The Story Behind The Truth – The Poughkeepsie Tapes

The Poughkeepsie Tapes

The Poughkeepsie Tapes, a 2007 horror movie that was re-released ten years later in 2017. Initially appears to be a genuine documentary. These include expert interviews, a victim’s testimony, and news broadcast snippets. It aims to portray the tale of upstate New York murderer James Foley, often known as “the Water Street Butcher.” Was everything real, though? Are The Poughkeepsie Tapes authentic, too? What we do know is this:

What Actually Is The Poughkeepsie Tapes?

Serial Killer

A serial killer is the subject of the 2007 film The Poughkeepsie Tapes. The official synopsis of the movie states, “In 2001, police in Poughkeepsie, New York. It made a shocking find – 10 bodies buried in the backyard of a private property.” Surprisingly, that was just the start. Police found almost 800 carefully arranged videotapes showing a single man’s decade-long criminal spree inside the house. The fact that the murderer had captured every bit of the movie personally. From his initial moments of following his victims to their final seconds of life. It was the most horrific aspect of the discovery.

Is It Real?

The Poughkeepsie Tapes touts its authenticity and informs viewers that the FBI uses the video material produced for the film as a teaching tool to better understand psychopathic behavior. Fortunately, the film is fiction. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a fictional film, despite the fact that it is shot using recovered video to give the impression that it is a documentary. Additionally, according to, writer-director John Erick Dowdle shot all of the scenes in California rather than in New York or anywhere else on the East Coast.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes promotes its veracity and lets viewers know that the FBI uses the video content created for the movie as a teaching tool to better comprehend psychopathic behavior. Thankfully, the movie is a fictional one. Despite being filmed utilizing recovered video to give the idea that it is a documentary. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a fictional movie. Additionally, according to, instead of New York or any other East Coast location. The writer-director John Erick Dowdle shot every scene in California.

A Lost Movie

For many years, it was impossible to watch “The Poughkeepsie Tapes.” The movie remained delayed for the following ten years. Despite receiving what Variety Entertainment News Service called “an ecstatic audience ovation” when it made its debut at a film festival in 2007.

The few horror enthusiasts who were fortunate enough to watch it spread tales and word of mouth about it, turning it into a sort of cinematic cryptid. Rumors regarding its interment spread quickly and widely. As described in Nightmare on Film Street, “Some claimed that it was too frightful as the reason. Others claimed that it was because it had graphic scenes of torture. Some people even believed the movie was real and was pulled because the families of the victims were suing.” The movie’s lack of distribution, according to director John Erick Dowdle in an interview with BlueCat, was more unintentional than anything else; when MGM, the initial distributor, had to leave, the picture just slid between the gaps.

From Comedy To Horror

The Poughkeepsie Tapes, written and directed by John Erick Dowdle, and produced by his brother Drew Dowdle, marked a significant departure in the genre. The Dowdle had previously prioritized comedy. It is shown on BlueCat, and produced comedies like “Full Moon Rising” and “The Dry Spell.” They weren’t inspired to make their breakthrough movie by the horror subgenre. Rather, they sought a “lower budget movie that looked like it cost more money to make.” One that could be partially shot on video, which is less expensive than film. They thought a true crime mockumentary would be ideal. But they weren’t convinced they could pull off such a drastic shift in genre.

The Most Harrowing Aspect

“The Poughkeepsie Tapes” is filled with unsettling details (such as the Water Street Butcher crawling around on his hands and feet) and torturous suspense scenes that may give anyone nightmares. The psychological devastation of Cheryl Dempsey, though, might be the rawest and most lasting horror. The movie uses incredibly realistic tactics that are standard brainwashing methods.

Cheryl, then 19 years old, is a happy, unremarkable girl when the killer kidnaps her. Years pass as he transforms her into a fearful, torturous, and submissive “slave.” He strips her of her identity, makes her wear a doll-like mask, and makes her commit murder on his orders. When she is finally saved, she is scared of ever expressing something her listener won’t want to hear because of the absolute and ruthless control he brutally enforces over her head. She claims that her abductor loved her deeply.

A Now – Timely Costume

A plague doctor mask, occasionally worn by the murderer while he torments his victims. It is one of the most recognizable images from “The Poughkeepsie Tapes.”

When the movie was filmed in 2007, the long-beaked mask was not well known to audiences today. Despite being a mainstay of the horror genre. Elaborately disguised killers are more frequently seen in slashers than in more realistic crime-horror hybrids. The Water Street Butcher is a distressing image of a horrifying but real-feeling serial killer; he is not Jason Voorhees. However, the movie uses an interview with a vaudeville actor who says that donning a mask makes it simpler for someone to disconnect from their acts and do progressively worse things to justify the killer’s theatricality.

The plague doctor mask has unluckily gained a new resonance in the years after the film’s debut, or, more precisely, it has reverted to its previous connotation. Following the COVID-19 epidemic, the image of the plague doctor was revived in popular culture. Even under lockdown, a plague doctor was reportedly seen ambling through Norfolk while cynically recalling the past. Although it’s a frightening sight, Dread Central stated that “[we] are not too concerned” as long as it’s not the unknown killer from “The Poughkeepsie Tapes.”

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