Director – Tibor Takacs
Cast – Jenny Wright, Clayton Rohner, Randall William Cook, Stephanie Hodge, Michelle Jordan, Vance Valencia, Mary Baldwin
Release Year – 1989
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Much like Intruder, I, Madman is one of the last slasher films of the infamous(in horror lore) 1980s, debuting on October 13, 1989. I had never heard of this flick until recently, and I expected to enjoy this one thanks to what I perceived to be a sweet overall plot, and sure enough that was the case. Complimented with awesome direction and great horror, this story provides us with a unique take on the slasher sub-genre, giving us a great experience to close out the decade that delivered so many worthwhile horror films.
Jenny Wright(Near Dark) stars as Virginia, a quiet and vibrant young actress working at a used bookstore until she decides what she wants to do in life. She soon takes a liking to a short series of horror/romance novels, namely one regarding a psychotic man who uses a razor to slice off pieces of his face to show his love for a beautiful actress. While Jenny finds herself engrossed in this steamy and bloody giallo-esque novel, fiction soon turns to terror when those around her begin showing up dead in the same fashion as those killed in the novel, and the young actress soon comes face to face with a killer bending the lines between fiction and non-fiction.
Boy did this story rock. I love the slasher sub-genre, even with all of its numerous cliches and overdone storylines, so when I am given a unique storyline I graciously accept it, especially if it comes well executed as this one was. Writer David Chaskin(A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge) did a fantastic job delivering this story, using the fun element of old cheezy horror novels mixed with a mystery giallo-esque element that delivered plenty of kills along with many twists and turns. The film takes off a bit slow and in a very innocent manner, which had me feeling that this may not result in the awesome experience that I expected, but I was soon proved wrong when the second act kicked in and the gruesome kills were delivered, along with an incredible killer who despite his sneaky ways managed to make many appearances in the film, all at the right times. Watching Virginia slowly fall into madness over the haunting madness that surrounds her is awesome, and naturally her detective boyfriend, Richard(Clayton Rohner; The Relic, Nightwish, April Fool’s Day), and his cohorts refuse to believe that a madman with the ability to pretty much disappear into thin air is committing these murders, only upping the ante and the odds that Virginia must face. The majority of the film is simple, with Clayton Rohner taking each of the awesome elements and using them to full potential without making this a film that you have to pay close attention to, as you would a true giallo effort. This is by no means a giallo film, but it shares many similarities with the famed Italian horror films, just with its own unique ideas thrown in as well.
Director Tibor Takacs(The Gate) did a fantastic job executing this awesome story, keeping me glued to the screen and often enamored over how awesome the horror was. As I mentioned earlier, the film had an “innocent” feel at the beginning, and that left me unprepared for the horror that would ensue just a few sequences later, and with awesome results. He perfectly portrays Virginia as the young, sweet girl next door with a curiosity for cheezy horror novels :drools:, and actress Jenny Wright is solid in this role. We watch this character go from true sweetheart to broken and battered due to the constant barrage of attacks she is facing, and that left me surprised that I have yet to see Jenny Wright in many films since I, Madman, especially when you consider that she was great in the leading female role in Katherine Bigelow’s debut effort, Near Dark, as well. So while Katherine is the “star” of the film, let’s get onto the only character that really matters…the killer. I loved the idea of him cutting off pieces of people’s faces in order to complete and fill in the holes of his own face, which he lost proving his love to the woman he wished to call his lover, and Takacs’ gave us sweet live-action effects that made this killer one of the cooler looking killers I have seen. We get a fair amount of gore as well, which came during some very well executed kill sequences that laid the horror on thick, another one of the many surprises that I never saw coming. Personally, I love these surprises given it is better to have your expectations surpassed than have them fail to reach a level of enjoyment. There were a few sequences involving some pretty bad graphics that I am sure will stick out in the film, and while they looked silly and of obvious low-quality by today’s standards I did not find them bad enough to warrant a serious knock against the film, especially given what happened during these scenes, which I feel aided the film in the end. Simply put: what little fault the film has are made up for with its good horror, and its awesome story helps as well.
Overall, I, Madman is an awesome slasher experience that is one of the last, if not THE last slasher film of the 1980s. We get a sweet story that blends old techniques with unique ones to make for one well-written horror storyline, and awesome direction delivers great horror and tension throughout. We get an awesome killer delivering sweet kills and great gore, which are all just icing on the cake for this recommended slasher experience.