YMMV / The Poughkeepsie Tapes

  • Complete Monster: Edward Carver, aka The Water Street Butcher, is a sadist who began his prolific killing spree with the rape and murder of a little girl, which he later followed up by abducting a married couple, stuffing the severed head of the husband into the wife's womb before leaving her to die. At some point, he took interest in a college girl named Cheryl Dempsey, breaking into her house and viciously killing her boyfriend before taking her away, spending several years keeping her as a sex slave, and occasionally forcing her to commit some of his murders as punishment for any perceived disobedience. When the public began to get wind of his killings, Carver started to almost exclusively target prostitutes, framing a cop for their deaths, seeing to it that he would get the death penalty. He then allowed the police to find his house and to take Cheryl home as an empty shell, leaving her to take her own life before digging up her corpse and taking it away for further violation. Recording thousands of hours worth of rape, torture, and murder on over 800 tapes, Carver often incorporated theatricality into his crimes to distract himself from feeling any potential remorse.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The film was only available for years as a bootleg since MGM shelved the film due to their financial issues (a release date was planned for February 2008 and trailers had come out in November 2007). The bootleg is also from a rough cut of the film shown at festivals, as the directors never got to finish the final cut. An official Blu-ray/DVD release was finally announced in 2017.
  • Memetic Mutation: An animated GIF showing the Butcher slowly creeping towards the English woman on all fours commonly makes appearances on horror- or paranormal-themed message boards.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Water Street Butcher's killings start off as standard fare for a Serial Killer movie, but the graphic physical and mental torture that he inflicts on his "slave" is freakin' terrifying.
  • Narm:
    • The killer's angry growling (especially in the Mind Rape scenes) can be somewhat jarring.
    • The balloon scene. Specifically, he hired a hooker to blow up a balloon and start bouncing on it, then asks her calmly to pop it. When she questions him, he yells at the top of his lungs, "POP IT!"
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • The film encourages the notion that the killer's vanity means he's probably right there in the theater watching it with you.
    • "At any given time, there are somewhere between 25 and 50 active serial killers in America alone. It it really a much bigger problem than most people realize."
  • Uncanny Valley: Cheryl's latex mask that he forces her to wear.
  • The Woobie: Cheryl. Poor, poor, Cheryl. The abuse she suffered was worse than any of the Butcher's actual murders.