BBFC Classification: 18
Director: Joe Giannone
Starring: Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Jan Claire, Alex Murphy, Jimmy Steele, Paul Ehlers, Tom Candela
Coming very much from the same camp (sorry) as Friday the 13th, The Burning and Sleepaway Camp, Madman is a 1982 slasher movie that originally hit right at the peak of the craze and, as such, is very typical of the genre with campfire tales of an insane man hacking up his family with an axe and then being lynched by the locals. As the legend goes, if you say the name of Madman Marz out loud in the forest he comes back to find and kill whoever called for him, so naturally we are presented with a group of young camp counsellors who dare to say his name and ultimately pay the price for mocking the legend.
In an era when horror filmmakers are trying so desperately hard to recreate the simple pleasures of ’80s slasher movies but usually failing due to overcomplicating things, this reissue of Madman comes as something of a breath of fresh air by keeping things simple and, for use of a better word, fun, which is also something of a novelty these days. A big influence on the like of Hatchet‘s Victor Crowley, Madman Marz (Paul Ehlers) is a strange looking villain, being heavily scarred and bulked out with very obvious foam latex padding (check out those rubber-coated hands), but Ehlers manages to animate him a little more than the economical movements of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, which gives him a bit more edge as a threat and makes him fill the screen whenever he is on it, which is exactly the right amount and never revealing too much of him until the end of the film.
What doesn’t fill the screen, though, is the charisma and talent of the rest of the cast who, as well as all looking far too old be camp counsellors, don’t ever go above the level of functional in their line delivery. Dawn of the Dead‘s Gaylen Ross is probably the most familiar face amongst the cast and gives what could be called the ‘best’ performance, especially in the jacuzzi scene she has with Tony Fish as her boyfriend T.P., which is absolutely hilarious for all the wrong reasons and doesn’t fit in the film at all but there’s no way you could cut it out. The other actors are all pretty bland and interchangeable but when the characters are only there to be set up to die does it really matter?
Overall, Madman isn’t anything particularly original or special when put up against its slasher brethren but the filmmakers know this and just seem to have fun with what they have. The film is shot almost entirely at night which gives it the right mood and atmosphere, and the kills are pretty gruesome, with plenty of overly red blood being splashed around to carry on the tradition started by Friday the 13th, which just about covers everything required to keep genre fans happy. The disc itself is loaded with special features that confirm just how much love there is for the film – the commentary by the guys from The Hysteria Continues podcast confirms this and is well worth listening to – and the picture quality on the whole is excellent, with one or two grain effects that the 4K restoration couldn’t shift flashing up every now and then, but otherwise this edition of Madman is another superb package of a cult favourite from Arrow Video that will hopefully find a new audience amongst those with an interest for genuine 1980s slashers.
Special Features: Audio commentary with director Joe Giannone, 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 – Gary Sales, Paul Ehlers and star Tom Candela look back at the making of Madman, The Early Career of Gary Sales interview, convention interviews with Gary Sales and Paul Ehlers, Music Inspired by Madman – a selection of songs inspired by Madman, In Memoriam – producer Sales pays tribute to the some of the film’s late cast and crew, original theatrical trailer, TV spots, stills & artwork gallery with commentary by Gary 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.
UK Release Date: 24th August 2015