S&Man - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

S&Man Reviews

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½ January 10, 2016
160110: Held nothing for me other than the hope it was a scary movie. It wasn't. It's a documentary, literally; not as described on the back of the box. And a poor one at that. Perhaps if you held some interest in this type of film making, super low budget horror. Into the garage sale pile.
½ December 11, 2015
Part documentary, part faux documentary, part scripted fiction, this movie takes you on a pretty disturbing and graphic ride. It's not for everyone, but it is fascinating and effective.
January 24, 2015
Loved it. I am a huge horror fan, but not into the shock-for-the-sake-of-shock school of 'disturbing gore-porn' horror. In fact, I didn't enjoy Soft for Digging at all. I only say that to underscore how much I did enjoy this film. Petty takes a creative look at voyeurism and really challenges rational suspension of disbelief. I almost felt that my enjoyment was self-indictment: kind of a 'Funny Games' guilt-trip, lessened by the knowledge that I knew I was watching fiction.

True story: I've shown the film to three friends since. I'd discreetly sold each on the idea that we were going to watch a true documentary 'gone wrong.' Each was absolutely terrified by the film. It was interesting to watch, and it made me wish I'd seen it devoid of any a priori plot-knowledge. I don't know how much less effective, if at all, the film is with the knowledge of its twist. I do know that I've yet to suggest the film to someone who didn't watch and then report that they'd enjoyed it. To me that's the true measure of a film in any genre.

Notes:

1. J.T Petty is an extremely likeable presence narrating the film.

2. August Mordum (and his grandma story): pleasant and engaging. Wow.

3. Still not convinced Erik Marcisak is not a purveyor of snuff films.

4. Erik Marcisak was excellent: believable and fun to watch.

5. Do not show this movie to a girlfriend, then hide behind a door with a water-dampened rag and pretend to chloroform her when she exits the bathroom- followed by hysterical laughing at her terrified reaction. That may not have caused us to break up, but it couldn't have helped either. Sorry Amy!

6. Theory: the ampersand (&) in the title hurt this one's chances at achieving more notoriety and a bigger cult following.

Thanks for reading...and enjoy the film! -E
November 6, 2013
Creepy and entertaining with a great performance (I guess it had to be a performance, right?) by Eric (the S&Man).
September 22, 2013
Critics are insane these days is all I can say about the fact this film has an 82%. It takes little more than being "different". This film barely tells a story other than attempting to pull a Blair Witch on its audience by somehow convincing part if it that they are truly watching a snuff film director kill people. But for me I wasn't convinced of that nor that anything else being said had any point.
½ October 15, 2012
S&Man (pronounced "Sandman") looks at low budget slasher films, pseudo-snuff films, voyeurism, etc. It explores the conflict for the viewers of those films: On one hand, they want to suspend disbelief and pretend that the film is "real". On the other hand, they want to know that the films are just movies and are "safe" to watch and enjoy. Form follows function in this film which is part documentary, part pseudo-documentary. It is a spiritual cousin to Orson Wells' "F if for Fake" in that the structure of the film itself carries part of the message.
½ October 11, 2012
Presented as something of a faux documentary looking at the people who produce extreme gore titles for the horror community, this one goes into interesting directions when it runs across a quiet, unassuming guy who has his own series of 'films' that are essentially him stalking and killing random women, and as the filmmakers delve further into things, they begin to seem disturbingly real.

Well worth a look for the meta-horror feel of it all.
½ May 15, 2012
When cult-favourite horror filmmaker JT Petty ventures into the dark world of underground horror, things don't exactly go as planned. As he begins to examine the classic comparison between filmmaking and voyeurism within the horror genre, he uncovers a collective of filmmakers, deviants, and self-professed possible murderers. The most notorious underground film series he discovers is called S&MAN, produced by the unassuming and creepy Eric Rost. The more Petty digs into his subject, the more Eric withdraws, claiming a desire to protect his "creative vision." But Petty begins to suspect that the real reason may be that Eric's "actors" are in fact "victims," placing the filmmaker in dangerous territory and making S&MAN the most unsettling horror experience in years.
½ May 4, 2012
Not sure how true certain elements of this documentary are, but it is still a very interesting look at the seedy underbelly of independent horror.
April 18, 2012
A pseudo-documentary & mildly executed tease. Is it about the individuals that make low-budget home/horror films? Is it a study in gender roles in genre films? Are these films low-budget horror or misogynistic soft-core porns? All in all, the documentary doesn't come off scary or informative, but more uninteresting and flat.
½ March 12, 2012
Whatever this movie was supposed to doâ" and I really don't know what that isâ" it did.
Very intelligent look at horror movies in general, focusing more on and analyzing fetish films, with a clever twist.
½ February 15, 2012
S&Man (J. T. Petty, 2006)

Note: while I'm sitting here writing a review, I'm going to start off by telling you not to read it. Tru fax. If you haven't yet seen this movie, and you have ANY interest in seeing it whatsoever, I will advise you as strongly as possible not to read anything at all about it before you watch it, because while nothing anyone says will be a "spoiler" in the way we know the term, knowing nothing at all about even the structure of this movie before you start will greatly increase your pleasure at the discovery of said structure. And given that there is really no way to talk about the film in any intelligent or meaningful way without discussing its structure...you get the point, I trust. Go watch the movie, THEN read the reviews.

