Event Report: “MADMAN” Q&A at the Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers!Books/Art/Culture,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
When it comes to revival screenings, there’s no place quite like the Alamo. Whether it be classics, cult classics or any and every oddity in between, the spirit of the Drafthouse experience brings together a unique and energetic audience like no other cinema can. So when the opportunity rose for this writer to host Vinegar Syndrome’s screening of the 1982 slasher classic MADMAN, complete with a Q&A with the cast and crew of the film, I immediately accepted and prepared myself for what would undoubtedly be one hell of a time.
To be honest, the slasher subgenre isn’t particularly what this writer is incredibly familiar with, though not for a lack of trying. There are just so many slashers, as well as the respective imitators of said slashers as well as remakes, sequels and straight-to-video fare that it is legitimately difficult to be immersed into the subgenre while paying respect to the rest of the horror landscape. This meant that prior to the screening, despite having known of MADMAN’s reputation, I hadn’t been too familiar with the film, aside from a screening at a Halloween party several years back that was, at best, caught peripherally. However, the one thing that did stick out was the film’s amazing synth score, as well as the mythology behind the terror, known as “Madman Marz.”
So I arrived at the screening to see that the MADMAN crew had already set up shop outside the theater, selling T-shirts, VHS tapes, DVDs and more from the film’s 30+ year legacy. I quickly became acquainted with producer Gary Sales and composer Stephen Horelick, although I wouldn’t meet our third guest, MADMAN himself Paul Ehlers, until the Q&A afterwards. But after a friendly chat, I made my way to the mostly-full auditorium, with plenty of MADMAN fans excitedly watching the curated Drafthouse pre-show, which included clips from the likes of THE BURNING and another Vinegar Syndrome release, DON’T GO INTO THE WOODS.
After a brief introduction where I welcomed the crowd and plugged the upcoming Blu-ray release from Vinegar Syndrome, which streets on May 12th, the beautifully 4K-restored DCP rolled. The film has never looked sharper, which allowed James Lemmo’s cinematography to truly stand out, allowing both the cheesier elements and the impressive elements to have the benefit of beauty on their side. And with an audience, the film was a blast, cheering for every bloody kill and rooting for our favorite characters to make it out alive.
Following the screening, the lights came up and the Q&A began, with Sales, Horelick and Ehlers joining me at the front of the auditorium. Ehlers, of course, began the Q&A by impulsively screaming Madman Marz’s signature garbled yell, causing the crowd to break out in applause and hollers. And shortly after, this writer posed the first, and seemingly only, question of the night: “How did MADMAN come together?”
Immediately, Sales went into detail about how the film came together, including history on the horror genre pre-and-post-slasher boom, and how the film was hastily rewritten after learning the local legend, Cropsy, was being made into a horror film by a production five weeks ahead of theirs- the aforementioned THE BURNING. The MADMAN team then segued into individual stories about each of their initial involvement with the film. Immediately afterwards, Sales went on to talk about the road of the 35mm negative from the film’s initial release to its 4K transfer onto a DCP and Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome, saying the film had spent the first 20 years in a proper archive before jumping from the late director Joe Giannone’s garage to Sale’s storage unit. Sales then took a moment to pay tribute to the late cast and crew from the film, including Giannone, Tony Fish (who played the memorable T.P.) and Carl Fredericks.
Afterwards, Ehlers told a story that has become horror lore about how he, in partial SFX make-up, found out his 9-month-pregnant wife was going to give birth, running to the hospital and almost getting ushered to the emergency room as opposed to the maternity ward. This story would later go on to inspire an episode of AMAZING STORIES called “MUMMY, DADDY”, which is this writer’s all-time favorite AS episode by a mile. And right after that, Sales and Horelick made the announcement of the first ever official MADMAN soundtrack release (which you can read all about here).
Following that announcement, the floor was opened to the audience, and off the bat, an interesting question was posed: has Adam Green ever talked about the similarities between MADMAN and HATCHET? Then and there, the facts began to flood in, with both Crowley and Marz being similar in look and style, and HATCHET, which posed itself as a return to “Old School American Horror,” having many pacing and mythology similarities. While this writer is able to give Green the benefit of the doubt, some in the audience weren’t so forgiving, including Sales, who said he had actually been in talks with the company that released HATCHET beforehand about doing a MADMAN remake, which came to a screeching halt once HATCHET was released.
Another point of controversy came via DAWN OF THE DEAD / CREEPSHOW star Gaylen Ross, who has had her name removed from the film and apparently refuses to sign anything MADMAN-related from her convention appearances. While Sales and Co. have no ill will towards Gaylen, and even have high hopes in getting her involved in future MADMAN content, she still does not want to be associated with the film as of this writing.
After those issues were addressed, the trio launched into a cavalcade of anecdotes. Ehler offered a story about a painted-grey mouse accidentally being lit on fire by an on-set candle (and purportedly all being captured on camera), as well as his involvement with his son to make a short form spiritual sequel to MADMAN. Sales then posited a story about how he almost was killed while taking still photos near the infamous shotgun sequence, and also spoke about buying actual bones from butcher shops to make for the realistic bone-cracking sounds during death sequences. And Horelick spoke about composing the score in a time where all-electric scores had never really happened, and further spoke about aiding the sound design with synth tricks, including with the footsteps in the opening sequence.
At the end of the night, Sales, Ehler and Horelick addressed the future of MADMAN, considering now the film is getting a top-of-the-line Blu-ray release and vinyl treatment. According to Sales, they have a ton of unreleased deleted scenes from the film in storage, and are working to release it in some capacity independently, including more backstory on Madman Marz himself. And Sales reiterated that the remake is still in development, and believes that it will happen sooner rather than later.
To keep up on further MADMAN developments, including the remake, you can follow the property on Facebook here. To pick up Vinegar Syndrome’s 4K blu-ray for MADMAN, you can find it here. And for more horror screenings at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers, including DUEL, CHRISTINE and Richard Stanley’s uncut version of HARDWARE, you can find the schedule of events here.