The Poughkeepsie Tapes True Story: How Much Of The Movie Is Actually Real (2023)

The Poughkeepsie Tapesis an eerie found footagemovie that is largely fictionalized, but drew influence from several real-life serial killers and murders — here's how much of the movie is real. Director John Erick Dowdle marketed The Poughkeepsie Tapesas being based entirely on real events in order to captivate audiences with the horrifying snuff movies, news reports, and interviews that encapsulate everything that took place in a basement in Poughkeepsie, New York.


John Erick Dowdle is best known for his horror movies, especially in the found footage sub-genre. His best-known movie is 2014'sAs Above, So Below,but he's also been recognized forDevil(2010) andQuarantine(2018). While his filmography is not as lengthy as other directors in the genre, Dowdle's movies have made a lasting impact on the use of found footage horror as it has continued to develop from its roots inThe Blair Witch Project. Found footage moviesare some of the most captivating stories due to their ability to hint at some form of truth behind them and add elements of realism. Recently, Michael Goi'sMegan Is Missingwent viral on TikTok and, along with it, so haveThe Poughkeepsie Tapes.Both found footage movies offer disturbing depictions of kidnapping, assault on women and children, as well as murder.

(Video) The Poughkeepsie Tapes Explained Is It Real?

Related:Friday The 13th Reboot Was Almost Found Footage: Why It Didn't Happen

While marketing for found footage movies informs audiences that what they are about to witness is almost entirely real,The Poughkeepsie Tapesis all fabricated with only a few shreds of truth utilized by Dowdle to create one of horror's most terrifying killers. The movie follows a team of investigators as they discuss the videotape recordings the killer kept as a keepsake; they served as a reminder of each murder. The investigation uncovered 800 videotapes hidden in the basement of a house he rented. As the detectives dive into the unknown killer's mind, it leads them down a path more disturbing than they could have ever predicted.Despite the claim thatThe Poughkeepsie Tapeswas based on a real-life event, it wasn't. Instead, it was influenced entirely by past serial killers and their crimes as well as the exploitative contents of snuff films. Snuff films commonly depict obscene content, normally acts of real homicide.Cannibal Holocaustis considered a fictional snuff film based on its extensive use of bodily torture, murder, and cannibalism.

Are the Poughkeepsie Tapes Real?

The Poughkeepsie Tapes True Story: How Much Of The Movie Is Actually Real (1)

There is heavy debate in the film industry on which movies are depicting actual murders and acts of self-mutilation versus those that are staged. Actual filmed murders and executions do exist, but they weren't made with the intent to entertain an audience.The only real-life murders and criminal acts thatThe Poughkeepsie Tapescan be tied to are Kendall Francois's ten murders, which took place from 1996 to 1998. According to local newspapers, Francois killed ten sex workers. Despite the influence his crimes may have had on the movie, he never recorded any of his crimes, which adds a further level of separation between the true story and what the film depicts.

(Video) The Poughkeepsie Tapes | EXPLAINED + PLOT BREAKDOWN

The notorious serial killer Ted Bundy also influenced the found footage horror movie. InThe Poughkeepsie Tapes,detectives interview Bundy in hopes of garnering some kind of insight or a pattern to help solve the crime. Surprisingly, the serial killer is complicit, and even attempts to help them find a motive by asking when he sexually assaults his victims. Bundy was executed in 1989 for the brutal murders of 30 known victims, but it's estimated that he killed many more. He primarily targeted women, much like the killer inThe Poughkeepsie Tapes. Ultimately, the movie is somewhat based on real events, but only takes portions of them rather than adapting their full stories, as other horror movies have done. There were no actual snuff movies tied to any serial killer, and the character in the movie is original to the story.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes: Where To Watch

The Poughkeepsie Tapes True Story: How Much Of The Movie Is Actually Real (2)
(Video) Is This The Most Disturbing Found Footage Movie Ever Made?

For many years, The Poughkeepsie Tapes was extremely hard to find a legal copy of. That's due to The Poughkeepsie Tapes being pulled from release for almost a decade. Thankfully, that time is now firmly passed, and interested horror fans can watch the film quite easily. A Blu-ray was released in 2017, and The Poughkeepsie Tapes can also currently be streamed on several different services, including Paramount+, Epix, AMC+, DirecTV, Spectrum, and Shudder. Oddly though, it's only available to subscribers of those particular services, and not to rent or buy at general digital retailers. Despite that discrepancy in viewing options, it's a true victory for horror fans that The Poughkeepsie Tapes is now widely available, after being sought after for so long.

