I Tried to Keep This One Short....
5 January 2011
Silent Madness throws us right into a psychiatric hospital and hones in on Dr. Joan Gilmore, a no-nonsense doctor who doesn't have time for games. By the powers of deduction she concedes that Crest Haven hospital has released the wrong patient in a mix-up of like-sounding names. The hospital claims that Howard Johns is deceased but Joan's intuition knows better because momma didn't raise no foo'… that, and there's an obvious paper trail leading back to an old 80286 jobber from the early days of computing.

As a result of Johns' instability and absence of any moral faculties, it's just another night in the Christmas workhouse for him to steal someone's car, drive to NY, and impose his will of terror upon a grouping of innocent sorority co-eds. Why this particular campus you may ask? It was the scene of humiliation at the hands of a small group of sorority sisters many years earlier, followed up with their demise and Howard's imprisonment. Dr. Gilmore attempts to convince the stereotypical, fat-bellied town Sheriff (Sydney Lassick of 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest fame) that disaster is close at hand but her pleas are ignored. Meanwhile, the hospital puts a plan into motion that attempts to silence Joan before the horrible news reaches the public; an atrocity much akin to Watergate and that misprint in CVS circulars allowing customers half-off on bags of Doritos.

The experts that extended their years of experience put Silent Madness through the usual ringer of "let's ignore the only intelligent character and decide upon ourselves that she's delusional while young females are haplessly destroyed around us." On one hand I suppose it's refreshing to see a killer displayed more realistically (and one that performs his own stunts, by the way), but the dumbfounded expressions and the deer in headlights approach to the victims sucks the life right out of it. The more than obvious scripted death sequences of "stand here, on this marker, and die", are proof of this. We're even treated to an exhibition of stupidity that features a muscle-bound fool who simply can't match the speed and cunning of the killer; either that or he's spent too much time grooming his dark pompadour-like mane to focus on saving his girl from certain death.

Belinda Montgomery (Grandma Flynn in 2010's Tron: Legacy) is perhaps the only character that responds intelligently and reasonably in the face of danger. Her acting merits are legitimate as the lead role and she's paired her up a male reporter; albeit cheesy in his portrayal but not too shabby overall.The death scenes mostly happen off-screen while the watering hole of suspense remains dry – there are no redeeming qualities in these murderous segments – therefore, it has the appeal and the semblance of a made-for-TV movie. A cut and uncut version of this film have both been distributed so a viewing of the latter may change your opinion.

The 1980s was a gimmicky period for many things, I'll give you that. One notorious element that persisted to find a niche was the use of 3-D in films. 1953's House of Wax serves as a fine example that got the ball rolling in horror films. Kids today would probably scoff at the supposed 'three dee' of olden days but it's commonly known that human beings under the age of 18 shouldn't share their opinions. Horror movies adopted this technique and ran with it all throughout the '80s and one can only guess the director of Silent Madness expected such an idea to boost the film's worth. But alas, it's an inferior product. The use of 3-D was vapid and over-used 30 years ago. This recent barrage we're experiencing will run its course.

Simon Nuchtern, the film's director, was the same guy who released a film called Snuff in 1976. If you're in the majority of not having seen it, than surmise rather quickly that it is worth far less than the entrails of Interstate carrion. Simon's slapdash effort in riding the Slasher wave with a project like Silent Madness only amounted to roughly 10 minutes of actual entertainment and 80 minutes of tedious, color-by- numbers malarkey just to reach any semblance of "fun" – a heinously modified entry in his vocabulary with an elusive meaning. I guess it's only fair to slap smart-mouthed viewers, rings-first, in the mouth with a clunky, awkward ending so unjustly tacked on that it doesn't make the aforementioned abuse even slightly worth it. So come time for that dreaded curtain call, you won't be surprised by the shocking conclusion simply due to disinterest.

Nuchtern only released one more film as a director in 1985 before calling it quits; easily the best decision he's ever made in his career. If there was a petition going around to ban this no-talent, and I was older than the age of 2 in 1984, I would have gladly signed the top line of the document. Technically I probably could have if someone allowed me to grasp a pen within my infantile fingers to haphazardly scrawl my initials. Silent Madness is a mistake of a film – other than a few items taken from a different angle and a killer derived more from reality, it can easily be shelved into the Z-grade bank of Slasher-types made possible by hack directors who treated the genre like a playground for Down syndrome children. This colossal number of mishaps supersedes a figure unimaginable.

Films of this persuasion should ban together and employ a tag-line that more accurately summarizes their endgame:

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