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NIGHTMARE MAN
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Reviewed by: Zombie Boy

Directed by: Rolfe Kanefsky

Starring:
Blythe Metz (as Ellen)
Tiffany Shepis (as Mia)
Luciano Szafir (as William).

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A woman fears the demon she believes lives inside her head has gotten out, and is now menacing her and the houseful of people who unwittingly came to her aid.
Is it good movie?
Ellen and William are a couple having, um, intimacy issues, so Ellen orders a fertility mask off the internet. However, she gets more than she bargains for, in the form of a demon who rapes her, sets up shop inside her head, and stalks her in her dreams. Except was it just a dream to begin with? At his wits’ end, William decides she needs to spend some time in a psychiatric facility, but when they run out of gas on the way there and William toddles off to the gas station, the nightmare man appears and tries to kill Ellen for real. She runs away through the woods, and happens upon a house where Mia and her young beau Ed are entertaining their soon to be married friends Jack and Trinity. Of course, the nightmare man shows up, and the gang has to fight for their lives until the cops can get there.

As a part of the After Dark Horrorfest (8 Films To Die For) festival of 2007, this is a low-budget venture that was given a limited theatrical release. Now available on DVD, it proves to be Rolfe Kanefsky’s homage to a wide variety of horror films of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Even though it was shot HD, the particularly sparse lighting of cinematographer Paul Deng gives the whole affair a somewhat grainy and dark look, which definitely called to mind sitting around and watching Vestron videos when I was a kid. There are oblique references, style-wise, to both John Carpenter and Alfred Hitchcock, and less-subtle nods to both Trilogy of Terror and Evil Dead. Plot-wise, the film tracks from psychological thriller to slasher film to demon flick. A little something for everyone!

The film does have some pretty serious flaws, however. Mainly the first act, meant to be deliberately-paced, instead feels laborious. It is 45-minutes until the first kill. I am all for setting up characters, but a film that is a part of the After Dark Horrorfest should really crack on a little earlier. And when we do get to the grue, in the second act, it feels incredibly rushed. Then there is the little matter of Blythe Metz, who plays Ellen. She is a beautiful woman, to be sure, and I respect how headlong she threw herself into the role, but her screams grated on me. Sorry, Blythe.

The special features really helped me to understand and grow some appreciation for the film, as the entire cast and crew really went above and beyond to make this small production the best it could be. It is hard to hate a film that had such happy people seeming so joyful to be working on it. Especially the ever-manic Tiffany Shepis, who is the best thing to happen to horror since Linnea Quigley, in my not-so humble opinion.
Video / Audio
Video: As I said, it was shot HD, and shown here in 16x9 widescreen format (1.78:1). There is some grain, but I think it was intentional. Whether or not, it added to the experience for me.

Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital, English and Spanish subtitles, English Closed Captions.
The Extras
Commentary with director Rolfe Kanefsky, producer Esther Goodstein, and actress Tiffany Shepis: This is a loud and frenetic commentary, as one would expect whenever Shepis is involved. They talk non-stop, and seem genuinely happy to be doing it. Both informative and highly entertaining.

Extended scenes: there are five extended scenes. The most notable one being a longer truth or dare sequence, which includes the full Tiffany Shepis dance/almost striptease. Sigh. All were cut for flow.

Creating the Nightmare: The Making of Nightmare Man: this is an especially entertaining behind the scenes piece. The highlight is when SFX man Christopher Bergschneider tells a tale of when he worked on an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Apparently, one of the actors was overheard by the director making the wardrobe girl cry. Incensed, the directed pulled Bergschneider aside and told him the next time said actor was in his chair, to “hurt him”. That made me smile.

Flubbing a Nightmare: Gag Reel: As I have said before, and will say again, bloopers are my favorite part of any DVD. Especially when involving one so lovingly foul-mouthed as the dainty Miss Shepis.

Tiffany’s Behind the Scenes: This is an out and out hilarious feature, which is essentially Shepis holding a video camera whenever she is not doing something else, and bothering the hell out of everyone on set. Especially pleasing are the ham-throwing and raccoon-baiting scenes.

Stills Gallery: I am normally not a fan of stills galleries, but this one is set up as a slide-show and given a musical soundtrack, and the mix of promotional and candid shots is quite interesting.

Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes: This is a feature found on all of the Horrorfest discs, so I won’t discuss it further than saying hi to Nixon Suicide, if she ever sees this. Hi, Nixon!

I should also mention that the paintings that frame the different sections of the disc are a treat for the eyes. Quite detailed and mildly disturbing.
Last Call
All in all, from a strict standpoint, this is a poorly put together movie. But if you have a strong commitment to horror, a soft-spot for the little guy, and an affection for discs loaded with great special features, I really think you can get some enjoyment out of this one. It is also good for younger horror fans who want to break out of the PG-13 mold. It has some nice kills, raises awareness of its predecessors, and has p-l-e-n-t-y of eye-candy.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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