The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: HDNet Films - 2006
Feature running time: 84 minutes
Genre: Documentary, Horror
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Elizabeth Cartier, Carol J Clover, Debbie D, Freddie Dingo, Michelle Glick
Directed by: J.T. Petty
Music by: On Filmore, Darin Gray, Glenn Kotche
Written by: J.T. Petty
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 12, 2010
"There is a place where your sickest, most perverse, most brutal fantasies are real."
Examines the classic comparison between filmmaking and voyeurism, particularly within the seedy underground genre of fetish films. The most notorious of these is a series titled "S&Man," where voyeurism takes center stage as people are unknowingly followed with a camera. Much of the footage included will shock and disturb even the most seasoned horror veteran. The question ultimately posed is whether or not the viewers' interest in horror films is rooted in the same voyeuristic urge to which these fetish videos appeal.
There are a few things you should know about S&MAN right off the bat. There is no S&M per say in the film (and I use that term very loosely) and it's all-so-clever title is really S-AND-MAN..Sandman, get it?
S&MAN is a awkwardly unique documentary that came about because of a strange twist of fate. Director JT Petty had to quickly come up with an idea to film when his original documentary "Peeping Tom's" main subject, a man from his childhood, declined to be filmed. Not straying too far, he decided to do an exposé on underground horror films, the men who make them and the psyche behind it all. The documentary interviews a few professors, a scream queen, but spends most its time with 3 different directors of these mock "snuff" films (as well as too many cuts to scenes from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). There is the always inebriated Bill Zebub (another ultra-clever name), director of such classics as "Kill the Scream Queen" and "Bad Acid" and the somehow charming Fred Vogel, the entrepreneur behind Toe Tag Pictures, who specializes in made-to-order "snuffy" (yes I created my own word) videos. This leads us the Tour de Force, the Pièce de Résistance...Mr S&MAN himself, Erik Rost.
The Documentary seems to shift its focus from the psychology behind these films and its audience when JT Petty and crew start to get a feeling something is off with Erik Rost and his S&MAN series of videos. Each volume in his series is a different girl, a different death and a stalking leading up to it. He admits the girls don't know he is stalking them, to make the video look real. He then approaches them and asks if hey will be in the film. He says they all say yes. Sounds shady right? Is something more afoot or is walking in this strange underground getting into the head of the filmmaker and his crew??
I enjoyed S&MAN through all its imperfections, amateur feel and obvious turns. There was something haunting in its truths and deceits that kept me going until the end. I was almost like the people who support these amateur snuff films...I became a voyeur of the weird world this documentary shows, more than the movie itself. Fans of indie horror and the subject matter at hand will enjoy this work, but I cant see many others getting much out of it, or even getting past the first 20 minutes. That is a shame because the movie does open up and take a fun turn towards the end.
Rated R for sequences of strong disturbing horror violence and aberrant behavior including graphic dialogue, sexual content, nudity and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
'S&MAN' comes to Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21.6 mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 mbps.
S&MAN is not an audio and video technical showcase. Looking like the video it was filmed on, intertwined with VHS footage and various other sources. It's look does have an amateur vibe to it and can never fully realize the depth a Blu-ray release is capable of. It does the best it can, with nothing ever sticking out like a sore thumb. At times the black levels do get nice and inky, but it also crushes and loses details on some portions. I saw no compression issues and no signs of any extraneous tinkering from Magnolia. The DTS-HD MA audio track was in the same boat as the video. Never really utilizing the format, it sounds good for what it is, but never pops. We don't get much surround activity or LFE, but there is not too much use for it here. At least it does do a fairly decent job with the dialogue, never really losing a word. The narrator, writer/director JT Petty has an effect on his voice-over that drove me crazy every time he spoke. It was unnecessary...almost ruining the whole experience for me. S&MAN, I assume, looks and sounds just like the source and sources it came from, which is the most we can ask from a Blu-ray.
- Audio Commentary with Director JT Petty and Erik Marcisak, Audio Commentary with Director JT Petty and Eric Rost
- (HD) The Complete S&MAN Episode 11
- (HD) Deleted and Extended Scenes
- (HD) Underground Film Clips
- (HD) S&MAN Film Trailers - Additional Eric Rost Films
- (HD) Previews: Rubber, The Oxford Murders, Centurion, Countdown to Zero
S&MAN is a genre film about genre films--that lends to a limited audience. Couple that with its name, it just keeps racking up strikes, even before being viewed. I took exception to S&MAN's intentionally amateur look, and felt it could have used more gloss to make it more effective. S&MAN is original, a bit shocking, a little silly and not too hard to figure out. I had some fun with it, but more with the world it lived in and less with the movie itself. I spun through the commentaries to get some more in-site, which I did, though they were pretty dry. I can recommend a rental to those interested, but that's as far as it will go.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer