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Madman (1981)

A legendary psychopathic murderer stalks a summer camp.


Joe Giannone


Joe Giannone (screenplay), Joe Giannone (story) | 1 more credit »
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Gaylen Ross ... Betsy (as Alexis Dubin)
Tony Fish ... TP
Harriet Bass ... Stacy
Seth Jones ... Dave
Jan Claire ... Ellie
Alex Murphy ... Bill
Tom Candela ... Richie (as Jimmy Steele)
Frederick Neumann ... Max (as Carl Fredericks)
Michael Sullivan Michael Sullivan ... Dippy
Paul Ehlers ... Madman Marz
Tom Veilleux Tom Veilleux ... Tommy
Stephen Clark Stephen Clark ... Jimmy
Vicki Kenneally Vicki Kenneally ... Mary Ellen
Shelley Mathes Shelley Mathes ... Shirley
Lori Mathes Lori Mathes ... Jeanie


At a summer camp for youths, cockey pre-teen calls out the name of mass serial killer "Madman Marz". Suddenly, counselors are being maimed and slaughtered in various ways by the backwoodsman who has returned when his name was called. Written by Humberto Amador

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They thought they were alone. See more »


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The crew had to paint the leaves of trees and bushes green on location, because the film was being shot in winter, but was supposed to be set in warmer weather. See more »


When Marz is holding Bill up in the air and is about to kill him, Bill cries out but his mouth doesn't match the words heard. See more »


Max: Losing, winning - what's the difference? Play the game with a fair heart, and you'll always be able to look yourself in the mirror. Play too hard to win, and you might not like what you become.
See more »


References Night School (1981) See more »


I Don't Need Words
Sung by Tony Fish (as Tony Nunziata)
Written, Produced and Arranged by Gary Sales
© 1980 Gary Sales
See more »

User Reviews

The ogre and the axe
28 December 2014 | by drownnnsodaSee all my reviews

"Madman" is essentially an early '80s retread of the summer camp slasher (done exponentially better by "Friday the 13th" and "The Burning" before it, and "Sleepaway Camp" after it). In the beginning of the film, a group of camp counselors and preteens are around a campfire— it's the week before Thanksgiving (who goes to camp in November?), and since the camp is shutting down, the counselors decide to tell the story of a local farmer named Madman Marz who hacked his family to death with an axe. One of the counselors decides it would be a good idea to call out his name to the surrounding woods, and lo and behold, when they come a'calling, he comes a'killin'.

Hailed as a cult film by many fans, I'm halfway baffled as to why so many consider "Madman" to be as extraordinary as they do. It's not that the film suffers from being routine — that's expected from an '80s slasher epic— but there are a lot of other issues with it that leave something to be desired. The script, for one, is beyond hokey, and the villain himself is about the least scariest maniac I can recall on film— an ogreish redneck in overalls with a clearly prosthetic face? It just ain't scary, folks. Lackluster performances and truly indistinguishable characters don't help much either.

The film does feature some really great photography at times, especially during the nighttime sequences in the woods, which make up the bulk of the film, but incredibly dodgy editing and an abrasive synth score detract from the moodiness of the proceedings. Even the darkness of the upstate New York forest and the musty cabins of the camp fail to establish a solid sense of atmosphere here, and the film suffers for it. There are a couple of gruesome killings, but by and large even the murder sequences are anticlimactic. Perhaps the film's most indubitable sin, however, is that it flashes the murder sequences of each character across the screen in the opening campfire scene. I mean, obviously we know that most of them are going to die anyway, but why strip any potential surprise from a virtually incredulous film?

It's not that I have a bias to the summer camp/backwoods slasher either, nor did I want to dislike this film. There are dozens of films that follow this thread which I am a fan of: "The Burning," "Friday the 13th," "Just Before Dawn," "The Final Terror"— the difference with those films though is that, despite their formalities, they excel in other areas and are able to distinguish themselves because of it. "Madman" doesn't do that; the most it has to offer is some neat nighttime cinematography, a ridiculous hot tub sex scene, and perhaps the most absurd theme song in film history. Highlights: the eerie silhouette of Madman in the tree (as depicted on the 2003 Anchor Bay cover art), and the downbeat ending. 4/10.

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Release Date:

18 February 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Madman Marz See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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