Related: 10 Horror Movies Filmed In One Continuous Shot (Or Appear To Be)

Other Disturbing Movies Censors Thought Were Real And Banned

The Poughkeepsie Tapes True Story: How Much Of The Movie Is Actually Real (3)

The Poughkeepsie Tapes isn't the only horror movie so disturbing it fell foul of the censors.Many horror flickserr too far into the Uncanny Valley,creating uncertainty around whether audiences were taking inreal horror or adept storytelling. That's if they didn't use the controversy to promote the movie, however– andseveral films that werebanned in Americawore their censored status proudly, especially when the bootleg and underground VHS market was strong. While it's hard to believe nowadays, at one point in the 1980s, a VHS of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1976) was a collector's item for horror movie aficionados. Censors in many countries, including the US, fell for the movie's "disclaimer" that the events it portrayed were true. Today, however,The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2021)is streamable by anyone with a Netflix subscription.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1976) still enjoyed a theatrical release and yearly screenings, though. Some movies were, much like The Poughkeepsie Tapes, too realistic to even make it to the big screen (keep in mind, there used to be more independent movie theatres with the freedom to choose their billings, and they weren't always new releases, so getting your movie into big-screen matinee showings was easier than landing a VHS release). Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is perhaps the most infamous. The scenes of impalement, sexual violence, and the titular cannibalism fooled censors so effectively that the movie's still banned in several countries over four decades since its release. Faces of Death (1978) was another headline-maker, with the original proudly boasting its banning in "over 46 countries" due to the debatability of its death and violent scenes being wholly fictional. Despite being produced in the 1970s, Faces of Death still had to be heavily edited before it got its first unrestricted release in 2003.

(Video) Kendall Francois "The Poughkeepsie Killer" A BRIEF HISTORY: The Sims 4

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is actually one of the more recent examples of found-footage and horror controversy, despite its initial 2007 release being over a decade ago. The 70s and 80s were the golden age for this type of media. Just as True Crime shows have captured the cultural fascination with the macabre for 2020s audiences, "banned" movies were a regular talking point and made news headlines frequently during the era that the originalTexas Chainsaw Massacre,Cannibal Holocaust,andFaces of Deathwere released. Making a movie so disturbing the censors banned it was almost a point of pride, and creators definitely used it as a subversive marketing tactic to drive sales. Fortunately, horror fans in the 21st century don't have to scour bootleg VHS stalls or have hushed back-room conversations atBlockbuster to get their hands on movies likeThe Poughkeepsie Tapes, and even though they remain controversial talking points, these movies have found a new, less restricted, lease of life thanks to modern streaming platforms.

More:Why Cannibal Holocaust Was So Controversial


How much of the Poughkeepsie Tapes are real? ›

“According to the Marist College student newspaper, The Poughkeepsie Tapes may still be based on actual events,” they report. “A killer named Kendall Francois killed eight to 10 prostitutes in Poughkeepsie between 1996 and 1998, but did not videotape the murders.” You've been warned — watch at your own risk!

Who was the real killer in the Poughkeepsie Tapes? ›

For two years, the humble New York town of Poughkeepsie was terrorized by a 250-pound serial killer named Kendall Francois, who murdered eight women before he was caught in 1998.

Was the water Butcher ever found? ›

Poughkeepsie, New York is the town where the Water Street Butcher lived. He committed brutal crimes an murders in his basement and was never found.

Is The Poughkeepsie Tapes footage real? ›

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a 2007 American pseudo-documentary horror film written and directed by John Erick Dowdle. The film is about the murders of a serial killer in Poughkeepsie, New York, told through interviews and footage from a cache of the killer's snuff films.

Does The Poughkeepsie Tapes show the real tapes? ›

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a faux documentary featuring found footage of a serial killer's handiwork.

Is Kendall Francois still alive? ›

What did Jeffrey Dahmer's dad say about him? ›

Is the Poughkeepsie killer alive? ›

Kendall Francois, who killed eight women and stored their remains in his Town of Poughkeepsie home, died in prison Thursday.

What did the Water Street Butcher do to his victims? ›

He stalked and later kidnapped Cheryl Dempsey, while brutally killing her boyfriend, Tim Surrey, castrating and maiming him. He tortured Cheryl both physically and psychologically, from beating her, drowning her and even changing her name to a slave. He also forced her to commit several of his murders.

Was the Water Street Butcher real? ›

The film actually angered viewers with clips of sadistic violence and graphic torture, acted out by the murderer, James Foley, also known as "the Water Street Butcher." However, Foley isn't real.

How graphic is The Poughkeepsie Tapes? ›

Graphic and intense. Throughout the movie, many people describe the brutal killings that were taken place.

How old was Kendall Francois when he died? ›

When did Kendall Francois get caught? ›

He agreed and was taken to headquarters. Over the next few hours, Francois eventually made many admissions regarding the disappearance of the women. He was arrested and charged with a single count of murder in the death of Catina Newmaster on August 25, 1998. The police were elated.

How long was Cheryl Dempsey missing? ›

The Poughkeepsie Tapes are found as well as Cheryl Dempsey, who has been kept alive for eight years. Dempsey has been so psychologically abused that she tortures herself behind peoples' backs.

What was Jeffrey Dahmer's cause of death? ›

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, serving 15 consecutive life sentences for the brutal murders of 15 men, is beaten to death by a fellow inmate while performing cleaning duty in a bathroom at the Columbia Correctional Institute gymnasium in Portage, Wisconsin.

