• Silent Madness (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 27th, 2020.
    Director: Simon Nuchtern
    Cast: Belinda Montgomery, Viveca Lindfors, Solly Marx, Sydney Lassick, David Greenan
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Silent Madness – Movie Review:

    Simon Nuchtern, the man who gave us Savage Dawn and who did some uncredited work on Snuff, was the director behind 1984’s Silent Madness, a film that was very clearly made fast and cheap in order to cash in on the success of Friday The 13th Part III a few years prior, but which still manages to be a pretty entertaining, if reasonably generic, slasher picture.

    For reasons never properly explained, a lunatic named Howard Johns (Solly Marx) is accidently let out of an asylum and brought back to a college campus where, years before, he slaughtered a few of the most nubile coeds around. This seems like kind of a big mistake. Foxy Dr. Joan Gilmore (Belinda Montgomery) is concerned about this, and rightly so, but no one else in her arena seems particularly concerned for some reason. Anyway, she decides to head to his old stomping grounds along with a newspaper reporter named Mark McGowan (David Greenan) so that she can go undercover as a sorority girl (this is where being a foxy doctor, as opposed to looking like my doctor – who is perfectly handsome for a guy pushing seventy, yet still a guy pushing seventy - comes in handy).

    It doesn’t take Joan long before her equally foxy sorority sisters have embraced her as one of their own. Meanwhile, Sheriff Liggett (Sydney Lassick) seems unusually disinterested in this ordeal, which means that our killer will soon be on the prowl, slicing and dicing as killers often do in movies like Silent Madness. Unfortunately for the ladies, Howard is still holding a grudge for an initiation gone horribly wrong, and his desire to kill has not been even close to satiated by his years spent in a padded cell.

    Silent Madness isn’t the most original slasher movie ever made, in fact it owes the first half of its running time to Halloween, but it’s a pretty fun watch regardless, particularly if you’re able to give it a spin in its intended 3-D format. When watched this way you can really appreciate the goofy ways that the 3-D photography is used, from the opening axe murder to the big finish. These scenes don’t look so good in the flat version – they look like flat versions of 3-D scenes – but when they pop off the screen at you like they were originally intended, they’re pretty fun. Yeah, fine, you can see where pretty much all of this is going from a mile away but the entertainment value is strong here and there are quite a few appropriately gruesome kill scenes on display in the film that add to its positive qualities.

    Belinda Montgomery is pretty fun to watch here as the female lead, throwing her foxy self into the role and making the most of it. She isn’t really breaking any new ground here, as far as slasher movie heroines are concerned, but she’s fun to watch. Also noteworthy is actress Viveca Lindfors in the role of the sorority house mother. She’s probably best known in genre movie circles for playing Aunt Bedelia in Creepshow and one of the nurses in Exorcist III. Solly Marx is big enough to make for an intimidating killer, David Greenan is perfectly fine as a sidekick and Sydney Lassick makes for a perfectly good dumb sheriff.

    Silent Madness – Blu-ray Review:

    Silent Madness is presented on Blu-ray in a two-disc set, each version in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. The first disc includes digital 3-D and flat 2-D versions of the movie, while the second disc contains the anaglyph 3-D version of the movie and the extras. Without a digital 3-d compatible system on hand to try out the disc we can’t really comment on it but the anaglyph version works pretty well. The flat version is obviously just that – a flat version of a movie meant to be seen in 3-D. The screen caps below give you an idea of what to expect, and while it’s less than pristine, it generally looks pretty solid. Grain can be heavy at times but the transfer handles it well enough, never breaking down into a compression artifact-laden mess or showing any macroblocking. Colors look good, black levels are fine and we get nice detail, depth and texture.

    The 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in the film’s original English language, is also pretty good. Depth and clarity are good throughout the score sounds lively and appropriately intense, as do the sound effects. Dialogue is always clear and the track is nicely balanced from start to finish. No problems here at all, the audio sounds really good given the original limitations of the source material. Optional subtitles are provided in English only and an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also provided.

