"Madman" is essentially an early '80s retread of the summer camp slasher (done exponentially better by "Friday the 13th" and "The Burning" before it, and "Sleepaway Camp" after it). In the beginning of the film, a group of camp counselors and preteens are around a campfire— it's the week before Thanksgiving (who goes to camp in November?), and since the camp is shutting down, the counselors decide to tell the story of a local farmer named Madman Marz who hacked his family to death with an axe. One of the counselors decides it would be a good idea to call out his name to the surrounding woods, and lo and behold, when they come a'calling, he comes a'killin'.
Hailed as a cult film by many fans, I'm halfway baffled as to why so many consider "Madman" to be as extraordinary as they do. It's not that the film suffers from being routine — that's expected from an '80s slasher epic— but there are a lot of other issues with it that leave something to be desired. The script, for one, is beyond hokey, and the villain himself is about the least scariest maniac I can recall on film— an ogreish redneck in overalls with a clearly prosthetic face? It just ain't scary, folks. Lackluster performances and truly indistinguishable characters don't help much either.
The film does feature some really great photography at times, especially during the nighttime sequences in the woods, which make up the bulk of the film, but incredibly dodgy editing and an abrasive synth score detract from the moodiness of the proceedings. Even the darkness of the upstate New York forest and the musty cabins of the camp fail to establish a solid sense of atmosphere here, and the film suffers for it. There are a couple of gruesome killings, but by and large even the murder sequences are anticlimactic. Perhaps the film's most indubitable sin, however, is that it flashes the murder sequences of each character across the screen in the opening campfire scene. I mean, obviously we know that most of them are going to die anyway, but why strip any potential surprise from a virtually incredulous film?
It's not that I have a bias to the summer camp/backwoods slasher either, nor did I want to dislike this film. There are dozens of films that follow this thread which I am a fan of: "The Burning," "Friday the 13th," "Just Before Dawn," "The Final Terror"— the difference with those films though is that, despite their formalities, they excel in other areas and are able to distinguish themselves because of it. "Madman" doesn't do that; the most it has to offer is some neat nighttime cinematography, a ridiculous hot tub sex scene, and perhaps the most absurd theme song in film history. Highlights: the eerie silhouette of Madman in the tree (as depicted on the 2003 Anchor Bay cover art), and the downbeat ending. 4/10.
Horror / Thriller
Horror / Thriller
At a summer camp for youths, cockey pre-teen calls out the name of mass serial killer "Madman Marz". Suddenly, counselors are being maimed and slaughtered in various ways by the backwoodsman who has returned when his name was called.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
February 21, 2021 at 04:51 PM