Prepare For The Backwoodsman Version Of Wilfred Brimley
It is December, the holiday season and one thing that is always brought out is the wonderful stories that are told. This is not one of those films, but it does have a huge bearded fat man. Now of course, this fat man is not Santa Clause……but that is mere semantics to me. And of course, this film is set in the summer during camp so I guess a big answer should be……..why would I choose to induct this film. Well, the answer is simply because I own this movie and I am saving money. Why am I saving money? Because I am going to a WWE pay per view and since I have been to Royal Rumble, Summerslam, & Survivor Series……I feel the need to finish the big four pay per views that WWE does and that will be………….
But that is enough of my personal life, let’s get to the film. But of course first………..we need some back-story.
Joe Giannone was merely a small time assistant director whose only film credit at the time was as such in a film called Parts: The Clonus Horror.
Might Want To Induct This Film One Day Because It Is Indeed Terrible.
Anyway, around 1982…..this small time assistant director was offered a chance to write and direct his own film. He remembered being told of the old Cropsy story one time. The Cropsy story if you are wondering is an old campfire story about a cruel caretaker who falls victim to a prank and ends up being burned to the point of disfigurement. The other part is somehow this man survived and is haunting the same campground that he was once caretaker for. In fact, this whole movie was originally going to be based off of that story, but……….as strange luck would have it, there was already another movie doing the same plot.
That Film Was Released A Year Early & It Was Called The Burning
So they had to change the killer and they came up with their own story about a backwoodsman who was evil and survived being killed for his evil deeds. They even added the fact that you needed to say his name before he appeared, which of course was taken off of the old legend of Blood Mary; a tale in which if you say her name three times in the mirror, she appears and you are in deep trouble. Of course being that this is a small independent film, they could only get one big name they were able to get was Gaylen Ross.
Who Was Just A Few Years Off Her First Film Role…..As The Main Female Character In Dawn Of The Dead
But the studio wanted more and they originally wanted Vincent Price to play the role of the storyteller in this film, but as you can surmise…..Vincent Price would have cost a bit more money and I am also pretty sure at the time that Vincent was not in the mood to do a slasher film. Also, they had another actress that backed off at the last minute so they had to hire casting assistant Jan Claire for that role. One more thing that did happen that during filming, the man who they got to play Madman Marz (the killer) Paul Ehlers left the set during filming because just at that moment, his wife was giving birth to his son. He actually was in the makeup when he reached the hospital (he had no time to change) so he kind of scared many of the people at the hospital. Another actor Tony Fish, ended up singing two songs for the soundtrack so several of these actors had multiple roles.
Actually you know what; there is another reason to do this film. Despite this being based off of the summer, they shot this film in the winter time. Because of that, they had to paint the leaves of the trees and the bushes green So in a way we actually have a good enough reason to do this as a December induction. Good enough reason as any, but let’s stop this and just get to the damn movie.
We begin with this very cheaply made opening title screen.
Yep…..so cheap that you can tell it was just painted by somebody. The painter of course would be the Madman himself Paul Ehlers and in fact, this was originally supposed to be the poster art, but it turned out the production company already made one.
Wait………where is Gaylen Ross? Who is this Alexis Dubin woman? The story about that as we all know, actors can choose to disassociate themselves from movies by choosing to give themselves alternate names so as to not have it on their film credits (today now, it does not matter as IMDB will most likely find out who you are and credit you with the film nowadays). Gaylen Ross decided she didn’t want to associate with this film so she demanded she be given an alternate name under her credit and she chose the name Alexis Dubin. In fact, still to this day…..Gaylen Ross wants nothing to do with this film. Anyway, back to the film.
We get this credit scene over with (very quickly actually) and I should note the opening music is pretty catchy. We then get this opening written line to explain what is going on.
We then cut to a campfire with our main characters.