What was Dahmer's motivation for killing? ›

Dahmer initially tried to avoid killing his victims and instead attempted to turn them into living zombies by drilling holes in their skulls and dousing their brains with either boiling water or acid. His motive was to get his victims to stay with him and to be in complete control of them.

What is Jeffrey Dahmer's favorite movie? ›

His favorite movies were The Exorcist (1973), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) and The Exorcist III (1990). One of his surviving victims recounts seeing him watch the second film repeatedly, in a trance-like state. Subject of the album "Dahmer" by the death metal band Macabre.

Who killed butchers wife? ›

“The Boys” Season 2 came to an end Friday with a finale that saw the tragic accidental death of Becca (Shantel VanSanten) at the well-meaning superhuman hands of her son, Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), who killed his mother in front of Butcher (Karl Urban) while the little boy was trying to protect her from being strangled ...

What did Robert Pickton do with the bodys? ›

According to some claims, Pickton ground the bodies of his victims into mince and sold the packages. The Pickton case is not the only serial killer case involving missing women in British Columbia, Canada.

What did the Raincoat Killer do to his victims? ›

Besides targeting the rich elderly residents of Seoul, Yoo also started targeting prostitutes and escort girls, killing at least eleven women between May and July of 2004 by luring them to his officetel, beating them with his hammer and then dismembering their bodies.

Did they ever find the Bay Harbor Butcher? ›

Dexter Morgan successfully framed James Doakes as the Bay Harbor Butcher and the case was officially closed. However, an investigation many years later in Iron Lake is unknown if it exonerated Doakes.

Is the Wolf Creek killer real? ›

Wolf Creek is not directly based on a true story, although a title at the start says, 'based on actual events'. It was suggested partly by the gruesome details of the backpacker murders committed by Ivan Milat in the 1990s, but these murders were committed in a state forest near Sydney.

When did Edward Carver get caught? ›

Carver was indicted April 2 in a case involving the shooting and death of a 33-year-old Wilmington woman this February.

What should I watch after Poughkeepsie Tapes? ›

If You Liked 'The Poughkeepsie Tapes', Here Is Watchlist Of Other Similar Movies
  • Martyrs. The plot of the film revolves around two women who are searching for the people who had kept her captive and tortured her as a child. ...
  • Antichrist. ...
  • Ichi The Killer. ...
  • Begotten. ...
  • A Serbian Film. ...
  • 120 Days of Sodom.
21 Nov 2020

When was The Poughkeepsie Tapes banned? ›

The Poughkeepsie Tapes - 2007

Though it was never explicitly stated that it was banned from cinemas because of its psychologically disturbing content, MGM delayed the release in 2007, but it was then officially released to on-demand customers in 2014.

› wiki › Water_Street_Butcher ›

Edward Carver, better known as the Water Street Butcher, is the protagonist villain of the 2007 horror film The Poughkeepsie Tapes. He was portrayed by Ben Mess...
Edward Carver, better known as the Water Street Butcher, is the protagonist villain of the 2007 horror film The Poughkeepsie Tapes. He was portrayed by Ben Mess...
“The Poughkeepsie Tapes” is a found footage horror movie about a fictional serial killer from Upstate New York. … The film actually angered viewers with clips o...

Where can I watch The Real Poughkeepsie Tapes? ›

Right now you can watch The Poughkeepsie Tapes on Amazon Prime. You are able to stream The Poughkeepsie Tapes for free on Pluto or Tubi.

How many tapes were in The Poughkeepsie Tapes? ›

The Poughkeepsie Butcher had VHS recordings of every single one of his victims, with at least one on each tape. In the picture above, it shows every single one of his tapes. There are 900 tapes in a 150X6 pattern in each bin and there's six bins. That's 5,400 tapes in total.


1. How Cheryl Dempsey was found - The Poughkeepsie Tapes
(Dark Red Room)
2. I don't know why everyone thinks The Poughkeepsie Tapes is so scary?
(Poughkeepsie Pop Culture)
3. The Poughkeepsie Killer: The Story of Kendall "Stinky" Francois
(Omodele Salu)
4. Poughkeepsie Tapes - Natalie
5. This Real VHS Tape Creeped Out Millions In The 90s #shorts
(Cut To The Case)
6. The Poughkeepsie Killer Serial Killers Kendall Francois Crime Documentary
(The Mona Lisa Robbery Documentary)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Sen. Emmett Berge

Last Updated: 03/21/2023

Views: 6359

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Emmett Berge

Birthday: 1993-06-17

Address: 787 Elvis Divide, Port Brice, OH 24507-6802

Phone: +9779049645255

Job: Senior Healthcare Specialist

Hobby: Cycling, Model building, Kitesurfing, Origami, Lapidary, Dance, Basketball

Introduction: My name is Sen. Emmett Berge, I am a funny, vast, charming, courageous, enthusiastic, jolly, famous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.