Misunderstood Monsters | Punching Through the Face of Change with ‘Psycho Goreman’
By Matt Konopka
Previous ⬅ Misunderstood Monsters | Rebel ‘Gremlins’ in the Machine
Welcome fellow monster kids to Misunderstood Monsters. This is where I, Matt Konopka, sink my fangs into all sorts of beasts, ghouls, and creatures from above while I search for the humanity behind their frightening exteriors. From monster favorites such as The Wolf Man to obscure monsters like the whistling Shadmock, there is more to these fiends than bad hair days and gooey tentacles. Within them all is a piece of ourselves.
New year, new you.
As we say byeeeeeee to the year 2022 (thank the gods) and barrel into 2023, we’re emboldened by our resolutions. I will quit smoking. I will lose weight. I will crush the bones of my enemies into dust. If you’re like me, odds are those promises to yourself may feel more like pipe dreams in a few short weeks. I don’t think that’s because you or I can’t accomplish what we set out to. I think that’s because we put too much pressure on ourselves for the change to be instantaneous. Growth takes time, but it’s never impossible. Just look up — way up — at that towering purple people eater Psycho Goreman, for example.
In writer/director Steven Kostanski’s Psycho Goreman, we’re introduced to two brainless meat children who resurrect the baddest being in the galaxy, aka The Archduke of Nightmares, aka Psycho Goreman, aka PG (for short). With his source of power, The Gem of Praxidike, in the hands of the monstrous Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and her push-over brother, Luke (Owen Myre), PG (Matthew Ninaber) finds himself under control of the mega brat. Through their peculiar relationship, PG is forced to reconcile with himself and discover that maybe, just maybe, there’s some good in him after all.
Fresh off a long slumber, PG enters a new chapter of his life. On a foreign planet where no one knows him, it’s a chance to become someone different. There’s an invisible threshold we cross at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve that feels the same way — a reawakening within as powerful as that booming voice of our favorite hunky boy. We just need the right motivation.
In Mimi, PG finds a near-perfect reflection of himself. Thanks to a standout performance from Hanna, this little nightmare child is beyond reprehensible. When we first meet her, she’s in the midst of destroying Luke in an invented game of hers called “Crazy Ball.” Triumphant, she orders him to dig his own grave. Like PG, her maliciousness knows no bounds. She would beat the snot out of The Omen’s Damien and wear his devilish crown proudly. Recognizing that we must change never comes with ease. It’s a painful process that requires taking a long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror. In PG’s case, that mirror is this rotten meat child. Problem is, he carries that most human of traits: the refusal to admit he has any issues at all.
Kostanski first tears open the idea that something is missing from PG’s life with the theft of his gem, a warm, glowing metaphor for his heart, a punch-in-the-nose method of showing that he is a heartless being, but hey if it works it works. For much of the film, PG relishes in his own rage, assuring every human that he’ll destroy them in some horrific manner. Kind of like how we push away others when we’re afraid to get too close to someone (generally without the killing part). “All I feel is anger and hate. I will never be whole,” PG eventually admits to which Mimi proclaims, “love is for losers.” Here, she acts as PG’s own subconscious. He wants to believe that he’s right not to love, unaware of the damage it’s causing him. We can’t squeeze the life out of our harmful habits until the cost of our actions slaps us right across the face.
PG delights in the fact that he’s an all-powerful tyrant that would make Thanos wet his golden britches. He thinks he’s the heckin’ best and damn anyone who says otherwise. It takes both witnessing and being the victim of Mimi’s tyranny for PG to begin to understand what it’s like to be on the other end of his torments. The head-ripping heathen grows so tired of her authoritarianism, he even dreamsplains to Luke the heartless fiend his sister really is. Though it isn’t until his Paladins Obsidian turns on him and he is forced to apologize for his own betrayals that he finally acknowledges he doesn’t have a true friend in the universe…except for Mimi.
I believe PG when he apologizes to Mimi. He would never admit it while being forced to play in her band or dress up like Sam Neil from Jurassic Park — not so coincidentally another character forced to change through spending time with kids — but for the first time in his life, he feels loved…and he likes it. Awful as she is, PG finds a kinship with Mimi, one that begins to shovel dirt into the hole of his heart. Mimi giving PG his gem back in the end — placed in his chest, no less — is a demonstration of the transformative experience that he endures. He earns a trust — a love — that he never imagined possible.
At its blood-soaked core, Psycho Goreman is a coming-of-age film that punches themes of growth into your puny mind. Inspired by Saturday morning cartoons and series like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the film does what the best of these types of stories do by transmitting a message that resonates with all ages under heaps of silly fun. Within Kostanski’s film, that message is this: We’re all complicated beings who are neither good nor evil, just as PG and his nemesis, Pandora (Kristen MacCulloch), don’t fit neatly into one category either. Figuring out who we want to be and how to get there is equivalent to the madness of a Crazy Ball game. We’ll never be perfect, but that’s okay. Perfection is for losers, anyway.
PG exemplifies much of what we consider to be evil. Yet even in him, there is a tiny fist of good. He still slaughters everyone on the planet, but he saves Mimi from bullet-happy cops and spares her family’s lives as promised. Not much is different as the final reel comes to an end. He’s still the psychotic monster he started off as, but for him, the above is growth, if only just a little. And that’s the point. Until our stems are cut and we’re buried back beneath the dirt, we’re always growing, one bit at a time.
So, as we enter 2023, a new opportunity to work on ourselves arises. Smashing our goals will seem like a game of nonsense we can’t possibly win at times. Yet no matter how hard it gets, we can look to PG and know that if this cruel creature can change, so can we. Anyone who says otherwise can frig off.
Can you dig it? 🩸
Matt is a writer and wannabe werewolf who began his love of horror at the ripe old age of 3 with Carpenter’s Christine. He has a horror podcast called Killer Horror Critic which he does with his wonderful wife and has previously been published on Bloody Disgusting, Shudder’s The Bite, and Daily Grindhouse. You can also find more of his reviews and ramblings at his blog, KillerHorrorCritic.com.
Follow Manor Vellum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Connect with MANOR on these platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Dailymotion, and Vurbl.
Visit MANOR’s official website: MANORHQ.com.
© 2023 Manor Entertainment LLC