It's not entirely clear whether helmer JT Petty is being deadly serious or perversely cheeky -- or both -- in "S&Man," an uncomfortably close look at underground horror movies that depict rape, mutilation and murder far more graphically, and gleefully, than the most extreme Hollywood product.

It’s not entirely clear whether helmer JT Petty is being deadly serious or perversely cheeky — or both — in “S&Man,” an uncomfortably close look at underground horror movies that depict rape, mutilation and murder far more graphically, and gleefully, than the most extreme Hollywood product. (Title is pronounced “Sandman.”) Squeamish auds will rush to avoid, but provocative pic could scare up a cult following on the midnight screening circuit.

Scholars and psychologists sporadically offer disapproving comments about the disreputable subgenre. But Petty devotes the majority of the pic to interviews with the folks responsible for such sordid vidpix as “Kill the Scream Queen” and “Jesus Christ: Serial Rapist.” (Noting the abundance of nudity, torture and bloody mayhem in his latest opus, a director proudly notes: “This movie’s not getting into Best Buy.”) Creepiest scenes involve encounters with Erik Rost, a moody auteur whose “S&Man” pics may be genuine snuff movies. During the closing credits, however, there’s an odd disclaimer that teasingly suggests viewers shouldn’t believe everything they see in this putative docu.

S&Man

Production

An HDNet Films production in association with Circle of Confusion. Produced by JT Petty, Lawrence Mattis, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente. Executive producers, Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner. Directed by JT Petty.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Patrick McGraw; editor, Andy Grieve; music, On Filmore. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, March 26, 2006. (In SXSW Film Festival -- Round Midnight.) Running time: 86 MIN.
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