PG: Psycho Goreman is one of those horror movies that deserves a cult cinema following from the jump. The story of a hulking intergalactic monster that begrudgingly befriends a couple of Earth kids is the perfect movie that one easily be passed around in hidden gem group circles. The past work of director Steven Kostanski has always been in the realm of horror, weirdness, and fun all wrapped into one—rhyming not on purpose. PG: Psycho Goreman perfect mixture of comedy and gore is something unique and nostalgic all at the same time.
I was able to speak with Kostanski on his inspiration to create this film, the tasking methods of getting the monsters’ look just right, and which horror franchises he would love to take a crack at.
I wanna start by saying thanks for talking with me about PG (Psycho Goreman),
Steven Kostanski: Hey, it’s all good. Glad to talk to you.
Yeah, it was quite a treat watching this movie. I’ve actually seen it twice.
Steven Kostanski: Oh, wow. That’s a lot so soon.
Yeah, by that you can tell I really like the movie. Where did the title come from?
Steven Kostanski: I guess when I was coming up with the idea, I was kind of inspired by ET: the Extra-Terrestrial. I like how kind of catchy and simple that was. I was also inspired by the movie Rawhead Rex and how absurd that title is. I was actually watching that movie when I was coming up with PG, I was getting kind of bored as I was watching him. I was daydreaming about what I would do with a story about a kind of ancient monster man that’s unearthed and what he would do. But yeah, I like the absurdity of that title and I wanted to come up with something as crazy as that and memorable, but something that could also be reduced into a really catchy abbreviation. And that’s when I realized that nobody’s used the rating system as a title. And so I wrote something that can be shortened to PG that would be really funny. And so, yeah, I built out from that and came up with Psycho Goreman.
Can you go into a little bit more detail about where the story came from?
Steven Kostanski: Well, I had this image of this hulking monster man sitting at a drum set in my head for a really long time. I had already done a short film for ABCs of Death 2 called “W’s for Wish” about kids that ended up in a dark fantasy set in Harmonia. Almost like kids and mentoring with dark proclivity adult themes and mashing them together. And so, when I was done with that I thought, “What would I do with a story about a monster on earth and was on a rampage.” So, then I thought about doing a bit of a Terminator 2 reference like, “Well, what if you had control of this thing? What kind of adventures would you get into?” Just the juxtaposition of kids’ adventure, also like The Sandlot or something paired with something darker and more intense and crazy. Kind of like a Rawhead Rex in every way.
The murdering monster, just rampaging across the planet, except he’s at the mercy of some little kids. So I like juxtaposing, dark horror fantasy against the venture narratives. And that’s kind of how the whole story came about was just pairing those different types and tropes. It was like polar opposite trope together and seeing what would happen. Pairing small-town suburbia and the small dream within that, against the epic backdrop of galactic space overlord and all the kinds of trouble that he gets into. So yeah, that’s where the story typically came from.
Yeah, the funny thing is I can picture the setting of this movie in a town next over to your previous film where The Void takes place.
Steven Kostanski: Yeah. Well, I love to think that all the movies that I make have a weird connection. Like a bit of a multi-verse scenario where all this stuff is happening. One town over and one town past that you’ve also got Leprechaun going on a rampage. If you jump to the future, you’ve got Manborg going on. I think they all definitely share similarities. I think a lot about its just kids and by their personality shining through as well.
Psycho Goreman carries a level of creature and costume design that would make any fan of the heavy metal band G.W.A.R. blush. Some of the looks for these intense creatures come as a cross between Power Rangers monster of the week and classic Japanese horror films. Kostanksi goes into detail about the time, effort, and purposeful style of this horror movie.
Where did the design for Psycho Goreman come from?
Steven Kostanski: Well, I definitely had a core set of inspirations for what I wanted him to look like. I wanted him to feel like every epic villain, creature, character mashed together. More importantly, I wanted him to be something that’s in toy form, via, like a 10-year-old would have bought instantly if he thought on the shelf. So it was combined with the spirit of classic movie villain monsters also with sensibilities of a marketing company, designing toys for kids. So trying to give him menace but flare at the same time. And so the concept artist friend—who is also a comic book artist—he did a few designs for me and we settled on what pretty quickly. And then it was just a case of translating that look to reality. There were certain elements that I was not able to translate. Certainly more fantastical things, but for the most part, what we came up with on the page is what ended up on screen.
With that being said, what was the length of time it took to get the makeup on the actors like The Paladins and the other creatures?
Steven Kostanski: It was steep. It took between two and three hours to get everything on. He [Matthew Ninaber] would put the bulk of the suit on and there was gloves and then the mask and then pieces that blended all the stuff together. And then blending around the eyes and mouth like pretty standard prosthetic stuff. It’s really time-consuming, no matter how you do it. So there’s pretty much that process for all the creatures. Some of them I designed in such a way that they didn’t really require any makeup at all. They were more just like pullover masks and more wardrobe than anything. So, some were simpler than others.
