Madhouse (2004)

SEPTEMBER 15, 2008


I had a pretty heavy internal debate over whether or not to watch Madhouse. On one hand, the last time I watched a horror movie with Josh Leonard and Patrika Darbo, it was Hatchet. On the other hand, the last time I watched a movie directed by William Butler, it was Furnace.

Then I saw that the borderline illegally cute Jordan Ladd was in it too, so off to the rental counter I went.

Popping in the DVD, I was flooded with pleasant memories of when Lions Gate was a more trustworthy studio. It had the old Lion logo, Lions Gate was two words, and I could hit the menu button when the DVD started and actually go to the menu, not be forced into 3 FBI warnings, a lengthy animated studio logo, and 40568906 trailers for bullshit I already saw. Ah, the good ol’ days... three years ago.

Plus the movie itself was pretty decent. It didn’t amaze me or anything, but it was a solid little thriller with a sort of decent twist and some fantastic gore gags. I’ve seen a lot of horror movies (2,613) and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an electrocution kill that resulted in the victim graphically biting their own tongue off (you see the thing sort of dangling between the teeth before finally becoming completely severed). And while it’s not exactly nonstop action, it moves along nicely, offering up a kill or some creepy stuff every 5-10 minutes or so.

You also get a nice cast of genre folk. In addition to Leonard and Darbo, the great Lance Henriksen plays the head of the hospital, and he’s in top form here (faring far better than some of his other recent DTV stuff), though he’s not in it as much as I’d like. Leprechaun’s Mark Holton also shows up as one of the stable of crazy people, and Leslie Jordan (“Jesus, Pookie!”) plays one of the other doctors. Plus, the aforementioned hotness of Jordan Ladd, who despite a fully clothed love scene (once again, thank you, Club Dread!) looks as good as ever, and makes the most of some occasionally terrible dialogue.

One thing really irked me though: the umpteenth usage of the “Patient pretends to be a doctor” gag seen in just about every fucking movie ever made that is set in a hospital. I would rant longer, but I already ranted about it in the review for Bad Dreams. Seriously, filmmakers: knock it the fuck off. Why not have a doctor pretend to be a patient to see if he can catch the new guy/hero off guard? Or just stop setting horror movies in mental hospitals? Either or. Also, the DVD box makes a big deal out of the appearance of Natasha Lyonne, an annoying actress to begin with, and she is only in the movie for about 3-4 minutes, in a largely inconsequential role. Maybe she was too busy shitting on the floor or molesting dogs to film all her scenes, I dunno.

Butler and Leonard provide a commentary track, and it’s pretty decent, despite some occasional lengthy gaps. Leonard seems a bit drunk (or high) and they have some choice words for some of the crew and the producers who made them change the ending (Leonard’s comment is particularly hilarious, especially since I thought the same thing when I watched it), so it’s pretty entertaining. The only other extra is a brief collection of deleted scenes (3) and outtakes (3) that combined are under 10 minutes, nothing essential.

According to my Blockbuster receipt, which they actually gave me for once (lately they’ve been being more “Green” and not printing them unless asked), I can keep the movie for 3.99. I won’t, but if you see it for that cost, it’s a pretty safe purchase (especially since most rental places charge 4.49 or so). However, since Ladd keeps her clothes on, that would mean the proportional value of Club Dread is some 800 million dollars, which is a bit much.

What say you?


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