Is The Poughkeepsie Tapes real? It’s real-life links explored

By Chege Karomo — ON May 10, 2022
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
Serial killer Edward Carver torturing Cheryl

Watching The Poughkeepsie Tapes will have you googling whether the horror before you has real-life inspirations. The film uses expert interviews, victim testimonies, and news broadcasts to tell the story of a serial killer who videotapes the experiences of his victims from their abductions to their deaths. 

Police started searching for the serial killer after discovering ten bodies in the backyard of a house. They found 800 neatly organized videotapes detailing each kill from start to finish inside the home. 

The film was re-released in 2017 following delays that kept it from the public for nearly a decade. Let’s find out how much of The Poughkeepsie Tapes is true.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is not real and is based on many serial killers

The Poughkeepsie Tapes’ creators marketed the film as based on a true story, but it was a trick to captivate audiences. The found-footage style has revolutionized the horror genre by adding a sense of realism to the movies. 

Director John Erick Dowdle used found footage to make it seem like serial killer Edward Carver really videotaped his crimes. John then used documentary-style footage to detail the testimonies of people close to the crime, including the only victim ever released by the killer. 

Despite the apparent realism in the film, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a fictional film. However, fictional killer Ed Carver’s modus operandi mimics other serial killers of the 20th century. 

For instance, most serial killers in that period sexually assaulted their victims. Ed often raped his victims and used stolen semen to frame a police officer for the murders.

True crime aficionados can point out the many similarities between Ed Carver and killers like John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. However, Ed’s story isn’t based on one specific serial killer – his character contains different aspects of a slate of killers. 

The killings resemble murders committed by Poughkeepsie serial killer Kendall Francois

In August 2000, Poughkeepsie native Kendall Francois pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder. Kendall reportedly killed ten sex workers from 1996 to 1998. 

Serial killer Kendall Francois died in prison on September 11, 2014.

Ed Carver also killed sex workers, but there’s a critical difference between him and Kendall: Francois didn’t record his crimes. Kendall’s killings might have inspired the film, but Ed Carver isn’t based on him. 

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