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“MADMAN” (Blu-ray Review)

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Out of all the indie gems that came out of the slasher movement of the ‘80s, there are few that are as purely entertaining as MADMAN. Directed by Joe Giannone, MADMAN captures the spirit of old school summer camp urban legends, presenting the perfect amount of cheese alongside an impressive amount of technical craftsmanship as well. And despite it’s obscurity among the horror audience at large, the cult of MADMAN has grown over the decades since its initial release, many of whom have championed the film fervently as something much more substantial than its initial aesthetics may suggest.

For those unfamiliar, MADMAN is the cinematic equivalent of a campfire tale come to terrifying life, as a group of youths find themselves face-to-face with a murderous local legend known as “Madman Marz.” However, among these youths come a fairly more personable and eccentric band of characters than those who normally populate the slasher genre, and the film gets much mileage out of their suspenseful plights. Likewise, MADMAN also subverts the normal slasher mold by giving Madman Marz himself more than the lifeless stalker treatment one might see out of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, with Marz’s aggressive physicality lending a more unique approach to his homicidal tendencies.

However, leave it to the folks at Vinegar Syndrome to essentially give MADMAN an astounding makeover for the 21st century, offering an incredible deluxe Region Free Blu-ray package that will perhaps stand as the film’s most authentic and definitive release to date. With a 4K transfer struck from the original negative, MADMAN looks truly stunning in high definition, capturing a crystal clear picture quality from even the most softly lit scenes. Outside of seeing the film freshly minted on 35mm, this is likely the best visual representation of MADMAN to date. And the audio transfer is near-perfect as well, mastered dynamically and sounding much crisper than any previous release of the film.

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MADMAN also comes with an amazing set of features in this release, including both a wealth of ported-over material as well as some new additions as well. The highlight of the disc is likely Victor Bonacore’s comprehensive 90-minute documentary “THE LEGEND LIVES: 30 YEARS OF MADMAN”, which provides the story behind the films inception, execution and legacy from multiple viewpoints, whether it be the filmmakers, the performers or the fans. Furthermore, despite some sound issues, the low-fi “MADMAN: Alive at 35” featurette also provides further perspective on MADMAN’s history, and especially the cult fandom that has grown over the years. And another highlight of the disc comes in the form of the older commentary track featuring the now-deceased director Joe Giannone and star Tony Fish as well as Madman Marz himself Paul Ehlers and producer Gary Sales.

However, those features are just the tip of the iceberg, with Vinegar Syndrome dressing this release to the nines with extras from around the horror world. This include video interviews from conventions with Ehlers and Sales, a short interview on Sales’ early years breaking into the film business, an In Memoriam featurette and even vintage trailers, TV spots and stills. And for those looking for an outsiders perspective on the film, the disc even comes with a commentary track from The Hysteria Continues! podcast as well as a featurette on music that has been inspired by the film MADMAN. And to top it all off, the set even comes with reversible cover art designed by Ehlers himself (who designed the original poster as well)!

As a truly enjoyable and fun terror title, this writer hopes that this MADMAN set will reach a whole new audience of fright fans, as they’ll be able to experience the film through the finest lens possible. The 4K transfer for the title is nothing short of exceptional, and provides a clarity more impressive than most high-def transfers for its better known contemporaries. So whether you’re intimately familiar with the legend of Madman Marz or for those who have never heard the name whispered before, Vinegar Syndrome’s MADMAN Blu-ray is a nearly-immaculate home media release that must be seen to be believed.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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