Betsy, with a kid
Bill & Ellie
Dave & Stacy
And Finally, T.P. & Max
We hear T.P. singing about some madman and we get to hear Max tell the story of Madman Marz. Marz was a farmer who was a heavy drinker and was often very abusive towards his wife and kids. He apparently had a piece of his nose bitten off during a fight and didn’t feel a thing. And then one night, Marz went extremely mad and killed his wife and kids with an axe. He then went to the local tavern where he drank a lot, and calmly showed his blood axe before ordering himself a drink. When the town found out what had happened, ten men attacked Marz and hung him from a tree. One of the ten even took the bloody axe and struck Marz in the face with it, leaving him with a huge gash. When the locals returned the next day, they found that Marz was gone and so were the bodies of his murdered family. Supposedly, Marz is still on the loose looking for people to kill and if you say his name above a whisper, he will come to kill you.
Richie of course finds this story extremely funny and decides to be an ass, by yelling Madman Marz’s name and throwing a rock at the house, that Marz supposedly lived at. Max then jokingly scolds Richie for his arrogance, so you know even the head counselor doesn’t take this story seriously. Max decides that story time is over and it is now time to head back to the camp. Max has the special kids (which includes Richie) line up in single file so they can head back.
Betsy immediately gives T.P. shit for trying to scare the kids with his song and antics. T.P. of course apologizes and immediately you can sense that he and Betsy are seeing each other. Betsy doesn’t want to do it tonight and T.P. gets a little frustrated because he knows once they get back to the city, Betsy will no longer want to see him and since this is basically the last night they can have before the parents spend the last weekend with the kids and then camp is over, he does not have much time left. Stacy stops the two from arguing and basically tells them that they are basically making it public knowledge, which no one really needs to know. Betsy leaves and Stacy tells T.P. that if he really loves her, the biggest test is letting her go, not hanging on.
They all try to go back to camp, but unknown to the others, Richie stays behind because he sees something in the trees.
Spoiler Alert: It’s Madman Marz
Interesting tidbit in this scene, because the actor who portrays the killer had fake feet, he nearly slipped and fell out of the tree.
Richie then decides for no reason, to go into the abandoned house that Marz lived in. Meanwhile, you can hear small growls from the basement as Richie looks around. Suddenly, you see somebody who isn’t Richie come out of the basement door and go into the woods. Back at the camp, Stacy and Betsy get to talking. They talk about T.P.’s possessive nature and yet Betsy still likes him. Stacy talks about the dream of spending the rest of her life with one man and when Betsy asks about it, she says she has a couple men in mind because she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with one man yet. Betsy then thanks Stacy for being a good friend.
Then there is a pointless scene where Max tells T.P. that his offer still stands on a hundred bucks to anyone who can take that axe out of the stump.
As you can guess, it still stands and T.P. tries, but fails as the axe is deeply in there.
We then meet Dippy, who is the caretaker and a bit of a drunk.
T.P. is not happy about losing, but Max tells him that is doesn’t matter if you win or lose….just play the game with a fair heart and you will always be able to look at yourself in the mirror. Play to hard to win though, and you might not like what you become. Stacy then wakes Dippy up, who is now taking a nap, and implies that he should get to work.
Dippy goes and tries to get into work, but he bumps into Madman Marz, who makes quick work in killing the drunk.
We then see Marz drag his body. We transition into a scene where two of the boys think that Richie stayed behind and try to make up his bed so as to give Richie more time before he gets into trouble. We then go back to Richie who is in the attic, and he hears strange roars once again so of course, he decides to investigate. He sees Marz leaving in the distance (who just came back to get a noose from his basement and hide Dippy’s body) and of course, Richie follows.
At the lodge, the counselors are all having a drink where Max congratulates the counselors on another successful year. Betsy then questions Max on the campfire story and Max tells her he will exclude the younger kids from his storytelling so they are not scared. Max then leaves for the city so he can get some supplies and play cards, so he leaves the camp to the rest of the counselors in his absence. But before he forgets, he tells the kids that he knows about the beer hidden at the bottom of the refrigerator against orders and while the counselors expect him to scold them for it; he cheerfully tells them to save a beer for him. T.P. then talks and tells the group he is sorry for the scene he made in his argument with Betsy. T.P. then proposes a toast “to friends and friendship; to love and lovers; may you always have more than you need” and of course, everyone agrees to that toast.
