Watch Out! EVIL is Coming for Your Dysfunctional Family! “The Bloody Man” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / Blu-ray)

Better Behave or “The Bloody Man” Will Get You!  On Blu-ray at

Set in the 1980s, Sam doesn’t cope well with life without his recently deceased beloved mother.  Getting along with his new stepmother proves to be challenging at best, his older brother continues to disregard him as an insignificant pest, his little sister gets under his skin in playing with his action figures without consent, and the school bully makes his life that much more difficult.  The young boy’s unhappiness spurs him into desperate measures by reciting a spell passage on the back of his favorite comic book, hoping the passage truthful to conjure up his deepest desire – to bring his mother back from the dead and fix a broken family.  The passage instead summons a demon, the Bloody Man, who seeks to rip fractured family apart even farther until their eventual dissolve and demise.  Able to possess and take shape of his stepmother, Sam must reunite his family in order to save not only his siblings but also his stepmother from fragmenting into nothingness and death at the hands of a demented demon trickster.

An homage to all things 1980s, “The Bloody Man” is a modern-day resemblance of one the more recent golden ages of cinema with a synth-laden soundtrack, all the popular play toy trinkets and new wave styles of the era, and a magazine loaded millimeter film stock shot in attempt to remove as much of the digital aerodynamics as possible in contemporary times.  Daniel Benedict, the director of the Halloween-themed slasher “Bunni” involving a sexy, leather-cladded, fishnet stockings wearing costume killer with bunny ears, takes a step back from extreme slashers and hops into more family-oriented terror with the protagonist heroes being kids stepping up against the forces of evil, think of films like “The Gate” or “Ernest Scarred Stupid.”  Not as slapstick as the “Ernest” droll-troll paragon of ritualized Halloween movie lineups, this crowdfunded project can be a little more vicious in delivering on the lines of the same heartwarming message that instilled into us from the Jim Varney 30-years-ago, that love is key in overcoming darkness.  Benedict pens and helms the 2020 production with wife Casi Clark, aka Casi Benedict, co-writing a script that loosely pulls in and indirectly references Benedicts’ collaborated efforts on a He-Man inspired fan made short “Fall of Grayskull” into their boogieman story.  The Benedicts’ production company Red Serial Films confects the film into fruition with Mercedez Varble, Jason L. Watson, Garrett M. Johnson, and Rihannon Crothers producing. 

Despite not having top bill on the film, David Daniel leads us through the angsty complications of a new family dynamic as well as being the centric force of rebuilding a crumbling household as the middle child, feeling every bit like the world is against him, Sam Harris.  Daniels debut feature and leading role depicts well the internal argumentative aspects of having to go along with a life-forming change no child should ever go through, the death of a mother, and that sends him and his family careening toward dissolution despite his cheerful father’s overly confident optimism.  The top bills go to a pair of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” alum who both play mother to Sam.  Lisa Wilcox (“A Nightmare on Elm Street:  The Dream Master” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street:  The Dream Child”) and Tuesday Knight (“A Nightmare on Elm Street:  The Dream Master”) switch back-and-forth, between flashback-and-present, Sam’s biological mother and his new, soon to be, stepmother.  Surely, it comes to reason that the Wilcox and Knight names not only provide a couple of “The Bloody Man” selling points for die hard Freddy Kruger acolytes but could also be seen as an homage to the Robert Englund franchise with a similar living between two planes of existence nightmare antagonists hunting down a house full of kids, using unhappiness as a vessel rather than dreams.  Though not scarred by full body burns, wielding a finger bladed glove, and sporting a dirty striped sweater and fedora, the Bloody Man has his own characteristics being a black magic sorcerer.  Dressed traditionally in a snug black Chinese robe and blood running down his wild eyed face, Nicholas Redd enlivens the Bloody Man on a playfully perturbing level but the script doesn’t allow Redd to deliver the Bloody Man’s full potential while also not cutting the villain fully into the fold until the nearly last act.  Instead, the Bloody Man is reduced to a few here-and-there appearances, some one-liners, with half of the character’s screen time awarded to Tuesday Knight in a duality role as the Bloody Man uses the caregiver’s looks to draw in the Harris children.  Redd has promising lunacy that’s sorely underutilized in more ways than one and in so much so, the film itself shouldn’t be titled after the character.  “The Bloody Man” remaining cast includes Sam Hadden, Olivia Sanders, Jeremy Carr (“Calm Before”), Dominick Wilkins (“6 Feet Below Hell”), Dan Eardley (“Retro Freaks”), KateLynn E. Newberry (“O9en Up”), and Ellie Parker (“Bones and All”).

