The movie Silent Madness (1984) is a slasher film directed by Simon Nuchtern and starring Belinda Montgomery, Viveca Lindfors, David Greenan, Sydney Lassick, and Solly Marx. The film’s plot centers around a mental institution in New Jersey that has been making use of a “release program”, in which the institution allows a handful of less-disabled patients to be released back into society. One day, however, a computer error accidentally leads to an especially unruly and homicidal patient named Howard Johns being discharged, following which he begins murdering everyone he comes across.
Meanwhile, a psychiatrist at the institution, Dr. Joan Gilmore, has found out about the mistake that was made, and quickly gets the administrator, Dr. Anderson, to hold an emergency meeting with the rest of the staff. During the meeting, however, Gilmore is told that Howard Johns apparently passed away a week prior. Not believing the claims, Gilmore decides to take care of the situation herself. Her investigations lead her to the local newspaper office, where she meets Mark McGowan, who agrees to help her out.
Since Howard had been institutionalised on accounts of several murders that occurred at a sorority house in Barrington, New York, Mark suggests that Gilmore go undercover as a former member of said sorority, hypothesising that Howard will be returning there. She goes along with the plan, and introduces herself to house mother Mrs. Collins and sorority sisters Jane, Cheryl and Pam. Upon asking Collins about the murders, Gilmore is told that Howard was once a troubled custodian of the sorority who had fallen victim to a handful of girls forcing him through a hazing ritual, during which Howard snapped and murdered the girls with a nail gun.
The next morning, whilst exploring the sorority building’s boiler room (where the hazing murders happened), Gilmore has an unexpected run-in with Howard, but is able to get away from him. She goes to report the incident to Sheriff Liggett, but he refuses to help out since the hospital has told him that Howard is deceased. Gilmore realises that the staff of the institution are trying to cover up Howard’s accidental release, but Ligget nevertheless dismisses her claims. Meanwhile, Anderson has hospital attendants Jesse and Virgil sent off to the sorority house to deal with Gilmore and Howard.
Gilmore heads back to the sorority, and introduces Mark to the girls. Jane asks Mark to drive her to a nearby lake so she can meet up with her sister Susan. Mark agrees to do so, but tells the rest of the girls to lock up and stay together. After Mark and Jane get to the lake, however, they find both Susan and her boyfriend Paul dead (having been killed by Howard earlier). Meanwhile, at the sorority, Howard sneaks out of the basement and kills Cheryl and Pam.
Mark tells Jane to call Sheriff Liggett whilst he goes back to the sorority to save Gilmore. Whilst driving there, however, Jesse and Virgil follow him, having spotted Gilmore’s car that he was driving. Upon arriving, Mark is knocked unconscious and restrained by the attendants, who then pursue Gilmore throughout the building. Whilst fleeing, Gilmore encounters Howard, who knocks her unconscious before dragging her into the boiler room and placing her in a trap that will cause an industrial drill to kill her after the lights are turned on. Jesse and Virgil find her, but Jesse is killed whilst sexually assaulting Gilmore after Virgil inadvertently activates the trap. Howard then appears and kills Virgil, before beginning to pursue Gilmore throughout the boiler room.
The chase leads both Gilmore and Howard to the main entrance of the sorority house, where Gilmore manages to overpower and kill Howard. However, Mrs. Collins suddenly appears and begins crying out in anguish. It is revealed that Howard was actually Mrs. Collins’s son, and that Collins was the one who had murdered the girls whom had hazed him all those years prior. The emergency services then arrive, and the movie ends with Gilmore and Mark heading back to New Jersey together.
- Belinda Montgomery as Belinda
- Solly Marx as Dr. Parkinson
- Viveca Lindfors as Mrs. Engels
- Sybil Danning as Trish
- Patty Toy as Sharon
It was filmed at a historic hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.
The makeup effects were done by Ed French who worked on The Stuff.
Director Simon Nuchtern also made New Year’s Evil.