While some enjoy watching horror movies year round, October is certainly the time of year the general public will indulge in these nightmare giving pieces of cinema more often. I myself am not the biggest fan of horror movies in general, but I do always find myself watching more of them around this time of year. And in an effort to keep our postings on this blog for the month of October skewed towards all things creepy I began my search for hopefully a Southampton based horror movie, but I would settle for one based on Long Island.
The Amityville Horror is usually the first thing anyone thinks about when you bring up Long Island and the horror movie genre. But I was hoping to find something a bit more obscure, hopefully something not many had heard of or seen before. And that is when I stumbled upon the 1982 film, Madman. Not only was this film shot on Long Island, but it was shot at Southampton’s Fish Cove Inn.
I assume many of you are as shocked as I am to learn that something like this was filmed right here in Southampton. It just seems so out of place. There have always been movie and TV stars living in and visiting the Hamptons, but a horror film? It just seems so passé at first glance.
But horror movies as a genre are as old as the film industry is. With the first motion picture of any kind being made in 1888 and then soon after in 1896 Georges Méliès' "Le Manoir du Diable" or "House of the Devil" comes out. It is a 3 minute silent film featuring two men battling the devil in an old castle. I have included the film below if you want to see it for yourself. While it is considered the first horror movie, I think a lot has changed within the genre since then.
Madman was part of the horror movie subgenre known as a slasher film. These films typically feature a murdering going after a group of people, usually with a bladed weapon of some kind. How fun right?
These types of films begin to hit their stride in 1978 with the release of John Carpenter's Halloween. And then soon you have many more films joining in on this craze causing what was known as the slasher film golden era which lasted between 1978 and 1984 with over 100 films within this subgenre being released in this 6 year window.
The idea of the Madman film was developed by filmmakers Joe Giannone and Gary Sales after the massive success of films like Halloween and Friday the 13th who were both graduates of Richmond College on Staten Island. The idea for the film was based upon the Cropsey urban legend which was a common camp fire story many told about a crazed mad man who would attack people in the woods. Unfortunately for Joe and Gary, they got word that as they began to shoot their film, another crew was working on a film about the same urban legend in the Boston area and was 5 weeks ahead of them. At this point the screenplay for Madman was written and they were already casting giving them little time to rework the film but they were able to quickly pull together a slightly new idea.
When it came time to find a location to start filming, given their low budget they wanted to find an area that they could film the entire movie in and North Sea's Fish Cove Inn was the perfect location. The Fish Cove Inn was created in the 1930s as a rustic getaway in the Hamptons for those wishing to have a bit of a rustic getaway but still have the comforts of hotel services. By the time Madman was being filmed the Fish Cove Inn was struggling to stay alive and welcome the money the filming of this movie brought with it. Not only did the Inn allow for a sleep away camp feel to the movie with its sprawling campus of small cottages, but it also provided housing for all of the actors and crew.
Madman was first screened in 1982 in Wilmington, Delaware and Detroit, Michigan and then had its premiere in New York City on January 7, 1983 and then in Los Angeles on February 18, 1983. It was never at the top of the box offices but was a hit at drive-ins around the country grossing $1.35 million in the US. While critics largely disliked the film, it has garnered it's own cult following over the years with Complex Magazine calling it the 25th greatest slasher film of all time in 2017.
If you are looking for something to do that is "in season" other than picking some pumpkins or raking leaves, might I suggest checking out this piece of Southampton and Cinema history. I will warn all that do intend to watch it, it does feature some scenes of brief nudity, profanity, and a lot of gore. It is rated R and might not be suitable for all audiences. I will also warn that if watching really cheesy old movies that are objectively pretty bad upsets you, you should stay away. I think this film is best enjoyed knowing its 100% over the top and a bit crazy, but a good for a laugh this Halloween season with some friends.
Now if you really loved the film and want to know more, there is also a documentary that was made about its filming which you can see below.