What is it with sorority movies and women being separated from their sons? Was this a thing or have I just been unlucky to watch the same movie two weeks in a row?
Well, anyway, Silent Madness is a 1984 3D slasher film. Unfortunately, I was stuck watching this in 2D. I was about half-way through the movie before I remembered some of this was supposed to have an additional dimension. It certainly explained a lot of the strange shots in the movie and excellent moments like this:
Dr Joan Gilmore (Belinda Montgomery) works at a mental institution in New York. Though only having been working there for a few months, Joan is certainly making her presence known. The institution have resorted to releasing patients at a regular interval due to over-crowding. The young psychologist disagrees with the choices when they want to let out one of her more vulnerable patients.
Listening to Joan, they agree to let out another patient – John Howard. Though being a bunch of idiots, they let free Howard Johns instead. Johns was a known mass killer and likely to kill everyone again.
Joan quickly catches on that something didn’t happen quite as it should. She begins her investigation and realises the error that had been made. She also discovers a room of patients undergoing some strange experiment where the patients sit in little bags on some chairs. But when she presents her information to her superior, she’s ignored. Dr Kruger, the one behind the experiments, claims that Johns has not been released, but is in fact dead.
But Joan is no fool. Her boss tells her to take the weekend off to relax. Joan takes up the offer, but not to kick up her heels and read some Nora Roberts. She’s off to Barrington, the place where Johns committed all of his murders.
Meanwhile in Barrington, the ladies of a sorority on campus are quickly getting less in numbers. The girls are all gearing up to leave for the holidays, so no one really notices when one of their numbers just doesn’t appear. They’re a much more harmonious sorority than the girls in The House on Sorority Row. Their house mother, Mrs Collins, is even a bit more tolerable. Though she does go off the deep end when she catches the girls jokingly strip teasing.
At least she apologises. And doesn’t get shot… and “sunk” to the bottom of a pool with towels.
Joan’s first order of business is to visit the police station and ask for information on Johns in order to better understand him. The sheriff, played by the wonderfully foul-mouthed Sydney Lassick, doesn’t offer up any help. He instead directs her to the local newspaper (magazine?) to gather information.
Here Joan meets Mark. Mark is supposed to be hot, I guess. But he’s mostly intolerable, and we’re stuck with him for the rest of the movie. She pretends to be a reporter writing about Johns, but Mark was tipped off by the sheriff and knows she’s full of crap. But she does suggest that she tries going undercover in the sorority.
Joan, being the bright and plucky lady she is, agrees and heads off to the sorority and it instantly liked by the other girls. She inquires about the murders, but they are rather ignorant. Instead they say Mrs Collins knows the most, but doesn’t like to talk. But Joan gets the old lady to open up! Joan can do anything!
But Mrs Collins doesn’t just open up about the night of the murders. She also tells about her son, Francis, who was lost to her many years ago. I couldn’t possibly understand how the two are related. Probably just a throw away comment.
But Mrs Collins does explain that Johns was the janitor on campus. And he was caught spying on the girls during pledge night. To get back at him, the sorority girls teased and humiliated him. So he shot all of them.
After her chat with Collins, Joan is taken by a sorority sister to the boiler room where Johns killed all the girls. She’s left to her own devices and that’s when she first sees Howard Johns. She goes to the sheriff to report what she saw, but the sheriff receives a call from the institute saying that it’s been confirmed that Johns is definitely dead.
All of the doctors at the institute are now in on the mistake, and are quickly trying to cover their mistake. The head of the institute sends out a couple men to Barrington to catch Johns. And Dr Kruger says that he’s like Joan to be included in what they bring back.
But by now, the girls at the sorority are rather wary about what’s going on at the school. Particularly Jane, but to be fair she went to Camp Arawak. Jane is sent away with Mark, and they go to the campsite where she’s meant to meet up with one of her sorority sisters. But when they arrive, they find the girl and her boyfriend dead (killed by the 3D axe above).
Joan is meant to be watching out for the two girls left at the sorority house. But she foolishly lets them die. Get it together, Joan. To make matters worse, the two minions from the institute arrive to get Joan.
Johns attacks them before they can attack Joan. But Joan drops the ball again when she falls down the steps and gets knocked out by Johns. She’s brought to the boiler room to be killed.
Then the minions attack Johns, and it’s all rather full circle when they try to kill Joan. It’s not been an easy day for the doctor. But both of the institute workers are killed – one by a drill!
Joan runs back to the sorority where she discovers Mark tied up in the back of the institute’s van. He gives her a gun and she runs into the house. Tied-up Mark follows but he’s been useless since the beginning. They attack Johns, but Mrs Collins appears. When she sees him, the two have a moment of recognition then Mrs Collins cries, “FRANCIS!” (Bet you didn’t see that coming). But Joan ruins the warm moment by killed Johns.
Once the police arrive, Joan says that she learned that Mrs Collins killed the girls. Howard Johns/Francis was her illegitimate son that she gave up. She watched over him, giving him a job on the campus. But had seen the sorority girls torture her son, so she killed them.
Quite a guessable twist. But I think Joan knew all along. She easily shrugs off the weekend she’s had and hops into her little red car to head back to New York (why the hell she’d return to that institute is beyond me). Mark hops in as well and the two have a good, romantic laugh. Because mass murder! It’s a blast!
Silent Madness isn’t by any means a note-worthy slasher, but I still enjoyed it. For one, though it was pretty predictable, it was at least never boring.
Also, I liked Joan. She’s a great heroine. And I mean, come on ladies. Can’t we all relate to fighting our way in the world of men and business? It was a refreshingly modern take (you know, if you overlook the less-feminist aspects of this film) on a main female character.
Shame that Mark fellow was a bit of an idiot.