“It’s not cranberry sauce, Artie.”-Tagline
From “Christmas Evil” to “My Bloody Valentine,” to “SlaughterHigh” (which is set on April 1st, and whose original title was “April Fools Day”), holiday-based horror movies were all the rage in the 1980’s. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “How about Thanksgiving? Aren’t there any 80’s horror movies set on Turkey Day??” Well, you’re in luck, folks! Today’s subject is a somewhat obscure 80’s slasher flick that is set on just this festive occasion. And, whew! “Blood Rage” is a doozy! This nasty little kill flick, which was originally filmed under the appropriate title “Slasher” in 1983 (but not released for four years for whatever reason), is a lot of fun, and packs a wallop in the 80’s-era gore, terror and mayhem department.
Here’s the plot: Louise Lasser plays Maddie, the single mother of two twin boys, Terry and Todd. Todd is a bit slow, and seems to have trouble communicating. One night, they all go to the drive-in, and Maddie proceeds to get hot and heavy with her date. This seems to rub Terry the wrong way, because the young lad grabs a hatchet, and, in extremely gruesome fashion, hacks his mother’s date to death. Youch! When the police arrive, they find a mute Todd, smeared with blood, and a talkative Terry, telling them Todd did everything. The authorities believe Terry, and Todd is sent to a mental hospital.
Fast forward a decade or so. Terry is now a high school senior, and is celebrating Thanksgiving with his mother, her new fiancée, and a group of friends. They learn that Todd has escaped from the hospital, and may be headed to their home for a little…family reunion. Yipes! This proves to be a perfect cover for Terry to indulge in his murderlust again, and frame his twin brother-again!
Louise Lasser, as Maddie, completely freaks out in her usual overwrought fashion, and proceeds to compulsively eat leftovers, chug wine, and straighten up the house literally to the point of collapse. Meanwhile, Terry proceeds to engage in a killing spree. Might I add, this is an extremely gory and violent killing spree; we’re talking about limbs chopped off, decapitations, stabbings, shootings, showers of blood, brains oozing out of fractured skulls, the whole schmear. The kills are bloody, fun, and pretty damn effective.
Although the performances are somewhat spotty (especially among the twenty-five-to-thirtysomethings playing “teenagers”), it does have some definite high points. Mark Soper is great in a dual role as the twin brothers; he’s sad and sympathetic as Todd, and eerily, emptily psychopathic as Terry. Terry gleefully slaughters family, friends, and neighbors who know and trust him, and it adds another tragic layer to this story. Like Ted Bundy, or Patrick Bateman, Terry’s persona is entirely plastic, and none of his friends or family know the real him, or how little he cares for them. Louise Lasser is also effective as Maddie; she chews up the scenery (as Lasser usually does), but she still takes Maddie seriously, and gives it her all. As a result, Maddie feels raw and real, though over-the-top.
Aside from several great performances, this movie offers memorable makeup effects by Ed French, a vintage early 80’s synth score, and a script filled with suspense and twists. And the finale, in particular, has quite a perverse little plot twist.
So, if you’re looking for something seasonal to watch this Thanksgiving that isn’t football or “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, and you won’t lose your turkey dinner over extreme slasher violence, check out “Blood Rage”! This long out-of-print video flick was recently resurrected by Arrow Video in a DVD/Blu-ray combo. Happy Thanksgiving, 80’s horror movie fans! Again, if you enjoy this review like many others on this site, swing on over to Neo Trash Video on FB for all things B-Cinema!