Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in America that celebrate it. Obviously we don’t have thanksgiving here in Wales, UK. I will be enjoying the festivities, however. I like to spend the day watching the Thanksgiving NFL games. Luckily my New Orleans Saints aren’t playing so I won’t be experiencing anything too horrific. For everyone else, we need a thanksgiving themed horror movie. Well, there are quite a few that are, at least, set at thanksgiving. The problem is, most of them are utter shite. With that in mind, we are going back to an old classic in the form of 80’s slasher Blood Rage.
Directed by John Grissner, Blood Rage is an old fashioned, kill a minute, horror movie. Made in 1983 but only released 4 years later. Blood Rage features arms being chopped off, a person being cut in half, heads being sliced open and much more. You can leave your brain in bed for this one. Taking place on thanksgiving itself. There is a distinct lack of autumn tropes due to the location. Still, autumn is very different in warmer climates. Let’s give a little nod to their fall experiences.
For something more autumnal, we reviewed Kristy as part of our Fall Themed Horror series. Kristy is set during the thanksgiving break so it might make for a fitting replacement here. I just didn’t particularly enjoy it so figured we should go with something a little different. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t much better. It is a lot of fun, though, and doesn’t take itself seriously. Blood Rage has become something of a thanksgiving horror staple as well so you can’t go wrong. Let’s take a look. As always, I will give a spoiler free breakdown of the movie which you can skip if you like.
November has been Fall Themed Horror month. We have been reviewing a few movies every week that feature an autumn setting. We have taken a look at movies like The Village, ParaNorman, Super Dark Times, and Pyewacket. If nothing else, it has been fun. We are coming to the end of it now with only two reviews to go. Next week we are heading into December and Awful Advent.
Our Awful Advent 25 days of Christmas Horror feature is going to be big. Much like our K-O-Ween 31 Days of Horror feature, we will be reviewing a movie a day. For 25 days we will be looking at Christmas themed horror movies. These will either be set at Christmas or focusing on the holiday itself. It’s going to be fun! I know a lot of you can already predict some of the movies in the list. Keep checking back for that starting on the first of December.
One night, Maddy, played by Louise Lasser, is out on a date at the local drive in cinema. Her twins, Todd and Terry, are sleeping in the back of the car. Maddy and her date begin kissing only for the twins to suddenly wake up. Noticing what is going on in the front seat, the boys decide to head out. Taking an axe from the back of a pickup. Terry begins spying on a naked couple kissing. The couple notice Terry staring at them prompting the man to shout. Terry lifts his axe and kills the man. As people are running to see what the commotion is. Terry smears blood on Todd’s face and hands him the axe. Catatonic due to what he had seen. Todd cannot profess his innocence and is blamed for the crime.
Several years later, Todd, played by Mark Soper, is now an adult. He has spent the last ten years in a mental health hospital. His assigned psychiatrist, Dr Berman played by Marianne Kanter, believes he is innocent and that his brother Terry committed the crime. Todd’s mother does not agree, however. She takes Todd a piece of pumpkin pie but he refuses to eat it. He throws it against the wall as Maddy cries.
It is thanksgiving and Maddy is gathered around the table with her boyfriend Brad, played by William Fuller, family and friends. About to settle down for dinner, Maddy announces that her and Brad are set to marry. Shocked but attempting to conceal it, Terry, also played by Mark Soper, shares his congratulations. Maddy suddenly receives a phone call informing her that Todd has escaped from the asylum.
Later, there is a knock on the door. Terry answers only to have a gun aimed at his face. It is Dr Berman and her assistant. They are here to look for Todd. They mistake Terry for him due to their similar likeness. Brad, wanting to protect his fiancée takes them downstairs to talk. When they leave, Brad heads to his office and makes a phone call. Behind him, Terry appears holding a large machete. He taps on the window to get Brad’s attention. It would seem as though something has been unleashed in Terry. Like he did ten years ago, he aims to frame his brother for murder. Only this time, the kill count will be far higher.
The 80s was a great era for slasher movies. We had the Child’s Play series. Friday the 13th had hit the scene. The Nightmare on Elm Street movies were everywhere. On top of that we had Halloween sequels arriving in cinemas every few years. The novelty of the genre had not worn off. If a production company was looking to make a horror, the slasher genre was an obvious option. The movies were easily digestible, fun and had proven consistently popular.
When looking to make a thanksgiving horror, what better genre to use? It goes without saying that today’s movie falls into the slasher genre. Blood Rage’s alternative title is, actually, just that – “Slasher”. Blood Rage sees antagonist Terry go on a maniacal rampage ten years after framing his twin brother for murder. He chops off hands, slices open heads, cuts people in half and kills couples while they are having sex. It is traditional slasher fun.
With this being said, there isn’t really a whole lot to analyse about this movie. It is as simple and straight forwards as it gets. Man goes crazy, kills a lot of people, attempts to pin it on his brother. That is really all you need to know and what more could you want? This is a straight forward riot. Throw it on, grab some snacks and have a laugh. Just don’t expect it to be particularly good.
What more could you want from a slasher? Blood Rage is filled with buckets of blood, or is it cranberry sauce? Terry is a relentless killer. He methodically carves his way through a whole bunch of the residents of Shadow Woods. Seemingly completely motiveless, nobody is safe. From people looking to hook up, to Terry’s friends and everyone in between. The kill count is pretty high. Terry is ruthless and on a mission to cause mayhem.
