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I, Madman (Blu-ray Review)

I-MadmanOn July 21, 2015, SCREAM FACTORY™ is proud to present I, MADMAN Blu-ray™on home entertainment shelves for the first time.  Arriving for the first time on Blu-ray, this long-awaited release contains insightful bonus content, including interviews with director Tibor Takacs, actor & artistic supervisor Randall William Cook, screenwriter David Chaskin, actor Clayton Rohner and actress Stephanie Hodge, behind-the-scene footage, audio commentary and much more! A must-have for movie collectors and horror enthusiasts.  Directed cult filmmaker Tibor Takacs (The Gate), I, MADMAN stars Jenny Wright (Near Dark, The Lawnmower Man), Clayton Rohner (April Fool’s Day, The Human Centipede III) and three-time Academy Award® winner Randall William Cook (Dr. Caligari) as the mysterious and frightening Malcolm Brand.

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Film 

After a spine-tingling paperback catches the imagination of bookstore clerk Virginia, she seeks out the author’s second book, I, Madman. But once she opens the cover, its eerie tale of obsessive love comes to life, catapulting a disfigured, scalpel-wielding killer from the world of fiction onto the streets of Hollywood with one demented goal: to win Virginia’s love, one murder at a time!

The year 1989 was a notable turning point in the horror genre, slashers in particular.  Its the year of the MPAA fiercely cutting up films and top tier franchises delivering some of their poorest entries.  This began a slump for the genre that it wouldn’t recover from until 1996 when Scream came out, surprised everyone and brought it back from an almost straight-to-video grave.

However, there’s one film that sorta came and went seemingly unnoticed and has kinda been forgotten until now.  One that is actually quality in a year where that factor was down.  Tibor Takacs I, Madman decided to jump into the slasher pool like everyone else, but the film had the desire to carve out its own identity in the mix.  The results are something that isn’t legendary by any means, but a film that winds up being more interesting and fun than a lot of its tired brethren of also rans and wannabes trying to be the next Jason or Freddy.

The concept is one of those “book I’m reading comes to life” plots with a slasher villain.  However, our set up is a very pulp-style noir look and setting.  Its all there in A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge writer David Chaskin’s script.  But what works marvelously is that Takacs “gets” this and beautifully imagines the film as I’m sure Chaskin was hoping.  The characters, the sets, the lighting, color schematics, everything looks lifted from a vintage pulp novel cover.  At times you almost feel like you’re watching your actual picture in your head while listening to an old timey radio play.

Our killer here is his own thing while having some loving qualities of others.  He truly is the “madman” the title suggests.  His torment, play and ultimate patience of his scheme is fun to watch.  This guy also has a fantastic makeup job, and he’s never quite the same, keeping him interesting for every reveal when he shows up in a different scene.  There is also a monster in this movie that is done by some really cool stop motion effects.  At one point I thought it might be some early CG work, but it winds up all stop motion and for the most part, it holds up rock solid.

I think this slasher has something for everyone.  It even could go beyond the horror realm for enjoyment.  The film does feel a little goofy at times, but I think its intended as part of its charm and wonderfully translated by its dorkly leading lady Jenny Wright.  Roger Ebert actually was a pretty big fan of this film from what’s been said in the bonus material.  Personally, I’d not heard of or seen it til now, but consider me a fan.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  This picture quality actually looks pretty damn good.  I think it honors the intended look from the filmmaker and is quite impressive with its display of colors in the picture.  The image has a naturally soft look, but detail is still very good when it comes to crinkles and texture on books/pages, surfaces and fabrics on clothing.

Depth:  Depth is pretty average.  Background imagery is pretty blurry even at its most focused.  Movements are good and smooth.

Black Levels: Blacks are rich and detail is only hidden when the lighting is not in an objects favor.  No real signs of crushing noticed.

Color Reproduction: Colors looks luscious and bold.  Purple sticks out quite good as well as the obvious reds.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are natural and consistent.  Detail is very good, especially on grisly, gory details like a mouth being cut out.

Noise/Artifacts: Some grain, specs and dirt.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Sound is plenty clear and loose in this mix.  The scoring, effects and vocals all sound free of each other and able to take center stage without stepping on one another’s toes.  Effects sound distinct and well rounded.  5.1 might be a bit excessive considering there’s nothing extravagant about the, but its still pretty nice.  The 2.0 theatrical mix does sound great too.

Low Frequency Extension:  The score gets a nice lift from the subwoofer as well as some scuffling and crashing.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The rear speakers are mostly relegated to ambiance.  The front speakers get some decent interplay from movement and distance.  All in all, you’re probably really good with the 2.0 track.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, clean and clear.

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Extras 

I, Madman features reversible cover art, showcasing a different poster image.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Tibor Takacs and Actor Randall William Cook

Ripped From The Pages: The Making Of “I, Madman” (HD, 33:23) – Just about all the key people involved with the movie, minus Jenny Wright, return to discuss the history of the film.  From its start as a love letter to pulp fiction novels, to shooting to the title change, everything is covered here in fine detail.  As always, its what you come to expect from these Scream Factory documentaries.

Behind The Scenes Footage With Audio Commentary By Randall William Cook (HD, 11:07) – The monster himself shares his home video footage from the set, while discussing more stuff over it.  Features him putting on his make up, shooting scenes and filming effects.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:11) – Titled Hardcover in this trailer.

Video Trailer (HD, 1:16)

Still Gallery with Commentary By Randall William Cook (HD, 6:47) – The actor gives insight as a montage of pictures from effects and make up tests, behind the scenes and promotional photos show.

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Summary 

While not a Collector’s Edition, there’s not much more you could ask for from this delicious Blu-ray release of I, Madman.  Seriously, its short a slip cover and the words “Collector’s” and “Edition” from being one.  The is a nice wealth of extras here that leave not much more to curiosity as to what else could have been included.  The picture and sound here are also lovely.  Blind buyers should fear not in picking up this little unseen gem and very unique entry into the slasher canon.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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