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Is The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ Found Footage Real?

November 17, 2020
3 min read

Written, directed, and edited by John Erick Dowdle (‘Full Moon Rising’), ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ tells the story of a serial killer who prowls the streets of the eponymous city in the US state of New York. His victims are mostly young women, although he has killed some of their male companions. The film is predominantly comprised of the over 800 tapes that have been found in his home. It also has interviews with people who are supposed to be law enforcement officers and members of the families of the victims.

Towards the end of the movie, the filmmakers apparently interview Cheryl Dempsey, the only victim that the killer lets go. Unfortunately, she kills herself two weeks after the interview. The killer, known as Ed or Edward Carver, digs open her grave and takes her remains. When the authorities discover what has happened, they find another of his tapes in her coffin. Dowdle and cinematographer Shawn Dufraine shot the film in such a way that would have the appearance of a documentary. Here is everything we know on the matter.

Is The Poughkeepsie Tapes Based on a True Story?

No, ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ is not based on a true story. It was shot by utilizing both the mockumentary and found-footage styles of moviemaking. Some of the best examples of the former style are feature films ‘Bob Roberts’ and ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’; the animated film ‘Surf’s Up’; and TV shows ‘The Office’, ‘Arrested Development’, ‘Parks and Recreation’, and ‘Modern Family’. The latter style has become one of the favorite methods of filmmaking for indie directors, as these movies are really inexpensive to make. ‘The Blair Witch Project’, ‘Paranormal Activity’, and ‘REC’ are some of the most well-known films made in this style. Since the release of ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’, Dowdle himself has released two more found-footage films, ‘Quarantine’, an American remake of ‘REC’, and ‘As Above, So Below’.

The film is produced by Drew Dowdle, who is John’s brother. The Dowdle brothers ensured that the film will look as authentic as possible by hiring little-known actors and using cheap cameras to film the found-footage scenes. The aura of mystery about the film has been only intensified by the problems that the brothers experienced while trying to release the movie. In May 2007, it had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Although Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was supposed to release it on February 8, 2008, they never did, even after promotional advertising. ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ became available for viewing on DirecTV in July 2014, but it was removed within a month.

A few months after the film’s release, a Syracuse based news outlet reported that Edward Carver in ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ is based on a man named Kendall Francois, who murdered 8 to 10 sex workers in Poughkeepsie between 1996 and 1998. The big distinction between them is Francois never kept a detailed video record of his crime. However, in the same article, the publication mentions a report published by the Circle, in which Dowdle apparently revealed that he had no knowledge of Francois before making the film.

Read More: The Poughkeepsie Tapes Ending, Explained

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