Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Madman Movie Review

I had a fleeting memory of the opening scene of this film which I knew involved someone telling a story round the campfire about a psycho killer living in the woods whose name, when uttered loudly enough, will summon him to kill again. Then some dick calls out, "Madman Marz! Come and get us Marz!" I thought I had another memory of the ending of the movie, but watching it for this series I discovered that I might never have seen the whole thing and that other memory must belong to some other movie.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

Madman is an obvious knock-off of Friday the 13th, which was itself trading on the success of Halloween. It’s the old premise of sticking a group of young people in the woods and sending a psychopath after them. Like Friday the 13th, this is a camp of some sort. The opening titles inform us that it’s a camp for “gifted children,” a fact that is not once made relevant during the course of the film’s 90 minutes. In fact, we rarely see the children and they have virtually no bearing on the story except as an explanation for the presence of several young adults for the slaughter.

Sitting around a campfire, one of the leaders tells the story of a farmer, now known locally as Madman Marz, who used an axe to murder his family in the woods surrounding the camp. He was attacked by a lynch mob and hanged, but then his body disappeared. This is virtually identical to the premise of Hell Night, released only a few months earlier. Even the madman farmer moves and sounds like the man-creature in its cinematic twin.

The film is cheap and poorly-made – observations that are not, in and of themselves, criticisms. But when there’s not even a shred of artistry put into the production and no attempt at surpassing the look that low-budget qualities like Madman engender, there is little worth mentioning. The actors, none of whom deserves mentioning, mostly have totally out of character urban accents and the musical score evokes wizards and sorcerers more than creatures in the night. For all Friday the 13th’s faults, the score is iconic and memorable.

The story, by Joe Giannone and Gary Sales, is marred by inexplicable decisions made by the characters and a psycho killer that lacks all cunning and intelligence. He is all murderous rage. Actually, come to think of it, there’s not even rage, but something more akin to an animal instinct to kill paired with the intellect of a toddler. I don’t imagine it would be hard to outwit someone who can’t figure out that his next victim is hiding in the fridge while all the food is spilled out on the floor.

All of this is thrown together in a heap by Giannone’s confused direction. He wants to shift moods smoothly from horror film to harlequin romance. There’s a love scene that could send you into hysterics from the camera’s framing of the naked bodies to the soulful sexy music on the soundtrack. It’s patently ridiculous.

Madman is an example of purely feeble filmmaking. It should remain on the list of long since forgotten mistakes of the 80s.

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