We then see a romance scene between T.P. and Betsy around the Jacuzzi. The two decide to go around and around inside it, before kissing. We even see a quick shot at Betsy’s boobs (probably the reason she didn’t want to be associated with this film). The going around in the Jacuzzi is a bit pointless and during that whole time, I can only think to add the energizer bunny.
It Keeps Going And Going…..
Of course, we do see Madman Marz peeping through the windows, which I guess if I know the slasher movie laws; means that he knows that he knows he needs to kill these two.
Well, I’m Now Contractually Obligated To Kill These Two
We then cut to Richie doing some more snooping in the woods. It is basically there to signify that Richie got his stupid ass lost in the woods. We also get a scene of Stacy playing a musical instrument (I am not knowledgeable on musical instruments other than it is some type of blowing instrument, so I am not going to bother guessing). We then get a fireplace scene where Sally, Bill, Ellie, & Dave all lie next to each other…
Personally, I Think They Are Trying To Make An Album Cover
Dave then goes into the philosophical BS before producing a knife.
Don’t Worry……….Since This Guy Is Not The Killer, He Isn’t Going To Kill Anyone.
It is just more philosophical BS and this scene is basically pointless. We get mores scenes of Richie getting lost in the woods before we move to a scene where T.P. finds out that the kid stayed behind so he is going out to find the straggler. We then cut to Bill and Ellie showing that there is a romantic connection between these two.
Wait……………….What The Hell Are Those Lines Doing There?
Well, I will answer that question after I finish the film. While looking for Richie….
We Actually See T.P. Flash His Light At Madman
T.P. thinks he sees something so he decides to investigate what he saw. Suddenly, Richie gets a noose put around his neck, dragged, and his hung from a tree.
T.P. fights to stay alive and takes longer than Marz had expected….to the point where Madman Marz says in his mind “Enough with this shit”, and pulls T.P. down by his leg so he can break his neck. It is a really good death scene and you can hear the bones crack.
Meanwhile, we see Betsy playing the “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” game with a paper flower and it is apparent that she is worried that T.P. has not returned. She tells Stacy & Dave about her worries and Dave volunteers to look for T.P. As Dave walks out, we see Marz grab the axe that was lodged into the tree stump, and gets it out.
Max Owes Marz A Hundred Bucks
Wait, I’m sorry…….I should be easily able to get a reference out of this one.
Too Bad For Him The Sword In The Stone Is Not In America And Is Instead In England…..Or We Would Be Talking About King Marz.
Yep, that is so much better. Dave goes to the campfire, but finds neither T.P. nor Richie. Dave finds T.P.’s flashlight….and T.P.’s still hanging corpse. But Madman decided to make his newly acquired axe of use and chop down the rope holding T.P.’s body so the corpse can fall on Dave. Dave runs off and decides to bring out his knife, because instead of running to get help, he thinks fighting the killer who has an axe with a knife is such a good idea. Dave actually is able to avoid several swings of the axe, but this goes just about how you would expect it to go.
Dave Loses His Head & Marz Has His New Axe Look Like The Axe He Used To Kill His Family.
We then transition to Stacy (who from the look on her face, feels that Dave has been killed) and tells Betsy that they should meet in the office. Stacy tells Betsy that the latter should stay in the cabins while she drives the truck they have and attempt to find Bill & Ellie (God, I keep forgetting her name). Betsy thinks they should both stay in the cabin and then Stacy says that the difference between the two is Betsy is okay with just content to sit behind and she would rather see what is going on. Of course Betsy takes this as more of her friend just having fun with her instead of a flat out insult.
