Madhouse (1981)

3.5 out of 5

Trish Everly is Julia, a teacher who works with deaf children. After suffering from a traumatic childhood at the hands of her cruel twin sister, Mary, she finally put the past behind her – until she is summoned to the hospital by her Catholic priest uncle. The institutionalized Mary has been diagnosed with a rare skin condition that leaves her face disfigured. Warily, Julia visits her sister but is threatened by the unhinged woman. Traditionally, the twins’ shared birthday was the time when Mary, with the help of her vicious Rottweiler, would inflict the worst abuses on her sister. As Julia’s birthday grows closer, an escaped Mary and her murderous dog stalk Julia and kill anyone that gets in the way.

Ovidio G. Assonitis’ Italian/American co-production is an unsettling and often overlooked slasher film that is notorious for its status as a video nasty. Also known as There Was A Little Girl, the film features a creepy score by Riz Ortolani and utilizes an imposing, shadow-filled empty mansion to great effect. With an unforgettable climax similar to Happy Birthday To Me, gory murders, suspenseful stalking sequences, and several interesting plot twists, Madhouse is essential viewing for slasher film fans.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics