Entertainment » Movies


by Ken Tasho
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Saturday Jun 17, 2017

With nary a madhouse in sight, the title of Arrow Video's 1981 slasher is a tad head-scratching. But to cash in on the onslaught of nubile teenagers dying violent deaths in horror films in the 1980s, the filmmakers of "Madhouse" had its innocent title of "There Was a Little Girl" changed to the more menacing asylum-oriented one. It became part of the "Video Nasties" back in the day, a category relegated to un-politically correct horror films.

"Madhouse" is quite the unique slasher film. It was helmed in Georgia but shot by an Italian filmmaking crew, responsible for such "so bad it's good" films as "Piranha 2: The Spawning." Very eerily similar in plot to the Canadian shocker from the same year "Happy Birthday to Me," "Madhouse" follows the character of Julia just days before her birthday. When her mentally disturbed twin sister Mary escapes from the loony bin, Julia fears for her life because she was tormented as a child by her cuckoo sibling.

Meanwhile, a series of laughably out-of-place events occur in "Madhouse":

- One of Julia's young deaf students gets mauled by a Rottweiler and Julia encourages her students to say kind words about him
- Julia's wacky landlady discovers a deadly secret in their apartment building but her reaction is strange and wooden; the same can be said for the character's bizarre death scene
- An all-too obvious (and too soon) plot twist comes at the 50-minute mark and leaves "Madhouse" with another 40 minutes of a pointless story
- The last scene of the film is an almost exact replication of the final scene of "Happy Birthday to Me"...it makes one wonder which film had the actual original idea

Of course, "Madhouse" gets recommended for viewers who enjoy off-kilter and gruesome death sequences, and also for those who like their acting on the hammy side. Three interview segments are tacked onto Arrow's 2-disc Blu-ray set and one interviews the landlady herself, actress Edith Ivey. She explains that her and her fellow actors were told to act as over-the-top as possible in "Madhouse." It definitely shows in the final film product.


Ken Tasho is a Corporate Drone by day and Edge Contributor by night. He has a love for all things ’80’s and resides in the Wayland Square area of Providence, RI...but would much rather be sharing an apartment in NYC with ’80’s rock goddesses Pat Benatar and Deborah Harry.


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