Posted by: Andy | October 16, 2010

Andy’s Halloween Trailer Park: Madman (1982)

Everyone remembers the first R-rated horror movie they watched (albeit mostly through a pillow, blanket or Doritos stained fingers). It’s an experience that stays with you. The excitement and anticipation mixed with a deep rooted fear of what your life will be like after consuming your first terror tape is a heart pounding moment.  Then the covert ops implemented as you sneak down into your friends musty rec room, lights off and with the volume turned down to almost inaudible so your parents wouldn’t get wise to the impending R rated shenanigans. Fueled by sugar, starches and adrenaline,  your fingers shaking as you hit the play button on that state of the art Beta-max machine (Google it Tweeners)

Some kids take a long journey to see a dead body as their right of passage into adulthood. I passed off fake I.D. at the local video store to lose my horror film virginity.

For me, it was Friday the 13th Part 3-D. Which, when I think about it now seems fairly ridiculous considering how mood killing that much maligned disco themed music that heralded Jason’s third outing. It was Camp Crystal Lake meets Club 54. Ch-Ch-Ch-Chi-Ch-Ugh.

I caught this film at my friends house and although we were almost next door neighbors, I had to make it across the street to the safety of my own home in the dark of night when it was done. Witnesses say it took me 1.5 seconds. It was but a fleeting omen of things to come as the remaining hours until dawn would not fare well for me, as I laid there, eyes wide open for 8 straight hours over analyzing every sound my house made. Waiting for someone in goalie gear to come rid me of my head. In 3-D.

So my friend Chad mentioned that the 1982 movie “Madman” was the first horror film he caught as a wee lad, I couldn’t pass up the request to revisit and review one of the more forgotten “Killer With an Axe” masterpieces from the early 80’s.

Madman Marz is somewhat of an urban legend to those attending summer camp. A seemingly normal farmer who went a tad axe happy one day and Slap Chopped his entire family in a fit of Rural rage. Now, years later his story makes for good campfire tale fodder. It is said that if you mention his name anywhere above a whisper he will come for you (a lazier version of Candyman – at least you had to find a mirror and utter his namesake five times).  Serial Killer 101 dictates that some twit of a camp counselor, looking to impress some chick with huge hair, does indeed take this challenge. Axe body spray commences shortly after.

When you look at the most imitated slasher films of the late 70’s / early 80’s  two are looked upon as royalty. Halloween and Friday the 13th were both so influencial in the slew of carbon copies that followed in their bloody footsteps because they were cheap to make and made a ton of green. Nobody could argue that return on investment. Slasher films during this time period were money for the making. So naturally it got to the point where anyone with a camera, some questionable dinner theater quality actors and some woods was all you needed.

Madman was filmed on Long Island, New York.(I pity the kid who got shipped off to that Summer Camp) It was filmed in the Winter, which meant some of the crew had to paint foilage appearing in shots green. Not exactly well planned out. However logistics aside, this film has one mean, son of a bitch for the killer at large. Although filmed primarily at night, the director, Joe Giannone (who also wrote it) gets high marks for lighting these scenes with mad skills. In fact, plenty of horror movies are renowned for failing when night-time photography drops the ball. “Madman” enables you to know who is chasing who.

Points deducted for portions of the soundtrack which sound like a Casio was utilized by a second rate wedding band  keyboardist. That being said, revisiting it after all these years the score is actually an obvious copy-cat attempt in the days where everyone was trying to imitate Carpenters legendary, yet oh so simplistic score to  “Halloween”. Also entertaining are some of the cheesy original songs written by and sung by cast members. No wonder “Madman Marz” wants to kill this group as soon and as brutally as possible.

Kills are your standard fare. A few gruesome. A few inventive (nice car hood decapitation) Lets not forget what really works in decent slasher films – you don’t show alot of the killer until the end. In “Madman’s” case this is mostly out of necessity due to budget.

All these contributing elements help elevate this film ever so marginally about trash, However it’s also the other lesser parts of “Madman” that enable it to become everything you want in an R rated, B horror movie. Watching it now, I am unsure how this film could make my friend Chad almost piss himself in fear. Of course that’s coming from the once 12 year old sprinting across three lawns in the dark, hoping neither his legs or heart give out.

Madman is another fun time capsule worth unearthing.

As fate would see it, the man who played the notorious Madman Marz would go on to design custom knives.


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