Silent Madness (1984)
The Plot: Dr. Joan Gilmore works at a mental institution and notices that a patient that was supposed to be released, John Howard, is still there and a dangerously psychotic killer, Howard Johns, has been released due to a computer error. When she alerts her superiors, Dr. Krueger and Dr. Van Dyce, she finds out they are trying to cover it up because it would spell disaster for their careers if anyone found about "Ward L," which is where they keep the untreatable patients in plastic bags and electric shock therapy. Meanwhile, Johns heads back to the sorority house where he killed four sorority sisters twenty years prior to continue his murderous rampage. Gilmore arrives and teams up with a reporter to find Johns and stop him while Krueger and Van Dyce send two paramedics to stop them from alerting the press about their wicked schemes.
Why The Art Is Awesome: To me, the artwork for Silent Madness epitomizes the '80s slasher perfectly. It has a classic image of a muscular man snarling as he is about to kill a scantily-clad college girls with a hatchet with a bleeding corpse behind her. Then there's the corny tagline and the oozy lettering of the title, and just to put a shining cherry on top of a majestic sundae, they throw in the claim, "IN 3-D" at the bottom! It's beautifully painted and is sheer, 100% cheesy genius.
Does The Film Live Up To The Art? Ehhh...kind of. While I did really enjoy the movie, it can't help but not live up to such amazing artwork (then again what film could?)! The acting is a lot better than you'd expect from a low-budget slasher, especially Belinda Montgomery as Dr. Gilmore, Solly Marx as Howard Johns, Ed Van Nuys as Dr. Van Dyce, and more. It's also spectacular how these people actually have real character: the heroes, heroines, and (most of the) victims are likable, while the villains are really despicable people, like the doctors and the paramedics working for them. The film isn't too bloody, but there's always some sort of zest to add flavor to almost lifeless kills. For example, how thrilling does a broken neck sound? Not that exciting, huh? Well, how about a girl doing upside-down aerobics gets a rep tied around her neck with the other end being tied to a weight and thrown out a window, thus snapping her neck? Now are you intrigued? Good. There's also a slightly gory drill to the skull sequence that I quite enjoyed.
There's also a double-whammy twist that comes at the end (meaning there's one twist that leads to another twist), and while I predicted the first twist, the second twist actually cleared up some complaints I had and I liked it! Given that I liked the characters, there's some good suspense scenes thrown in, especially during the staple end chase scene in the boiler room, which features some terrific set pieces for such a low-budget effort I might add! Now, the film was intended to be shown in 3-D, and I imagine that the 3-D sequences looked cool when you actually saw them in 3-D. However, without this effect, they come across as rather cheap and cheesy (think Jaws 3), but I find that this adds t the enjoyment I get out of it. And while the art shows a beefy, macho killer, the actual psycho is pretty scrawny, but he looks creepy enough to be menacing. This movie is definitely worth a purchase, even if you have to get it on VHS. It's a really good movie with out-of-this-world art. Too bad the VHS artwork was so bland (see below).
Once again, if you have a request for a film whose poster looks absolutely tantalizing but you don;t know if you should watch it or not, lave me a request and I'll try to get around to it.