Different people reaped different rewards from the series of unfortunate events that befell John Wayne Bobbitt and his penis. Tabloids nabbed a juicy story and two ready-made "stars" in Bobbitt and his ex-wife. Late-night talk-show hosts and third-rate stand-up comedians received a bottomless reservoir of quips. Bobbitt stumbled into a depressingly predictable career as an unlikely porn star and all-around D-grade pseudo-celebrity. And most perversely, the makers of the abominable Nowhere Man received a story they could use to explore issues of race, gender, sexuality, and identity.
Granted, Nowhere Man makes a few half-hearted stabs at humor, but for the most part, it plays its sniggering dirty joke of a plot straight. Director Tim McCann somehow expects audiences to genuinely feel for the film's psychotic, rapist protagonist when he sobs as he urinates through a tube in a public restroom. Nowhere Man's plot pivots around pornography, castration, rape, a 13-inch member, and a frantic attempt to retrieve a cruelly severed penis, but the actors and director attack the material with the intensity of a John Cassavetes psychodrama. Shot on the cheap, the film casts Michael Rodrick as a ticking time bomb who goes ballistic when he finds out that fiancée Debbie Rochon has a hidden past in adult films. In a fit of rage, he rapes her, leading her to cut off his offending organ and hold it hostage.
The premise flirts with some provocative notions, particularly regarding race and sex, but its rancid little mind seems utterly unequipped to deal with them in a smart or even coherent fashion. Cheap and ugly in every sense—morally, cinematically, creatively—Nowhere Man accomplishes the seemingly impossible by dragging the seedy revenge genre to a horrific new nadir. It might be the only film in history in which a cameo by Troma kingpin Lloyd Kaufman actually increases its overall class content.