Film Review: I, Madman (1989)


Virginia works at a used book store and is always looking for a good book to read. She runs across one called I. Madman and is totally hooked on it. Unfortunately, as she reads it people start dying like the fictional characters in the book at the hands of the evil Dr. Kessler (who is the antagonist in the novel). Has Kessler found some way to enter our world or is Virginia simply out of her mind?


I, Madman is the perfect example of a movie that starts off bad but gets better as it goes on. The first 45 minutes or so just drag by at a snail’s pace with nothing worth mentioning taking place. In fact, most of the first part of the movie is so slow and boring that I came very close to either skipping ahead to later scenes or just taking it out of my DVD player and writing it off completely. I stuck it out though and made it all the way through to the end, and I’m very glad that I did because toward the middle the action picks up and the movie gets a lot better.

After Kessler kills his first victim (in a pretty cool manner) I gave the film my total and undivided attention. When things finally start to happen the pace of the movie changes completely and it almost seems like an entirely different film (if I didn’t know any better I would swear that two different people wrote and directed it). We go from having a very boring storyline that features boring characters going about their day-to-day routines to a suspenseful, exciting storyline that features several brutal murders committed by a crazed killer who has cut off some of his own facial features (including his ear, his scalp, etc) and replaces them with those of his victims. The final confrontation between Virginia and Kessler is actually pretty epic and while some people may think that a certain element of it is cheesy (I’m talking about the bizarre way that Kessler is finally defeated here) I enjoyed it as it is different and totally out there.

I thought that one of the strongest points for the movie was the plot as it was a little different than most movies that were being made during its time. You have to consider that it was released in 1989 right around a time when every other horror movie being produced was a slasher flick (not that that was a bad thing, I love 80’s slashers!). I think it is pretty cool that the people responsible for I, Madman had the balls to take a chance and go in a slightly different route. Yes, it does have elements of a slasher flick with Kessler running around hacking up his victims, but overall I would be hesitant to call it a slasher flick and consider it to be more of a suspense/thriller with slasher and supernatural elements thrown in for good measure. I like the idea of characters and events from a book coming to life, and while it has been done in other movies I think that I, Madman does it best.

To be honest I am on the fence about how I felt about the characters. Most of them are pretty bad and seem to only do the stupidest things humanly possible about 99% of the time. Virginia for one is pretty slow and is by no means the sharpest knife in the drawer as she keeps doing dumb things that result in people being killed (the bit with her friend dying at the book store comes to mind automatically). Her detective boyfriend Richard is equally bad as he is just the typical boyfriend character who doesn’t what his girlfriend is telling him until the last possible minute when he magically realizes that she is telling the truth and he shows up to save her when she is on the verge of being killed. I think that the only character I actually liked was Kessler because of how violent and demented he is (plus he looks cool too).

I thought that I, Madman was pretty good. Since it does start out so slow I didn’t think that I was going to like it, but I am glad that I gave it a chance and finished it. I was actually surprised by how much I ended up liking it once things start to pick up. Check it out if you get the chance, but keep in mind that you will have to endure a lot of very boring, seemingly pointless scenes before anything interesting happens. Trust me when I say it is worth toughing these scenes out though.

I, Madman (1989)

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About Todd Martin

Todd Martin grew up in Irvington, a small town in Kentucky. Thanks to his mother, father, and favorite uncle he started watching horror films at a very young age and has been a horror geek ever since. He is basically a walking encyclopedia of horror flicks (especially the 80’s slashers), comic books, and pro wrestling, and has been writing for the biggest majority of his life.

His first book, Nightmare Tales was published in 2006 and he has had several short stories published in several collections. He and his wife Trish published their book “The Gardener,” a horror novel that is a throwback to the slasher films of the 80’s in 2011 and he is working on a collection of short horror stories When he isn’t reviewing movies and books or doing interviews for he has been known to act from time to time as he has appeared in a handful of low budget horror films. He also enjoys writing screenplays and enjoys making movies as well. He wrote the segment “Angel” which appeared in the 2004 film “Tales from the Grave 2: Happy Holidays!” which was produced and directed by Stephanie Beaton, and recently appeared in Tim Ritter’s film “Deadly Dares: Truth or Dare 4.”. He resides in Kentucky with his wife Trish, their cat Buffy, and their wiener dog, Cujo

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