Director: Joe Giannone
Stars: Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Jan Claire
Horror fanatics should love Madman for its leading lady and "final girl," Gaylen Ross, who's already known as genre royalty thanks to her role in George A. Romero's classic zombie flick Dawn of the Dead. Though her character in Madman is your basic run-and-scream heroine (whereas her Dawn counterpart is one of horror's strongest female characters ever), Ross still brings a nice air of elegance to what's otherwise a routine but enjoyably seedy stalk-and-kill pic.
Granted, Ross herself apparently didn't think highly of Madman. She's credited as "Alexis Dubin" for reasons unknown. Perhaps she sensed that director Joe Giannone's slasher would get negatively compared to everything from Halloween to The Hills Have Eyes, the latter connection coming from its woodland setting and its killer's (a.k.a. Madman Marz) inbred-redneck-who's-overdosed-on-ugly-pills appearance.
But in Madman's filmmakers' defense, there's a surreal quality to the film's murder set-pieces that distinguishes it from the other '80s body-count horror flicks. As seen in the pic above, Madman's woodsy kill sequences are cloaked in an almost neon blue lighting, giving them a slightly Technicolor feel that bring classics like Dario Argento's Suspiria to mind. The best of these scenes begins with one character checking under her pickup truck's hood and climaxes when the killer slams the hood down, decapitating her. And then you see the bloody stump that was once her neck in all its gooey, shiny-red glory.
Madman is also notable for defying one specific slasher rule. There's a sex scene so cheesy that you watch it expecting Dave Attell and his Dave's Old Porn camera crew to show up pulling a Mystery Science Theater 3000 move. And by "cheesy," think "unintentionally hilarious in that cheap '80s movie way"—Ross' character and her boyfriend fondle each other in a hot tub for what feels like an hour (it's actually five minutes), all while Madman Marz watches outside through a steamed-up window. And then Marz walks away. It's the rare exception to the slasher law that says killers in these movies must always eliminate characters after they finish having sex.
Madman Marz: '80s slashers' biggest perv.