Saturday, 21 January 2017

Blood Rage (1987)


Director: John Grissmer
Screenplay: Bruce Rubin
Cast: Louise Lasser (as Maddy); Mark Soper (as Todd/Terry); Julie Gordon (as Karen); Jayne Bentzen (as Julie); Marianne Kanter (as Dr. Berman)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #72

Blood Rage is an exceptionally dull slasher. At this point it's a crapshoot which actually stand out of interest for me, but like in a lot of cases the initial premise is interest. Despite the fact that it doesn't try in the slightest as an eighties film to do an accurate depiction of the seventies in the prologue, it starts well enough with a single mother (Louise Lasser) in the car with her boyfriend and her twin sons Todd and Terry (both played by Mark Soper) at a drive-in theatre. One son, as the twin trope in horror films usually are, is evil killing a random patron in another car and incriminating the brother. Years later, the evil son is living with their mother about to celebrate Thanksgiving only for the innocent brother to have broken out of the mental institution he's been locked in and for a body count to begin.

And soon after that prologue the film suddenly changes pace to a crawl. Uninteresting characters cannot help as, when news of his brother escaping out into the public is known, the evil one decides to carve up the friends he's pretended to like in a random moment where his sociopathic tendencies weren't kept hidden, proceeding to grab a random set of various weapons and go on a spree with little dramatic tension. This means many bog standard moments of the killer cutting through people one-by-one whilst frequently making the same comment over and over that blood isn't like cranberry sauce, even going as far as lick the blood to prove this theory.

Baring how this is probably what the eighties was probably like for most people, large hair but with warm wooden panel decor for homes rather than pastel and neon colours, it's only really the gore that stands out in the stalk and slash scenes. It's certainly memorable from special effects artist Ed French - severed hand clutching a beer can, someone being bisected from the waist sidewards - but it's no longer appealing by itself after seeing so many gore horror movies, to the point the desensitisation is from the point that merely having it isn't enough of interest, the same you can say for the brief moments of nudity as without anything else to bolster it, it's an empty thrill with little else. In terms of Thanksgiving slasher films, the more shambolic Home Sweet Home (1981) with its giggling, PCP addicted hulk killer and an annoying pest with a backpack guitar amp wearing mime makeup is far more compelling than a young girl wandering around in the dark looking for her lost cat or a good twin who looks literally damp as well as figuratively when he appears.

The only exception within the film that stands out is Lasser. Her performance cannot salvage Blood Rage in the slightest, but she's compelling in her own scenes, a character visibly affected mentally by all that's happened and lives in her own world. Some of the performance may come off as unintentionally funny, vacuuming while drinking from a bottle of wine, or chewing the scenery, calling random telephone operators trying to find her boyfriend's line as she becomes more and more histrionic, but that flamboyant and almost ridiculous portrayal is still the sole emotional connection you attach to the film. Her denial of which of her sons is the guilty one, alongside the bleak ending for her character, does redeem the film even if the rest of Blood Rage is not that interesting.


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