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John’s Horror Corner: Madman (1981), a satisfyingly brutal and mean slasher classic.

February 26, 2022

MY CALL:  This is a pretty mean slasher with decent kills that we fully see on screen, above board gore, and a monstrously cool-looking psycho killer. Recommended for 80s slasher fans.  MORE MOVIES LIKE MadmanFor more “mean” early slashers there’s The Burning (1981), Friday the 13th (1980), Sleepaway Camp (1983), The Prowler (1981) and My Bloody Valentine (1981).

Ugly, mean and evil, Madman Marz differs somewhat from other more relatable early slashers of his era (e.g., Cropsy, Jason Voorhees, Angela) in that he was never wronged or misunderstood, nor does he have any moral grounds for vengeance. No… much more like the killers of Black Christmas (1974), Halloween (1978) or TCM (1974), he is inherently evil.

Marz borrows from many of his homicidal contemporaries. He murdered his family in their sleep a la The Amityville Horror (1979), he slashes up camp counselors as was the style at the time, he shares his name with a famous cannibal (The Hills Have Eyes), and like Candyman (1992), Bloody Mary or even The Bye Bye Man (2017), saying his name will seal your bloody fate. If you utter his name above a whisper in the woods, he will hear it and he will come for you.

The stuff of campfire tale folklore, Marz is the size of a sasquatch and grunts and growls like one, too. His hulking size, wild hair and mangled face likely inspired Victor Crowley (Hatchet) among others.

The first death scene caught me happily off guard. A sudden, unexpected and gory throat gashing with lots of lacerated flesh. The flappy flesh wounds are strong in this movie. There was also a noose/hanging death that was much more entertaining and developed than I would have expected. A couple decapitations and an ax to the chest follow, serving more as filler. The early two death scenes represent the most substantial shock value of the movie, which is slower (and thus, less shocking) than desired even in the final 30 minutes. But Marz comes though with a major finale claw gash to the face and a brutally impaled victim on a meat hook like in TCM (1974) make up for the dip in excitement as he mows though his victims (incl. Gaylen Ross; Creepshow, Dawn of the Dead).

Overall an entertaining lazy afternoon viewing. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest it is your Saturday night popcorn feature (maybe Thursday night), but I’d still strongly recommend it to fans of 80s slashers. I must say, I’m bummed that one-time writer/director Joe Giannone never produced any more horror after this. He definitely proved that he had a knack for it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2022 1:00 pm

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. I remember bits and pieces of this one and the review was a fun read.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      February 27, 2022 1:12 pm

      I had somehow never seen it until viewing for this review. Fun little thing.

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