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Blood Rage

tn_bloodrageslashersearch'11BLOOD RAGE, aka NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS, wants to be the identical twin brother of HALLOWEEN. Same genetics, separate souls. It kinda seems like somebody wrote down a summary of HALLOWEEN, then went through line-by-line crossing out each part and writing something else next to it.

So it’s the opening of HALLOWEEN, where a little boy snaps and commits murder out of the blue, except it’s at a drive-in instead of a house, it’s his mom having sex instead of his sister, instead of sneaking up on the sister he sneaks out of the car to kill a stranger, and he uses a small ax instead of a big knife. The biggest change is that he has a twin brother, and after he commits murder he plays a mean trick and leaves his innocent twin standing in shock holding the weapon. So the wrong kid gets locked up. Michael Myers, not having a twin, wasn’t able to pull a switcheroo like that until he faked his death by trading clothes with the ambulance driver in part 8’s unconscionable revisionist flashback to the end of part 7. (SPOILER.)

Then it skips to years later but instead of Halloween day it’s Thanksgiving, a totally different holiday almost a full month after Halloween. And instead of his doctor looking for him for the whole movie she gets killed right away and everybody else is looking for her.

mp_bloodrageThe main story begins at Thanksgiving dinner, where the mother Maddy (Louise Lasser, Mary Hartman from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) is welcoming guests including Terry (Mark Soper), who is the killer twin but who she thinks is innocent, when she gets a call from the asylum (or “school” as she calls it) that Todd (also Mark Soper), who is the innocent twin but who she thinks is a killer, has gone missing.

“Well, it looks like you’re gonna get a chance to meet the rest of the family,” Terry announces to the guests dickishly. “My psychotic brother just escaped. ”

So just like Michael Myers is on the loose and headed home for the holidays, so is Todd. But he’s actually not gonna kill anybody. The danger in this one is that him being out has inspired Terry to go on a killing spree, knowing he can blame it on his brother again. He’s not scary-looking like Michael though, he’s just a regular dude in an ugly black and white striped Nike shirt.

Soper does play the brothers differently so you can tell them apart. Terry’s brand of psychotic is the condescending smartass type, kind of a toned down version of the killer from SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 2. There are two different scenes where he sees blood and says “It’s not cranberry sauce!” As Todd he’s a timid, haunted guy that freaks everybody out and makes Terry’s girlfriend think he’s high.

I don’t mind this one taking such obvious inspiration from HALLOWEEN, in fact I kind of like that. But it really reminds you how great HALLOWEEN is, you can’t just take some of the elements and re-create it. In particular the camera work and the music here are not as well-executed as in Carpenter’s classic. It’s just not the same. You gotta know what you’re doing.

Since it’s pretty crappy I appreciate that the filmatist made the effort (or the obvious choice) to be gorier than the movie that inspired it. You’re sure as shit not gonna be scared by this stuff, so at least you get some fun FRIDAY THE 13TH type gags for chuckles. There’s a good body-cut-in-half-with-both-halves-moving scene. There’s a dead body that’s sitting upright and when it gets nudged it not only falls over, its head splits open revealing its brains. There’s a part where a girl sees her boyfriend outside through the peephole, then opens the door to find out it’s just his severed head hanging from a hook. (This one is kind of ruined by the movie not actually showing the view through the peephole.) And a hand that gets cut off and wiggles around while still holding onto a can of beer. That kind of stuff.

I think when they signed on Lasser they thought they had to get her in there as much as possible to show they had a real star in the movie. Most of her scenes seem like stuff that would’ve been deleted in most movies. Once she finds out her son has escaped she spends most of the movie alone in her apartment eating Thanksgiving food, then drinking wine, then on the phone for a long time trying to get through to the hospital. It keeps cutting back to her as if it’s important for us to see all this stuff. Even with that padding the running time is under 70 minutes. Not that I’m complaining. It seems like the right length.

IMDb lists this as a 1987 film, but the trivia says it was filmed in ’83, which I believe because that’s the copyright date on the VHS label. If so that makes it Ted Raimi’s first film other than THE EVIL DEAD (he has a bit part as a guy selling a wide variety of condoms in the restroom at the drive-in. So he banks on dudes at the drive-in being unprepared but not entirely irresponsible).

Two-time director John Grissmer’s previous film was FALSE FACE, aka SCALPEL, in ’77. He produced and wrote a ’73 picture called THE HOUSE THAT CRIED MURDER, which is the movie playing in the drive-in at the beginning (and on the TV later?) Writer Bruce Rubin wrote ZAPPED! and one episode of the cartoon RECESS. He also made his mark by causing the writer of GHOST and JACOB’S LADDER to have to go by Bruce Joel Rubin.

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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, October 16th, 2011 at 10:21 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

19 Responses to “Blood Rage”

  1. wow, you say Louise Lasser is in this movie? that’s really bizarre because literally just tonight I watched the disowned Sam Raimi and Coen Brothers movie CRIMEWAVE, which she’s in

    honestly, I liked it, it’s a flawed movie, but it’s just strangely fascinating watching a movie like that that’s co-written by two future Oscar winners, you know what I mean? plus I dug the whacked out, slapstick, almost looney tunes esque style and humor, I wish more prestige filmmakers had silly B movie comedies hiding in their back-catalogs

    sorry that this comment is not about the movie BLOOD RAGE

  2. I saw CRIMEWAVE a while ago too and I was surprised that for a movie, that was disowned by everybody who worked on it, it features surprisingly many trademarks of Raimi and the Coens.

