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.


5.6/10
1,327

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4 October 2014 | Hey_Sweden
5
| A mixed bag.
As co-written and directed by Ovidio Assonitis ("Beyond the Door", "Tentacles"), "There Was a Little Girl" (a.k.a. "Madhouse") is a mostly tedious affair running through the standard slasher paces adequately but without any real style. For its first two thirds, it actually plays more like a drama with some horror moments than an out and out horror film. It's too bad it got labelled as a Video Nasty, as it's never really that gory, at least not until the end. The good thing is that the performances are better than expected, and things do get marginally more interesting in the final third, with a plot development that some horror fans may see coming and some may not.

Trish Everly stars as Julia, a teacher in a school for deaf children whose birthday is nearing. In the days leading up to it, her deformed, demented twin sister Mary (Allison Biggers) escapes from the hospital. It seems that Mary had dominated and terrorized the meek Julia during their childhood, and now Julia is more than a little concerned. Mary had had a spooky canine companion when the two women were young, and now there's a bloodthirsty dog adding to the weirdness.

For around an hour or so, this is just a little too dull, although Assonitis succeeds in building some atmosphere. But the story becomes more fun upon its one true big reveal. Eventually, this bears some strong resemblances to the Canadian slasher "Happy Birthday to Me", although it's hard to say whether one movie ripped off the other or not. The beautiful Everly does an okay job in the lead, the equally lovely Morgan Most is fine as her friend, and Michael MacRae is acceptable as Julias' psychiatrist / lover, but the person who steals the show is Dennis Robertson as the friendly Father James. The animal work is good; trainer Joe Camp plays the ill-fated hospital guard. However, during the finale, when the crazed dog comes through a door, a special effect is employed, and it's laughably horrible.

Overall, a decent shocker redeemed to a degree by its last act.

Five out of 10.

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