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Psycho Pike (1993)

Directed by Chris Poschun
Take A Shit Or Get Off The Toilet VHS

If you like to watch people drive around in a Jeep Wrangler, Psycho Pike is your movie.

Homemade horror movies live in a different headspace than movies that are made by professionals. These productions typically aren’t dictated by business plans or completed by committee. It’s more personal than that. These movies exist because someone in Fresno watched Critters and thought, “I can probably do that.” And then they made the phantasmagorical beauty known as Beasties. In other words, we don’t judge Don Dohler’s Blood Massacre by the same bar as Joseph Zito’s Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter because it would be a disservice to both directors. But more so to Dohler. There are a lot of Friday The 13th movies, but none of them feature George Stover in a fist fight against cannibal aliens. Only Blood Massacre has that.

The same rules apply in the alternate timescape known as Canada.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II might be the greatest Canadian horror movie that does not have David Cronenberg’s name on it. But we can’t compare that movie to Psycho Pike, which was shot in Ontario on what looks like 16mm. Like Barry Gillis’s Things, this is a backyard Canadian horror movie that needs to be accepted for what it is. Since there’s nothing else like it, we have to look elsewhere for comparisons. I once worked as a custodian for a company that manufactured crane parts. I spent eight hours a day removing oil stains, replacing photocopy ink, and counting inventory. Each day felt like it lasted for two-hundred years. At the end of the summer, I backed the delivery truck into a crane. The bumper fell off. I was fired.

That experience was not good. But if I was forced to either relive my time at the crane company or watch Psycho Pike again, I’d hold out my hand for the keys to the truck.

Four people drive down a road in their Jeep. The driver’s name is Reg. He says, “This will be the best summer of my life!” Then they continue driving for a full five minutes. Coincidentally, this is the same amount of time it takes for us to listen to an entire song by a band that sounds like what would happen if Pearl Jam had a baby with Def Leppard. Judging by this song, it would not be a cute baby.

Reg and his friends arrive at a lakeside cottage. They meet a gas station attendant who wears an eyepatch. They also meet a Sheriff who farts. They water plants, go skinny-dipping, have sex, and fish. A giant dog pees on Reg’s jeep, but then the dog is eaten by the Psycho Pike. And that’s great. Because the Pike is a puppet that looks like the costume that Chevy Chase wore during the “Land Shark” skits on Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, the Pike’s appearances constitute approximately 1% of this movie’s runtime. The rest of the movie is devoted to bad guys who purposefully cover up the lake’s toxicity for their own gain, a love triangle, and the use of Asians as comic relief, complete with “ching-chong” music.

Missing in action for two decades before a screener VHS was unearthed and bootlegged, Psycho Pike has a lot of heart. But this movie doesn’t work, mostly because director Chris Poschun couldn’t decide what he wanted to make. The puppet and gore effects are fun and surprisingly accomplished. However, they’re surrounded by pointless inside jokes, like the appearance of a European tourist who takes photos of toilets. Or endless spaces of nothingness, like the scenes of people cleaning fish. Technically, the movie looks and sounds good. Someone behind the camera knew what they were doing. But the drastic shifts in tone, combined with the meandering plot, make it impossible for us to pay attention. Poschun never goes as over the top as Blood Hook, another fish-slasher spoof. At the same time, he doesn’t give us enough “horror” to justify the tangents. We end up with a movie that feels like Blood Lake with all of the good stuff taken out and a lot of fish-as-penis innuendo added in (“I’ve got a fish-on!”).

I don’t have a fish-on for this movie. Neither will you.