Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Madhouse (2004)

This movie looked like a big load of garbage at first sight, another 
one of those 'haunted institutions' type movies that are made by the dozens. But it has Lance Henriksen and even though he's been in some, uh, really duh type movies I'll still watch anything with him in it. After all, everyone can do bad movies - Tom Savini, George Romero, Jeffrey Combs... those who make movies and those who act in movies don't always get the best parts. This was a very pleasant surprise, although Lance plays a minor role in it, he's probably there so the film would have a big name in it. I would say this is worth a look so be warned the following describes the movie plot.

First, speaking of Lance Henriksen I'm going to give him some props for writing a pretty damn good comic series (a short one) called To Hell You Ride. The premise: A deadly curse plagues a small town, melting the flesh from its victims - the violent revenge four warriors set in motion when their 
sacred burial grounds were disturbed for the sake of gold miners' greed! Pretty cool stuff... check it out.

As for this movie, it was not the typical stuff - after the beginning. First we get the ghostly icky stuff, the rapid movement of giggling specters, the duh stuff every spooky movie likes to use. But then we actually get a story. Cunningham Hall is a mental facility (of course) that's run down and kind of a dumping place for the undesirables, including the violent and nasty ones. A young boy escapes this wretched place and runs through the woods to a road. A car comes towards him and purposely runs him down, knocking him down a ravine..

Flash ahead to a guy fresh from graduating, doing his internship at Cunningham. His name is Clark (Joshua Leonard) and he is told right away by the administrator Dr. Franks (Lance Henricksen) that this place is really not for advancing mental health techniques, but rather just keeping the loonies in check basically. Clark doesn't like that but since he is only an intern he can't do anything about the patients or the deplorable conditions. 

At night, he sees a young boy roaming the halls although no one can tell him who he is, only that there is no boy at the facility. One young nurse, Betty, helps show him the ropes and lets him know how things work in this place. Clark is bothered that some patients claim that they shouldn't be there and some claim they aren't allowed out even if they're 'cured'. Clark also notices that Dr. Franks has several books that suggest that paranormal activity could explain some patient's conditions, and that conversely some paranormal activity people claim to have seen could be explained by mental illnesses.

Clark continues doing everything he can in his position for the patients, even those considered the worst in the basement called the 'Madhouse' but his abilities are limited. And the boy keeps coming, looking a little more sinister each time. He develops a sort of dialogue with a patient in the basement named Ben who won't let him see his face - he talks kind of in riddles, and tells Clark that the answer is right in front of him, and that the obvious answer is usually the right one (that's Occam's Razor by the way).

Meanwhile people start to die. The head nurse (reminded me of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over A Cuckoo's Nest) is stunned and strapped to a chair where a cloaked figure plays music while he tortures her and eventually kills her by electrocution. Meanwhile Clark asks what kind of meds the patients are given and finds that everyone receives the same thing - no matter what their illness. He takes a sample and sends it away to see what's in it. He also finds out that young Betty also was diagnosed with mild schizophrenia, which she controls with medication - the same given to all the other patients. But her pills are red - the patients receive blue pills. 

They then find a patient hanged in the rec room, which is called a suicide but Clark is suspicious. Then another doctor is killed by having his head chopped off with an ax (pretty good gore and special effect too). Clark then finds out that the reason why no one ever gets better or goes home is that everyone is given placebos, there is no treatments, and Dr. Franks has just been keeping all the money. The same cloaked figure soon does away with him too.

We have an obligatory sex scene between Clark and Betty after which Betty cannot remember who she is, where she is... Clark realizes that Betty's schizophrenia is worse than she said and that she must be responsible for the murders. Before he can do anything, she drugs him.

When he wakes up, he goes back to talk to his friend in the madhouse. He asks to see the guy's face. The man comes into the light taking off a mask - it's the little boy. As he watches, horrified the boy which we now recognize as the kid in the beginning of the film grows up in front of him and becomes him. Now if this were another twin bit.... but no. Clark IS Ben. Ben had been in the facility as a child with severe split personality disorder until he escaped. Dr. Franks hadn't wanted people to find out he wasn't really being treated and had run him down with his car to get rid of him.

Clark is now totally Ben and with an ax he's going to get rid of everybody who did him wrong. Betty tries to reason with him, but he goes after her too. She works to gain his trust and manages to get the ax away from him and wound him - but he overpowers her and despite her pleadings, well, chop chop.

Our last scene is Ben, back to being Clark, starting a new job at a new mental hospital. Chop chop.