Nightmare Man


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Nightmare Man was one of the eight films in the After Dark Horrorfest 2 in November of 2007. If you aren't familiar with the concept, it's basically a wide-release film festival in which a slate of low budget indie horror films is released as a package to be run nationwide during a single week. The films run in rotation, and tickets may be purchased for individual films or for the entire line-up. The first Horrorfest was held in 2006 in 488 theaters and the gross ($2.5 million) was sufficient to spur the development of a second group for 2007. The second assortment was, according to most genre experts, a better collection of films, but did not enjoy anywhere near the same financial success. The distributors were able to place round two in only 323 theaters, and the promotion grossed only about a third as much as it had the previous year, leaving the project's future uncertain.

This particular film begins with a man transporting his wife to a mental institution. Ever since she ordered an African fertility mask to spice up her sex life, she has been haunted by dreams of a powerful being wearing that mask - the titular Nightmare Man. She insists that the dreams are not dreams at all, which has earned her an all-expense-paid trip to the booby hatch.

As the couple approaches their destination, their car breaks down on a remote part of a rural road, and the husband starts out on a ten mile hike to the nearest gas station while the terrified wife waits in the car with the doors locked. Night falls and Nightmare Guy shows up to terrorize her. She manages to elude his grasp and makes her way to a remote cabin where four young adults are engaged in dinner, drinking and sexy games. At first, based upon their cell phone conversations with the husband, the people in the lodge refuse to believe that Nightmare Guy is real, but when the first of them dies a violent death, they soon change their minds. As the Nightmare Dude picks them off one by one, the police and the husband make their way to the cabin ...

Despite a sub-5 rating at IMDb, Nightmare Man is not a bad little film at all. It is a horror film in the 1980s style, with some grisly deaths, some scares, some humor, some softcore titillation, some interesting plot twists, and some nudity. If you will remember, the original Friday the 13th could be described in about the same terms. Like that film, Nightmare Man offers a logical and a supernatural explanation back-to-back. Most people have forgotten that the actual killer in the first Friday 13th film turned out to be Jason's mother, who was just a crazy mortal assuming the identity of her dead son. But then, just when everything seemed to have a perfectly logical explanation, the real Jason turned up as the November surprise. Nightmare Man has a similar type of approach.

I found only one major problem with it. The success of the premise in the early part of the film hinges upon our not knowing for quite some time whether Nightmare Individual is a human killer, a supernatural entity, or a figment of the woman's imagination. The answer to that mystery is all too evident all too early, when Nightmare Fellow chases the lead actress through the woods and catches her twice, only to be foiled by a knee to the crotch or a bite on the hand. In fact, she even manages to take his knife from him at one point. These scenes demonstrate that Nightie is obviously not imaginary, and obviously a very vulnerable human rather than a supernatural force. At least I assume that one cannot stop Beelzebub, for example, with a kick in the nuts, but I'm no theologian, so I could be wrong on that issue. When Nightmare Chap's vulnerability becomes evident, the mystery/thriller element of the story loses a lot of its momentum. Since he is established as a normal human who found her car, and since no human could possibly have known the precise place where her car broke down except her husband, it is obvious at that point that the killer must either be her husband or somebody in league with him. Since she is wrestling with him and does not recognize his smell or feel, it is probably a confederate rather than the husband himself. That all happened early in the film, and the script probably should have done a better job at keeping those secrets.

Having made that point, I'd add that there are more secrets which are not spoiled until the proper moments, and that 80s-style horror films are really not about the plot, but the guilty pleasures, which this film delivers quite effectively. The editing is good enough to deliver the "boo" scares, and genre staple Tiffany Shepis delivers an effective, sexy performance as one of the four people in the cabin, showing some acting chops (unlike the rest of the cast), a good amount of sexy flesh, and even some iconic genre-style bravado, whether acting as a topless, helpless victim of an overpowering violation or a bad-ass tough girl wielding a crossbow in her underwear.

The eight films on the eight-disc set (above right) are:

Crazy Eights
Lake Dead
Mulberry Street
Nightmare Man
The Deaths Of Ian Stone
Tooth & Nail


46 (of 100)


4.9 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. The eight films, as a package, grossed about $800,000 in about 300 theaters for one week.


  • Tiffany Shephis showed her breasts and buns, and performed quite a lengthy topless scene in which she is raped by an invisible demon.
  • Blythe Metz also showed her breasts and buns, but only momentarily.



Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Solid genre fare.