Thus, insert another couple of lines of spoiler space. Seriously, I'm going to blow it for you with my very first sentence. So go watch the movie. Don't read this.

Okay, now that that's out of the way: in the eighties, the Chinese government wanted to bankroll a documentary about the then-still-secret(-and-officially-denied) hijinks got up to by the infamous Japanese military Unit 731. Problem was, back then there was so little solid evidence to go on (after all, since Unit 731 killed every Chinese national they came into contact with, pretty much, in order to cover their activities, doing non-fiction about them was pretty much impossible until they themselves started talking) that the director they hired, Shaw brothers exploitation specialist Tun Fei Mou, had a lot of conjecture and a bankroll. So he ended up making a new kind of mockumentary-one that wasn't meant as a comedy, but was meant to pass as a real documentary, or at least a real docudrama. The result, Man Behind the Sun, to this day ranks as one of the most over-the-top, extreme horror films of all time. More importantly, especially as relates to S&Man, it kicked off an entirely new subgenre of film, especially of horror film-the fictionalized documentary, which was brought to wordwide prominence a decade later with The Blair Witch Project (itself a knockoff of another American mocko, The Last Broadcast). S&Man takes us a little closer to the Man Behind the Sun roots of the subgenre, at least if Petty's voice-overs are to be believed; he started out with the idea of making a documentary about a peeping tom who lives in his neighborhood and how voyeurism relates to horror films. When the peeping tom refused to be on camera, Petty, like Mou, found himself with an idea and a bankroll. So he continued on with the documentary angle, but changed the focus somewhat, heading into the territory of the long-thought-mythical snuff film.

And even telling you that much is telling you too much about this movie, despite my not having gotten to the real "spoilery" bits. In fact, there's not a great deal I can say otherwise aside from telling you that Petty's interview subjects include Carol Clover (author of Men, Women, and Chain Saws, a look at the voyeurism-in-horror phenomenon), Fred Vogel, and Bill Zebub. (If you don't know those last two folks, this is probably not the movie for you.) There's some great footage of Bill at work, a great deal of solid interview footage with Vogel (who comes off a whole lot less creepy and a whole lot more frat boy than I would have ever guessed), and all kinds of other stuff that makes this well worth watching. But I can't give you the real skinny on why you want to watch this. That would be cheating. Let's just say Petty does some inventive things with the mocko genre that keep the veracity of the actual documentary footage intact while still managing to make this into something more than it would otherwise be. It's an inventive little film, and I quite liked it. *** 1/2
September 17, 2011
very strange movie not really what i thought it was going to be about.
July 4, 2011
Clever "documentary" about horror films that blurs the line between spectator and participant.
July 2, 2011
This is the most disturbing film I have ever seen. Why? Because it's a documentary about a man who makes snuff films. It's never proven that he does it, but it seems so obvious, even from the start, that he does. The way he talks about how he makes his movies, the way he avoids the subject and gives mixed and unsure answers. This is one deranged person, and we see his 'work' on film. Now its either that, or this man is just pretending to act insane with some diabolical plan to improve his own sales of his disgusting films, which I sincerely hope is the case.

Of course the idea of a snuff film is brilliant, as long as, of course, it isn't real. But by this point in time its overdone and lame. Some are made to be over the top and pornographic (for pure jerk-off purposes) while others are meant to disturb (with very violent, yet seemingly choreographed happenings). Then there are the (Sandman) S&Man's work, which is either so excellently put together that he's able to do all that stuff and make it appear so real, OR its that he really does kill people. And based on his constantly changing stories about how he finds 'actresses' and his lack of contact info distribution - and his pointing out that 'Blood looks so disappointing on video' - well.. it sort of seems like he really is a freaking killer. His personality and psychology seems to fit perfectly with that of a serial killer. And he's not the "American Psycho" type either. He's skilled in stalking, but when it comes to confronting others he seems to clearly have communication issues - like he had a rough childhood or something and just wants everyone to be his friend - which leads me to believe he really is a killer. It's very possible that his victims are still alive and well, but this documentary seems so convincing in its reasoning that I'm on the boat that believes he is indeed a killer. Also, think about it, snuff films being sold - all presumed to be fake - and a guy who kills people, films it, and then can sell these films and make it come across as fake. AND HE WON'T GIVE THE CONTACT INFORMATION FOR HIS VICTIMS. It's very unsettling stuff.

Okay, enough of that now. This is a very well made documentary that left me thinking for hours and hours. The concept is brilliant and the fact that they found such a wacko (S&Man) is just amazing on its own. The entire time you think that this S&Man guy is going to do something totally demonic to these filmmakers. It's unreal how creepy he is, and he comes across as a child in his seemingly-innocent smile and personality. But what kind of child is into snuff films?

