• Kelly M. Hudson

He, Madman!

Virginia (Jenny Wright) works in a used book store and finds a strange, pulpy book that she takes home to read. It tells the vivid story of a mad doctor who is cutting up people for their body parts. The story takes over her imagination, to the point that she looks for the second book by this same author, I, Madman, and eventually finds it. This carries on the story of the Madman, but a strange thing happens. Virginia soon finds herself being visited by this fictional character in flesh and blood. Or is she? Maybe she’s going crazy, or maybe it’s really the aged author of the books, stalking her. In any case, people die all around her and she can’t convince her boyfriend cop (Clayton Rohner) that what she’s telling him is the truth. Eventually, though he sees things her way, and they confront the Madman. Is he supernatural menace, or just some crazy guy with wild eyes?

I watched this on home video back in the late 80s and didn’t remember much about it other than I thought it was weird. Well, I was right about that. We’re never really given an explanation about the Madman. At one moment he seems flesh and blood and totally normal (for a horror film) and the next it’s pretty clear he’s supernatural. The film sort of decides at the end, but that could all be in the minds of our unstable main characters, so who knows? This was directed by Tibor Takacs, who most people know from the spectacular film he did two years before, The Gate. This one is tangentially connected to that one because it features a similar Claymation creature from The Gate, only bigger and not tiny. Which was pretty cool, but it really has nothing to do with the story in this one. It feels like it was sort of tacked on but I liked it so it didn’t bother me. Others will see it and rightfully say, WTF? This whole movie is a bunch of WTF, and not in a good way. While there’s plenty of kills, it drags a bit, and the whole syrupy unreality is more doze-inducing than terrifying. I. Madman isn’t a bad movie, it’s just not a very good one.

I view this mostly as a relic of its time. They were trying to do something different here, taking the concept and idea of dream horror crossing over into reality into a more serious direction than the contemporary Freddy films. It fails, but I can’t hate on it for trying. Mostly something just doesn’t connect. Still, it’s worth a watch if you’re curious. Not a waste of time, but not a celebration of daring horror cinema, either.

Two Stars out of Four

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