Smells Like Death

Madman Review


There is nothing more exciting than sitting back and relaxing with a first time viewing of a slasher flick. Especially one from the golden era of horror, the 1980’s. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to watch as many of these flicks as possible, sifting through a lot of really bad ones in the process, and I am glad that I am still able to find some that actually do the sub-genre justice. The latest to see a re-mastering and [hopefully] a revival is Joe Giannone’s 1982 campfire slasher, Madman.

It is one of the last nights at a summer camp for gifted children and everyone has gathered around the camp fire to tell their favorite tales. Counselor Mike uses this time to warn all of his campers of the legendary crazed killer known as Madman Marz. It doesn’t take the youngsters long to find out that there is much more truth to the tale than they initially believed, as Marz returns and takes them out one by one…

Originally released in 1982, Madman was introduced to horror fans at the perfect time. Friday the 13th had just been released by the large studio, Paramount, and filmmakers were in a frenzy to get their horror ideas onto the big screen, hoping to follow in the footsteps. While it may not be the greatest entry in the sub-genre that everyone seems to love, it certainly deserves your attention as a worthy contender for a ‘top ten slasher’ list. It has everything you need — a group of young defenseless victims, a grotesque killer with super-human strength, nudity, an eerily effective score, and a bunch of cool kills!

The acting seen throughout Madman is exactly what we’ve all become accustomed to. It’s a mix of some really cheesy performances and some that are actually pretty impressive. My favorite performance of course is delivered by our killer, Madman Marz, played by Paul Ehlers. Not given much to work with from the script penned by Giannone and producer Gary Sales, all Ehlers was really able to do was grunt and growl like a savage, while being a mountain of a man, tossing and dragging people around the woods. All of this, mind you, he does very well throughout Madman’s 88 minutes.

Overall Madman may not be the greatest slasher to come out of the 80’s, but it certainly has its strengths. A lot of the other slashers of yesteryear that I’ve watched recently seem to show the killer way too much and way too quickly, keeping the mystery and suspense out of the equation. That is not the case here, however. Glimpses of Marz are seen throughout with closeups of his gnarly hands and feet, but the full reveal isn’t until the film’s final act, the way it should be. I love the character design and make-up of the Marz character, which actually kind of reminds me of Victor Crowley from the Hatchet series played by another great slasher icon, Kane Hodder. I wonder if Adam Green drew any inspiration from the Marz character when creating Crowley, as I know many others have. Hell, the inspiration is clear when rummaging through the Blu-ray extra features, giving fans the chance to listen to the various songs that have been released over the years by several artists who were clearly fans of this slasher gem.

Madman has held the test of time and this new Blu-ray release will hopefully help the next chapter of the franchise take flight. Gary Sales is already working with Paul Ehlers again to bring Marz back to life in not only a re-imagining, but also a sequel and a prequel. I really hope these projects get off the ground and see the light of day very soon, exposing a new generation of fans to the legacy.

Vinegar Syndrome has done another amazing job bringing an old school flick to the 21st century. The picture and sound quality are fantastic and the disc is loaded with special features. A reunion of former cast members, a behind the scenes look at Gary Sales, and a 90 minute documentary are only a few among the long list of bonuses fans are treated to. If you love slashers, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on this one, folks! Madman is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.

I give it 3.5 decapitated heads out of 5.

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