One of the better body-count knockoffs in the wake of Friday the 13th's screaming success, Madman starts out in familiar territory: a summer camp. The legend of berserk farmer "Madman Marz" is told in a campfire prologue. ... more »"It is said if you say his name above a whisper in the woods, he will hear you... and he will come for you." Needless to say, some idiot cries his name out and a hulking killer in overalls and a wild fright wig arrives with mayhem on his mind. He hacks his way through the camp counselors, lynching, chopping, beheading, and in general making a meat market of the twentysomethings. Director Joe Giannone executes it all with a little style and creativity, borrowing ideas from better-known productions: the ghost-story spookiness of John Carpenter's The Fog, a minimalist synthesizer score reminiscent of Halloween, a few nods to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and plenty of Friday the 13th-inspired stalk and slash. The film's only real weaknesses are its competent-at-best performances, but the effects are fine and the clichés are tweaked just enough to keep the audience guessing. The DVD features commentary by director Giannone, producer Gary Sales, and stars Tony Fish and Paul Ehlers, along with TV spots and a trailer. --Sean Axmaker« less
William M. Smith | Louisville, KY United States | 12/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not sure what attracted me to this movie, but whatever it was, I'm glad I checked it out. I've always been a fan of slasher flicks (maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was born in 1980, around the time the founding fathers of slasher flicks were releashed -- Halloween and Friday the 13th). The slasher genre is probably my favorite because there are so many films from which to work when reviewing a slasher.Madman takes place at a camp, complete with kids, teenage camp counselors, and the old guy who's supposed to be making sure the teenagers are watching the kids and not having sex with one another all of the time. The old guy's name is Max (Carl Fredericks) and we start out listening to one of his "campside stories." The story he spins for everybody is that of Madman Marz. A number of years ago, Max tells us, a farmer butchered his entire family and then went to the tavern for a beer. Although the town hanged him for his crimes, Marz escaped into the woods and was never heard from again. Max warns his camp not to say the name Madman Marz above a whisper or else they'll piss Marz off and he'll come to get them. At this point, your classic punk stands up and starts mocking the whole story, screaming out "Madman Marz!"The Max character is weird because he doesn't act like your typical old guy -- he doesn't mind the teens drinking beer, he doesn't mind scaring the hell out of the little kids, and he always seems to know more than he's letting on. I've wondered whether or not Max was actually Marz. By the end of the movie, I was still not convinced that he wasn't. Max and Marz were played by different actors, but could there be a secret in the storyline that link Max and Marz? There's also a few scenes that place Max too far away from camp to be Marz while all of the killings are taking place. You'll see this weirdness about Max that I'm talking about if you check this film out.The gory scenes in this movie are quite good. The killer uses an axe as his murder weapon, but we also see one of the teens' heads chopped off under the hood of a pickup truck. Pretty unique, huh? There are obvious similarities beyond the gore to Friday the 13th and Halloween. The music used throughout the film is the most obvious. Others include the "woods" and "camp" themes common in nearly all of the Friday movies. These similarities do not make Madman a "ripoff" -- Madman certainly has qualities that make it standout. For example, in the beginning of the movie, Marz is introduced to us as someone very human -- Max tells us that Marz goes to the tavern and drinks a beer after slaughtering his family. Can you imagine Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees sitting down for a beer after one of their kills ... Exactly!With all good slasher movies, there's the issue of the killer's face. In the beginning of the film, we see Marz in silhouette, revealing only his wild hair and large body. Eventually we see his face shot from several darkly lit and obscure angles. In fact, his face isn't "clearly" seen until near the end of the movie. And even then, it's shot from a moving camera looking up, a technique that has the tendency to conceal whatever it's filming.Another commonality in slasher films is the sparing of at least one of the teens. This way, someone gets to tell their story to the cops or whoever ends up coming to rescue the camp when it's all over. My guess was that Betsy (Alexis Dubin) would be spared because of her savior-like role. I won't tell you if my assumption turned out to be true, you'll have to find out for yourself. The actress who portrayed Betsy was credited in this film as Alexis Dubin, but she previously appeared in the horror classic Dawn of the Dead as Gaylen Ross. She does an excellent job portraying the smart one of the bunch, even though she makes a few stupid decisions here and there. If I had to pick a smart one, though, it would definitely be her!Without reservation I add Madman to my list of favorite 80's slasher movies. The DVD quality is excellent -- I only witnessed one scene in which the scream doesn't match up with the victim's mouth. This little error is forgivable considering the wonderful quality that's been preserved in this DVD. Check this one out, folks! Rating: 4 / 4.SMITH TALKS: The Future of Movie Reviews ...
More Good Early 80's Cheese!
Guido | NY United States | 10/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ah yes, the early 1980's were a glorious time for cheesy unoriginal horror films that seemed to come out every other week, looking to cash in on the huge success of "Friday The 13th"
Enter "Madman". This is a must see for fans of late 70's and early 80's slasher flicks! It's got that lost in the woods camera work that's absent in so many of today's horror movies.