While Bill & Ellie are fucking, Stacy comes up to them and tells them that there is something going on back at camp, and they are needed. Stacy then goes around and investigates, all the while being completely oblivious to the heavy breathing the killer is doing while stalking her. She goes into the car and the car won’t start so she goes under the hood to see what is up. Stacy is able to get the truck started and just in time as Marz was about to open the other door before she drives off, unknowing that the Madman was nearby.
Bill and Ellie are back at the cabins and they decide to help Stacy in her search for the others while Betsy still decides to stay. Stacy gets out of the car and looks around, finding nobody and with a hand we see that Marz is near. But eventually she does find Dave’s lamp…..
And Dave’s Headless Body.
Well, Now Dave Can Go To Sleep Hollow
Stacy screams and runs back to the truck. She tries to get start the truck, but in typical horror movie cliché, the truck doesn’t start. She pops the hood and goes to fix the engine. But Madman is waiting and decides to jump on the hood, which lowers and with the weight, makes Stacy lose her head.
I would say I was impressed………if I had not already seen this type of scene done in the craptastic Home Sweet Home.
You Know What? That Movie Is So Shitty, Comparing Madman To Home Sweet Home Is An Insult…………………..To Madman
Bill & Ellie keep looking for Stacy, but they are able to find the truck. The two then decide to split up so they can cover more ground.
Don’t Do That!!!!
Ellie looks around and sees Marz over the body of Stacy.
The Madman Thanks You For Alerting Him To Your Presence
Ellie runs and finds Bill. She then immediately tells Bill about what she saw. Of course, the killer and the corpse are gone and since Bill didn’t see anything, I guess it didn’t happen.
Except That There Is Blood On The Front Of The Car
Ellie immediately Bill’s story that there is nothing, and wants to go back to the office. The truck of course doesn’t start and Bill decides that it is his turn to check the hood.
Oh, I See What The Problem With Your Truck Is. There Is A Head Inside.
Both Bill & Ellie see this and decide to get back into the truck (after getting the head out, of course). The truck immediately starts, but as soon as that happens…..Bill is grabbed by Marz, whose foot hits the gas. While Ellie screams, she does not notice this and the car moves. It immediately crashes into a tree and our poor girl falls out. There she can only watch helplessly as Marz breaks Bill’s back.
Ellie runs away as Marz drags Bill’s body away. Richie, who of course decided to take a shit in the woods, hears this and decides to follow. When Marz leaves, Richie enters the house and goes to the basement. There, he is extremely horrified by what he sees.
As Betsy is tucking one of the girls to bed, we see Ellie run back to camp. She runs into the office to find Betsy is not there (because she is somewhere else). Betsy then goes to the lodge and she sees that Marz is there. She runs from Marz and immediately hides in the fridge.
Well, We At Least Know Where Indiana Jones Got This Trick From.
Now here is the problem with this little scheme, especially if the fridge isn’t broken. Refrigerators are meant to keep stuff inside and can really be opened on the outside. In fact, there have been known cases where kids have hidden in the fridge………….and because they could never get it open, they suffocated. So basically, hiding in a refrigerator is a death trap.
Luckily for Ellie, this isn’t one of those working fridges so she is immediately able to open it from the inside after Marz leaves. Ellie thinks she is safe, but we immediately are made to realize that Marz just hid and waited for her to think the coast is clear. Madman then comes out and kills Ellie with the axe.
Betsy leaves the girls cabin to finally go out and investigate the outside. When she gets back to the lodge, she looks in the window and immediately sees blood all over the place. She is terrified and runs off. She goes to the office and calls Max. She then explains that there is blood all over the place and he needs to come back. Max tells her that he will be right there and hangs up to leave. Betsy sees the big figure running around and immediately grabs a shotgun. She goes out with her gun and investigates. A bleeding Ellie comes to the window and in a panic, Betsy blows her head off.
