|Review||Blood Rage||Director||John Grissmer|
|Writer||Bruce Rubin (as Richard Lamden)|
|Cast||Louise Lasser, Mark Soper, Julie Gordon, Jayne Bentzen, Marienne Kanter and William Fuller|
“As for Terry, he mustn’t find out I suspect him. He’s been normal for 10 years. But who knows what might trigger another killing.” – Dr. Berman
Twins Todd and Terry are out on a date at the drive-in with their mother Maddy (Lasser) and some guy. They sneak out of the car and suddenly Terry grabs a machete and slices a poor horny guy to death. He then hands the bloody machete over to a catatonic Todd who gets blamed for the act.
Fast forward ten years. Terry (Soper) has been living the good life with Maddy at a nice complex called Shadow Woods. He’s a good student, has a cute girlfriend (Gordon) and good friends. At Thanksgiving Maddy announces she and boyfriend Brad (Fuller) are engaged. Shortly after they hear the news that Todd (also Soper) has escaped from his mental asylum and is most likely headed home. His doctor, Dr. Berman (Kanter), promptly arrives and explains that she is going to look for him at the complex.
This pushes Terry to continue his killing ways. No one in Shadow Woods is safe and Terry is, once again, going to blame it all on Todd.
I really like this film and no; I don’t think I’m losing my marbles. I realize it’s quite amateurish in a number of ways. The low budget is certainly restrictive and the film doesn’t look like it had more than a handful of locations to work with. Editing is strange and abrupt in some places, dialogue is pretty stiff and the scenes in the mental asylum (with a very clunky voice over) look very off.
The film is hugely ambitious with it’s set pieces and doesn’t cut away before getting to the bloody stuff. It’s positively soaking in the red stuff with a machete in the face, a hand chopped off, a guy gets decapitated and the head strung up for good measure to name a few. Some effects work quite well and others look a little to fake but overall this gets a passing grade. Also the synth score here is absolutely fabulous.
The thing that always gets me excited about “Blood Rage” is the hint of a deep psychological undercurrent between Terry and Todd. Terry is obviously a nut and Todd triggers his homicidal tendencies. Terry wants mom all to himself and will go to extreme lengths to make that happen. When Maddy and Brad announce their upcoming nuptials at Thanksgiving dinner the viewer immediately sees that Terry is not happy with this. Moments later when news of Todd escaping breaks out Terry grabs the first opportunity he can to kill Brad. The mere mentioning of Todd to Terry sets him off in a violent frenzy and he just has to make sure his twin brother stays locked away. And all the while he can satisfy his murderous urges.
The story in “Blood Rage” doesn’t do anything interesting with this possibly fascinating piece of psychological background of Terry and Todd. We just follow Terry through the Shadow Woods complex as he kills most of the characters introduced while Todd is lurking there somewhere trying to find his mother. Poor Maddy is positively freaking out and resorts to binge eating and cleaning the apartment while waiting for news of Todd. Eventually a showdown between the twins emerges and Maddy is forced to choose between her sons in a violent finale.
While some performers here are really bad there is quality acting by the leads that elevates the finished product. Louise Lasser takes top honors and the method actress conjures up minor habits and neuroses for her character that give her a realistic and yet somewhat unhinged feel. The excessive cleaning bits, binge eating scenes and frequent calls to her (by that time; dead) boyfriend and subsequent conversations with a phone operator do add value to the film. Mark Soper is also quite decent as he manages to give the twins a completely different personality. He obviously relishes his turn as Terry where he gets to dish out witty one-liners and maim people but as Todd he’s also convincing a severely broken down individual.
“Bood Rage” clocks in at under 80 minutes so it moves fast. It’s fairly schizophrenic in the way Terry goes from one kill to the next, then goes to take a shower and dress up, has a cozy sitdown with a girl and resumes some more killing as the film moves along. As you might have guessed it isn’t that big on logic but it does deliver in nastiness and overall “Blood Rage” is one mean picture. The interesting psychological hint doesn’t go anywhere but it’s there and viewers can just fill in the blanks.
In an age where bona fide classics in the horror genre get the remake treatment or are being re-imagined there are some cult films out there that really could do with a make-over treatment. A little finesse story wise, some polishing in the gory department and a bigger budget that could help realize better a possibly great location could work wonders for a film that has a solid premise. Case in point; “Blood Rage”.
A bit of trivia:
- The film was completed in 1983 but not released until 1987.
- The opening title card says “Slasher” and not “Blood Rage”.