Everyone has a movie that no matter how many times they see it, they can watch it 100 more times and it still won’t get old. And not only that, but they can put on a one (wo)man show for you and quote every single line and annoy the fuck out of you while you’re trying to watch it. That movie, for me, is the 1987 classic Labyrinth. That movie, along with the codpiece controversy, will forever be a part of me.
For those of you who don’t know the movie, and who the hell doesn’t know the movie, it follows Sarah, a 16-ish-year-old girl that hates her life and her step-mother and her half-brother. She’s a teenager and everything sucks…obv. So, one night while babysitting Baby Waldo’s understudy, she tells the story of a Goblin King that fell in love with a girl way too young for him and granted her wish of taking the baby away. To her surprise it’s true and Toby, the baby, is stolen away by Jareth, the sexiest Goblin King in the land, played by the incomparable David Bowie.
I saw this movie when I was four and fell in love with David Bowie as much as any toddler could. Here I am in my thirties and that never changed. This movie for me like with many women my age began a lifelong crush on the famously androgynous and out of this worldly talented man known as Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke.
I can’t tell you how many times I wished I was Sarah in that ballroom in the dress with the MASSIVE sleeves.
But with this movie lies a nagging question that haunts viewers to this very day…was David Bowie actually wearing a codpiece? Could we analyze the blatant sexuality references, the fact that a grown ass man was in love with a teenage girl or the fact that the creatures who took their heads off are the things of pure nightmares? Yeah, we could, but why would we when there are more pressing issues.
I present to you exhibit A.
Now, I don’t mind searching David Bowie’s junk on the internet, may he rest in peace, but I have something to say…that’s NOT a codpiece. THIS is a codpiece.
That’s ridiculous and I think we can all agree that’s not what Bowie is dealing with. The costume designers purposely made his pants REALLY tight because he was supposed to be alluring and desirable like a rock star but maybe something was there to smooth things out a bit; the penile equivalent of nipple covers, but that’s it. Let’s put the debate to rest right here. That’s all Bowie. If you love Labyrinth facts, check out this little slice from Buzzfeed.
And I debated writing this since we lost Bowie in 2016, but I can promise, there are fewer bigger fans than I. I have the utmost respect for the man, his movies, and his music. But as a young girl in the 80’s and 90’s, that bulge was just as much a part of my growing up as Saved By the Bell and Backstreet Boys.
And here, have a little dance while you’re here and sleep peacefully knowing we have settled the dick debate here and now…probably.
Do you like blood, guts, and a whole lot of gore? Does horror make you all hot and bothered in all the right ways? Have you ever wanted to pick up a 2×4 and splash some zombie faces all over the wall? Well lucky you, because your ole buddy Manic has a sticky treat for you.
Kick off your shoes and get cozy because I’m bringing you some splat-tastic fun.
You see, there’s a legend around here among gamers. A legend of a demon-haunted mansion sitting between the reality of our world and the dimension of infernal terror. A Hell-house in the mist just daring you to put on some big-boy(girl) pants and come play with the older kids as you explore the many caverns of mayhem and sadism. It’s the old West mansion, a shunned abode better known as the Splatterhouse.
Backstory to Splatterhouse
Here’s all you need to know as a player. A horde of drooling ghouls has stolen your gorgeous girlfriend right after spilling your guts all over the floor. As you lay in the hot sticky pool of your own fluids you watch the howling deformities take off with Jennifer with you-don’t-even-want-to-know what kind of plans in mind for her. The minions of Hell have just flipped you off, pissed in your iced tea, and they think you’re a big ole douche bag. Well damn, it all you’re not gonna put up with that! Lucky for you the Terror Mask (an ancient Mayan occult relic infused with a forgotten god) has taken a shine to you and saves your life. Not only that, but he’s given you unspeakable powers that would make the Incredible Hulk run home crying for his mommy. Now you get to go punch the heads off of the gruesome assholes who infest the West Mansion. 2×4’s, chainsaws, and plenty of boomsticks are left at your exposal as you make the game live up to its raunchy name SPLATTER-house. The legions of Hell await you, but you’re a badass mother fucker and can take whatever the house throws at you.
In case you can’t tell I love these games! This is old-school horror fun at its finest. Most of our favorite horror movies are – right to their cores – lots of fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously, at least this is true for many slasher movies: they were made with a fine balance of scares and laughs.
And one of the biggest influences on the Splatterhouse franchise is the Slasher genre.
The most obvious reference can be found in our lead character Rick. As a matter of fact, back when I was a kid and first saw the game being played I honestly thought this was a Friday the 13thgame, and honestly, it made the game way more exciting. A game letting the player take control of Jason?! Oh Hells yeah! But alas, I was wrong and would have to way some 20+ years on Gun Media to give me Friday the 13th: The Game. However, by its own merit Splatterhouse is a thrilling experience and needs to be played.
Back on topic, Rick is clearly based on the titanic slayer Jason Voorhees. The Terror Mask alone bears some insane similarities to the iconic hockey mask. I mean who can rightly deny that? And if you compare the original arcade’s design for Rick with Jason’s look from Parts III or VII, well it’s blatantly obvious someone was a Friday fan.
