Theme Song: I hope you’re sitting or there’s a chair behind you when you listen to this song because it’s awesome and may knock you off your feet.
“Song of Madman Marz” by Gary Salez
Straight vocals and wicked synth, plus some analog hiss. It gets no more genuine. Do you know the level of confidence/arrogance it takes to bellow over some synth? It’s a lot.
Interesting Dated References: Watching movies while intoxicated and having to go back and watch them again even though it is a massive waste of time and you are way too behind on multiple paying projects; horror movies that have no twist, turn, or double cross; straight slasher goodness.
Best Line: At the beginning of the movie some guy tells a fable/limerick to people huddled around a campfire and for like the first five minutes I thought he was reciting King Diamond lyrics.
Social Context: Partially based around the Staten Island Cropsey urban legend, Madman was written and directed by Joe Giannone (assistant director of The Clonus Horror). Having been born and raised on Staten, we can assume Madman was a bit of a pet project for Giannone, and the film was unfortunately released the same year as The Burning, another more well-known, bigger-budgeted film centered around the Cropsey legend.
Summary: So all these kids at camp are sitting around a campfire while their counselors tell scary stories about local urban legend Madman Marz. Everyone heads back to camp except Richie who scoffed at the story and wants to investigate the abandoned house where the Marz legend originated.
Then all the counselors are killed one by one by Madman Marz as they take turns going out to look for Richie or each other. Did you think the killer was going to turn out to be the camp director, Max, who mysteriously went to town to run errands? It’s not. Did you think it would be the slightly love-scorned counselor, T.P., who gave off the creepy vibe? It’s not.
The movie is called Madman. They state very clearly in the beginning that it’s about the legend of Madman Marz, therefore the crazed maniac killing everyone is Madman Marz. Stop trying to overly complicate everything. Can’t a movie be a sincere series of grisly murders without having to make you gasp in disbelief at a fucking plot twist? Are you so meta-post-ironic that any form of sincere storytelling is alien to you? This is a movie about Madman Marz. He kills people at the camp. He hangs them on meathooks. Richie the disbeliever sees all the dead bodies at the end of the movie and goes into shock.
Madman is a quiet, but well-done slasher that seems to operate on a small budget. The film doesn’t pull any punches and delivers good atmosphere, somewhat acceptable acting, and an overall vibe of sincerity that you may not be used to because any sense of empathy you had died sometime around when you first got an iPhone.
– There’s an hour and a half documentary on the making of Madman, titled The Legend Still Lives: 30 Years of Madman, watchable on Amazon Prime. I think this is from the DVD reissue that came out in 2010.
– Gaylen Ross (Dawn of the Dead) plays Betsy, the main heroine under the pseudonym Alexis Dubin.
Poster and Box Art: The Thorn EMI clamshell release features the art that was used in the majority of the print materials. There is an alternate version featuring an odd-looking couple embracing in the silhouette:
Seriously, that’s a fucking travesty of proportion and perspective, not to mention that guy’s weird-ass face and hair.