October Horror Movie Challenge: MADMAN (1982)


I don’t think it really has any bearing on the film itself, but I find it interesting that the cast and crew of MADMAN (1982) have rather short resumes beyond this point. This was writer and director Joe Giannone’s one and only feature. Gaylen Ross, our plucky final girl, only had a whopping three roles as an actress before going on to become a documentary filmmaker, though when the other two credits are DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and CREEPSHOW (1982) you really can’t complain too much. The other victims, er, players quickly drifted off the grid as well, with one of them actually going on to act as the legal eagle on the set of other productions. It’s as if the legend of Madman Marz really was true, except the only thing he really brought an end to was everyone’s careers. MADMAN itself is a spunky little mutt in a similar vein as that other camp-set boogeyman-slasher THE BURNING from the previous year. Giannone’s picture is bolstered by a nicely autumnal atmosphere that uses a chill wind in perpetual gust to good effect, with a raucously monstrous murderer who’s like a drooling Looney Tunes villain come to life, right down to his scabby feet. Oh, it’s plenty stupid and inept, with the final confrontation between Ross and the axe-wielding zombie particularly wanting in suspense and feeling needlessly rushed. You gotta admit though, this is one slasher that operates on its own wavelength and, despite the concessions it makes to the subgenre’s hallmarks (the car that won’t start, the friends who split up, etc.), there are few other films of its category that can boast having a campfire ballad that sounds like it could have been written and performed by Trey Parker extolling the misdeeds of its growling killer. Serve it up for a cold night with some smores and schnapps for optimum pleasure.

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