The early 1980’s saw the dawn of the video age, and with it, an absolute abundance of slasher movies, all hoping to take a slice of the gore-filled cash pie baked by iconic films such as Halloween, Friday the 13th and Maniac. The majority of these pretenders are generic affairs, all following the same basic tropes, with constantly diminishing returns each time.
Blood Rage was shot in 1983, but wouldn’t even see the light of day theatrically. The film sat on a shelf for four years before being recut for television as Nightmare at Shadow Woods. Now, some thirty-three years later, the good people at Arrow Video have given this lost flick the full Blu-ray treatment, presented uncut and plugging a lingering hole in the collection of splatter-movie obsessives.
Blood Rage is the story of identical twins Todd and Terry Simmons (Mark Soper) who are rocking the tried and tested trope of “One is evil” They also have a smothering, emotionally unhinged mother (a deliriously solid performance from Woody Allen veteran Louise Lasser) What follows is sloppy carnage as a machete-assisted killing spree is unleashed upon the local woods and the hapless residents that live nearby, whilst peppy Karen (Julie Gordon) attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding this disturbing family.
Blood Rage looks like shit. I know that’s a bit aggressive, but it really does. It’s a pasty, washed out, and badly framed film, starring bedraggled actors who are lit horrendously and performed weakly. However, chances are that you aren’t watching a movie titled “Blood Rage” for its classic cinematography and Neo-Noir expressionism, so you’ll be pleased to know that there is an abundance of impressive gore and special-effects work, with graphic stabbings, mutilations and decapitations aplenty.
Whilst some of these effects are a little dated in hindsight, they are all expertly realised.
The entire story is telegraphed from its first scene, there will be zero surprises in this story, but the film runs at a scant 85 minutes and keeps the body count up to prevent boredom from setting in. Dramatically, Blood Rage is a completely forgettable movie, but at least has some creative gore and intriguing moments of quirk to distract from its entirely amateurish production.
Once again, Arrow Video have gone above and beyond to put together a wonderful package for this release. Included with the uncut theatrical version is the censored, but extended, TV cut from 1987.
There are a wealth of extra features on this 3 disc set, including a director’s commentary, featurettes, interviews with the cast and even a look at the titular woods as they stand today. Arrow have succeeded in delivering a generous and feature packed release for a film that was lost for so many years.
The difficulty with reviewing slasher movies is that you have to be aware of your reader’s mindset. Chances are, if you’ve taken the time to read this article, then you already have an interest in the genre. If you’re happy to put down yet another D-grade flick for 80 minutes of screaming girls and headless torsos, then the film definitely deserves a spot in your collection. But, to an audience outside of that demograph, Blood Rage doesn’t have enough on offer to be anything more than a mildly interesting curio of the lurid age that taste forgot.
Another five-star Arrow package, but a film for slasher completionists only.
2 / 5
Dir: John Grissmer
Scr: Bruce Rubin (as Richard Lamden)
Starring: Louise Lasser, Mark Soper, Julie Gordon, Marianne Kanter
Prd: Marianne Kanter
Effects: Ed French
Music: Richard Einhorn
Run time: 85 mins
Blood Rage is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now.