Today's feature film was Madhouse (1981), aka There Was A Little Girl. I was pretty into this flick for the first 45 minutes or so, but my fervor petered away by the end. The result, sadly, was a Tiffany...which as you may well remember is my code word for a "coulda been". Coulda been good...started out strong, but pooped out before the finish line. Man, I hate that.
Trish Everly stars as Julia, a super sweet teacher at a school for the deaf. Her students adore her, she's got a mustachioed boyfriend, and her birthday is fast approaching. Sounds like heaven on earth, right? Sure it does...but we cannot have heaven without hell, can we? No! We cannot! And in Ovidio Assonitis's movie, hell is in...THE MAAAAADHOUUUUUSE!
Sorry. I'm just trying to jazz things up a bit.
Anyway, Julia's got a twin sister Mary, see, and Mary totally used to, like, torture Julia- stick her with pins, threaten to sic the dog on her, make her cry- you know, the kind of stuff kids get up to. Mary ended up in the so-called "mad" "house" and is wasting away with a disfguring skin disease. Against her better judgment, Julia goes to visit Mary. Mary, all scabby and grody-faced, still has a boner for torturing her sister. She tells Julia that she'll make sure their impending birthday will be one Julia will never forget! *insert evil, maniacal laughter* By "never forget", we can assume that Mary means to do Julia harm, not that she's going to take her to Ragin' Waters Fun Park for the day. Poor Julia.
Mary makes good on her promise in short order; she escapes the MAAAADHOUUUUSE and, with the assistance of her trusty sidekick dog (Ol' Smilin' Rotty, as I called him), sets about killing most of the people in Julia's life. She even goes so far as to have Ol' Smilin' Rotty kill one of Julia's students...it's all offscreen, but you gotta admire a flick that has the balls to kill a deaf kid. Them balls be brass, my friends.
At this point in the proceedings, I was hooked. I mean, I was so hooked I was planning on taking Madhouse out to dinner this weekend...maybe some coffee afterwards. A little small talk, a little of this and that, and who knows where the night would have led? I mean, I'm all about movies with twins wherein one twin is evil. To me, that's all the setup I need and it I'm totally in. How can you go wrong with the old evil twin routine? The only way a movie with the evil twin angle can possibly be improved upon is if it stars the Sagal Twins. Even without them, though, you're good as gold- especially when the evil twin has a disfiguring terminal skin condition.
So what went wrong with Madhouse? The plot wound out of control, that's what happened. If you've got an evil twin, just go with it. Suddenly there was another killer and lots of dead air and a corpse birthday party that went on far too long. And you know, I love a corpse birthday party almost as much as I love an evil twin. It's a horror/slasher staple! But nonetheless, you've got to keep some forward momentum or the movie will fall apart despite the awesome elements. That's what happened here- once the second killer was revealed, the proceedings ground to a halt. The remaining kill sequences were incredibly dull and drawn out, and any promise the first two-thirds of the film had vanished.
Of course, it didn't help that the sound quality of the film was wretched...so wretched, in fact, that I couldn't make out alot of the dialogue. It's hard to be in the moment when you have no idea what people are talking about.
I'm bummed this flick petered out- I was so excited early on. It's still got enough good stuff to warrant a look-see- I mean...evil twin, corpse party, decent effects...and Trish Everly plays a decent lead. Ultimately, however, my face was not rocked off. My face remains firmly in place. I give it 6 out of 10 jars of Noxema.
Oh, and just because this face cracks me up...