PG: Psycho Goreman is a new horror-comedy about a seemingly normal family who is thrown out of whack when an evil being from another dimension comes under the control of Mimi, the young daughter. Borrowing Tape got to interview Steven Kostanski, the director and writer of PG: Psycho Goreman about his wacky film, which is released January 22, 2021, to select theaters, On Demand, and Digital.
The premise is utterly ridiculous, which is why I think it’ll do well with audiences. How did you come up with the idea for the movie?
What’s ridiculous about two kids digging up an evil alien overlord in their backyard and taking him on a wild adventure, and making him play drums in their garage band? PG was inspired by my experiences as a kid renting R-rated movies from the video store and being creatively inspired by the sci-fi action of movies like “Terminator 2”, “Guyver 2”, and “Aliens”, but then also traumatized by the horrific violence. I wanted to make a kids movie for adults, in the same way, those movies feel like comic books come to life but with a hard edge. I came up with the premise while watching “Rawhead Rex” and riffing in my head on the idea of mashing that premise with something like “E.T.” because the idea of merging a dark sci-fi horror premise with a more upbeat family movie plot made me laugh.
They say that comedy is the hardest genre to write. How did you approach writing the film? How did you come up with Psycho Goreman’s name? It’s very cute.
My writing process is mostly just me procrastinating: playing videogames, sculpting monsters, doing chores, anything to avoid the actual work. I didn’t fully approach the movie as a “comedy” — a lot of the humor is fallout from me being passionate about very dumb stuff, which led to the movie being as absurd as it is. It helped that the cast were all super charming and knew how to inject heart and humor into every scene. The name was inspired by “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”
There were plenty of fun monster designs in the film. How did you come up with the design for them?
I was inspired by the creature designs in Japanese Super Sentai shows, which are very bold and elaborate. I wasn’t concerned with making anything look “realistic” as much as I wanted everything to be very eye-catching and interesting to look at. I also wanted to make creatures that looked like they were adapted from a line of toys or taken from a cartoon series, similar to something like “Masters of the Universe” where they had to translate fantastical characters like Skeletor into real life.
Matthew Ninaber plays Psycho Goreman and acts through a face mask the entire film. How do you direct an actor who isn’t able to rely on facial expressions and can’t use their own voice?
Matt was able to use his face, he just had to act twice as hard to push the expressions through the latex mask. If anything, I got him to dial back his performance to keep PG as stoic as possible since he’s basically the “straight-man” of the story.
What was it like working with Cinematographer Andrew Appelle? What influences did you discuss when formulating the aesthetic for PG?
Andy was awesome to work with – I think our tastes complemented each other perfectly on PG. We watched “E.T." and discussed the look of that movie at length. We agreed that aiming for a more early 90s anamorphic look best suited the story and helped give it a more cinematic look than if we went 16:9.
What role did VFX play in the making of Psycho Goreman?
We always tried to go the practical fx route as much as possible, but there were definitely scenes that required some pretty heavy VFX. There are lots of miniatures in the flashback sequence that required heavy compositing, as well as scenes that had PG using magic which needed to be added in post.
Psycho Goreman won Best Narrative Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival. Congratulations! How has the film festival run been?
Pretty good considering what a bad year 2020 was in general. It played a bunch of festivals worldwide and got lots of overwhelmingly positive reactions from all of them.
Which films and directors have had an impact on you as a filmmaker and particularly on your film, Psycho Goreman?
I’m a big fan of Ryuhei Kitamura, who directed one of my all-time favorite movies, “Versus". It’s a spectacular low budget sci-fi/action/fantasy film and is super-stylish and inventive.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re working on?
Doing some fun stop-motion stuff at home, and working at Masters FX doing some prosthetics for Umbrella Academy and The Boys.