This is a series truly made by horror fans for horror fans. As you make your way through the Splatterhouse franchise merrily busting open oozing heads please be sure to keep a keen eye peeled for all those amazing scary movie references.
Along with Friday the 13th being obviously referenced, one particular boss fight just can’t help itself but smell like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This is Biggy Man, an abomination with two chainsaws for hands, and no wonder he’s so mean! How does he take a piss? So yeah, I’ll admit the chainsaws are the glaring TCM reference, but if you look closely you’ll see our pal Biggy Man is also wearing a sack over his head, and kinda reminds me of (once again) Friday the 13th Part II’s ‘tater sack’ Jason.
Some more classic horror references can be seen in other boss fights too. For example, in one battle you’ll find yourself in a room where every single piece of furniture hates your guts and wants to see you dead as you fend off bouncing chairs, a portrait of a giant eyeball, and knives that are way too happy to throw themselves at you. The entire sequence is very heavily inspired by Poltergeist.
The creature feature Deadly Spawn finds itself immortalized in the game’s franchise as well.
Some of my favorite Easter eggs can be found in 2010’s Splatterhouse remake. For instance, and admittedly the saddest cameo in the whole franchise is found from the Evil Dead. On the gore-encrusted tiles of a filthy room, you’ll find the discarded and very lifeless body of everyone’s favorite wise-ass, Ash. This is when you get to use the boomstick for the first time in the game, a sad but fitting farewell to a very groovy hero. Hail to the King, baby.
Another level is entirely based on the beautifully haunting cult-classic Wicker Man. I admit this is one of my all-time favorite movies so I was geeking out during this section. It’s a race against time as you fight through hordes of demons to get closer, ever so slowly closer, to the menacing wicker-built figure standing silent and cruel atop the distant hill. And thank God there are no bees anywhere in sight!
One of the biggest Holy Shit moments was (fittingly enough) in the boiler room. Now who could be connected to a boiler room, hmmm I wonder? Now if you rush through here you might sadly miss it. But if you have a keen eye and have been taking in all the sights so far you just might be lucky enough to see a familiar hat lying near the furnace. You’ll also find a red-striped sweater hanging above that hat. And just in case you’re thinking it’s all a coincidence you’ll also find that wonderful glove of his, the claws dark with past kills. That’s right, my lovelies. Without any doubt, Freddy Krueger is part of this series.
The most glaring reference found in each game of the series is the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft’s influence permeates the franchise and grows stronger as the series expanded. The main antagonist is Dr. West, as in Re-animator’s Dr. West. Some stages in the 2010 remake depict a world entirely given over to ruin by (what we can only assume is) the awakening of Cthulhu who has brought madness and destruction to the planet. At one point you’ll find a gargantuan size tank housing a massive abomination that bears a striking resemblance to how Lovecraft detailed his beloved Cthulhu. The West Mansion is similar to the Shunned House. Rick must encounter altered dimensions, battle madness, and fight humans who have been malformed by forbidden contact with ancient evil powers from beyond the stars. Along with all that the 2010 game revolves around the stars and their alignment, which will unleash old evils that have been waiting in a cosmic prison. That is pure Lovecraft.
At one point Dr. West even shouts, “IA IA! Cthulhu Ftagn!” during one of his rituals.
As if all that wasn’t enough to get you revved up to play these games, can you tell me what other game out there gives you the opportunity to chainsaw some creepy babies during a boss fight?
I honestly don’t know why Splatterhouse gets lost beneath the fandom waves of other horror titles such as Resident Evil or Dead Space. When the game’s remake was released in 2010 critics went out of their ways to hate it. But what’s even worse, most people listened to the critics and avoided the game as if it were diseased. The 2010 remake is far from perfect, but it’s certainly not a bad game. Not in the least! It’s a very good game. It’s meant to be enjoyed in the same way you’d enjoy any great 80’s scary movie. Do you think critics were kind to movies likeNight of the Demons, Madman, or Cannibal Holocaust? Of course not. Those movies weren’t made for snobs though. They were made to be enjoyed by fans of the genre, and the same is true for Splatterhouse.
Are enemies reused in some stages? Yes. Are the mechanics same-ol’-same-ol’ from one level to the next? Sometimes. Nevertheless, these issues don’t make the game bad or ruin the experience. Each level does offer a new array of demons and mutants to fight. The boss fights are each unique, and the levels themselves are just a lot of fun to play through. I take my time and explore while I play. The game is easy to learn and still challenging, but not enough to make you rage quit…that much.
I instantly fell in love with it. It’s a masterful throwback to so many horror classics. The gore is over the top and kept me laughing. One kill-move, in particular, has Rick punch his way up a demon’s ass, go elbow deep, only to then pull out its rectum. OUCH! Buah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! The bastard had it comin’ though.
The best way to really experience the games is to get yourself a copy of the Xbox 360 or PS3 Splatterhouse. The remake includes all three original games – including an uncensored version of the initial arcade game. Even if you hate the 2010 game you’ll still have the original trilogy to enjoy.
Already the games have proven to be a horror fanatic’s dream come true as it offers one of the most comprehensive and detailed horror-fan experience out there.
This has been Manic Exorcism. Thanks again for joining me on this retro journey. Happy gaming everyone!
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.