We here at Nightmare Nostalgia truly hope you have a bloody good one today! But we know why you’re here. Wherever you find yourself right now: out to eat, on your way home (or tonight’s big date) or whether you’re a single heart with a party of one you have still found yourself here with us in our happy little private asylum of dark wonders. So huddle up close and join the Nightmare cast on the most romantic day of the year! And oh boy, does your ol’ buddy Manic have a sticky good treat for you all tonight!
Firstly, holiday horror movies are all the rage during the festive times. We have so many to choose from, and although it sometimes feels as if both Halloween (obviously) and Christmas hog all the spotlight we do in fact have some dark little delicacies to pick from every February 14th! Oh I know many will naturally go to the timeless classic My Bloody Valentine – as rightly you should – but today I want to focus on a little lesser known Valentine’s Day atrocity brought to us by the one and the only, the late great Peter Cushing!
He and Christopher Lee are my two favorite actors of all time! More than once this dastardly duo starred in some of the greatest horror classics of the ages. Anytime the two appeared in a monster classic you could bet it was going to be grander than life itself!
Today Peter Cushing is best known by modern audiences as the cold-blooded Grand Moff Tarkin of Star Wars, a man who gives orders to annihilate entire planets, snuffing out life, erasing cultures and extinguishing entire histories.
To me, he will always be revered as Baron Frankenstein, who was not above murder to obtain specimens to further his heinous crimes against Life. However, when he wasn’t building monster he was fighting them as the heroic Dr. Van Helsing, a man who was a superhero long before Marvel pooped out their products over-abundantly nearly every month – and his Van Helsing was more kick-ass than the Avengers combined. Dracula ran from him!
A long while ago there was a Tales From the Crypt movie that worked as an anthology horror film, much like Creepshow. This film featured several segments of the comeuppance of some very unpleasant fellows who get to revisit their ungodly crimes right before they are dropped into the flaming horrors of Hell.
One such segment is Poetic Justice. In it, we see our dear Peter Cushing who is a loving man who behaves like the local Santa of sorts. The noble widower finds discarded things among the rubble and makes toys out of their otherwise abandoned parts, giving new life and plenty of joy to the neighboring children. However, hateful eyes are turned against the dear old man and spitefully he is attacked and bullied until he no longer can take it.
It’s interesting because I first saw this movie back when I was a kid and had no earthly business watching such gruesome spectacles at such an early age – but I’d not trade it for the world! I couldn’t have been older than five, and this episode of the movie always stood out to me. So much so that I thought it was a nightmare I had dreamt up because anytime I inquired about it, no one knew what I was talking about. Then last year I picked up a VHS copy of Tales From the Crypt and to my surprise HERE IT WAS! Exactly as I remembered it.
So here you go, lovelies! From Manic with Love! Awwww.
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and remember it NEVER pays to be heartless to others.
Madman may not share the infamy of other slasher films of the era such as Sleepaway Camp, Silent Night, Deadly Night, or My Bloody Valentine, but make no mistake – this small-budget independent horror movie has proven to be a tremendous force to be reckoned with.
Madman Could Not Be Stopped
Upon its release, it received horrible coverage. According to Madman himself (Paul Ehlers) the film never found its way on the cover of any magazine of the day and there was only a tiny blurb of an article discussing its merit. That’s shameful! To top it all off, very few theaters chose to showcase the movie making its audience miserably limited. Under most usual circumstances, Madman should have been quickly forgotten in the traffic of better-known franchises. However, in spite of its challenges not only did the film find its audience but has enjoyed cult stardom that grows stronger with each new viewing.
Being a fan of Madman is like being part of an exclusive club. A fan club with members like Joe Bob Briggs and Quentin Tarantino. Yup, both of them are Madman fans. Others praise Jason, Michael, and Freddy (nothing wrong with that at all I must add), but Madman fans are a category all of their own. It’s as if knowing the movie is our own kind of secret handshake. We recognize his growl and know his theme song by heart – and damn proud of it!
Originally the movie was based on local ghost stories. That’s right, my little ghoulies, initially Madman was rooted in the infamous Cropsey legend and was always intended to be the quintessential campfire boogeyman. He is a rumor, the resident guilty secret no one dares talk about after nightfall, and a whisper that chills the blood with inescapable dread. After thirty years he is still proving to be the ultimate deep woods camp legend. All you need to know to survive is “Don’t say his name above a whisper, or pay the hideous consequences.”
Today we’re going to pay the Madman his dues and celebrate all the fun, screams, and gory good fun of this underrated slasher!
The Madman Legend
Old man Marz was anything but a soft-spoken farmer who lived peaceably out in the woods with his family. Oh no. Marz was an ugly drunk who beat his wife to a pulp and savaged both of his kids. When he wasn’t raising Hell at home he was busy cracking skulls open at the local tavern. In one such brawl his nose had been bitten off, but Marz – being the hateful cuss that he was – didn’t feel a thing.
