Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Damn, African Fertility Mask! You Deadly!: Nightmare Man (2006)

Nightmare Man (2006)
Rating: ***
Starring: Tiffany Shepis, Blythe Metz, Luciano Szafir

Desperate to bear a baby with her husband William, Ellen placed an order for an ancient African fertility mask in hopes that some divine intervention or good juju would help expand her family. When she gets it though, Ellen is quickly put off on how demonic-looking the mask turns out to be and William believes she may have just wasted a good thousands of bucks on what's basically a Halloween mask. This, as it horribly turns out, isn't the only problem the mask brought as Ellen suddenly gets attacked and assaulted by a demonic being later that night. Or did she?

Flash-forward to some time later, Ellen is now convinced that either something evil is growing inside of her or that the "Nightmare Man" is still out there to finish her off. Believing his wife may have gone off her rockers, William have no other choice but to heed their doctors' advice and have Ellen set up for psychiatric treatment, only for their car to break down one afternoon whilst driving to the psych ward, leaving them stranded in a quickly-darkening woods. In typical horror fashion, Ellen is advised to stay behind while William leaves to find help, but she is soon attacked by a familiar-looking horned figure who is now more than a little stabby and hellbent on killing her, as well as anybody else who got in the way. (i.e. two young couples at a cabin nearby who made a fatal mistake of meddling with the Nightmare Man's affairs!)

In all seriousness, Nightmare Man should have been a terrible movie; it has that obvious low-budget shot-on-video look to it and the acting varies from passable to wooden, with lead actress Blythe Metz as Ellen and scream queen Tiffany Shepis co-starring as Mia, a crossbow-totting lingerie-wearing secondary final girl, being two of the more tolerable casts despite some often laughable delivery and hammy lacklustre value of their script. From what I've read, said script was apparently just written in seven days and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case as the characters are one to one-and-a-half dimensional at best, even if there were attempts to flesh them out.

And yet, here I am absolutely loving the heck out of this film for it's energetic execution of a campy supernatural slasher hybrid, somehow surpassing most of its budget restraints. In the majority of its run, Nightmare Man's a backwoods slasher and one that is done mostly right with it's simplistic yet cool premise, decent-looking masked psycho who may or may not be the same ghoulish figure haunting our paranoid lead, and a few fair looking stalk-and-stab set pieces. The slayings the killer commit, though, could have used a lot more variation, but that was easily remedied by the half-and-half expected/unexpected supernatural twists that involves possessions and, in turn, a much more delirious and gorier set of killings perpetrated by a demon.

This hodge-podging and curve-balling may leave Nightmare Man's tone (and sub-genre) all over the place, but I find it somewhat fitting to its low budget production quality, giving the movie a bit of a carefree throwback vibe to late 80s and early 90s mozzarella-scented do-it-yourself horror flicks. It's nothing groundbreaking for that matter, not with all of the wave of throwback horror films nowadays, but this doesn't make Nightmare Man any less of an incredibly enjoyable movie for fellow cheesy horror lovers and forgiving/adventurous slasher fanatics!

1 male pinned to a tree with a crossbow
1 female knifed through the jaw
1 male shot to death with a crossbow
1 male strangled, thrown mangled to a car
1 male clawed through the chest, heart crushed
1 female gets a horned mask stabbed unto her face, head pulped with a rock

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