Horror Overload

Once part of After Dark’s Horrorfest, horror director Rolfe Kanefsky’s Nightmare Man subverts your standard slasher expectations with a reckless disregard for convention. Practically no genre trope is left untouched in the overloaded screenplay, a real throwback with messy nods to all your horror favorites.

The 2006 indie production’s reported budget was $250,000, a minuscule number. A cameo by Night Court actor Richard Moll notwithstanding, the only cast member you may recognize is low-rent scream queen Tiffany Shepis if you know your indie horror fodder from the 2000s.

Rolfe Kanefsky’s Nightmare Man subverts your standard slasher expectations with a reckless disregard for convention

Kanefsky throws in everything but the kitchen sink looking for cheap scares. Beginning as a somewhat conventional slasher, if creative in spurts, the plot ramps up the craziness with a couple of huge twists. There’s an insane final act almost worth waiting through the rough patches. I say almost because the low-budget frights and questionable execution hamper the basic premise, which works better in theory than practice.

The cast isn’t anything special but exudes a certain b-movie energy who lap up their mostly silly roles. The best bit of acting may stem from one of the ladies faking an orgasm in a naughty truth-or-dare game. The R-rated action is filled with ridiculous practical make-up and cheap effects. Violent and often gruesome, a couple of the jump scares will get your heart racing.

Ellen (Blythe Metz) believes she’s being haunted by someone she calls the Nightmare Man after trying on a scary-looking fertility mask she received from Africa. Her husband William believes she’s a paranoid schizophrenic in need of treatment. On the way to the institution they run out of gas on an isolated stretch of road.

Left to fend for herself, Ellen’s night of terror is only beginning when a vicious slasher chases after her into the woods. Ellen stumbles across a home in the woods with two couples having a small party, including Mia (Tiffany Shepis). Soon the mysterious killer finds them together as the night’s wild adventure descends into terror.

There’s definitely a market for Nightmare Man. Blythe Metz and Tiffany Shepis fill out their roles nicely, largely meeting expectations. The dollar store effects and haphazard production values are a problem I may have been willing to overlook, if the dialogue had been tighter with a more finely tuned plot.

Video

Nightmare Man looks rather rough on Blu-ray, mostly a reflection of its inherently poor cinematography and budget filmmaking. Made in 2006, the cheap video produces mediocre definition and crushed shadow delineation. This is a movie made for the limitations of DVD, beautiful HD quality was never an intention.

Possibly filmed on DSLR cameras, poor lighting and inadequate exposure produce noisy video. The 1.78:1 presentation is in 1080p resolution but it’s possible that much detail plainly doesn’t exist in the master. Clarity ranges from solid to middling, often depending on available light. Exteriors are dim and murky.

The main feature runs an uncut 89 minutes on a BD-50, encoded in sufficient AVC. Released by Ronin Flix, nothing indicates they’ve done anything with Nightmare Man but show it in the best possible light. Blame shoddy production values and guerrilla filmmaking for the inept picture quality.

Audio

The indie film’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack offers some depth and immersive surround. Nice directional cues jump at the listener, offering a discrete sound design. Dialogue is fairly reproduced without issue. The ambient atmosphere is lively and rich when characters venture outside into the woods.

Nightmare Man’s score by Christopher Farrell hits the right mood, nicely enhancing the jump scares. Overall a passable and competent sonic experience which is active in the right spots.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Ronin Flix brings Nightmare Man out on Blu-ray for the first time worldwide. Their release appears to gather all the special features found on the old Lionsgate DVD and includes new ones made for this Blu-ray. The disc is coded for Region A.

Audio Commentary with director Rolfe Kanefsky, producer Esther Goodstein, and cast member Tiffany Shepis – A rollicking discussion with Tiffany Shepis as the highlight, a jovial bundle of energy as Rolfe and Esther help fill in behind-the-scenes details. Some fans may actually enjoy this commentary more than the film itself.

There’s Something Out There: The Making of Nightmare Man Featurette (25:33 in HD) Interviews with director Rolfe Kanefsky, actors Tiffany Shepis and Blythe Metz, crew members Jeff Farley, Esther Goodstein, and Christian Farrel fill this new look back at the film and its production.

Creating a Nightmare: The Making of Nightmare Man (22:04 in SD) – Archival featurette brought over from the original DVD release.

Extended Scenes (16:19 in SD)

Tiffany’s Behind-the-Scenes (17:53 in SD) – Star Tiffany Shepis dances around on set and has fun.

Flubbing a Nightmare Gag Reel (07:06 in SD)

Stills Gallery (05:00 in SD)

Promo Reel (04:32 in SD)

Film Score Audio-Only Track (61:10; 2.0 DTS-HD MA) – Christopher Farrell’s score and occasional music highlight this new audio option.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Nightmare Man
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Serves up scary thrills and minor scream queen Tiffany Shepis, a nebulous low-budget slasher with an innovative premise but lacking in most other ways

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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