Deep in the woods, lurks a hideous evil… Don’t even whisper his name!

MADMAN (1982)

As the opening titles tell us: “It all started during a campfire at North Sea Cottages, a special retreat for gifted children.” An asswipe named TP (get it?) sings a creepy campfire song that scares both the children and the viewers. Then the resident old fat fuck of the group tells the morbid tale of Madman Marz. Marz was a dirt farmer who once lived in a house next to the camp. He was a big nasty bastard who loved pounding his booze and then pounding his wife and children. One night Marz snapped and slaughtered his entire family with an axe. The madman then walked to the local tavern with the bloody axe still in his hand and calmly ordered himself a beer. A lynch mob captured him and proceeded to hang him from a tree. The next morning his body had mysteriously vanished, and the dead bodies of his family also turned up missing.

Legend has it that if you ever dare yell out the name of the Madman in his woods he will come for you. A snot nosed punk named Ricky decides to show off and loudly dares Madman Marz to come and get him. He even has the nerve to throw a rock at the old deserted Marz house, breaking a window in the process. Old man Max jokingly warns Ricky about the consequences of his actions, and then breaks into another long winded speech wishing the kids the best of luck in the future. Everyone laughs this all off as good natured fun.

Unfortunately for the campers and counselors, the legend of Madman Marz is nothing to laugh at. Richie finds out the hard way when he hears a noise and follows a dark shadowy figure back to the Marz house. The Madman is still alive and on the prowl. He quickly makes chop suey out of the camp’s cook “Dippy” and then starts stalking and slashing the kiddies.  The campers are spoiled rich brats, and the counselors are an annoying group of spaced out and horny weirdos that spend their time lying on the floor all in a row with their heads together having inane conversations, so it’s hard to work up much concern for their safety as the bloodletting begins.

TP eventually discovers that Ricky never came back to camp and goes looking for him. He finds Madman Marz instead and is viciously hung from a tree for his efforts. Then the madman begins showing his flair for creative decapitations and swiftly beheads an ugly pair of camp counselors. The night of savage death degenerates into a fiery deathtrap that seemingly eliminates the monster once and for all. As the survivors cling to the last shreds of their sanity, they are forced to accept the fact that MADMAN MARZ IS REAL! They thought they were alone, but deep in the woods lurks a hideous evil. Don’t even whisper his name!

Interestingly enough, MADMAN was originally going to feature the “Cropsy Maniac” as the killer instead of Madman Marz. Writer and director Joe Giannone and his partner in crime Gary Sales wrote an original story based on the infamous upstate New York urban legend. Unbeknownst to them, the Weinstein brothers were also doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. The casting for “Madman” had already begun when Giannone discovered that another film called “The Burning” was being shot and featured Cropsy as the villain. The script had to be immediately changed and the concept of Madman Marz was born. It’s a similar storyline in the proud tradition of a cautionary campfire tale, punctuated with then-cutting edge violent death scenes.

“Madman” came out at a time when similar slasher flicks were flooding the market and failed to make much of a splash at the box office. It’s too bad more people didn’t get out to see this one, as it manages to stand out from the bunch for possessing some of the darkest atmosphere, a fantastic score, nasty death scenes, and one very impressive looking monster. Madman Marz is one of the very coolest 80′s slasher icons, and his kills are almost unparalleled in backwoods brutality. This flick contains possibly the greatest decapitations (via car hood!) and hangings of any slasher flick ever! The special effects are very convincing looking and really add to the impact of the film. It also helps that Paul Ehlers is simply amazing in the lead role. When Paul’s wife went into labor he rushed from the set and actually went to the hospital in full Madman Marz makeup. Imagine the terror this must have caused at the hospital!

Fans of George A. Romero’s clas-sick “Dawn Of The Dead” will enjoy seeing Gaylen Ross (appearing here under the name Alexis Dubin) in a steamy hot tub sex scene. Gaylen looks great in this movie and turns in another good performance. My only real complaint is that I would have enjoyed seeing that little bastard Richie get killed. The fact that none of the bratty rich kids get snuffed is kind of a bummer, but the mind boggling scene where a tiny chick hides inside a refrigerator more than makes up for this oversight. The opening sequence featuring the haunting ballad of Madman Marz and the telling of his horrifying legend never fails to give me chills. “Madman” has earned a well deserved cult following, but it also often gets overlooked when 80′s slashers are discussed. I think the incredible death scenes alone make this flick one of the all time greats, and a must see for slasher enthusiasts.

Code Red recently released a very nice looking 30 year anniversary edition dvd of MADMAN. Just having the film back in circulation alone would have been cause for celebration, but Code Red actually went the extra mile for this special edition release. The bonus features include tv spots, the theatrical trailer, a commentary track with Joe Giannone, Gary Sales, and Madman Marz himself Paul Ehlers, and a brand new featurette: “The Legend Lives: 30 Years of Madman.” There’s no excuse now for not having a copy of one of the essential summer camp slashers in your dvd collection. Buy or die!


3 Responses to “Madman!”

  1. I liked this one. Fun film. I have the original Anchor Bay DVD. Wanted the Code Red, but too pricy for a film I liked but didn’t love.

    Every so often I give this a spin as it makes for a fun night of slasher mayhem

    • I hate supporting or promoting Code Red…but sometimes they deliver the goods. Unfortunately, they only like to press tiny amounts of their discs so the owner of the company can later sell them on amazon for outrageous prices. BOO!!!!

      • Yeah their DVD for Nightmare is like $85!!!! I got it for 25 just before it went OOP another week or 2 would be way out of my price range.

        I recently bought the Unseen from the Code Red guy on amazon. But that’s a new release and was under 20

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