MADMAN (1981) Reviews of slasher classic

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‘They thought they were alone.’
Madman is a 1981 American slasher horror film directed and written by Joe Giannone.

The Jensen Farley Pictures production stars Gaylen Ross (CreepshowDawn of the Dead) under the name of Alexis Dubin, plus Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Jan Claire and Paul Ehlers as Madman Marz.

The film was originally supposed to be based on the Cropsy killer legend, but in August 1980, when word reached the production that the film The Burning was being based on the same legend, the script was re-formatted.

Madman was briefly in Variety‘s top ten best-performing movies when it was released on January 1, 1982, in New York, and it went on to rent well on home video.



Although passed uncut for UK cinema by BBFC censors, the VRO pre-cert video was briefly seized by Hampshire police during the 1980s video nasties moral panic, although no prosecutions made. It was later released fully uncut in Britain on DVD by Anchor Bay in 2002.Madman-Arrow-Video-blu-ray

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A group of counsellors at a summer camp gather around and one of them tells the story of Madman Marz, a farmer who one night butchered his wife and kids and disappeared into the woods never to be seen again.

Rumour has it that if you say Mr Marz’s name out loud, then he will come and get you. So that’s exactly what one bright spark does, and sure enough, the young things soon have an axe-wielding maniac on their hands…

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“The urban legend is interesting, there is some suspense, and a few of the deaths may unnerve. However, in terms of story, this is a clone. There is almost nothing unique about this film. It almost feels like a copy-and-paste of other movies in the genre. If you’re still interested, I’d say its worth a rental or cheap purchase for horror fans.” Cinematic Addiction

“Yeah, I know, the ’80s, particularly the early ’80s, were awash with low-budget slashers, but even in this glutted field, Madman stands out as something special, a slasher film with heart. A solidly old-school, above-average entry in an often-maligned genre.’ DVD Verdict

“The tense build up works well to support this feeling of age-old dread, and the original theme and music (Stephen Horelik) will get stuck in your head for days after watching. The main ‘problem’ with the film is that it all too often goes into slo-motion, with Marz occasionally reaching parodic levels of plodding around.” Flickering Myth

Without being as iconic as the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Madman may be the most archetypal ‘80s slasher film […] as played by Paul Ehlers, the long-haired, mountain-bearded Madman Marz makes for an outstandingly memorable villain.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies

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“This movie has everything you could want in a horror movie; a truly formidable maniac, victims who make questionable survival choices, multiple grisly deaths and a jarring synth score complimented by a legendary theme song that should have been a number one pop hit across the country. And I have to say, the cat-and-mouse stalking scenes are still pretty darn effective. Sure, it has flaws but they are enjoyable flaws.” Kindertrauma

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‘Story and structure-wise, Madman is pretty much a by the books slasher film with the bulk of the time spent with the killer stalking his victims and disposing of them in creative ways. And while some may be turned off by the simplicity of what transpires on screen, the basic premise is strong enough and the kill scenes feature an ample amount of gore are all well-executed.’ 10k Bullets

“Alternatively cheap and cheerful, and sometimes even a little creepy … Despite some of the cheesiest performances ever committed to celluloid, it manages some fairly suspenseful sequences – particularly when one of the counsellors chooses to hide inside a fridge. ” J. A. Kerswell, Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut


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Buy Madman 30th Anniversary Special Edition Code Red DVD from


Blu-ray releases:

In March 2022, Vinegar Syndrome reissued Madman upgraded to 4K Ultra-High Definition:

Region Free 4K Ultra HD / Blu-ray Set
4K UHD presented in High-Dynamic-Range
Scanned & restored in 4K from its 35mm original camera negative
“I’m Not a Screamer” – a brand new interview with lead actress Gaylen Ross
Commentary track with director Joe Giannone, producer Gary Sales, and actors Paul Ehlers and Tony Nunziata
Commentary track with The Hysteria Continues!
An interview with creator/producer Gary Sales
An introduction by Gary Sales
“Alive at 35” – a featurette with Gary Sales, Paul “Madman” Ehlers, and “Richie” actor Tom Candela
“The Legend Still Lives! – 30 Years of Madman” – a feature-length making-of documentary by Victor Bonacore
Original theatrical trailer
Still Gallery
In Memoriam featurette
TV Spots
Music Inspired by Madman featurette
Deadpit interviews with Gary Sales & Paul Ehlers
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles

On August 4, 2015, Arrow Video released Madman as a Blu-ray/DVD combo in the UK. Special features are:

Brand new 4K transfer from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary with director Joe Giannone, Madman stars Paul Ehlers and Tony Fish and producer Gary Sales
New Audio Commentary by The Hysteria Continues
The Legend Lives: Thirty Years of Madman – 90 minute documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
New Interview with producer Gary Sales
New Interview with actor Jimmy Steele
New Interview with Madman star, Paul Ehlers
New Rare Acoustic Recording of the song inspired by his first viewing of Madman, ‘Escape From Hellview’, written, produced and performed by former CKY frontman, Deron Miller
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spots
Stills Gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film illustrated with original archive stills and posters


On May 12, 2015, Vinegar Syndrome released Madman as a 4k Blu-ray in the USA. Special Features:

New 4K restoration from the 35mm camera negative
The Legend Lives: 91 minute documentary on the Making of Madman
Cast/Crew interviews
Commentary track by The Hysteria Continues!
TV spots
Original Theatrical Trailer

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Filming locations:
Fish Cove Inn, Southampton, Long Island, New York

For YouTube reviews, the trailer and full film click the page 2 link below

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