Will We Ever See ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’?

It’s been in Limbo for over 7 years, but is MGM plotting something big?

The Poughkeepsie Tapes, a 2007 Mockumentary, has amassed a sizable cult following over the years, sporting a 6.1 rating on IMDB—not bad at all for a horror movie. What’s more noteworthy, though, is that fact that The Poughkeepsie Tapes has achieved a status most indie films never dare to dream of—even though almost nobody has seen it. Except for being quietly dropped on VOD for a single week last July (and illegal copies floating around on the internet), the film has never seen the light of day.


Background of The Poughkeepsie Tapes

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Writers: Drew Dowdle (story), John Erick Dowdle

Stars: Stacy Chbosky, Ben Messmer, Samantha Robson |

Official Synopsis: In an abandoned house in Poughkeepsie, New York murder investigators uncover hundreds of tapes showing decades of a serial killer’s work.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes created serious buzz on the Festival circuit in 2007 during the height of the Found Footage craze. Near universally positive reviews persuaded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to snatch up distribution rights, and a trailer was even attached to several major releases. But then, without explanation, its theatrical release was cancelled. This means that those of us who aren’t lucky enough attend film festivals (in other words: The majority of horror fans) never had a chance to see if it truly lives up to the hype.

In the years since, director John Erick Dowdle has built a really decent name for himself, helming Quarantine in 2008, Devil in 2010, As Above So Below in 2014, and The Coup which is aiming for release in 2015. As for the Found Footage craze, it may have lost some of its fervor, but the subgenre is still a major draw in horror circles. All of this makes The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ perpetual limbo state even more perplexing; you’d think with a director of great regard and a supportive audience eagerly waiting, MGM would’ve released the film is some manner long ago. It’s like, a no brainer, right?

And then it finally happened; Bloody Disgusting first broke the news under the apt header, “Pigs Fly”, a testament to the sentiment shared by many horror aficionados who had all but given up on it: On July 19th, without a hint of fanfare, MGM quietly dropped The Poughkeepsie Tapes on DirecTV’s streaming VOD platform. Still no word on a DVD/Blu-ray release or when it would be available to those not attached DirecTV, but at least it was finally out there, and everything else would surly follow, right? Like the mentality driving the entire process, what MGM did next didn’t seem to make a lick of sense.







On July 26th, with the same amount of notice and explanation that accompanied its arrival, The Poughkeepsie Tapes was suddenly pulled, no longer available—not to DirecTV subscribers, not to anyone.

Are the folks at MGM insane? Sadistic? Or is something else behind this seemingly cruel retraction? At Comic-Con Drew Dowdle, who co-wrote and directed The Poughkeepsie Tapes with his brother John, seemed to offer an explanation that was both plausible and exciting, daring fans to keep on believing:

Suddenly over the last month MGM has been interested in a higher profile release of The Poughkeepsie Tapes. It’s no longer on VOD, they yanked it, but it will be coming back in a multi-platform release this fall. It’s come back to life.


Know what that sounds like to me? It sounds like vindication! Until it occurs to me: Fall has come and gone and—no Poughkeepsie Tapes. No release, no news about a DVD/Blu-ray, just a whole bunch of nothing. Damn.

Current Status Unknown

poughkeepsietapesThis isn’t the first time a film that received excellent reviews at festivals gathered dust on the shelf of some major studio. It happened to You’re Next, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, and no doubt many more I’m unaware of. It seems to be the current state of the supernatural airplane horror 7500 from The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu. But this tomfoolery in regards to The Poughkeepsie Tapes is nothing short of ridiculous.



According to Wikipedia someone “connected with the film” recently stated that MGM was so impressed by the film’s success on VOD they’re actually planning on giving The Poughkeepsie Tapes what they originally promised: A theatrical release. A search for confirmation turns up (big surprise): Nothing.

So what’s the deal MGM? Are you ever going to release the film that legions of horror fans have been waiting ages to see, or hold it hostage for another for another 7 years?

I’ve never read the extensive plot description of The Poughkeepsie Tapes on Wikipedia or read any reviews because I’ve been holding out for a release all these years. But sometimes I’m tempted to just give in, find out what this film is all about and why it already has such an impressive following, especially when it seems like MGM is incompetent… or just really fucking mean.

What do you think about the bizarre journey of The Poughkeepsie Tapes? Let me know in the comments section!

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6 Comments on this post.

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  • footnotegirl
    26 December 2014 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Saw it at a festival
    It was SO BAD. I can’t even. So, so bad. So bad that people who went to this (yearly festival) still talk about it as the touchstone of “what was the worst movie ever seen at this festival”. Generally it’s a tossup between this and Tiptoes.
    So bad.

  • Josh Millican
    26 December 2014 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    It’s ironic because, no matter how bad it might be, the fact that it’s been with-held for so long has me rabid to see it! Unfortunately, I have a feeling the hype is so overblown it won’t live up to anyone’s expectations.

  • Matthew Myers
    26 December 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Great article. They have been holding this film hostage for years, I have always wondered why. If it is as bad as footnotegirl says, there could be more value in the hype then the actual film. Either way I still want to see this!

  • chainsmokingbluemonkey
    26 December 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Gotta agree with footnotegirl here. I was at that festival and it was received with polite silence. 100% total polite silence. It’s tone is all over the place. It’s like a mix between skits from The State and clips from 70s torture revenge horror. And they don’t mix. At all. It asked to be taken seriously as a depraed horror movie one moment and then says “Ha ha ha ha! Aren’t these detective a bunch of goofballs up to wacky hijinx?!”

  • Melissa B.
    27 December 2014 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I saw it when it was ondemand, I did not like it as much as everyone else.. it had scary parts to it, but to me a lot of corny ones. I think part of the problem was that it felt really long and the pacing was off. There are some controversial scenes in the film, involving a child that I think could be part of why it has been so delayed.

    • Josh Millican
      27 December 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

      I must have blinked the week it was released because I totally missed it. But I don’t have DirecTV anyway. It seems like the folks who like this film best are really big fans of found footage.