Retro Review: ‘Blood Rage’
With this Retro Review, I decided to look at another horror favorite from the Video Era. In 1983, director John Grissmer and screenwriter Bruce Rubin (who would go on to write for films like: Jacob’s Ladder and Ghost) made a fun violent horror flick for their piece of the genre pie that was so big at the time. Cramming, almost to excess, all the hallmarks of the slasher genre into a single film (even bringing Ted Raimi in for a cameo) called Blood Rage. After a limited unsuccessful run the flick went into hiding for four years until it was brought back to fill the aisles of the video store. Unfortunately the powers-that-be took their scissors to the incredible gore fx of the film which they retitled Nightmare at Shadow Woods. Luckily the true cut of this flick is now available for fans of 80’s horror everywhere.
When he was a kid, troubled Terry hacked to death two teens in the throws of passion and blamed his twin brother Todd. Because of the crimes, Todd was sent to spend the next decade in an insane asylum while his sociopathic brother ran free. Terry is able to live a normal life, until his mother announces she is getting remarried reigniting his bloodlust. After chopping his mother’s fiancees’ head in half he sets out on a murder spree. The only person who can stop him is a recently released Todd who knows his brother’s true nature. Things come to a head when Terry and Todd confront each other while Final Girl Karen and an infant in her care are caught in the middle.
We should all thank the Horror Gods that we live in an age when Blood Rage can be seen in all its uncut glory. The violence and gore fx of the flick are absolutely amazing. Armed with a machete, Terry chops and slices through a host of victims unfortunate enough to get in his way. Sure it stretches the bounds of believability sometimes, especially when he effortlessly slices off a hand and the fingers are still trying to grip the beer it still holds, but it is still a ton of fun. It is made even more enjoyable by the fact the killer seems to genuinely enjoy what he does.
While Blood Rage presents absolutely top notch gore fx, the tension needed for an effective horror movie dissipates as the movie runs until it is eventually nonexistent. When we get to the poolside climax, the heroine Karen, calmly walks away from the machete-wielding Terry while he patiently jumps up and down on a diving board. The lack of a sense of urgency displayed by the characters completely kills any chance the audience will be on the edge of their seat. After the initial shock from the characters that Terry and not his brother is actually the murderous psycho, everyone tends to move at a fairly leisurely pace.
While it is not a suspenseful masterwork, this horror film it will surely satisfy fans of slasher flicks. Blood Rage has plenty of; gore, laughs, and gratuitous nudity as one would expect. Fortunately the tame neutered Nightmare at Shadow Woods cut of the film has not been seen since a limited barebones DVD release in 2004. Should you find this movie, it will be the overly violent flick the filmmaker intended you to see.