A kid hears the shotgun blast and go outside to figure out what happened. Betsy tells the child to wake everyone else up. Betsy then immediately has all the kids go outside and get on the bus. Betsy then attempts to drive them to safety, but there is a moment of worry when Marz tries to get on the bus. Betsy then gets off the bus to try and find the others so she tells one of the older kids to drive the bus out of the camp. Betsy goes to the abandoned house and plans on taking care of this killer. After a few minutes of investigating, Betsy encounters the Madman.
Okay, I have to be honest…………..I think I can see the real actor’s eye lids under that mask. Marz gets the gun away from Betsy and immediately starts beating up on the girl, leaving a huge gash on her face. He then drags Betsy to the basement, despite her trying to put up somewhat of a fight. He then impales her onto some nearby hooks.
Betsy produces a nice from well……….somewhere and stabs Marz in the back. As Marz agonizes in pain, he accidentally knocks over a candle and the basement starts burning. We then finally get a close-up shot of Marz’s face.
Meanwhile, Max finds Richie who is on the road. Max looks at Richie and wonders what is going on. All Richie can say is....
Richie: Madman….Marz….He’s Real…..
The movie then ends with an awesome little theme song and showing all the bodies as well as the fact that Marz is still alive. In fact, if you don’t mind……..I would like to show the lyrics to this little song.
Lore of campfire, telling of his horror
Lost in the woods, with the Madman and the staaaars
Don’t laugh at the ta-a-ale, he-heed if you call him
The le-e-egend lives, beware the Madman Marz
The le-e-egend lives, beware the Madman Marz
Oh yeah, I forgot that the closing credits have the same artwork as the opening credits.
Now let me just get this DVD nonsense out of the way for all of you die-harders in the DVD world. The transfer in this DVD has plenty of issues, including the lines that they showed you. It also has a redder tint than the other DVD (an Anchor Bay release, which is out of print). This was released by a company named Code Red, whose head blamed the producer Gary Sales rushing the DVD release for the reason the transfer on the DVD isn’t that great. Now I am not a huge DVD stickler, I just care if I get the uncut movie or at least deleted scenes. Now here are differences between two. The Anchor Bay release has a better transfer and the color is more corrected with it having more of a bluish tint. The Code Red release is in widescreen and has freaking extras like a very good featurette about the film. Honestly, you could go either way…..and the only reason I have the Code Red DVD is it is cheaper right now because it is not out of print yet and I appreciate the extras.
Now let’s talk about the aftermath. This movie was not a success at all and this is the only film that was directed by Joe Giannone. He would be an assistant director for a TV movie called Nightsongs and a consulting producer on a crappy 2001 film called The Wind. In 2006, Joe died at the age of 60 so he will not be able to do anything more and was not able to give any help when the crew of Madman made the documentary of the film, which is on the Code Red DVD. Gaylen Ross played Betty Vickers in Creepshow and was in two episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger before she decided to retire from acting so she could focus on being behind the camera. Gaylen Ross used to do horror conventions, but I don’t think she does them any more….and not once has she ever mentioned Madman, so you get a sense that she still wants nothing to do with this film. Being that this is a lower budgeted movie, it should come as no surprise that almost none of these people have done anything of notice afterwards.
Now for my verdict on this film. Despite it not being well received for basically not being able to explain much, I like this film and in all honestly, I don’t think you need to explain everything……….only what is needed to be explained. When you try to explain too much, you get an explanation that you were better off not knowing, like the Star Wars prequels or the Highlander sequels. So with this film being 88 minutes (which is shorter than the nightmares I am used to), it is short and sweet. And I actually like this film more than The Burning, because at least the killer isn’t a disappointment. I am also glad to hear that thanks to the good folks at Deadpit Radio (the innovators of horror talk radio), this film has now garnered a bigger cult following than it had before.
The next induction will be in 2011 when I crown the GINO Award to the worst movie involving a monster of 2010. Otherwise, I will post my radio appearances and anything else that comes up that I feel like posting. But mostly, I will be spending time with my family for the holidays so all I can say is…………Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a Happy Kwanza, you filthy animals.
And A Happy New Year….