Madhouse (1981)

Not Rated   |    |  Horror

Madhouse (1981) Poster

A woman is pursued by her murderous, psychopathic twin sister in the days leading up to their birthday.


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15 August 2006 | The_Void
| Sick and twisted Italian thriller
There Was a Little Girl often falls into the Giallo category, and while there are definitely Giallo elements in the film; I personally would say it's more of a twisted psychological thriller. The influence from Argento is clear, as the film features all of the absurd lighting of one of Argento's masterpieces, and the stylish way that many of the murders are presented reflects this also. This is the first film I've seen from director Ovidio G. Assonitis, and based on the strength of his directorial work here, I'm definitely interested in seeing his Jaws rip-off 'Tentacles', and his Exorcist rip-off 'Beyond the Door'. The plot follows Julia Sullivan; a young woman who is a teacher at a special school. Her childhood memories are haunted by her maniacal sister, who now resides in a mental institution. When visiting her sister for the first time in years, Julia discovers that she has been hideously deformed by a skin disease. Her visit to the hospital happens around the same time as a couple of murders, apparently committed by an insane dog; the same dog that Julia's sister apparently had control of as a child…

My main problem with There Was a Little Girl is that it just doesn't feel much like an Italian film; and this isn't helped by the fact that the majority of the cast is made up of American actors. The production values are very good, however, and the cinematography is crisp and clear; and a delight to watch overall. The film does feature a fair amount of blood, although the murders aren't as shocking or as nasty as the ones featured in a number of other popular Italian films, and this makes it rather odd that There Was a Little Girl was a part of the DPP's infamous Video Nasty list back in the eighties. As you might expect given the plot line, a lot of the action centres on the sickness of it's main characters; but the best thing about this is the fact that even though the film presents it's murderer right from the beginning; there are still some surprises contained within the plot, and the film also manages to stay away from becoming too convoluted, and while the final twist requires the viewer to stretch their imagination a little; it just about makes sense. The locations used flatter the plot line in that they're morbid and macabre, and while this film is certainly no masterpiece; it's still worth seeing.

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