Blu-ray Review – Madhouse


Director: Ovidio Assonitis 

Screenplay: Ovidio G. Assonitis, Stephen Blakeley, Peter Sheperd, and Roberto Gandus

Minutes: 93

Year: 1981

Score: 5.8

Release: Arrow Video

Let’s talk about evil twins, or Spook’s Beard, if you will. Is it cheap, melodramatic, or a bad choice? Perhaps, heck yeah, and Nope. In the past six months I have watched three Spook’s Beard movies and have loved them all. These flicks give you an immediate, and reasonable, expectation that it is fine to miss some beats and that this film is here for entertainment only.

From Arrow Video:

Helmed by legendary producer/director Ovidio Assonitis, the man behind such cult favourites as The Visitor and Piranha II: The Spawning, Madhouse is a crimson-soaked tale of sibling rivalry taken to a terrifying and bloody extreme.

Julia has spent her entire adult life trying to forget the torment she suffered at the hands of her twisted twin Mary… but Mary hasn’t forgotten. Escaping hospital, where she’s recently been admitted with a horrific, disfiguring illness, Julia’s sadistic sister vows to exact a particularly cruel revenge on her sibling this year – promising a birthday surprise that she’ll never forget.

An Italian production shot entirely in Savannah, Georgia, Madhouse (aka And When She Was Bad and There Was a Little Girl) fuses slasher elements with the over-the-top excess of ‘80s Italian terror – resulting in a cinematic bloodbath so gut-wrenching that the British authorities saw fit to outlaw it as a “video nasty”.

Warning: There is a scene with a drill. This is a horror movie. Do not be surprised. I can now add “drill scene” as a searchable tag.

Madhouse, to be frank, is not a very good movie. It doesn’t jump off my shelf begging me to watch it again and again. There are a few good shocks; and the effects are good for the time. I am not suggesting the film is bad, no, I am saying that there are plenty of options in this field.

This is one of the strengths of Arrow Video. They know their audience well enough to know what to release. Well enough to know that I am going to want to watch this movie. Because I did, I would have skipped it if there was nothing intriguing about it. I know, if I procure a release from Arrow I will be getting a well-crafted product. The picture and audio quality will not be anything less than extraordinary and won’t slouch on anything, from the menu art to the packaging or any of the additional features.

Are all of the flicks going to be home runs? No, but that doesn’t make them less valuable as a cinematic artifact that, if you are like me, you will want to revisit at some point in time. I cannot offer a blanket recommendation on Madhouse but I know that it has its fans and they are going to love this release.

Special Features

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition presentations
  • Original Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
  • Brand new interviews with cast and crew
  • Alternate Opening Titles
  • Theatrical Trailer, newly transferred in HD
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach


Director: 6 – Cinematography: 8 –  Edit: 5 – Parity: 4 – Main performance: 7 – Else performance: 2 – Score: 6 – Sound: 5 – Story: 7 – Script: 6 – Effects: 8 – Design: 5 – Costumes: 6 – Keeps interest: 7 – Lasting: 5