I, Madman (1989)

I haven’t done an installment of “we’ll send him cheesy movies” in a long while now, but I just watched I, Madman, and I think it qualifies. Over on Facebook Pseudopod editor Shawn Garrett (who should know) described it thusly: “the first half plays like a cheap American giallo, the second like a pulp fantasy horror tale come to life.” He’s not wrong. I described it as a Richard Sala comic in movie form. I don’t think I’m wrong, either.

Written by David Chaskin, scribe of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and one of the better episodes of Monsters that I’ve watched thus far, and directed by Tibor Takacs of The Gate fame (as well as something called Metal Messiah, which is on a grindhouse marquee in the background of one scene of I, Madman), the result is a delightful little movie that I had never even heard of somehow until Trevor Henderson posted a still from it on Facebook, which immediately piqued my interest, for reasons that I hope are obvious:

... and horror the soul of the plot.

… and horror the soul of the plot.

Speaking of plot, the plot of I, Madman concerns a woman named Virginia who works in a book store in Hollywood while taking acting classes. The book store is handling the estate of deceased author Malcolm Brand, among which she finds a couple of his books; the above-pictured Much of Madness, More of Sin and the titular I, Madman. The first book details an attempt to create a human/jackal hybrid monster, which is wonderfully visualized and definitely reminiscent of the creatures from The Gate, while the second is about the author attempting to fashion himself a newer and more pleasing face by killing people and taking their attributes. At first, Virginia just scares herself reading the books alone at night. But then gradually, events from the books begin to happen in real life, as they inevitably must.

Though the movie was released in 1989, there’s a very old-fashioned pulp novel L.A. Confidential vibe to the whole thing, helped along by the fact that the in-book scenes are obviously period-set. By the end, we’ve got a climax in a book store (including a nice scene with a staircase of books), we’ve got a Frankenstein-like giallo killer, and we’ve got a human-jackal hybrid. What more could a guy ask for? This would also make a great Blu-ray double-feature with my last obscure movie obsession: One Dark Night. Just a suggestion, Scream Factory.

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