I’m all for a quasi-kid friendly horror of the same antithetical vein as “Monster Squad” or “Gremlins” where the subject matter borders the edge of being too risky, eking above the terror threshold for children who would be roughly the same age as the story’s principal leads battling for the very reconciliation of family before the Bloody Man kills them.  “The Bloody Man” lurks under the veil of being lighthearted in contrast to the brushing scenes of severed, sentient arms, blood streaking down various maniacal faces, a mildly gruesome decapitation, and moments of good ‘ole fashion terror that may induce nightmares for anyone under the age of 12.  A child’s lack of sleep because they’re waking up with fright-filled sweats will for sure not provide parents any favors, but Benedict skirts a fair amount of gore and does imply the significant damage and death offscreen almost as to shelter general audiences’ eyes for a broader invitation to watch the movie and, as mentioned previously, the titular bad guy doesn’t make an appearance until much later in the story that has been setup comically with a wrestling fanatic principal, Perry’s godawful verbal teasing, and a lot of 80’s inspired shots that nailed the decade’s analog paint job – a silver lining against the night terrors.  Honestly, the third act also drags out the culmination of events.  For such a small house, the Bloody Man chasing the Harris kids might as well taken place in a labyrinthine mansion, but the ground level with basement rancher slows down the hide-and-seek or maybe the Bloody Man is just really bad at childish game as the kids could stay in rooms for extended periods of time, even playing pretend with toys at one point, and in not once instance, does the Bloody Man bust in to snatch up a tyke to terminate.  Where “The Bloody Man” also struggles is buttoning up the summoning of the soulless sorcerer who’s conjured up by a mere passage reading off the back of Sam’s favorite Barbarian Man comic books.  The comic, which is introduced as a fairly over-the-counter object, holds this mystical darkness that must be conjoined with a family’s spiraling.  Yet, the story contradicts itself as the Bloody Man pursues another broken home that didn’t warrant the reading of the comic’s back cover passage, creating some confusion on how the cruel chaser of disconcerted children operates on a phantasmic plane.

As far as 80’s-inspired films go, “The Bloody Man” can run with the best of them, even with Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” and Wild Eye Releasing sees fit to drop a special edition Blu-ray of the Daniel Benedict comedic chiller.  The AVC encoded, high-definition 1080p, BD25 is presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  What makes the film feel decade authentic and that can suck you into it’s existence is Benedict’s decision to shoot either in 35mm or with a 35mm digital overlay that has characteristic dust speckles and a fine grain.  Image quality remain at a consistent color and black levels with a few flare ups of compression artefact issues, such as splotches in darker scenes, in squeezing this long runtime film onto a BD25 along with an atypical accompaniment of Wild Eye Release robust extras.  The bitrate does have large swings from lower teens to upwards of high 20s Mbps.  Yet, details generally come through with enough depth to create visual spacing between objects.  The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo renders adequate for a narrative that doesn’t have a ton of range with an intimately tight story surrounding Sam and his siblings but is complimented greatly by Johnathan Fan Octo Evans retro-synth soundtrack with an oscillating pulse and a crescendo of tension, solidifying even more the 80’s inspiration. English subtitles are optionally available. The special features include a director’s commentary with Daniel Benedict, a gag-blooper reel, a local newscast behind-the-scenes segment, various promotional videos from Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Barbarian Man toys, an emulated One to Grown On based PSA show from the 80s, and a Showbox promo with the original trailer bringing up the tail. One last bonus scene is also at the end of the credits so stay to the very end. The physical features include a clear Blu-ray snapper case with latch that houses glow lit Harris kids geared up to tackle the looming Bloody Man, or that is my assumption of who that is on the front cover as that figure looks nothing like the Bloody Man on screen. A more true-to-form Bloody Man is on the cardboard slipcover in another retro illustrated, compositional mockup with a similar layout as the actual Blu-ray front cover. Inside the snapper case, the reverse front cover has a still image from the movie, typical of many Wild Eye Releases, a folded one-sheet with the additions of Tuesday Knight and Lisa Wilcox amongst the child leads, and a disc art pressed with the unknown version of Bloody Man. The region free release comes not rated and has an excessive runtime of 133 minutes, contributing to the pacing issues of the last act. “The Bloody Man” doesn’t exactly live up to the moniker in this tame throwback but what the film has is a mighty nostalgia that brings back feelings of a superlative horror age that was once, and still is, goosebump arousing.

Better Behave or “The Bloody Man” Will Get You!  On Blu-ray at

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