His was a house of pain where a bruised wife and traumatized children lived in constant fear of his violent outbursts. It was anything but a home. That same hateful abode still stands, but is now rattled by the cruel ticking away of time and is cursed with haunted whispers and frightful suspicions; for one night Marz went completely ravenous mad. Without a hint of warning or any reason the old farmer picked up his axe and walked across the creaking floor boards with only a single thought in mind: murder. One by one Marz slaughtered each member of his family with cold systematic precision. As if to celebrate the event once finished Marz strolled into town – and still sodden by his family’s blood – sat himself down and had a beer at the tavern.
Upon realizing his crime vigilantes took matters into their own hands. Fed up with the sadism of the hateful creature they dragged Marz onto the streets. Someone took the Madman’s bloodied axe and buried it deep into the farmer’s face. He was still standing though, now driven by a rage that would please the cruelties of Satan and ready to slaughter the whole town. Luckily though they strung him up to the nearest tree and hung him there, thinking all was over. The next morning though Marz was no longer at the tree. He and the bodies of his family went missing, never to be found.
Madman Marz –as he came to be known, was never mentioned among the locals for fear that he would hear his name and come running.
Upon the anniversary of the Marz family murder our cast of heroes (victims) have decided to camp just a little too close to the old farmer’s abandoned property. What begins as a fun little camp-fire ghost story soon turns into a night of savage butchery as the Madman hunts each of them down. All too late it becomes apparent that the legends are real – that he is real – and there is no escaping him.
As far as back stories go his is one Hell of a good one. So why in the Hell does he not get any more recognition than he does? Madman is just as equally vicious as either Jason or Leatherface. As a matter of fact, I’d love to see a crossover of Madman vs Leatherface. The hatchet vs the chainsaw. Two backwoods maniacs with a taste for blood battling it out to the death! It should at the very least be a comic book for Shoggoth’s sake!
It’s an understatement to say this is a criminally underrated 80’s slasher film. It’s beautifully filmed all at night giving it an eerie tone that makes you think the killer waits behind every shadow. Fans of the slasher genre deserve to discover this one. It’s a film that needs to be experienced, and is best experienced with a group of friends.
While filming Madman there was a rumor that someone was lurking around the woods at night uninvited and wanting to interrupt the crew’s progress. The director approached our Madman star and asked him to go out in the woods at night and stalk the stalker. While in full makeup and costume by the way. No lurker was ever found though.
Gaylen Ross of Dawn of the Dead stars in the movie. However, not only does she use a fake name in the end credits but allegedly refuses to admit she was ever involved in the making of the film.
Today we have seen Jason in Manhattan and space. Hell, the fucking Leprechaun got his little ass shot up into space. Michael has survived rappers and a remake. Freddy has been in a womb, in hell, and at Crystal Lake. And we have how many Hatchet – clearly inspired from Madman’s design – movies are there now? Not to mention Leatherface, Michael, Jason and Freddy are all now video game stars. But we only have one Madman movie. No sequels or remakes. There was talk that Paul Ehlers and his son had been working on a remake, but to my knowledge it hasn’t progressed beyond that. I think it’s a travesty that this never was allowed to become a franchise in of itself.
Not to mention I’m a horror figure collector and my shelf feels empty because Marz isn’t there. I’d gladly commission a talented artist to make me a Madman figure to stand beside my McFarlane Movie Maniacs.
Fans have made custom masks and fake trailers in honor of Marz. There’s a high demand for the Madman out there, and the love for his lore isn’t dying down. If you’re looking for a fun movie this is one
This has been Manic Exorcism. You all be sure to stay tuned in and keep those fuzzy nostalgic feelings warm here by the campfire. I’ll be leaving you with the iconic Madman song.
It’s one of those things that if you didn’t know, you’re mind just got friggin’ blown like a scene from Scanners.
I was one of those people, and I’m seriously pissed off that nobody bothered to tell me that this national treasure existed. FOR SHAME on you, while I hang my own head in humility.
Anway, upon learning about this hidden-from-me-gem, I immediately ordered a copy (and you should too) from Amazon, and gave it a view over this past weekend. I was not disappointed folks.
Fresh off the massive genre hit with fans Halloween, Carpenter aimed his directorial skills toward the smaller screen with 1979’s made for TV biopic Elvis. Starring in his first of many Carpenter films, Kurt Russell takes on the daunting task of portraying the man, the myth, the lip-curl himself, along with Russell’s real-life father Bing Russell playing Elvis’ father Vernon in the film as well. Which would totally account for the believability factor as far as paternal ownership in the movie. Shelly Winters (Roseanne, The Poisedian Adventure) tackles the important role of Mama Gladys- if you’re an Elvis fan, you know how much this man loved his mama. Also starring Halloween alumni Charles Cyphers, Pat Hingle, and Russell’s ex-wife Season Hubley as Priscilla Presley, Elvis is a wonderful Carpenter family affair on-screen that respectfully pays tribute to the trials and tribulations of rock legend without diving into his death.
