Madman Marz is a force to be reckoned with. Not only does he have no problem scouring the forest in his bare feet, but he also (like MY BLOODY VALENTINE’s Harry Warden) comes equipped with his own theme song. It doesn’t take much to set the guy off, just mention his name and he’ll come get you and get you good! Set in a summer camp for so called “gifted” children, and opening around a smoldering campfire, MADMAN is, on the surface, the quintessential eighties slasher film. Why, it’s even based on the same legend as THE BURNING. (That legend being: There’s a guy in the woods and he’s going to kill you!) But to slasher fans around the world with highly trained noses, MADMAN has an aroma all his own (In fact, a victim reveals Marz actually does stink of something, but he’s murdered before he can reveal what.) First of all, put all your “final girl” theories back into your nap sack. One young lady in the picture, I won’t reveal who, even tries to verbally force herself into that coveted role by saying to another girl “That’s the difference between me and you, you are content to sit behind and I’m not. I like to know what’s going on!” Sounds like she’s going to live right? Wrong. Unless you count having your head decapitated by being stuck under a car hood while Marz stomps on it living! In general people who should live, die and people who seriously deserve to die walk away with only permanent mental scarring to deal with. There’s a real weird vibe around the whole movie. Some of it is caused by the nuts-o acting and slogan heavy, hippie-dippy script; some of it is caused by the bullying synth score; most of it is caused by the fact that the film seems to take place in about 100 square feet of space; and that it, from first shot to last, takes place entirely at night. (Slasher rule books state that the viewer is allotted at least two or three shots of the doomed frolicking in the sun before their demise.) Strangely they never show you the colorful locals or the moron cops or anything of the outside world, just the dark, rather well shot woods. (Miraculously, as dark as this movie is, there is never a point where you don’t see exactly what you need to). As far as slasher fans go, I know I’m preaching to the choir but all you other folks who assume this is just the same old same old really should give it a try. Madman Marz may look like an oaf, but he’s a professional and he knows what he’s doing!
There are several memorable scenes (the hiding in the refrigerator bit is one) but they all fade away like sidewalk chalk drawings in the rain when held against the most tastefully romantic and emotionally moving musically enhanced hot tub humping scene I’ve ever encountered in an American film.

UPDATE: MADMAN fans must check out the Vicar of VHS’ awesome review for MADMAN (It even includes a shot of J.T.’s infamous belt buckle)and his incredible extended version of THE MADMAN THEME SONG over at M.M.M.M. MOVIES! Go, run, Now!

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14 years ago

Another one of my favorites! Madman Marz is a real unique presence, always just barely glimpsed to great effect. Is he a run-of-the-mill slasher? Possibly. Is he a revenant from beyond the grave? I like that one better. Either way, this is a weird, creepy, effective flick that has staked out its own place in slasher history, and in my heart.

So many great things–the theme song, a hero named “TP” (with the huge ornate belt-buckle to prove it!), a lead actress performance by Dawn of the Dead’s Gaylen Ross, but credited here as “Alexis Dubin” (trivia–for some reason, Ross has apparently been absolutely unwilling to talk about the film throughout her career! WTF?), truck-hood decapitation, a wonderful headless-corpse set-up scene (and aftermath!), and a constant frustrating of slasher-film expectations to keep even seasoned viewers off-balance and happy.

And that hot tub ballet! Even if not for all the other great things about this movie, that right there would launch it into horror flick history. Everyone should see this. Like, NOW.

Amanda By Night
13 years ago

My boyfriend still doesn’t get it, but Madman is one of my all time favorite films. It’s just SO dang creepy. Also, you’re right about the night lighting. It’s gorgeous and you don’t miss a thing. In fact, the scene where Ritchie sees the shadow of Madman in the trees? Wow, just chilling. And dude growls! I mean, he fucking growls! I actually do an OK impression him.

I also agree about the hippy-dippy dialog (which I quote constantly) and I have the hot tub song and the theme song on CD. They’re not great quality, but they’re mine. Do you hear me?!? MINE!!!

Thanks for spreading the love!