Getting by on old school charm, Madman is a veritable checklist of slasher movie clichés.

For anyone who lived through/loved the craze in the early to mid 80s, you know exactly what to expect – gory campfire tales, some idiotic counselors, even more idiotic dialogue, a bit of sex, a hulking bad guy and some graphic kills.

Madman gives you all that (and a little bit more), and it’s that ‘little bit more’ that stops the film residing in the ‘watch if you have to’ bracket.

Set at a summer camp ‘for gifted children’, the film kicks off with said campfire scene, where the legend of Madman Marz is trotted out – a farmer who supposedly went nuts, grabbed an axe and butchered his family to death.

Marz is still said to live in the nearby woods, wreaking havoc if anyone dares to say his name out loud.

Naturally one of the counselor prats does just that, and before long our axe-wielding Madman is out and about, with a thirst for bloodshed.

That’s about it plot-wise, with the rest of the film basically a series of sequences of fools wandering off on their own (as you do) looking for the last person wandered off on their own and got swiftly slaughtered.

I say swiftly, but one of the strange things about Madman is just how drawn out some of the kills actually are – not drawn out in a torture style, but just taking forever to get to the pay-off.

One death sequence, which involves the victim climbing into a fridge in a bid to escape (yep, you read that right) takes FOREVER, and considering the victim was intensely annoying I was baying for Marz to get on with it.

There is some inventiveness to the kills though, so the film scores on that count, and the whole thing is very well filmed, looking a lot more ‘polished’ than films from this era normally do.

Writer/director Joe Giannone clearly knows what he is doing, and has also clearly seen many slasher movies (as the producers admit on the copious extras).

The cast are a real mixed bunch, with plenty of duff performances that in a strange way add to the low-rent experience.

Genre fans also get to see Dawn Of The Dead’s Gaylen Ross in ‘final girl’ mode (billed here as ‘Alexis Dubin – she hated the finished film), while Marz himself is a bizarre creation, looking as though he dropped off the set of ‘Bigfoot and the Hendersons’ (the Bigfoot part).

Throw in one of the most ridiculous sex scenes I have seen on film, along with an ending that does genuinely surprise, and Madman is a real mixed bag.

If you’ve never been a fan of the slasher formula, Madman is not the film to get you to change you rmind.

But if you love everything that the sub-genre represents then you’ll find plenty to savour.

 

EXTRAS: A feature-length documentary, a handful of featurettes, audio commentaries, stills, trailers and more

Blu-Ray Review: Madman
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.