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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, July 6, 2020

Silent Madness (1984)

The slasher marathon keeps trucking along with this flick from eighty-four. It isn’t as well-known as some others and it copies a lot of stuff from earlier movies, which gets a little frustrating at times. Before I go much further let’s take a look at the story.

Dr. Joan Gilmore is a new doctor working at a mental hospital. She is a bit of a do-gooder and rubs the senior staff the wrong way. Though one particular doctor, Kruger, is up to something bad in the basement. This only tangentially plays into the plot, so I won’t spend a bunch of time on it. Let’s just say he is pretty sketchy. The hospital staff releases a bunch of patients to save money but makes a huge mistake when they cut loose a homicidal maniac that was responsible for some murders at a girl’s college twenty years earlier. They try to cover their tracks by faking his death, but Gilmore doesn’t buy it and takes off in pursuit.

Of course, the killer returns to the scene of his crimes, the college, and gets back to his old tricks. The bodies begin to pile up as the killer works his way thru the girls and anyone else unlucky enough to cross his path. It takes a while for Gilmore to find him and even longer to realize that he has been killing people. We are also given a bit of a twist at the end where her colleagues back at the hospital go full on evil and send some sadistic orderlies after the patient and her. They really need to cover their mistake up so a little bit of kidnapping and murder for the greater good is justified… right?

Our soon to be victims.
So, we have a lady Dr. Loomis which is okay. Belinda Montgomery does a decent enough job in the role and is able to carry her part of the movie nicely. That said Silent Madness isn’t an easy movie to get thru. There are some pacing issues as it spends much of the early runtime at the hospital setting up that plotline that basically goes nowhere. We don’t nearly get enough of the killer and him stalking his victims because of this other storyline. If that weren’t bad enough, we get some out of place love story between Gilmore and the local newspaper guy that feels forced. There is even a date on screen that again takes us away from what this movie is supposed to be and wipes out any momentum it might have been building.

There are a couple more things about the plot that I wanted to mention. There is an inexplicable twist at the end that seriously messes with the killer’s motivations. I guess the stuff they sort of hinted at about the experiments at the hospital might explain things. But they never develop it, nor does a single character even drop a line of dialogue trying to connect the dots. That was annoying. We also get this flashback tossed in to try and give the killer some backstory, but it comes off sort of lame. I mean he uses a nail gun so no inspiration there.

The best kill of the movie.
That brings me to the kills. We get a respectable thirteen, though four are rushed thru in the flashback. The highlights are a gag with a drill press and a bit with a hatchet. This is one of those movies that cuts away right as we are about to see some blood. We also get more than one kill happen offscreen where you aren’t even sure if they died. That sucks and isn’t what I would expect or want from a movie like this. One more thing to mention is that this movie was shot in 3D and while I’ve never seen it presented that way it does affect what gore we do get as they try and take advantage of the novelty of it. Overall, I was very disappointed.

Just a quick note. While I was researching this review, I discovered that there was a DVD release that restored some gore that was cut from the movie. I watched an old VHS copy of this so it might deal with some of my complaints. But even if the movie is suddenly gory as hell it still won’t deal with the myriad of other issues I have with it. The plot is muddled, and the killer is generic. There is no tension and the stalking scenes are abbreviated so we can see scheming doctors and date night instead. While it might make the movie a bit more fun added gore isn’t going to suddenly make it a good movie. I just can’t recommend this one as there are so many better options.

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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