Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Madman (1982)

I have to confess that I had never heard of or seen this film before ... and now thanks to Arrow, I can rectify this. It's fairly obvious from the very start where this film's antecedents lie. It opens with a group around a camp fire, telling ghost stories ... and it's very like the opening to John Carpenter's The Fog (1980)... They talk about there being the ghost of a killer in a creepy house nearby who will appear if you say his name too loud and he will then come and chop you to pieces with his axe ... and that of course is exactly what happens. It's a bunch of kids too, all at a summer camp ... and of course this brings Friday The 13th (1980) to mind as well.  Add to this a sort-of supernatural, unknown killer who cannot be killed himself, and you also have John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) as well ...

So that's pretty much what you get here. The killer is Mad Man Murz, hence the title, and he's a hulking, brute of a man with the strength of over three men! He also has claws and hairy feet and swings an axe like there's no tomorrow.

The rest of the cast are basically forgettable cannon fodder, and of course have sex with each other and get chased and slaughtered. Mad Man Murz is keeping the bodies in the cellar (Psycho (1960)) of course, and we see a line of them from skeletal to most recent - he's been at this for some time! This is reminiscent of scenes in Death Line (AKA Raw Meat 1972), and he also hangs one girl up on a hook which goes right through her chest (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)) ... it's like the film makers decided to take their favourite bits from a whole host of 1970s and 1980s slasher horror films, and make a film of their own which included it all. The only thing missing are vampires and the living dead/zombies ...

On the plus side, it looks fabulous and is very nicely directed and shot. On the minus it's slow and drags interminably in places. There's a hilarious spa bath sequence which seems to go on forever where a boy and a girl sort of chase each other around the edge of the water ...

Another plus for me was the music, which, given the inspiration to the whole thing, you won't be surprised sounds like something John Carpenter might have come up with ... and typical of films of the time, there are no explanations. Why is Murz haunting this summer camp with his axe, where are the police, and how is he seemingly getting away with all this?

There are a host of extras here too, but I get the feeling coming away from it all that this might be the only film of worth that the writer/directors actually made, and that they are still hanging onto it, looking to do a remake or something ... Much better to take all that learning and make new things!  But checking IMDB this seems to be the only film ever directed by Joe Giannone, who died in 2006, It's also Gary Sales' only writing credit (for the story, with Giannone, and Giannone also wrote the screenplay), though he at least has gone on to be First AD on many other films.

Overall it's an interesting slice of 80's slasher film. Heavily influenced by other films around it, and very derivative. For a night out with beer though, it's probably a good fun film to enjoy with others.

  • Brand new 4K transfer from the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with director Joe Giannone, Madman stars Paul Ehlers and Tony Fish and producer Gary Sales
  • Audio Commentary by The Hysteria Continues
  • The Legend Still Lives! Thirty Years of Madman – a feature-length retrospective documentary on the slasher classic including interviews with various cast and crew
  • Madman: Alive at 35 – Sales, Ehlers and star Tom Candela look back at the making of Madman, 35 years after it was filmed
  • The Early Career of Gary Sales – the Madman producer discusses his career in the film industry
  • Convention interviews with Sales and Ehlers
  • Music Inspired by Madman – a selection of songs inspired by themovie, including the track ‘Escape From Hellview’ from former CKY frontman Deron Miller
  • In Memoriam – producer Sales pays tribute to the some of the film’s late cast and crew, including director Giannone and actor Tony Fish
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Stills & Artwork Gallery with commentary by Sales
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
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