Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 11th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy / USA, 1981
Director: Ovidio G. Assonitis
Writers: Ovidio G. Assonitis, Stephen Blakely, Roberto Gandus, Peter Shepherd
Cast: Trish Everly, Michael MacRae, Dennis Robertson, Morgan Most, Allison Biggers, Edith Ivey
BluRay released: June 12th, 2017 (UK), June 13th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 93 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £24.99 (UK)
Madhouse was co-written and directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis who’s other notable films include, Beyond the Door, Laure, Tentacles and The Visitor. Key collaborators on Madhouse include, cinematographer Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli (Meet Him and Die, Starcrash) and composer Riz Ortolani (Mondo Candido, Cannibal Holocaust).
The setup for Madhouse is line with the Horror films that Lucio Fulci was directing during the early 1980’s. The plot is driven by its visuals and a superb score, which do a tremendous job setting and reinforcing the forbidding mood. And when it comes to its murder set pieces, they are sufficiently gory.
The performances are best described as serviceable. With this film’s most memorable performance being Dennis Robertson who is delirious in the role of Priest. Another performance of note is Trish Everly who has been cast in the role of this film’s protagonist Julia Sullivan. And though this film would mark her one and only film. She delivers what is arguably one of the stronger one-off performance that I have seen to date.
From a production standpoint though this film has all the core ingredients one would expect from an Italian made Horror film from the early 1980’s. It is not a film without its flaw, most notable it’s narrative which starts off slowly. Fortunately, after the initial setup things pick up considerably and they don’t let up as this film steam rolls to its very satisfying conclusion.
Madhouse comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This releases transfer was created from a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative. And the end result is a significant improvement over all previous home video releases. With the greatest areas of improvement being image clarity and color saturation.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes are in very good shape. Dialog always clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 3 seconds), alternate opening titles (3 minutes 1 second), an interview with Edith Ivey titled Running the Madhouse (12 minutes 40 seconds), an interview with cinematographer Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli titled Framing Fear (19 minutes 32 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with co-screenwriter / director Ovidio G. Assonitis titled Ovidio Nasty (7 minutes 44 seconds) and an audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues.
Topics discussed in the interview with Edith Ivey include, her origins as an actress, Madhouse and how she got involved with the film, how there was a language barrier due to the director and the majority of the cast only spoke Italian, onset memories, her thoughts about her character and the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli include, his origins as a cinematographer, Ovidio G. Assonitis and information about various films that they have worked on, locations, the visuals, Trish Everly, the cast, working with dogs / animals and his thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Ovidio G. Assonitis include, why he decided to make Madhouse, how his preferred titled for the film is There Was a Little Girl, cinema influences, locations featured in the film, the cast, working with dogs, his favorite scene, Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli, composer Riz Ortolani and a summation of his career as a filmmaker.
The Hysteria Continues audio commentary is an entertaining mix of humor and information about the film and those involved making it.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled The Occult, Octopi and Ovidio Nasties: The Amazing Exploitation Career of Ovidio G. Assonitis written by John Martin and information about the transfer.
Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo.
Overall Madhouse gets an excellent release from Arrow Video.