same culprit.
* DisposableSexWorker: The killer starts targeting prostitutes to confuse the public.
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler:Carver escapes justice, having successfully framed James Foley for his murders as the Water Street Butcher, and driving Cheryl to suicide.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Cheryl...for her "Master".]]
* TheFaceless: The killer's face is never seen, except in an identikit.
* ForTheEvulz: The Butcher just loves to torture, kill and mutilates people for no other reason exepct pure sadism.
* TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou: [[spoiler: At the end the authorities say they will be keeping a close eye on places where the "documentary" will be aired as they believe the ego of the killer will not allow him to miss watching it. So maybe it's implied the Butcher could even be the viewer sitting next to you.]].
* {{Frameup}}: The Water Street Butcher [[spoiler:successfully frames a cop, who ends up being executed.]]
* {{Gorn}}: Not as much as some horror movies, but definitely noticeable.
* InfantImmortality:
** Subverted to hell and back. The killer's murderous rampage begins when he kills a young girl by bashing her head in with the camera, and it gets worse from there.
** Played straight with the [[spoiler:girl scouts. Although, he was going to kill them before Cheryl intervened.]]
* {{Irony}}: The killer kills a cop using the justice system.
* ItIsDehumanizing: Similar to [[Literature/TheSilenceOfTheLambs Buffalo Bill]], the killer occasionally acknowledges his victims as "it" to strip them of their individuality and as such, not feel any shame for what he does to them.
* JitterCam: In many of the scenes, the killer is holding the camera.
* KarmaHoudini: [[spoiler:The killer is never caught.]]
* LargeHam: The Water Street Butcher has a flair for the theatrical and tends to wear a beaked Carnival mask with a ruffed cape. There's also the [[MemeticMutation infamous]] manner in which he kills the English woman--he creeps up on her on all fours (actually using his feet as opposed to his knees for maximum effect) despite nobody being able to see but the camera, then slowly lances her through the neck. Justified because he uses it to dissociate himself from any guilt.
** It's shown also during the balloon sequence. Despite not being on-screen his voice says all (POP IT !!)
* MadnessMantra: "[[StockholmSyndrome Just take me home, just take me home...]]"
* MalevolentMaskedMan: The killer hides his face by wearing a creepy Venetian bird mask.
* MagnificentBastard: [[invoked]] One police officer actually acknowledges the possibility of admiring such a skilled and elusive killer in an interview and after a moment of hesitation firmly asserts that she could never feel anything but loathing for him.
* {{Mockumentary}}: A rare case where a horror movie mockumentary tries to look like an ''actual'' documentary rather than simply shaky cam.
* MoodWhiplash: "Ed" is prone to this. One minute, he'll be [[Main/SoftSpokenSadist speaking in a soft tone]] to his victims, but before you know it, he'll be SuddenlyShouting at them.
* MyBelovedSmother: According to Stacy Chbosky, Cheryl and her mother didn't get along, [[spoiler:even after her return home, where Victoria dressed her in church clothes and tied her hair in a French braid, since she couldn't.]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: The credits in the official release reveal that the killer's real name is [[spoiler:Edward Carver.]]
* NoKillLikeOverkill: Tim's death, as described by Edgar Cummings.
* OhCrap: A very dark and serious example. When the English woman sitting in the back of his car realizes who's driving, there's a long pause as you can see her silent realization in the dark.
--> "I'm a butcher."
* PoliceAreUseless: So much that they [[spoiler: get tricked into executing one of their own for the crimes of the Water Street Butcher]].
* ScarpiaUltimatum: Subverted. He offers the English woman the chance to live if she lets him rape her. She agrees, but he immediately says he's not that stupid, and that neither of them would want her alive to see what he planned to do to her.
* SerialKiller: The Water Street Butcher, [[spoiler:real name Edward Carver]].
* ShoutOut: The first chapter is titled "[[Franchise/{{Rambo}} First Blood]]".
* SnuffFilm: The eponymous tapes.
* StockholmSyndrome: UpToEleven. Poor, poor Cheryl.
* SuddenlyShouting: This exchange.
-->'''Hooker:''' (starts bouncing on a balloon) Like this?\\
'''Killer:''' (calmly) Yes.\\
(the hooker continues bouncing on the balloon for a few seconds)\\
'''Killer:''' Now pop it.\\
'''Hooker:''' What?\\
'''Killer:''' [[Main/MoodWhiplash POP IT!]]
* TortureCellar: A basement serves as the killer's lair, but it's noticeably corpse-free.
* UsedToBeASweetKid: Footage from the Dempsey's home movies show a young, more carefree Cheryl long before her abduction.
* WouldHurtAChild: In a tape the killer shows he started his "career" by killing an 8 year old girl. In another [[spoiler: he attempted to kill two little girls scout only to be stopped by Cheryl's screams.]]
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory:
** The story is similar to the crimes of real-life serial killers Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker, who, in the late '70s and early '80s, kidnapped five young women and sound-recorded the girls' screams while torturing them with a pair of pliers and a wire hanger.
** It also has some similarities to Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, who would take their victims to a secluded compound, torture them, and record it on a video camera.
** People also think that this story is somehow based on Kendall Francois, a serial killer from Poughkeepsie, New York, convicted of killing eight women. Though that's where the similarities end.