Psychos in Love (1987)
I first saw this flick back in 1988 when I was around 17 or 18 years old, and to be honest I forgot all about it. The other week I stumbled upon it on Netflix and it brought back a whole lot of good memories. I remember it being very gory, pretty damn funny, and generally just a whole lot of fun. But I’ve been burned before by my memory of movies I saw back in the day. I was easily impressed back then and hadn’t seen too many genre flicks at that point yet. Most of the genre flicks I saw at that time were the classic monster movies from Universal and the good old Hammer flicks. I of course saw the essentials by this time; Romero’s Dead trilogy, The Re-Animator, Evil Dead 2, etc …, but my experiences with small, low budget, indie flicks was still new to me. Psychos in Love was the first indie genre flick I watched, and thinking back to it I really loved it. It opened the door (at least for me) to other such low-budget, indie flicks like the ones from Troma Films and more currently such extremely hardcore flicks from ToeTag Pictures (who made the August Underground trilogy, Maskhead, Murder Collection, Volume One, and The Red Sin Tower). But would my nostalgic mind let me down again??
In a word: HELL NO!! Psychos in Love is even better than I remembered it. I actually appreciate it even more now that I’m older. This is a really clever, funny, quick-paced, well acted indie flick that never takes itself seriously and knows exactly what kind of movie it is. This is director and co-writer Gorman Bechard’s second project as director (his first being 1983’s Disconnected) and he really hit the ball out of the park with this one. The other writer for Psychos in Love is Carmine Capobianco.
Capobianco is also the star of the movie, Joe; is the second assistant director; wrote and performed the original music for the movie; and did some special f/x as well. Carmine; you are a true Renaissance Man. The success of this movie rests on his and his co-star’s shoulders (Debi Thibeault as Kate). These two have great chemistry onscreen and play their parts with the perfect amount of craziness without going over the top (no crazy, googly eyes here), and their comedic timing both together and in solo scenes is fantastic!!
The plot concerns Joe, the owner of your friendly neighborhood strip joint (which suspiciously has the exact same customers in it every time we visit it. Hhmmm). Overall Joe is a pretty nice guy and seems to get along with everyone. He does, though, have one bad habit: it seems he can’t stop himself from killing the women he goes out with. The opening scenes show a montage of various women he takes out on dates and methodically kills afterwards. He doesn’t kill because of mommy issues or because he’s filled with rage. He kills because he just can’t help himself. But then he meets Kate, a cute, pixie-ish redhead manicurist who has a secret of her own. She too is a serial killer who stalks and kills men with her arsenal of manicurist equipment. They meet in his bar, hit it off, and end up falling in love. That’s right folks; they are Psychos in Love!!!
One night after a date Joe and Kate are sitting on the couch and he confesses to her that he loves her:
Joe: Can I tell you something that I never told anyone before? I … uh … well I … don’t worry, I’m not gonna kill you or nothing … [surprised look on Kate’s face] … I just … Look I’m a serial killer.
Kate: Really? [her eyes grow big with excitement] So am I!!
And a love affair to rival even Romeo and Juliet begins. But what is so fun and unique here is that this movie breaks a lot of “cinematic rules” along the way. For starters the beginning of the movie feels like 1989’s When Harry Met Sally. Joe and Kate tell their stories in an interview-like set up where they are talking directly to the camera. As they are telling their stories we see the action take place. It actually kinda feels like a romantic comedy at first. But to the crew’s brilliance they pull it off without it feeling gimmicky. It’s a great aspect of this film that works.
The opening scenes may feel like a documentary, but they really break the rules later on in the movie. For example; Joe and Kate will be involved in a conversation with a group of people, and suddenly Joe will look straight at the camera and say, “Hey; it’s time for a strange interlude.” He then walks away from the other characters and stands right in front of the camera and starts ranting about some random topic. It really feels that these “interludes” are completely ad-libbed by actor Capobianco. In one Joe says, “I wanna run naked through a field of mayonnaise.” All the while the other characters are standing around behind him chewing gum and also looking directly at the camera. It’s bizarre, but they really pull this off.
This whole movie has that crazy, guerilla-style filmmaking style that Troma Films made famous: Psychos was filmed only on weekends (up and coming, starving artists need weekday jobs); most of the scenes were shot in director Bechard’s apartment; and the entire movie was filmed using only short ends (a partial roll of unexposed film stock which was left over during a motion picture production and kept for later use), mainly because it’s cheaper to buy than full rolls of film. In another scene after the happy couple murders a guy together we see the bloody aftermath. Joe is lying on the ground and we see blood still spurting out of the dead body next to him. Kate leans over to talk to him, blood is shooting all over both of them, and she knocks her head on a sound mic. Kate looks over her shoulder, the camera pans back, and we can see the f/x guys pouring fake blood into a pump and shooting it into the scene. Kate yells over to them, “Come on guys, knock it off already.” The f/x guys look bashfully at the camera and stop. It’s all totally crazy and works here. If ya didn’t know any better you’d think Lloyd Kaufman himself was directing.
In the middle of the movie we are introduced to yet another serial killer, Herman (played by Frank Stewart), who also serves as the movies’ hair designer and make-up artist. Gotta love it. Herman is a psychotic cannibal plumber who after unclogging people’s drains kills them, dismembers them, and then eats them. As he says, “I admit it’s hard to get a good ‘word-of-mouth’ business that way, but oh well.” He also likes to get off by plunging his nipples after killing a victim. Again folks, we’re in some deeply bizarre territory here but the writing and acting are so well done that this works. It’s definitely more of a comedy (and I hesitantly write, “Romantic Comedy”) than a horror movie, but it honestly stands on its own and creates its own unique sub-genre. Think When Harry Met Sally pushed through a slasher filter and sprinkled liberally with a lot of bizarre humor.
The only thing that didn’t stand the test of time in my memory was the gore. The gore is very amateurish but in context of the entire flick it all sort of fits. We get blood grooves on hollow knives being run across people’s throats and blood that looks pretty fake. But again, it all works. I can’t say enough good things about this movie people. Great performances, fast and witty dialogue (when they confront the crazy plumber Herman tells them, “I’m gonna eat you both” and Joe responds, “Geez, doesn’t anyone just fuck anymore?”), and scenes that break the rules of traditional storytelling and filmmaking all add up to one great fucking time!! But whatever you do, DO NOT offer Joe or Kate a grape. You don’t wanna know what happens if you do:
Grapes? Grapes? I hate grapes. I loath grapes, all kinds of grapes. I hate purple grapes, I hate green grapes, I hate grapes with seeds, I hate grapes without seeds, I hate them peeled and non peeled; I hate them in bunches, one at a time, or in small groups of twos and threes. I fucking hate grapes!!
Definitely check this one out. It’s a really fun movie. And be sure to watch all the credits. Besides having an awesome fucking song as the credits roll (“Psychos in Love” by no other that Capobianco himself) that you will rewind and listen to over and over again we get a “Coming Soon to a Theater Near You” that lists Psychos in Love parts two through thirteen, all with sub-titles:
Psychos in Love II: The High School Years
Psychos in Love III: Herman Lives!
Psychos in Love IV: The Divorce
Psychos in Love V: The Reconciliation
Etc … all the way to Psychos in Love XIII, Slashing at 60! This is a ton of fun and one you definitely don’t wanna miss.
Director: Gorman Bechard
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains