When I was in the Boy Scouts, we went hiking to the old abandoned Scout camp that was next to the one everyone used. One of our leaders decided to scare the crap out of us by telling the story of a psycho killer that wandered the woods, searching for fresh victims. I am reminded of that story after having seen the 1981 cult classic The Burning, and having more recently viewed another cult flick, the 1982 brutal film Madman. This movie lives up to its title and then some, offering nasty kills and an urban legend that serves as a reminder that urban legends have a little basis in fact. In this case the tale of Madman Marz, it becomes very real for-you guessed it-a bunch of counselors at a local summer camp. You have to admire 1980s slasher cinema for being consistent in their choice of setting, although in this case the camp has been shut down because fall is approaching. So really this is more of a fall movie than a summer one, and that setting adds to the film’s style.
What makes this movie quite good is that it is mostly relentless, but also you have very little idea of who has a chance of surviving, which ups the suspense factor. I also thought the legend of Marz was quite freaky, and I thought the kills were fairly well done, both things that are necessary for a movie like this to work. If you are into a freaky gory movie that is pretty well made, then Madman is your kind of film. If you prefer something a bit more intelligent or with less body parts, then take a hard pass. I also prefer this to The Burning in terms of it being less goofy than a movie that was released a year earlier, although both are quite good and are solid introductions into the slasher sub-genre.
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