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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Madman  (1982)
1 Stars
Directed by Joe Giannone.
Cast: Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish, Jan Claire, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Alex Murphy, Jimmy Steele, Carl Fredericks, Michael Sullivan, Paul Ehlers.
1982 – 88 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for strong violence and sexuality/nudity).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, 2015.

If you say his name above a whisper...he'll get you.

Originally based on the urban legend of the Cropsey Maniac, "Madman" had to tweak its lead villain when 1981's higher-profile Miramax release, "The Burning," beat it to the punch. Thus, Cropsey has now become Madman Marz, a farmer who went crazy, murdered his family, and escaped into the forest when the locals tried to make him pay for his crimes. A campfire tale that becomes all too real, Madman Marz shows up at a lakeside retreat for gifted children and goes about dispatching the counselors (who, oddly enough, outnumber the young campers). Directed by Joe Giannone, "Madman" fits the '80s slasher blueprint to the letter. It's only adequately made, but it features moody cinematography draped in shadowy moonlight by James Lemmo and holds a handful of scenes so knee-slappingly bad that the film ranks as a party favorite (alcohol is recommended). Particularly memorable (read: amusing for the wrong reasons) is a hot tub love scene so cornball and amateurishly conceived that it has to be seen to be believed, and a chase sequence where soon-to-be-victim Ellie (Jan Claire) opts to hide in a refrigerator, tossing the food onto the floor behind her. Jan Claire (in her one and only motion picture credit) is a standout as the adorably absent-minded Ellie, overacting with the best of them. Meanwhile, overaged camper Richie (Tom Candela) deserves to be the first one knocked off as he wanders around the woods asking for trouble for the entire film, but somehow manages to be the only soul who evades Marz's wrath. "Madman" is deliberately paced and far from frightening, but for slasher aficionados and viewers looking for solid laughs of the unintentional variety, there are few bloodied romps of its type with quite the same level of charm.

© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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