Considered by some to be an unsung slasher classic, Madman Marz follows six counselors at a summer camp for gifted children. After hearing the legend of Madman Marz, the local maniac who slaughtered his family, who will supposedly appear if someone calls his name loudly enough. A young camper, indeed decides to tempt fate by yelling his name. Soon afterward the counselors, one by one, become victim to the Madman!
"Madman" has all the elements of the great early 80's cheese that fans of the genre appreciate. The awful acting, dated clothing and cheesy special effects that is expected from a movie made in 1982. Not an awful movie but one you'll most likely forget afterwards. Worth an evening for the avid early 80's slasher filck fans.
On a side note, the actors and actresses in this movie were the ugliest people I've ever seen in an early 80's slasher flick."
The forgotten cult classic
David Newton | Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa | 03/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The first time I saw Madman was on a bad quality VHS release from a South African backdoor video store. It scared me then and it still scares me now, twenty years later. This is a sound horror flick with creative art direction and cinematography. From homage to direct creative theft, this motion picture is a best-of compilation with the most effective cinema tricks beautifully orchestrated to create a truely horrific motion picture. The down side is the "pornographic" acting and very weak dialogue. The characters all seem a little like clubbed seals and by the end of the flick, you are cheering the villain for putting them out of their misery. In parrallel to the cult classics, bad acting never seems to hamper a film's success or bottom line- especially in the Horror genre. This is a DVD any self-respecting horror fan should own. I would have preferred a better remaster and possibly more special features. The sound quality is fair as is the picture. Hopefully the studio can get it together for a more impressive 25th Anniversary edition.. I'll buy both."
You have to be mad to watch this...
Franco Jesse | Pittsburgh, USA | 11/25/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"If a bunch of idiots are killed in the woods, does anyone hear them scream? Unlike other camp slasher movies that feature teenagers as the victims, under the assumption that anyone under the age of 20 is a complete moron, this one posits that older people don't have a lick of sense either. The first one goes in search of a missing kid, then another goes in search of that one, and another goes out to find that one, ad nauseum. Cliches abound, like the vehicle that won't start (twice), the axe coming from nowhere, the woman who trips and sprains her ankle while fleeing the killer. Everyone...moves...so...slowly. And for those with the patience of Job who sit through this mess, the ending, while different than expected, is rushed and completely dissatisfying. Take an hour and a half and go for a real walk in the woods. It would be more entertaining than this tripe."
Interesting bit of film history
Brian A. Schar | Menlo Park, CA United States | 10/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In many ways, the ur-slasher movie was John Carpenter's "Halloween", released in 1978 to become the biggest grossing independent movie in history to that date. "Halloween" is a classic, with a strong plot and great characters, and a movie that does not depend on raw gore to hold the audience's interest. Essentially, "Halloween" is a well-made movie that happens to include some blood.
Two years later, in 1980, the makers of "Friday the 13th" decided that audiences, particularly teen audiences, wanted to see blood and breasts, and made a movie that stripped out such surplusage as plot and character. "Friday the 13th" also debuted the "spam in a cabin" genre that became so popular in the 80s.
Two years after that, "Madman" appeared on the scene. In many ways, "Madman" is simply a derivative take on "Friday the 13th", as an early spam-in-a-cabin knockoff. Some gifted kids are out at a campfire at a retreat. In November. And it's obvious they've been there forever. Huh. Usually kids are in school in early November. The retreat features a ratio of staff to kids of over 1:1, which isn't hard when there are 5 kids. Seriously, there are just 5 kids at this retreat. How it stays in business is one of the mysteries of the ages. The inexplicably-British guy in charge tells an overly-Shakespearian story about a bad man named Madman Marz who just so happened to live in an abandoned house a literal stone's throw from the campfire. He killed his family in a fit of pique or something years ago, so he got strung up by the townsmen. If you say his name, he shows up and commences to killin'. So, of course one of the counselors challenges ol' Madman Marz to come out, and throws a rock at the abandoned house, smashing a window. Nice example. Of course, Madman Marz somehow survived the whole hanging business, and comes after the counselors one by one. As my wife points out, you get super monster powers by being evil and being hanged by the locals how? But you just have to roll with it.
"Madman" is clearly derivative and unoriginal. However, it still retains the creepiness of some of the early slasher films, by treating its material straight. And the characters, while not drawn with great precision, avoid falling into the later stereotypes (Fat Guy! Dumb Guy! Slut! Smart Chick! Preppie!) that bedeviled these movies. In addition, "Madman" doesn't exploit the tired sex = death cliche of the slasher genre. All of the ladies of Madman like to get busy, but Marz does not single any of them out for punishment as a result.
Whatever the merits of "Nightmare on Elm Street," when that movie came along, it introduced the wisecracking killer and slapped a jokey facade on the entire horror genre, a facade that only now is starting to crack. It could be argued that by the time of "Nightmare on Elm Street," the slasher genre had already become such a self-parody that it could only be played for laughs. Still, the jokey slasher movie removed even the pretense of horror from these films. "Madman" occupies a position on the great slasher timeline when these pictures started to become derivative of one another, but before the horror was eschewed entirely in favor of fancy effects and jokes. It's at least worth a rent if you like horror/slasher movies."