Madman (1982)
By: CJ on February 5, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Anchor Bay (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 88 minutes
The Movie
Director: Joe Giannone
Starring: Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish, Jan Claire, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Alex Murphy
Screenplay: Joe Giannone, Gary Sales
Music: Stephen Horelick
Tagline: They thought they were alone.
Country: USA
At one time Anchor Bay were one of the few DVD companies dedicated to servicing the needs of horror fans the world over. These days they are less of a force and genre fans have to look elsewhere for their horror fix. But at the height of their popularity, Anchor Bay regularly served up tasty treats for the discerning (and not so discerning) horror fan. One of these releases was the cult-ish Madman. Madman was a somewhat little known slasher movie at the time and marked the directorial debut of Joe Giannone – but is it any good? Read on, dear reader…

The film opens with the counsellors and kids of a summer camp sat around a campfire telling scary stories. The camp leader finishes off by telling the tale of Madman Marz, a backwoodsman who one day went crazy and took an axe to his family. The camp leader claims that he used to live in the old house deep in the woods near where they're sat and at the close of the story he warns that no-one must call out his name or else he'll come and brutally slay them. One of the younger counsellors, Richie, immediately jumps to his feet and foolishly starts shouting his name.

With the campfire over, the counsellors, with kids in tow, head back to their woodland lodgings. But on their way back, Richie spots a shadowy figure in the trees. He hangs back and determines to follow this spectre, following him through the woods....and so the nightmare begins.

The film then moves into familiar slasher territory filled with gruesome teen slayings and the usual shocks with Madman Marz bumping-off the counsellors one-by-one. There are some nice gory set-pieces, which are pulled-off quite effectively, and the whole film has a great creepy atmosphere about it. There is some particularly effective lighting in the night time sequences, which really gives the impression of the film having a bigger budget than it actually has. It's also nice to see Gaylen Ross (of Dawn of the Dead fame) making an appearance too, which adds to the cult value. All things considered, this is an above-average stalk-and-slasher movie and you could do worse than spin this disc in your player. Better than I expected and highly recommended, particularly for fans of early eighties low-budget horror fare.
The image is nicely remastered and looks pretty good, although there are obvious signs of print image in places (scratches across the frame). But don't let this put you off, all-in-all it's a very good transfer especially considering the humble origins of the film. The blacks are solid throughout, colours remain stable, and the image is very sharp.
Although simple mono, the sound is clear and crisp and perfectly captures all the audio atmospherics of the film. For a mono audio track it's surprisingly good.
Extra Features
The disc isn't exactly bursting at the seams with special features but purchasers do get treated to a handful of TV spots and a theatrical trailer along with an audio commentary by key cast and crew members. The commentary is reasonably interesting as you get to learn about production difficulties, script rewriting, getting financed and shooting at night, all of which help the viewer to appreciate the film more. These guys obviously worked hard to bring this film to the screen and a worthy effort it is too.
The Verdict
Madman is an above-average slasher/horror film which deserves to be seen. Admittedly, it's obviously cashing-in on the success of Friday the 13th and follows a similar formula, but that doesn't mean that it's without merit. The night scenes are brilliantly lit and the death scenes are handled very well and show innovation and imagination. It's definitely worth a look in my opinion.
Movie Score
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