Madman begins with tales around the summer camp campfire before bedtime on Halloween, the last one being told by Max (Carl Fredericks) about Madman Marz who quietly killed his family with an axe, was eventually caught by the townfolk and hung from a tree overnight, but the next morning, he had apparently freed himself…
Now, come on, I’m quite sure that as soon as he swung his axe into the neck of his wife, she would’ve screamed so loud it would’ve woke the children. But I’m trying to apply logic to a horror film.
Anyhoo, it’s a typical tale of teenagers spending a night in the woods, only to all get murdered in turn by a gross bad guy, although back in 1982 there weren’t so many films to have gone down this path. That said, it’s difficult to try and *think* ‘1982’ while watching it. For example, there’s a death around 19 minutes into the film, but it’s then not until the 37th before the murderer strikes again. They come at a slightly faster rate as things progress from there, but watching this for the first time after many films have come since, including The Evil Dead (released in the UK in 1983), Madman does feel rather tame by comparison.
A typical example of a murder in this film is shown when a person’s head is cut clean off in one go as they bend under the car bonnet, while Madman Marz slams it down on them.
The schtick for Madman is that you shouldn’t say his name above a whisper, so like the later Candyman movies, but those weren’t exactly stellar, either.
All that said, Madman is one of those films which still commands a huge cult following as the convention segments show in the extras. There’s a planned modern remake from Tom Savini coming out next year, while producer Gary Sales and Scream Entertainment are also developing The Madman Marz 3D Reimagining Project.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 ratio and in 1080p high definition, but while a brand new 4K transfer from the original camera negative, that original print is just too soft at times to stand out and feel like a great Blu-ray image. If you don’t mind that, then get stuck in. The audio soundtrack is also the original mono one, as expected from a title in the early ’80s, so don’t expect an aural assault.
The extensive extras are as follows, so big fans of this movie are well-catered-for:
- The Legend Still Lives! (91:44): Slightly longer than the film itself, this is a feature-length documentary containing interviews with many of the cast and crew – in fact, just about everyone apart from two who have since passed on – director Joe Giannone, who died in 2006 from heart failure, and Tony “Fish” Nunziata (TP), who died in 2009 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The interviews are all spliced between each other, in order to create a narrative of sorts, or at least help this flow well. One downside is that there’s just four chapters breaking this up.
- Madman: Alive at 35 (21:01): Another look back at the film, with producer/co-writer Gary Sales, and stars Paul Ehlers (Madman Marz) and Tom Candela (Richie). I was going to argue that, since 1982, it’s not *quite* 35 years, but later extras confirm filming took place in late 1980.
- The Early Career of Gary Sales (14:26): The producer talks about how he got into the movie business, plus his appearance in a porn film (although not in a pornographic role), “It Happened In Hollywood”.
- Dead Pit Interviews: Two brief ones here – Gary Sales (3:38) and Paul Ehlers (5:17) – filmed in 2007 for Dead Pit Radio.
- Music inspired by Madman (12:39): Four tunez from the fanz of Madman Marz.
- In Memoriam (5:48): Gary Sales pays tribute to Joe Giannone and Tony Fish. There’s also a brief caption for Frederick Neumann who played Max, but under the pseudonym of Carl Fredericks.
- Trailers and TV Spots A theatrical trailer (1:48) and five TV spots (1:55). I love trailers anyway, but TV spots are especially great as those are the sort of thing that’ll never see the light of day again, otherwise.
- Stills and artwork gallery (7:20): Stacks of pictures to work through here.
- Collectors booklet: with film stills and posters, notes about the restoration, and new writing about the movie from critic James Oliver.
- Reversible sleeve: featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin.
- Audio Commentaries: Two on this disc – one with the cast and crew, and one from The Hysteria Continues, who you can follow on Twitter and Facebook.
Subtitles are in English, and there are 12 chapters to the film, as usual. As always, I’d prefer more than 12 for the main film, aiming for one every five minutes approximately. The menu features clips from the film set to a short piece of the theme.
Madman Special Edition is out now on Blu-ray/DVD Double Pack Limited Edition and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot. Also check out the official Madman Twitter and Facebook pages.
Running time: 88 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: August 24th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Mono (uncompressed PCM)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Joe Giannone
Producer: Gary Sales
Screenplay: Joe Giannone (from a story by Joe Giannone and Gary Sales)
Music: Stephen Horelick
Madman Marz: Paul Ehlers
Betsy: Alexis Dubin
T.P.: Tony Fish
Stacy: Harriet Bass
Dave: Seth Jones
Ellie: Jan Claire
Bill: Alex Murphy
Richie: Jimmy Steele
Max: Carl Fredericks
Dippy: Michael Sullivan
Tommy: Tom Veilleux
Jimmy: Stephen Clark
Mary Ellen: Vicki Kenneally
Shirley: Shelley Mathes
Jeanie: Lori Mathes
Marz’s Wife: Jane Pappidas
Marz’s Son: Travis Sawyer
Marz’s Daughter: Deidre Higgins
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.