    Extras on disc one start with an audio commentary from director Simon Nuchtern, moderated by Michael Gingold. He talks about having to make the movie in 3-D and the people he worked with to make that happen, working with MAG enterprises and Gregory Earls, how they cast for extras in the madhouse scenes, working with the cameramen to get the 3-D right, hiring Gerald Feil based on the strength of Friday The 13th Part III, having to plan when and where the 3-D effects would be used, his appreciation for strong female characters, the locations that were used for the shoot, wanting to tell a better story than typical slasher films of the era, doing uncredited work on Snuff and how that all came to be and quite a bit more.

    The disc also contains a second commentary, this time from the guys at The Hysteria Continues. They start by discussing whether or not they covered the film on the podcast, the use of 3-D in the film, how they originally discovered the film way back when, the film's censorship issues in the UK, why certain members of the cast and crew might look familiar to horror movie fans, what makes this film unique in the slasher pantheon, the use of foreshadowing in the picture as well as the use of flashback scenes, the portrayal of initiation ceremonies in the movie, the way that the different characters are portrayed in the movie with an emphasis on the sorority girls, the different hairstyles (and hairbands!) in the picture, Nuchtern's career and plenty more.

    The first disc also contains an optional half-minute intro from director Simon Nuchtern and an eighteen-minute Promotional Sizzle Reel (in 3-D and flat options) that gives us a rundown of what the movie is all about.

    As to what’s on the second disc, we get everything that was included on disc one as well as a making-of featurette entitled Method To The Madness: The Making Of Silent Madness that clocks in at forty-six-minutes in length. This was shot during the Covid-19 pandemic and so some material was recorded via video conferencing. Interviewed here are director/producer Simon Nuchtern, producer/writer William P. Milling, FX artist Carl Moreno, actress Paige Price, actress Katherine Kamhi, actress Tori Hartman, actress Shelly Gibson and actor Paul DeAngelo. Lots of food stuff here, including background info on all the interviewees, color footage from the flashback scenes, behind the scenes photos and stories, details on other projects they've all been involved with before and since making this movie, shooting in 3-D, stories about what it was like on set, details about the film's marketing and reception, stories about the effects set pieces and plenty more.

    After that, we get some deleted scenes from the featurette. There's just under seven-minutes of material here and it contains extra bits from the interviews that were conducted for the Method To The Madness featurette.

    Silent Stalking Grounds is a -minute featurette that looks at the locations used for the shoot that clocks in at just a tad over eleven-minutes. In this piece we get a look at a bunch of the New York City (and NYC adjacent) area locations that were used in the movie, with some input from Mike Gingold to provide context.

    We also get a promotional and behind the scenes still gallery and a few radio spots. Both discs include menus and chapter selection options.

    Vinegar Syndrome provides a very cool embossed slip cover with this release as well as some nice reversible cover sleeve art.

    Silent Madness – The Final Word:

    Silent Madness isn’t’ the most original slasher film ever made but it’s still pretty fun in spite of, or maybe even because of, that reason. Some cool kill scenes and nice 3-D effects make this more interesting than it would be otherwise, and Belinda Montgomery makes for a pretty good lead. Vinegar Syndrome has done a very nice job with the two-disc Blu-ray release, presenting the restored feature in three different viewing options and with a host of extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Silent Madness Blu-ray screen caps!

    And some shots from the 3-D anaglyph version too!

    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Headless Body's Avatar
      Headless Body -
      Nice review! Any chance of getting some screenshots from the anaglyph version?
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Leave. My husband. Alone.

      (Kidding. ).
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I'm glad I can finally toss my dvd-r of this, though I think I'll hang on to the tape. Fun, if kinda goofy and slightly generic slasher. As you say, Belinda Montgomery stands out. Cool review.
    1. Headless Body's Avatar
      Headless Body -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alison Jane View Post
      Leave. My husband. Alone.

      (Kidding. ).
      LOL, sorry Alison.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Just added a few for you.
    1. Headless Body's Avatar
      Headless Body -
      Thanks Ian, very much appreciated!