Made only two years after the King’s passing, the 150-minute biopic focuses on the star’s childhood, the rise and peak of his fame, and the important relationships in this legend’s life that affected an empathetic man so greatly. According to reports, there are two other versions of the film that aired in the UK beginning with Elvis’ hair being cut before his entrance into the US army, and then the death of his mother. With a great deal of the story being told before these two incidents appear in the film, I’m certainly glad that wasn’t the final cut! We cannot be deprived of that wonderful Shelley Winters, now can we?
Apart from the obvious, and at times not so great lip-synching, Russell’s Elvis persona is by far, my favorite I’ve ever seen. You’re also talking to a born and raised Vegas girl here, and I’ve seen COUNTLESS impersonators in my lifetime; more than I even care to. But, Russell really does pull it off embodying the very spirit of the King right down to his signature movements and hell, he really does look like him too! So that’s a pretty great bonus. With portraying a personality as large as Elvis, it’s so easy to go overboard (haha) with it. However, with Russell, it seems natural. Which speaks volumes about his acting chops. Fun fact: Kurt Russell actually appeared in an Elvis film, It Happened at the World’s Fair in 1963, where a mini Russell kicked the King of Rock and Roll in the shins. Russell also dubbed the voice of Elvis seen in Forrest Gump in ’94 and played an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland. So I suppose it’s fair to say Russell has had his fair share of defining Elvis moments in cinema. However, Carpenter’s Elvis should, and I think is, his crowning achievement in his lip-curling legacy towards the once Graceland resident.
Originally airing as part of an ABC Sunday night special movie in 1979, Elvis went on to receive nominations from the Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture Made For Television and an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor (Russell). Didn’t win, but well deserved in any regard.
If you’re an Elvis fan or a lover of made for TV glory, I highly recommend picking this diddy up and adding it to your collection.
If you were of sound mind in 1993, you may recall a horrific little made for TV movie entitled The Secret Life of Jeffrey Dahmer. Or technically speaking, The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer.
Oh yes, we’re going to talk about this fuckery.
Frankly speaking, I’m not sure why this film isn’t talked about more often in horror circles. Visually the 1993 film looks pretty dated however, the movie that in my opinion, has most accurately depicted Dahmer’s perception of life and twisted state of mind, to this day holds up as THEE legit Dahmer movie out of the several that have popped up since the twisted killer’s arrest on July 22, 1991. And regarding gorehounds out there, it’s DEFINITELY the most brutal and by far the most unsettling to sit through. I’m not sure how I got away with watching this completely fucked up movie with my virgin 10-year-old eyes, but I most certainly did. Bless the golden age of HBO and the days when the boob tube was an acceptable babysitter for rugrats.
Directed by David Bowen and starring a convincible Carl Crew as the infamous Dahmer, The Secret Life is told from the killer’s point of view and laid out through the horrific 14 years of Dahmer’s life of murder and madness that resulted in the deaths of 17 young men and ultimately, leading up to his arrest. Crew (Dahmer) with those hauntingly calming voice-over monologues as a well-aware killer with an eternal fear of abandonment throughout the movie and ability to go from calm as a cucumber to unhinged is in my opinion, pretty underrated as Crew’s performance is quite the treat for fans of this type of film.
The Secret Life was released two years after Dahmer’s real-life arrest and one year prior to his death in prison, so the terrifying discovery of the acts from Dahmer was still fresh in the world’s mind. And the fact that the film played the no hold’s barred card with extremely violent sequences involving the murder of Dahmer’s victims, really set some folks off in the sensitivity department. Curious audiences who had followed the case knew to an extent, of the horrors Dahmer unleashed upon his prey, but I’m not so sure anyone was really prepared for the brutal savagery displayed on film that seemed like something out of a snuff flick but was in fact, reality of the final moments of the casualties of Dahmer. Bowen’s telling of the grisly murders and semi-humanizing Dahmer in a way to look deeper behind the monster didn’t sit too well with a lot of critics and viewers back in ’93 so the film seemed to drop off the face of the earth with the ending of the VHS era until a few years back when Intervision released a DVD that includes the original trailer, audio commentary with director Bowen, and a featurette with Carl Crew.
The Dahmer true tale of torture and terror is unsettling enough as it is and this movie goes balls deep right into it without adding any flair or big-budget fluff. And frankly, it works better that way. It feels like you’re watching something maybe you really shouldn’t be looking at. However, the story is told so well that behind the brutality of severed heads proudly on display in Dahmer’s fridge, are secondary elements in Bowen’s movie. Even so, it’s not for the queasy folks. And I wouldn’t suggest eating any beef stew during a viewing.
For those interested in revisiting or for first-time viewers, The Secret Life is available over on Amazon.