Hey guys how’s it hanging? Building on last week’s camp theme, I decided to take a look at 1982’s “Madman” since I ain’t never seen it before. Now I know why. Madonna mia! It was as generic as a middle-aged couple screwin’ missionary on their anniversary. You know what I’m sayin’?
Now, I know this movie has a cult following, and you know Stan means no disrespect when he asks: HOW? There was nothing that really set this apart from any other summer camp horror movies from the early 80’s. It was intended as, and frankly is, a Friday the 13th knock off; but whereas titles like “Sleepaway Camp” find a way to make it their own, this just falls flat.
The story centers around a group of counselors looking after a group of ‘gifted’ children. The movie, shockingly, opens around the campfire where we are told the story of Madman Marz. He was a local resident who hacked up his family and was put to death by hanging.
Only thing was, when the townspeople returned to cut his corpse down, he was gone along with the bodies of his wife and two children. The campers are warned that anyone who speaks his name in any tone higher than a whisper will summon him and ignite his unquenchable blood-lust. So naturally, one of the asshole kids calls out his name and Madman Marz returns to wreak havoc.
There are six counselors for six children, if you can believe it, and predictably, they all wanna bang and carry on while the kids are sleeping. I am 100% here for that, but its just done badly. Our final girl Betsy (Gaylen Ross credited as Alexis Dubin) gets in the hot tub with her boyfriend T.P. (Tony Fish) where they proceed to do an awkward dance — That’s right, I said “dance”! — around the tub before having some of the worst on screen sex I’ve ever seen.
Somehow after that, T.P. realizes he lost one of the six campers (the little asshole who summoned Madman) named Richie. From there, the counselors go looking for the kid in the woods, one at a time, where they get gruesomely murdered until the final showdown between Betsy and Marz.
It’s a simple, time-honored formula, for sure. I’m not even mad at it — Its just executed badly. The acting is among the worst I have seen in horror, which is saying a lot. The chemistry between the primary cast is non-existent.
I was happy to see that the killer was a man of size, like yours truly, but they covered him up in some bullshit prosthetics that made him look like Bigfoot as opposed to an un-dead killer. He also had no lines other than Chewbacca-adjacent grunts and howls. The kills were standard fare slasher and the effects were pretty good, probably the best thing about the film.
I can only imagine that a big part of the problem here was that this movie was rewritten during production. Originally, the murderer was going to be based on the legend of Cropsey, but once writer/ director Joe Giannone found out that ‘The Burning’ was using the same fictional premise, he changed his story. I can’t help but wonder what the original story might have been and if it would have made for a better film.
In the end, this movie fails to deliver any shock or novelty, but its not the worst film I’ve ever seen. Its very middle of the road, and easily forgettable. It has a few good kills, a jump scare or two, and is worth adding to your list of movies to check out at some point — once you’ve gotten through all the awesome ones.
I give this two and a half out of five stories around a campfire!