I love all types of horror films but it’s no secret that slasher flicks, particularly those born in the eighties, stand as my golden child favorites. It’s all because they carried me from fan to fanatical and I can always count on them to bring the fun. No matter how many times haters try to belittle them, there’s no changing that a good slasher movie is like a party grenade and it’s a party grenade you can enjoy equally with a group of friends as you can alone. Why, just the other day I was feeling down and out and so I threw THE BURNING (1981) into my faithful TV and voila- 90 minutes later I was stinking of joie de vivre. Fellow slasher fans know what I’m talking about.
Long story short, I view the recent blu-ray release of BLOOD RAGE (1987, aka NIGHTMARE IN SHADOW WOODS) as a holy gift from the slasher Gods. BLOOD RAGE is a very special film my friends and I mean “special” in every connotation you can think of. It not only fulfills all slasher film requirements, it also handily adds a few atypical flavors you didn’t know you were missing. There’s a bizarre subterranean river of disproportionate gonzo melodrama surging through the film (which is as off-putting as it is hilarious) and the flick’s limited location (an apartment complex and its adjacent patch of woods) creates a trippily surreal repetitive rat maze quality. You get all the eighties fashions you can ask for, a riveting and righteous synth score, more gore than you’re likely to expect (especially if you are used to the heavily edited version like I was) and it’s all wrapped up in the very oddest and idiosyncratic of bows. You can list superior slasher flicks all day long if you wish, this baby has got true character and that’s worth way more than garden-variety competence to me.
Credibly twitchy LOUISE LASSER stars as Maddie, a mad housewife whose exciting Thanksgiving announcement regarding her recent wedding engagement is dampened by news that her crazy child Todd has escaped from a mental hospital. Little does she know that Todd’s twin brother Terry is the true psychopath and he’s been living with her all along! Easy to look at new wave mannequin MARK SOPER plays both twins and although he’s not always given the best material to work with, he does a fine job of making his duel characters truly distinguishable from each other. Soon Terry is carving up friends, acquaintances, neighbors, bungling mental health professionals and his soon to be step dad with the carte blanche understanding that his put upon bro will take the heat. Will quickly unraveling Maddie discover the truth or will she spend a remarkably inordinate amount of time barking on the phone to unseen and clearly underpaid telephone operators? Both, it turns out! God bless LASSER for having no clue what kind of movie she’s starring in and God bless the director for not having the foggiest idea of when to call “Cut!”
I don’t salivate over any old release that comes down the pike (especially when I already own an earlier version of it) but I have to say I’m so glad I finally got to view BLOOD RAGE in its best possible form (thanks to Arrow Films). Heck, I even dug the Special Features because instead of dragging out ancient chestnuts, they gave me much needed info on this little known gem! Who knew the flick’s Producer MARIANNE KANTER also acts in the film as Dr. Berman, the not nearly nosey enough psychiatrist whose duel talents include participating in the most awkward voice over ever committed to film AND the ability to scream her head off after being chopped in half (spoiler alert). Gee, now that I’ve seen all of the outlandish gore effects returned to their rightful place within the film, I feel like I’ve been living a lie all these years! I’ve been eating chocolate chip cookies with all of the chocolate chips removed! Now, I’m not saying extra vicious kills make BLOOD RAGE a better movie but… who am I kidding? Yes, they DO make it better, way better! C’mon.
In closing, if you’re a slasher fan or even if you just adore cult-y micro-budgeted B-films that star peculiar ladies of a certain age chewing through scenery like they’re playing to a back row in a galaxy far, far away, BLOOD RAGE is for you! Finally seeing it in its full form is like watching a side dish transform into a main course and I can guarantee yours truly will be begging for seconds of this holiday set slasher once that turkey of holidays Thanksgiving comes back around.