  3. I love CRIMEWAVE. That scene with all the multicolored doorways falling like dominoes was pure visual poetry, and Bruce Campbell’s sudden exit was genius. The main problem is the total dweeb the studio forced them to put in the lead. It would have been a lot better if they’d been able to use Campbell as they’d planned, but his little role as Renaldo the Heel was ample compensation. I’m not sure I’d trade his reading of “Hey baby, how about we go back to my place for a scotch and sofa” for anything.

    As for BLOOD RAGE, I think it’s a pretty decent crappy little slasher flick from the right end of the eighties, before everyone decided that this whole slasher thing was a big joke and we should start stabbing people with novelty items like pointy birthday hats and breast pumps and such. If the primary hue in the color scheme is brown then there’s a good chance it’ll at least have some good gore, some creepy atmosphere and decent music. BLOOD RAGE is nothing too special but I can remember at least six or seven parts of it, which is way more than I can say about, like, AEROBICIDE or CHEERLEADER CAMP.

  4. oh yes, Mr. Majestyk, that scene with the multicolored doorways is awesome and by far the best scene in the movie, I love the way it ends too

  5. I actually want to see this. I love the original Halloween, and it sound like this is a better, for lack of a better term, reimagining, of the story compared to Rob Zombies remake or the countless other Halloween ripoffs that came out in the 80s.

    Vern, review April Fools’ Day, please. Or the remake if you can find it.

  6. GrimGrinningChris

    October 17th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    There is a remake of April Fool’s Day? Had no idea… and it’s probably better that way. I fucking LOVE that movie!

  7. One of the best Halloweens I ever had was renting April Fools’ Day with Satan’s Cheerleaders and a few 80s rejects. My friends and I ordered Chinese food and hunkered down with our found gems. I had wanted to see April Fools’ since I saw the VHS cover as a kid. Was not disappointed.

    Saw a few minutes of the remake once on TV. It’s an entirely different movie save for a few common elements.

  8. by the way, one funny thing about my experience watching Crimewave was I remember thinking that the guy that plays Coddish was the “let me tell you about my mother” guy from Blade Runner, but then I decided he was too skinny so it had to be someone different

    so imagine my surprise when I looked it up on imdb and see that that WAS in fact the guy from Blade Runner, Brion James

  9. Please tell me JACOB’S LADDER is on your review agenda for some time in the future (after slasher season is done, of course). One of my favorite scary movies and Adrian Lyne’s finest picture. Yes, even better than INDECENT PROPOSAL.

    You can, uh, skip the other Bruce Joel Rubin script you mentioned up there. There are better Swayzes, and better Swayzes for you.

  10. Mattman Begins – I’ve been hoping Vern reviews Jacob’s Ladder for years, sadly Vern never seems to want to review stuff I suggest him to review, I haven’t even gotten my Cracked sponsored Miracle Mile review yet

  11. I think poor Vern gets so many requests from us, it’s probably filling a list somewhere. Too many movies, too little time.

  12. Shit really? Was Bruce meant to be the lead in Crimewave? That sort of makes me sad and makes me wish i could access the parallel dimension where he is the star and not that fucking terrible semi-retarded guy in the lead. What fucking studio would FORCE a director to star that guy? Jesus!

    What’s the backstory on that?

    I remember laying in bed on a Sunday night when I was about 15. I was almost asleep and I changed channels and there was Crimewave … it blew my fucking mind. I’d only seen Evil Dead once when I stayed the night at a friend’s house years ago (who owned a Beta tape player!) but I could tell right away that this was the same filmatist.

    Where did you go Raimi? (I know he sorta reappeared in Drag me to Hell, but only sorta).

  13. There’s really a film called AEROBICIDE? The world is a better place just for having that title in it.

  14. Griff= I Watched Crimewave At Home For The First Time On Sunday Night Too As Part Of A Triple Bill Which Consisted Of The Stuff [Not Bad, I Liked The Main Character], Basket Case [The Stop Motion Was Funny In A Great Way But Overall Not Bad At All] & Crimewave. I Found The Constant Screaming & Cruelty A Bit Wearing.The Film Literally Reeked Of Of A Dusty VHS Tape Which Had Been Left On The Shelf & Rewound Many Times Even On PC, Though All In All I Enjoyed Them All…….When I Read These Coincidences On This Sight It Does Make Me Realise There Is A Universal Plan & We Are The Chosen Ones. Have A Good Day Everybody.

  15. yeah that is pretty weird that someone else on here would watch the same movie on the same night as me and then Vern would mention Louise Lasser giving me the perfect excuse to bring the movie up

    *cue Twilight Zone theme*

  16. Majestyk:
    “As for BLOOD RAGE, I think it’s a pretty decent crappy little slasher flick from the right end of the eighties, before everyone decided that this whole slasher thing was a big joke and we should start stabbing people with novelty items…”

    Kinda like around the time TRUTH OR DARE: A CRITICAL MADNESS was released straight-to-video, one of the first horror pictures to do so?
    Just sayin.’

    *hint, Vern, hint*

  17. The Madonna movie? The only novelty item I remember her getting stabbed with was that bottle she deep-throated.

  18. Majestyk:

    Nah, although they both could be considered quite funny/over the top.

  19. Has anybody here seen DEATH SPA? It’s a VHS-available-only horror flick from the 80’s about, you guessed it, a death spa. It also happens to be amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood to see someone get killed by a sauna.

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