Horror, Slasher

Madman (1982)

Comments Off on Madman (1982) 08 August 2015

Madman blu ray

Studio: Vinegar Syndrome

Theatrical Release: January 1, 1982

Blu Ray Release: May 26, 2015

Director: Joe Giannone


Review by James Klein

Theaters in the early 1980’s were flooded by low budget slasher films, capitalizing on the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th. One of the lesser known slasher films, Madman, that was released in the winter of 1982 and quickly forgotten has been given the ultimate respect thanks to this fantastic blu ray release by Vinegar Syndrome.

Madman starts off with a group of twenty years olds at what may be either a camp or a school (it’s never quite clear) sitting around a camp fire telling ghost stories. One of the stories is the legend of Madman Marz, a mean farmer who one day flips his marbles and kills his wife and two kids with an axe who is eventually lynched and left to die in the woods, hanging in a tree until the next morning where not only his body but his dead family’s bodies have all disappeared. I only wish the movie would have showed more of this tale or that the the film was about Madman Marz leading up to this killing. The opening sets the mood and builds a fairly decent spooky atmosphere.

MadmanOnce the tale is over, one of the younger teens Ritchie openly mocks the tale and calls out his name which if said more than three times, Madman Marz will come out and take his revenge. Well this dumb shit does just that. As they leave the camp fire, Ritchie strays away from the group and stumbles upon the old, dilapidated home of the madman. What I found different about this slasher film was that one would think Ritchie was a goner within minutes of his juvenile outburst but he remains alive throughout the film, searching through the house and the woods, almost as if in a trance searching for Madman Marz. Again, I wish the film would have centered on this subplot.

RitchieBut no, the film decides to go back to this camp where our young friends get knocked off one by one by Madman Marz with his axe. And this is where the problem lies; the film is just boring and by 1982 the slasher film has already seen the likes of Maniac, Friday the 13th parts 1 and 2, Halloween 1 and 2, The Burning, The Prowler, Mother’s Day, do I need to go on? Each of these films was gorier, scarier, and more quick paced than Madman. While the kills are somewhat decent, they are too few and far between with a few that happen off screen. Off screen kills in a slasher film is like watching an adult film without the “climax” money shot.

Madman MarzBlame is given to director Joe Giannone (his only film as a director) as he lingers on shots way too long and seems to enjoy shooting lots of footage of people in hot tubs more than shooting kill scenes. Maybe the low budget was also to blame for not showing the viewer some of the graphic violence that is almost mandatory in a slasher film. Well if you can’t give the viewer the gore and violence, how about some tits? Aside from a quick glimpse of some milkers, the nudity in Madman is lacking as well.

Madman's houseThe only name actor in the film is actress Gaylen Ross, best known for Dawn of the Dead. While I enjoyed her performance in Dawn, Ms. Ross looks bored to death in Madman. The rest of the amateur cast is made up of New York actors whose accents remain somewhat thick in certain sequences to the point where it is almost laughable. Frederick Neumann who played Max was fairly decent as the storyteller to the Madman Marz legend. While he hams it up a little, anytime he’s on screen the film picked up and was at least entertaining.

Gaylen RossNow on to the blu ray…holy shit! Vinegar went hog wild with special features on a film that I found mediocre at best. There are two commentary tracks, the best being the one with Paul Ehlers who proudly played Madman Marz, producer Gary Sales and Tony Fish who played T.P. They discuss everything from the making of the film, the fact that their film was going to be about the Cropsy legend until they found out The Burning was already being filmed, they wanted to cast Vincent Price as Max, the commentary is well worth the listen and more enjoyable than watching the actual film.

Vinegar Syndrome MadmanThere is a recent featurette with Sales, Ehlers and Jimmy Steele who played Ritchie discussing the making of the film (some stories are repeated in the commentary track), a featurette on the music, a featurette on the actors and the director who have since passed away, a TV spot and a trailer, and an overlong documentary that clocks in at over 90 minutes centering not only just the making of the film but also the cult fan base that has spawned since the film was released. While I normally love documentaries on the making of that particular film, once it starts centering on huge nerds showing off their collectables, I instantly lose interest.

Madman deathThe picture quality of this blu ray is stellar. I was stunned at how good this looked with the colors bright and clear yet the film grain remaining intact throughout. Maybe because the last time I saw this film was on VHS years and years ago, I was shocked at how good this picture looked. The audio is fine but there were moments I did have to raise the volume to hear what some of the actors were saying. Still, a very minor complaint.

Madman axeMadman isn’t the best of the slasher films nor is it the worst. It’s a film that has a strange cult following which I cannot figure out so maybe this flick is worth searching ou and I just don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. If anything, seek out this transfer as this blu ray is pretty awesome.

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★★½


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