For the best of the Horror/Cult/Exploitation film experience
S&Man (2006) - (Blu-ray)
Over the years I’ve managed to see all types of documentaries about extreme cinema. From films examining if snuff films exist to documentaries about the adult film industry they have been everywhere and are usually pretty interesting. I remember hearing about “S&Man” years ago but I apparently got my wires crossed up as I didn’t even realize it was a documentary. That is until after I watched it and realized I just watched something that had more in common with the slight of hand that a magician does than it does with underground cinema. More on that in a moment but “S&Man” is an extremely interesting project even if it isn’t what it seems.
“S&Man” is a “documentary” that is examining the world of underground horror. This means looking at the filmmakers behind the films themselves, talking to actors, and a few other people that are on the fringe. What comes from this is an interesting and unique look at these types of films and the people that make them.
I’m going to try and be spoiler free here the best I can but it might be difficult when discussing certain points of the film. So reader be warned. First off the film looks at real life filmmakers such as Fred Vogel (August Underground series, The Redsin Tower, Murder Collection Vol 1), Bill Zebub (Assmonster, Kill the Scream Queen, Night of the Pumpkin) and one specific filmmaker by the name of Eric Rost (who isn’t a real life filmmaker at all or at least he doesn’t make films called S&Man and sell them at the Chiller convention in New Jersey as they show in the movie) who is one disturbed individual.....or so it seems.
First off let me start by saying that “S&Man” is a really interesting film that I’m very happy that I had the chance to see. But I wasn’t born yesterday and thought I was in the process of witnessing a ruse. See I’ve never been to Chiller which is a convention that happens in New Jersey twice a year. But I know a lot of people that are regular attendees of the show. But seeing the show featured in this film kind of surprised me, but it definitely got my attention. The filmmaker JT Petty was making the point of showing that fake “snuff” films are made and distributed by filmmakers and companies alike, but some people make and distribute their own films (which is common practice to see at any horror convention. It’s a good way for z-grade filmmakers to get out their product to hardcore fans). So you never really know who you are getting these movies from and who would know if someone was an extremely disturbed individual actually living out fantasies in their films. Or even worse, what if you were watching something that was real?
The film then shows directors like Fred Vogel and Bill Zebub talking about their movies and the people that they make them with. Only when they talk with Eric Rost do they seem to get an uneasy feeling. See Eric makes a film series called S&Man that features women getting stalked and killed in an extremely creepy manner. Petty starts to question the methods of how Eric makes his films and it seems that the documentary crew are starting to show the man breaking down trying to cover everything up. But let me tell you something here that caught my attention. As a film reviewer I have dealt with plenty of film companies over the years, I actually know Fred Vogel, and I had never heard of the S&Man series. I deal with z-grade filmmakers all of the time and it had never even been brought up. Considering what they show of the S&Man series in the doc, I KNOW for certain that these films would have crossed my path at one time or another, so I decided to hit the net thinking that something had to give. My initial thoughts were right as I read that Eric Rost is actually an actor played by Erik Marcisak and does a really good job here. But let it be known that part of the film isn’t the truth. But it still manages to be thought provoking and an intelligent discussion of pseudo snuff films and even the look at low budget filmmaking.
Something that this deserves credit for is the creation of the idea of the actual S&Man series. When you watch this “documentary” you’ll see what I mean as the actual S&Man series itself is one of the creepiest things you’ll ever see. There is one full episode of the series as a special feature on the Blu-ray and several of the trailers for the rest of the series are on there as well. I don’t know if it’s what is portrayed in the series or if it’s the overall mood that this film gives the “filmmaker” but it’s still something unsettling and interesting.
Overall I was pretty amazed at what “S&Man” was all about as I had never really seen anything like it. It’s one half documentary and other half mockumentary which is pretty cool. Of course I’m sure some people will be fooled by this one but I wasn’t and it still managed to be a really good viewing experience that I actually look forward to checking out at another time with the commentary tracks. I highly recommend this one as it’s definitely going to be something that you really haven’t seen before. It’s a cool film either way and I was happy that it at least gave guys who are real filmmakers like Fred Vogel and Bill Zebub some shine that they very much deserve.
Rating - ***½
Blu-ray Rating - ***