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I, Madman (1989)
Rated R

Starring: Jenny Wright, Clayton Rohner, and Randall William Cook

Rating:
***
out of
*****

Virginia (Jenny Wright) is addicted to trashy horror novels. She works in a used book store and she's recently discovered the author Malcolm Brand, who wrote two particularly odd books in the 1950s. The first, Much of Madness, More of Sin, really creeps her out. So, she starts looking for the second one, I, Madman, but doesn't have much luck. Until one day, it arrives at her doorstep, she thinks, as a present from a friend.

The book's tale of a surgeon who tries to attract the attention of Anna, a woman he loves, by slicing off the facial features of other people and attaching them to his own face is even more disturbing than the first book. Soon, Virginia notices strange similarities between what's happening in the book and what's happening in the real world. Soon, the book's crazed surgeon killer begins appearing in her apartment, calling her Anna. This, understandably, creeps her out much more than the book and she believes that a recent string of murders is related to her reading of the book.

Although technically a horror movie, I, Madman takes a bit of an off-beat approach to its scares. There are some jump scares, but most of the movie tries to build suspense through shadows and camera work that make it seem something is waiting just off-screen. There's very little in the way of gore, save one rather graphic scalping scene.

I, Madman makes no pretentions about being anything other than a B-movie. But it has fun with the concept that it's as trashy as the books that Virginia likes to read. Tibor Tikacs, the director, also made the equally disposable but no less enjoyable The Gate, with a young Stephen Dorff, in 1987. Sure, there are plot holes you could drive an armored division through and not much is resolved at the end of the movie, but this just something to watch and forget. On that level, it works really well.

Trivia: Randall William Cook, who plays the killer and designed his ghastly make-up, won two Academy Awards for his work on both Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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