The Spooktacular Eight #9: Blood Rage (1987)

Some of you might wonder why i’m doing it now, why i’m not waiting for late november to review adequately unknown slasher flick Blood Rage, as it’s often regarded as a “holiday slasher” due to taking place during Thanksgiving, hence its lumped alongside 1981’s Home Sweet Home and Thankskilling (yes, sadly that’s not just a fake trailer anymore) as one of the very few Thanksgiving themed horror movies.

First, i’m not American so i frankly don’t care, second, this is a movie that might have had a cult following of sorts, or just be remembered a bit more if it leaded into the movie taking place at Thanksgiving, instead of just having people talk about Thanksgiving dinner in like 3 lines?

Then again, i don’t think it would have mattered much, sure, it does have people at a table eating turkey, Thanksgiving is mentioned more than once in the script, but even the fact it’s set during the aforementioned holiday… really doesn’t matter to the plot at all , which isn’t a problem per se, but seems like a missed marketing opportunity, hence it’s not surprising that not many people remember either this and the aforementioned Home Sweet Home from 1981.

Like most slashers from the 80s, the movie had been floating about cable, VHS and home video in various versions (cutting a lot of the more elaborate and graphic gore effects) and alternate titles, in this case being Nightmare At Shadow Woods and… Slasher, because we’re not even bothering to try.

Thankfully in 2015 there was an Arrow Video release of the movie as a Blu-Ray + DVD combo that has the uncut full lenght version of the movie, restored from negatives, which means it retains its original title card of “Slasher”.

Sadly i don’t have the limited edition that come out in 2015 (the one posted at the beginning of the article) that had an exclusive composite cut reconstruction of the movie (combining the theathrical footage with the restored uncut home video version), but even the standard Blu-Ray +DVD version has all 3 cuts of the movie, it’s packed full of extras, as you would expect, from interviews with actors, producers, etc., alternative title cards, featurettes and image gallery. The video quality it’s quite good too, pretty good clean up.

In terms of plot, Blood Rage can be best described as starting as Drive-In Massacre crossed with Silent Night Deadly Night… and leaning into the latter a lot, almost serving as a counter to Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, as it starts in 1974, with people necking and fucking in a drive-in as the fictional “The House That Cried Murder” plays anyway.

One of the cars has Maddy Simmons necking with “another guy” while her two sons Terry and Todd are asleep on the back of the car. Terry notices, wakes up Todd as well, and triggered by all the sex uses an axe to kill a random guy fucking in his own car, blaming his twin brother Todd for it.

10 years later, Terry lives happily with his mother in a secluded apartment complex, and at Thanksgiving his long-dormant rage is sprung up by his mother announcing she’s remarrying, while reciving news of his brother Todd escaping the sanitarium he was locked in since that night.

You may think this is too spoilery, but it’s not, since the opening scene makes it abudantly clear that it was Terry who did it, and the script doesn’t even try to plan a twist with the twins… so that already kills any real potential for suspence, and Terry snapping back into a sociopathic murderer isn’t exactly executed in a subtle manner, to put it in the nicest way possible.

Nor it makes much sense, as Terry could had simply let the people searching for Todd find his twin brother (nobody else knew Terry didn’t do it) and the situation would have resolved itself, he’s composed and sociopathic enough to do that, but i guess otherwise this wouldn’t be a slasher film, so whatever, someone will have to be shanked, pierced and decapited, because.

Not that any of that gets through the completely in-denial mother of the twins, which in a way does remind me of the Superior Mother in Silent Night Deadly Night, as she can be blamed for partially creating the murderer, here indirectly through denial, alcolihism (i fully expected her to have a whiskey bottle hidden in a book, Black Christmas style) and bad parenting more then direct action.

And it’s a shame the character of the mother isn’t that good, since Louis Lasser (Bananas, What’s Up Tiger Lily?, Requiem For A Dream) gives the best performance in the movie, even as she seems kinda annoyed at having to work on a movie like this.

Though Mark Soper does a surprisingly solid job playing both Terry and Todd, his performance isn’t great but it’s undeniable that he manages to make you believe you’re watching two different, separate characters, and him looking like he’s having fun in both roles (obviously more when he’s playing Terry) does help in making you go along with the fairly trite, formulaic script, the dumb ass “meat fodder” characters… and the honestly quite good gore effects (with some nice “kills”) by special effects master Ed French, also playing one of the partying “teen” characters.

There’s also a cameo of Ted Raimi (Sam Raimi’s brother) in the opening as a bathroom condom merchant dressed in a way that reminds me of Linkara, that’s cute.

What doesn’t help is strange stuff like the scene with the mother talking to the psychiatrist… where we get second hand information of how Todd remembers what actually happened that night.

In form of a narration from the point of view of the psychiatrist, which is overlaid over the dialogue of the scene where they talk about this.. as they talk about this. Why not just have the scene convey the information via dialogues that are clearly already there, recorded and NOT lost i don’t know.

This isn’t a The Creeping Terror situation where they simply lost the audio for most of the scenes, this is just a baffling decision, and a stupid one overall, since there’s no other parts of the movie where we have the psychiatrist (or anyone else) narrate the situation we’re seeing in voiceover.

In terms of ending, i honestly like it, it’s utterly depressing and dark but in a good way, better than the usual shit of having the killer open his eyes or get up again for sequelbait.

Overall, i find Blood Rage to be more on the mediocre side of the “Ok” category, it’s not slow moving, the gore it’s pretty good, the kills entertaining, but the script it’s very slim in substance, sense or suspence, acting it’s mostly mediocre, with Lassier and Soper delivering the best performances and having the better presences on screen, helping carrying a mostly generic slasher film of that era, one that in hindsight it’s not that interesting.

It’s not that bad either or a complete waste of time, there’s worse slashers out there, this is perfectly watchable but also a bit too typical of the era (especially the escaped asylum inmate getting loose stuff), fairly throwaway, a slasher that’s mostly forgotten today as it kinda dropped the ball on properly attaching himself to a holiday to be more easily remembered-recognized in time.



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