As with a lot of slashers from this era, everything is played for laughs. The violence is comical and will genuinely make you chuckle. Despite being graphic, it is done in such an obviously fake fashion that is simply isn’t that bad. Very fitting for the era. There are lots of guts and nasty bits that are a staple of the genre. Again, it’s all a bit comical and not very realistic. For the time, however, the effects look fantastic. The kills are occasionally inventive and, often, quite humorous. That doesn’t mean we get to see everything, though. Much of the action happens off screen. For a few of the kills, the only exposition we get is someone finding a mangled corpse.
Naturally, this is an 80’s slasher so expect some nudity. It seems like movies from this era featured at least one woman paid to get naked and then die. Blood Rage is no different. Viewed through a modern eye, it’s a bit silly but it is very fitting for the type of movie and the time. It’s not gratuitous nudity either, just a few boobs here and there.
Blood Rage is a pretty damn cheesy movie. I mean, it’s an 80’s slasher, of course it is. Terry saunters around with a comical swagger absolutely relishing every kill. He cracks wise on frequent occasions and a few of his lines are pretty iconic. He loves to torment his victims and, even in death, they don’t manage to escape his retro slasher wit. His enormous grin and wild eyes fit the character well. In an age where most slasher villains wore masks, Terry wore a smile.
On the other hand, Todd is ridiculously childlike and vulnerable. He looks at the world with a sense of curiosity. It’s as if he has been asleep for ten years and woken up in a different world. It’s all incredibly cheesy and the characters are turned up to 10. The dialogue is basic, reactions histrionic, and some of the scenes are absolutely farcical. Todd and Terry’s mum, Maddy, works her way through about 6 bottles of wine. She distracts herself with housework and eating leftovers from the fridge in a hilariously comical fashion. It’s the exact type of light entertainment that you have come to expect from slashers.
It feels as though Blood Rage captures the 80s in an almost undistilled form. Whereas movies like Friday the 13th have a somewhat timeless feel. Blood Rage is locked firmly in 83. The furniture and fashions are ridiculously retro. The synthesised beats wail in the background. The massive hair is even more noteworthy than the kills. The only thing bigger than the fake blood budget here would have been the one for hairspray.
Blood Rage is one of those movies that acts as something of a time capsule. The types of clothes that people are wearing, the televisions, the phones, the cars. It’s all just so incredibly reflective of the time. The apartment complex feels like something out of an urban explorer video. You know the type. Some random YouTubers would look around the area and comment on how old it all looks. Wood grain is everywhere. Light blues and yellows adorn the walls and the carpets are simply hideous. Growing up in a house that was decorated in the 80s, it is all very familiar. Fans of the 80s will love the nostalgia the film offers.
Let’s be real, you can’t expect the acting here to be particularly good. It’s a low budget 80’s slasher. Still, it really isn’t all that bad. Mark Soper as Todd and Terry is having an absolute blast, that is completely obvious. Relishing the opportunity to play the evil Terry. Soper beams when delivering cheesy one liners. Todd is played as more of a wide eyed child. There is decent separation between the two characters. Soper’s performance is pretty mixed, however. At times he speaks in an unnecessarily exaggerated and strange manner. It can feel a bit odd. He plays the part for laughs and has a great time, though, which really shines through.
Side characters are adequate pretty much throughout. You know how it goes for films like this. Line delivery is often awkward and typically cheesy for this type of a movie. It is acceptable, however, given the context. Nobody stands out in any major way but they make for great killer fodder. The star performance is actually Louise Lasser as Terry’s mum Maddy. She plays the character with a mix of dramatic chops and perfectly executed comedy. Screaming down the phone line one moment to manically vacuuming the bedroom the next. She is so enjoyable in the role. She totally gets the silliness and is a real highlight.
Blood Rage is not an incredibly good movie. Hell, it’s not even an above average movie if I am honest. Even against slashers of the time it doesn’t hold up particularly well. It is, however, a lot of fun. It’s the perfect movie for thanksgiving night as an alternative to the football. You will laugh your arse off and likely really enjoy the kills. There is plenty of blood and a whole bevy of one liners. That’s what you are here for, right? That’s why we put slashers on. We are not interested in plot. We just want to see someone increasing their body count at a rapid rate.
There is no tension here. Don’t expect any scares. Hell, don’t even bother attempting to find a cohesive plot. Characters are ridiculously stupid. Editing is crap. Camera work is shoddy and the plot is holier than Jesus himself. There is no build up to the kills. The movie doesn’t really go anywhere and the script is an embarrassment. Being completely honest, Terry doesn’t even make for a scary horror villain. He is not intimidating and is just as stupid as his victims.
What we do have, however, is a slice of 80’s slasher nostalgia. The time period is captured in its purest form. The body count is high, the kills are funny and the effects look fantastic. Terry’s one liners are hilarious. Soper’s childlike joy at playing such a bastard of a character are truly endearing. Louise Lasser delights as Maddy and is a huge highlight of the film. Blood Rage is absolutely fine as long as you don’t expect much. Let’s be real, what else fits the bill for a thanksgiving horror movie and is actually this much fun? It’s worth noting that you can find this movie on YouTube. It is heavily censored however, and makes for a tough watch.
Blood Rage is a light hearted slasher that doesn't take itself too seriously. Set at thanksgiving, Terry claims a high kill count and appears to be loving every minute of it. Average acting and a poor script are obvious throughout. Louise Lasser's fantastic turn as the twin's mum is a highlight. While lacking many of the things that make a horror movie good, Blood Rage is exactly what it aims to be. A hilarious gorefest with some fun kills and plenty of violence. Don't go into it expecting anything special and you may really enjoy yourself.