Certain ones like Dark Scream was P.G. like kind of old coat and was a little bit more of an extensive makeup. He had a lot more movement in his mask than some of the other characters. Kind of depending on which character, but some of them would take two to three hours and some of them would take half an hour just to slap together.
Psycho Goreman is super violent. It’s like a hard R border lining NC 17 because of the level of gore. Did you have to cut anything out from the film or anything that you wanted to shoot that you couldn’t because maybe budget or time constraints?
Steven Kostanski: I mean, there’s always more that I want to do. I’ve never made a movie where at the end of shooting, I was like, “Great, we got everything I wanted.” But I think we got a lot more than I think on paper we should have gotten. A lot of it came down to me shooting inserts on my own at the effect shop I worked at late at night. Just trying to get everything I can put together as best, like, I could with the limited resources I had. But yeah, there’s a lot in that movie for the budget that we had. We did not have a lot of money. So, it was a lot of stealing and just a lot of very generous affects friends of mine who chipped in to help realize all the effects and creatures. I mean, we’ve had another 10 days of shooting and another million dollars. I’m sure we could’ve went been even bigger.
Kotstanski revealed a connection to PG: Psycho Goreman and a classic Cannon produced film from the 80s that caught be surprised. However, the director and I were able to share our love for this film that was been torn apart in the past but later appreciate given that nostalgia seal of approval.
Steven Kostanski: But part of the reason why I wrote it the way it was, is that I wanted it to be a little bit more intimate. I attacked this movie from the beginning as being similar to the Masters of the Universe film from the eighties. Where they went to it knowing they only had so much money and they plan to have it take place mostly on Earth. I liked that idea. I know that it’s a thing that people rip on, like, that movie specifically, for doing, but it’s a thing I’m kind of nostalgic for. Cause as a kid, I liked the idea of these worlds bleeding together of going from really big epic, expensive fantasy into really small suburban situations.
So, I can’t tailor the movie for that specific. To try to scale things down a bit and only get big when it’s absolutely necessary and try to tease the bigger mythology around the movie without going too deep into it. Kind of entice the audience without giving too much away and let their imaginations do some of the work.
Yeah, I’m one of those people that see how bad Masters of the Universe is, but I still love it because of the weirdness that is the He-Man cartoon and the corniness of everything. And just the fact that the studio had the balls to get that movie off the ground.
Steven Kostanski: No, I think it takes a lot of confidence and a little bit of ignorance to try and do something like that and I really admire it. One of my favorite things in all media is translating one from one media to another. So I loved that was them trying to realize an action figure line and a cartoon in reality and kind of what see happens when you try to do that. So, I think as much of a disaster that movie is, I still really admire it and I love watching it because it’s just so crazy that they even attempted to do it. Yeah. It’s one of my big inspirations from all my movies.
I’ve always heard this rule in Hollywood that you never work with kids and you never work with animals. Your two leads—specifically Nita-Josee Hanna—knocked it out of the park with their characters. Was it a difficult process to get the right kids for the role or did it just work out in your favor?
Steven Kostanski: Yeah, it was definitely a big concern early on when I wrote the treatment and circulated it with the producers and the team behind the movie. They all came back with the same concern like, “Yeah, this is a great idea but where are you going to find these kids.” And so everybody was concerned about it and we did a very extensive casting process because we knew that if the kids didn’t work, the movie went to work. And we just really liked Nita and Owen [Myre]. They’re so fantastic. And kids being the mascot for the movie with their energy and professionalism as well. They both approached it, like, just total pros, and really set the example. Like, set a tone onset of how we should all be working on this movie and how committed we should all be. Yeah, we were very lucky because they’re the heart and soul of the movie.
If you looked up Steve Kostanski’s IMDb’s page, you’ll notice his long resume in horror. I asked the director his Wishlist of horror franchises he would tackle, and his top pick is one that is well-loved in cult cinema circles.
So, you seem to be hunkering down in the horror genre—you got Psycho Gorman, The Void, and a few other films. If given a chance to helm a horror franchise would you take that and is there anything that you have in mind?
Steven Kostanski: I mean, honestly, it’s been my fantasy to basically accept the challenge of whatever franchise came my way. That’s why I took Leprechaun [Returns] and had so much fun making that. But if I had a pick of which franchise I could take, I mean, I’m a huge fan of Phantasm. I think that there’s a lot of interesting directions to go with that franchise, still.
Steven Kostanski: To me, it’s like the Star Wars of horror movies.
I totally agree with that.
Steven Kostanski: I would love to take a crack at it because it has all the right sci-fi weirdness to it. It’s not just straight horror. There’s like a lot more going on with it. But like I said, honestly, anything I would be all over it. I would do a Friday the 13th, I’d do A Nightmare on Elm Street, I’d do a Pumpkin Head. I’d do a Chucky. I’m such a video store kid. Tackling any kind of existing property to me is just validating my youth spent, just endlessly consuming VHS tapes that I rented from the video store. And filling my time with watching genre movies instead of going outside with my friends like I probably should’ve. So yeah, I would take any of that.
PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN is available On Demand and Digital.