Is ‘The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ Really Based on a True Story?

The Poughkeepsie Tapes, a 2007 horror film that was re-released a decade later in 2017, sure looks like a legitimate documentary at first glance. There are interviews with experts, testimony from a victim, and clips from news broadcasts. It sets out to tell the story of James Foley, “the Water Street Butcher,” who went on a killing spree in upstate New York. But did it all happen? And is The Poughkeepsie Tapes actually real? Here’s what we know:

WHAT IS THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES?

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a 2007 movie about a serial killer. “In 2001, police in Poughkeepsie, New York, made a shocking discovery — 10 bodies buried in the backyard of a residential house,” the film’s official description reads. “Astonishingly, that was only the beginning. Inside the home, police uncovered over 800 neatly organized videotapes detailing the exploits of one man’s decade-long crime spree. The most disturbing part of the find was that the killer had filmed all of the footage himself — from his first moments stalking his victims to their last seconds alive.”

IS THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES REAL?

The Poughkeepsie Tapes claims to be real and tells viewers that the footage compiled for the movie is used by the FBI as an educational resource to help understand psychopathic behavior. But thankfully, the movie is not real. While it’s shot in a found footage style that makes it feel like a documentary, The Poughkeepsie Tapes and its plot are fictional. And according to Syracuse.com, the movie wasn’t even filmed in New York or on the East Coast at all — everything you see on screen was filmed in California by writer-director John Erick Dowdle.

There’s a catch, though. Syracuse.com also reports that a real-life killer’s case can possibly be linked to The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ plot. “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!

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