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Madman
(1981)
 

Director: Joe Giannone     
Cast:
Alexis Dubin, Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Paul Ehlers


Another clone of Friday the 13th, and I don't think I'll have to go into any more detail with that in mind. So let's see how it compares in key areas to other slashers:

Setting: No summer camp here - here we have an autumn camp! We're at the North Sea Cottages for gifted children in the month of November. Maybe that explains why, although the camp has a staff, there are only about five children in the camp. I assume their parents are very wealthy.
 

Setup: After a genuinely spooky campfire song about a mysterious "Madman Marz", we're told about how Marz chopped up his wife and kids, and got axed in the face and lynched for his troubles. But the next day, the returning townspeople found the noose had broken during the night...and Marz was gone! In fact, they say to this day that if you speak Marz's name loud enough in the woods, he'll hear and come after you. ("HEY! MADMAN MARZ!", someone naturally yells out. "You shouldn't have done that," says leader Max sadly.) Hey, it's just a legend...right? And that house that happens to be near this campfire has been empty for years....right? Okay, let's go back to camp. Hey everyone, it's been a nice su-, I mean autumn.

And who's creeping around nearby?

Killings: Pretty disappointing, overall. The killings are mostly axings and slashings, and not very bloody. However, the scene when one character gets murdered with the hood of a truck (!) will certainly catch the attention of most viewers, and is the highlight of the movie.

One interesting thing about the body count is that the number of male victims is greater than the number of female victims! Okay, so the male body count is only greater by one - it's still some sort of achievement.
 

Sex/Nudity: Also disappointing, this only has a fleeting glimpse of some breasts, and a short glance at some guy's butt. Since the guy's butt is seen longer than the breasts, it could be argued that there's more male nudity than female nudity. Anyone wanting to try to prove to feminists that slasher movies are not degrading to women may want to use this movie for evidence.

The above characters engage in some hot-tub sex, but we only get to see them start. Strangely, a hand-held camera outside the window indicates the killer is outside watching, but he doesn't punish them then and there for having sex! Later - and elsewhere - however....
 

Intelligence Of Characters: Two of the characters plan to go swimming later that night (at this time of the year)?

At the beginning of the movie, the characters are told not to walk alone in the woods. Guess what they do for the remainder of the movie? One character walks away only a few minutes after hearing this warning to check Marz's house, to find....no, it's not what you think. Yes, there's a surprise in this movie.

Near the end of the movie, one woman being pursued by Marz runs into the kitchen and - get this - pulls the shelves and the food out of the refrigerator and hides inside!

One character manages to figure out how to save yourself, or at least extend your life a few more minutes during a hanging scene. Let's just say that in the end it doesn't really help much when the hangman is nearby.

The only smart character is the camp leader Max, who wisely decides to drive to town and have a few beers, sparing him from a lot of screen time.
 

Cliches: Too many to report.
 

Direction: Murky throughout, not helped by the movie taking place during night. Even the indoor scenes are dark.

Giannone does manage to avoid the standard practice of not showing the killer's face until near the end of the movie. In fact, he show's the killer's face several times throughout the movie, cleverly showing the face in a different way every time that, although we "see" it, we are still not sure what Marz looks like until near the end. Aside from that, there is nothing of merit in the direction.
 

Threat Of A Sequel: There's a vague hint of a sequel at the end, but that ending could be interpreted differently by some viewers. Since it's been 17 years since its release, and the video has been out of print almost that long, I think we can breathe a little easier now.

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Also: Rituals, Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates, Slaughterhouse

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