Madman opens with Taller Chris Kattan screwing up the lyrics to Highway to Heaven—and it gets clumsier from there. It’s not so much that Madman is a bad movie, it just tries too hard to be a good one, like an average student who kisses up to teacher in the hopes of getting an A.
The film follows a group of the absolute dumbest camp counselors ever put in charge of children. In one scene, Ugly Ken Doll gives a speech about a knife . . . I think . . . but not before Taller Chris Kattan and Fat Old Stephen Baldwin with a Mustache spend an unbearably long time trying to pull an axe from a log. Later, Stoned Jennifer Beals struggles up a hill for an unreasonably long time and blows a raspberry at it—‘it’ being the hill—upon finally making it to the top. Once the killing begins, these mental giants troop into the woods, alone, one at a time.
And did I mention these are counselors at a camp for gifted children? And that the counselors seem to outnumber the kids two-to-one?
Near the end of the film, one of the women arms herself with a rifle and promptly shoots her friend’s corpse in the face. The only reason these people survive as long as they do is that the killer appears to be a homeless Santa after decades of sustained cocaine abuse. He also sounds like a constipated bear.
One of the girls hides in a refrigerator, I kid you not—and it works! The killer, Madman Marz, stomps around for awhile, noisily bemoaning his impacted colon, before wandering off.
When he’s finally killed, Taller Chris Kattan is strung up in a tree . . . and he goes by the initials T.P. That’s borderline poetic right there.
In Madman, we also learn that, if your truck won’t start, first check the engine for a severed head. If you find one, remove it; the truck should now start just fine.
Throughout all the killing, one of the kids wanders around the woods, playing Boy Detective as he tracks the killer. Not only did this little jackass set the whole thing off, he forces the counsellors to go looking for him, getting them all killed, and—wait for it—he survives!
The worst thing about Madman is that somewhere, deep down, there’s a kinda sorta pretty okay horror movie. But it just couldn’t be contented with being a kinda sorta pretty okay horror movie; it keeps trying for ham-fisted Characterization, overwrought Tension, and cringe-inducing Romance. This movie includes the most awkward hot-tub—uh, honestly, I don’t even know what to call it, it’s not a sex scene—a hot-tub mating dance, maybe?
But as mentioned, Madman is more frustrating than it is terrible. The photography is actually pretty great and Madman Marz could be a cool villain if he toned down the ursine grunting and learned to swing an axe with a little more accuracy (it takes him, like, five tries before he finally gets Ugly Ken Doll). Technically-speaking, the movie isn’t bad (except the music, the music is very bad), it just needed a script that didn’t try to be so earnest and a group of counsellors that were, well, smarter.
If you’re the generous sort, give it a watch; it’s pretty short, after all. Otherwise, skip it.