Really the rest of the stuff the documentary is centered around isn't all that interesting, but this S&Man guy keeps the film going in a suspenseful and eerie direction. This documentary must have been scary to make, because it definitely was scary to watch.
June 27, 2011
Definitely not a documentary for everyone.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2011
7.4/10

Sometimes, I watch horror films to be entertained, and sometimes, I watch them to be disturbed, compelled, and shocked. Films such as "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" and Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" were not made to entertain. They were mean to feel like an emotional and horrific sucker punch to the face. If a film can disturb me whilst being smart, then that's good filmmaking. Bad filmmaking, in the horror genre, to me, is when someone can disturb you merely by showing; without telling. "S&Man", which is obviously just a stylized way to spell "Sandman", is a documentary that has done its homework on some of the nastiest and most horrific horror films/snuff films in history.

I don't like snuff films. I never will. I don't get pleasure out of watching anything that shows violence without a reason, or without substance. I suppose you can still be sane and enjoy these kinds of movies, but I have limited respect for those who laugh and make rude, piggish comments on films meant to provoke and disturb.

I liked "S&Man" because it is smarter than it probably needs to be. It knows quite a bit about the material it is talking about, and while the material and content shown is horrific and repulsive, the film has its reasons; and they are good ones. It's not an informative documentary, per se, but it makes commentary on the horror genre, and it is commentary that actually works.

The film is about the documenter and his crew diving deep into the world of horror filmmaking. There are some interviews with people who specialize in horror analysis; people that understand the genre as much as, say, a guy like me does. At its core, the movie really is about snuff films and underground horror. That is what it wants to be about; and that is the kind of movie that it is. I went in knowing that I could either feel dirty and dizzy upon viewing it, or I could absorb it and see it as intelligent filmmaking. It's a good movie, with a point (which basically stands as its story) that draws you in until the very end.

Look people. Don't expect to enjoy this movie. It's not meant to be enjoyed, and it is not presented in a way where you could look at it and say, "Hey. That was fun to watch!" You shouldn't think like that, but if you are a horror fan, then you may appreciate the stuff that this film says for the dark corners of the cinematic earth.

I guess when it all comes down to you deciding whether you actually want to watch this thing or not, you have to make a decision. Would you find these people sick on sight, or would you perhaps look at them for a while and then make your finale verdict? Can you sympathize for people who make snuff films for fun? I can't. I don't think they are good people; I don't think they are bad people. They are just human beings with the ability to enjoy things and acts that most cannot. If you can take "S&Man" for what it is, and without vomiting, then you're ready for it. I am recommending it because in fact, it's a smart movie. Not for everyone due to what it depicts, but it knows more than any other horror satire/documentary I've seen (from the modern era, and for quite some time, that is). If you are a smart movie-goer who likes smart horror films, then you will like this smart movie. It's as simple as that.
March 12, 2011
S&Man (pronounced "Sandman" but of course clearly meant to evoke S&M) is a fascinating documentary that blends fictional elements into its structure. The bulk of the film concerns the voyeuristic nature of horror cinema from classics like Peeping Tom and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to current underground cinema like the films of August Underground and Bill Zebub. Petty includes disgusting footage from these independent horror filmmakers that will undoubtedly shock those who are not accustomed to underground horror, but he legitimates the documentary by anchoring it in the history of the genre and featuring interviews with scholars like Carol Clover. While the documentary is a fascinating look into mindset of not just the horror fan and director but the culture that produces such seemingly despicable films, it also slowly and subtly carries out an truly interesting subversion of the documentary genre. While 90% of Petty's film is legit documentary, he also slowly begins to incorporate a fictional director who creates a series called S&Man. S&Man is a series that features women's names as titles--each episode is a POV experience of a woman being stalked, molested, and murdered. Of course, the film begins to develop the possibility that these are real snuff films--no real snuff film has ever been discovered in case you don't know. Petty doesn't quite develop the fictional components into anything truly compelling, but together with the fascinating documentary sections of S&Man they make this a must-see for fans of horror.
½ March 8, 2011
Very different and unexpected...but I feel it's mostly informative to those people that don't really know much about horror rather than the horror-fanatics. Which is kinda crappy...considering the ones that don't know much wouldn't bother watching this movie anyway. I dunno...it was a good attempt but kinda bored me after repeating the same thing over and over again.
½ February 8, 2011
When cult-favourite horror filmmaker JT Petty ventures into the dark world of underground horror, things don't exactly go as planned. As he begins to examine the classic comparison between filmmaking and voyeurism within the horror genre, he uncovers a collective of filmmakers, deviants, and self-professed possible murderers. The most notorious underground film series he discovers is called S&MAN, produced by the unassuming and creepy Eric Rost. The more Petty digs into his subject, the more Eric withdraws, claiming a desire to protect his "creative vision." But Petty begins to suspect that the real reason may be that Eric's "actors" are in fact "victims," placing the filmmaker in dangerous territory and making S&MAN the most unsettling horror experience in years.
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