Synopsis: What do you get if you combine Thanksgiving, American TV star Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman), killer 80s synths and some truly gruesome special effects courtesy of Ed French (Terminator 2: Judgement Day). Why, it s Blood Rage of course!
Twins Todd and Terry seem like sweet boys that is, until one of them takes an axe to face of a fellow patron at the local drive-in. Todd is blamed for the bloody crime and institutionalised, whilst twin brother Terry goes free. Ten years later and, as the family gathers around the table for a Thanksgiving meal, the news comes in that Todd has escaped. But has the real killer in fact been in their midst all along? One thing s for sure, there will be blood and rage!
Blood Rage 6.5
eyelights: the score. its creative effects. its inadvertent laughs.
eyesores: Louise Lasser’s unreal performance. the stupidity of the script. its construction. its direction.
“It’s not cranberry sauce!”
So bad it’s good.
That’s the only thing you can say about the 1987 horror film ‘Blood Rage’, which was also known as ‘Nightmare at Shadow Woods’ on television. First produced in 1983, it wasn’t released until years later. And it’s not hard to see why: it’s merely a by-product of the slasher craze of the late ’70s-early ’80s.
It’s an imitator, not a trailblazer.
As with most of them, it has a gimmick: it’s set on Thanksgiving Day. Thankfully, it doesn’t take it any further than showing us a Thanksgiving Day dinner at its onset: it doesn’t have a serial killer dressed as a turkey or stabbing anyone with drumsticks (though it does make use of a carving fork at one point).
The basic conceit is this: Ten years prior, at a drive-in, twins Terry and Todd slip out of the back of their mom’s station wagon for some mischief. Terry immediately grabs a small axe, then slaughters a fornicating teenager and blames it on Todd, who is too stunned to say anything. Todd is hospitalized.
In the present, Todd escapes the institution on Thanksgiving Day and his doctor thinks he may be coming back home. Hearing the news, Terry uses this as an excuse to go on a larger rampage, massacring just about everyone he knows as they try to track down his brother – and, of course, blaming Todd.
‘Blood Rage’ is a piece of crap: It’s poorly-written, poorly-directed and poorly-performed. It invests most of its energies into the kills, putting together as gruesome a spectacle as it is capable of with its minor budget. Frankly, it’s exactly the kind of horror movie that’s always given the genre a bad name.
But it’s a hoot.
First there are the creative make-up effects that pepper it, like when one character is chopped in half, with the lower portion a few feet away – and she’s still alive, whimpering. Or when another gets his hand chopped off with a machete and it still twitches on the ground. It’s ridiculous, but well done.
Then there is the unintentional humour, first from the aforementioned kills, which are so outrageous you can’t help laughing, and then from the performances and staging of scenes. One scene is so bad, that the filmmakers buried the dialogues under the doctor’s recorded notes. Such ineptitude evokes derision.
The worst of it comes from Louise Lasser, as Todd and Terry’s mom: her delivery so lacks subtlety that it’s a wonder that she survived in the industry; she clearly hadn’t learned a thing about her “craft” since co-starring in Woody Allen’s movies nearly fifteen years prior. Lasser really stunk up the picture.
To make matters even worse, her scenes were clearly all filmed together in a short time – and mostly on the same set. She’s not really integral to the story, so the picture spends an inordinate amount of time cutting to her eating in front of the fridge, drinking, vacuuming, cleaning the oven, more drinking, …etc.
Um… or harassing strangers over the phone. She does that a lot. For half of the picture, she’s sitting on the couch trying to reach Todd at the facility (even though he’s escaped!) and she keeps calling the wrong people. So she calls another, and then another, in a series of wrong numbers that are absolutely hilarious.
It all made me think of the sequences “starring” Bela Lugosi in ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’, which were totally inserted after the fact and had very little to do with the picture. It’s as though director John Grissmer landed a “star” for his movie and simply decided to make as much use of her as possible.
But she’s pretty much superfluous to the picture.
Frankly, the picture is superfluous to the picture. There’s really no story: basically, it follows a bunch of young adults around as they kill time and party. Of course, the same could be said about ‘Halloween‘, which is low on plot, except that the latter is very strong on style and suspense – unlike ‘Blood Rage’.
The funniest part of the whole film is that Todd has told everyone that Terry was the killer ten years ago, and yet they’re letting Terry wander about freely while everyone’s looking for Todd. No questions are asked, no concerns are raised. Let’s just leave Terry free to go on another rampage, why don’t we?
Or just stalk people, as he does sometimes. Poorly. How could he be in the bathroom with the babysitter, while her friend is in the bedroom? How did Terry sneak in and out? Why didn’t he kill them both there and then? Why did he wait until later, after they’d played some tennis, and then gone to the pool?
Worst. Serial killer. Ever.
But, man can he ever carve a turkey! And ‘Blood Rage’ can certainly carve itself a place in horror film history for being as inept as it is uninspired. I had such a good time laughing at the movie that I can’t fathom why this hasn’t become a midnight movie favourite on par with ‘Birdemic‘ or ‘The Room‘.
It should become a Thanksgiving tradition.
Cranberry sauce for everyone!
Date of viewing: October 9, 2016