As far as slashers go, Madman is a curious entry stuck between two extremes: At times it’s so silly you can’t take it seriously, but just as many times its surprisingly good at crafting some scenes and images of genuine suspense (even if most of them aren’t entirely original). That odd mixture can be frustrating–you almost wish the filmmakers stuck to one approach, and it becomes particularly disappointing when a chilling scene gets ruined with a silly exclamation point. If Halloween set the slasher standard, Friday the 13th capitalized on the craze and took the genre on a cheapened camping trip. As for The Burning? It was a Friday the 13th knockoff. Madman? It makes The Burning look like Hitchcock. Nonetheless, the film is only half “so bad it’s good”, the other decent half easily raising it above the genre’s bottom-feeders.
Don’t stop me if this sounds familiar: It’s a dark summer (cough*fall*cough) night at a camp for kids, and the gang is huddled around a campfire as one of the counselors relates an urban legend. Seems their campsite is located near an infamous house where a crazy farmer slaughtered his wife and kids. The town took justice into its own hands, its residents disfiguring the man (his nose was bitten off in a bar brawl…yikes!) before hanging him from a tree for his crimes. But when the sun rose, his body was nowhere to be found (ditto his victims’ bodies).
Occassionally Stylish Summer Camp Slasher
Oh, Madman. I really want to love you. All my friends love you. They tell me you have a great personality, but I just need to spend a little bit more time with you. I've started blaming myself and thinking there's something wrong with me.
Look, I admire your colorful light schemes. I adore your simple-as-a-campfire-story plot. I think it's cool that you have a Final Boy instead of a Final Girl. I think it's neat that all the actors look like normal people and not supermodels. And by the way, I think your effects work is really top notch.
So, why don't I like you? Why do you make me sleepy when you should have the hairs on my back at attention? Why do I forget everything about you a few hours after I've spent time with you?
I guess we're just not meant to be friends.
Slow, creepy atmosphere
Madman is nowhere near as good as some would have you believe, but it does have a slow, creepy atmosphere. The one bit that I will always remember is when you see Madman's silhouette in the trees. That one shot of him alone saves this from being just a regular boring slasher film. It creeps you out enough so that the rest of the film seems ever more creepier as he stalks around the woods killing everyone off. There are plenty of dull moments including a love scene used for padding, and a lot of the time you will be waiting for something to happen. There is a hilarious scene where one of the girls hides herself inside a refrigerator. The ending somewhat spoils the creepiness that had been built up throughout, as we get to see Madman in full light and he just looks like a regular person in a rubber mask. It just goes to show how it's better to leave such things to the imagination.
This is an essential film for any slasher fan, but beware, it's only for those able to tolerate a slower paced slasher.
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