A violent escaped convict returns to the place where he stashed a bag of stolen money, only to discover a group of people vacationing at the hiding spot.
In this lackluster exploitation entry from Fernando Di Leo (Naked Violence, The Italian Connection) a violent criminal (Joe Dallesandro; Blood For Dracula, Flesh For Frankenstein) escapes prison, kills a pair of farmers (by throwing boulders at them, of course) and steals their car in a trek to retrieve the three million lira that he stashed inexplicably beneath a fireplace in a remote farm house. Unfortunately, he arrives to notice a trio enjoying the house as part of a vacation getaway, and mayhem ensues. Or at least one would HOPE mayhem ensues. In actuality not a ton really happens in Madness beyond a bunch of awkward fucking and shouting. The trio are comprised of Sergio (Gianni Macchia; The Italian Connection, Lady Emanuelle), his wife Liliana (Patrizia Behn), and her sister Paola (Lorraine De Selle; House on the Edge of the Park, Cannibal Ferox). Unbeknownst to Liliana, Sergio is laying the pipe to her sister who also happens to be a lascivious whore. As they prepare to settle in on their little remote getaway, Sergio disappearing to go hunting and Liliana going shopping for supplies in town, Paola is left to her own devices which pretty much entails being naked all the time and listening to the radio too loud. Naturally, Joe (the criminal in question) seizes the opportunity to grab his loot and rape the fuck out of the better looking of the two ladies without so much as batting an eyelash.
As basic as the plot is, there’s the foundation for a potentially very sleazy little exploitation film here. It’s unfortunate that the end result is rather limp-wristed. Rest assured, there’s a ton of sex and sleaze contained in Madness; in fact Lorraine De Selle spends the majority of the film naked and lounging about when she’s not being raped/fucked or fondling herself. The unfortunate part of the execution here is the absence of violence to go along with it, leaving the film feeling like a bland sex film; even the rape scene ends up being consensual. It’s unclear what Di Leo was trying to say exactly, unless it’s that women are so shackled by their desire for sexual gratification that they are willing to endure any hardship or transgression as long as they’re rewarded by some form of male attention. Misogynistic overtones aside there’s just not a lot of substance to the film and there isn’t enough action to keep one from noticing.
Despite being filmed in the foothills of Italy, the setting is sorely underutilized with much of the film taking place on the interior of the farmhouse. This lends a decidedly claustrophobic air to the film that makes it a chore to slog through at times. Luis Bacalov (Django, A Bullet For the General) provides yet another excellent score that is sadly hampered by being jarringly loud most of the time, often overpowering the scene it’s being used in. These issues combined make Madness appear to be a sloppy thrown-together mess. Considering the talent involved it’s obvious this could have been a great deal better had more care been taken with the project.
Di Leo is well known for his Italian crime efforts, sadly he appears to have been working out of his element here. The characters are vapid, even nonsensical (Paola is raped, then loves it, then complains about how she was raped but states that she’s more than happy to fuck him again because of what a good lover he is, for example) and not enough time is spent with them to really make the audience give a shit about them. Even Liliana, clearly the most sympathetic character after discovering her husband’s affair with her sister, submits to Joe’s lust. It’s hard to feel remorse for a character whose actions are so obviously defined solely by their libido.
Those looking for a cheap thrill will find some ogle-worthy scenes here, anyone seeking something more robust will be sorely disappointed.
Despite the film not living up to my expectations, Raro Video has thus far continued to raise the bar and are consistently building a catalog of quality DVD releases, this one being no exception.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.