The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - BLOOD RAGE (1987) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - BLOOD RAGE (1987)

Forgotten 1980s slasher given a hi-def polish by Arrow Video.

Review by Jason Abbey (@abbeyjason)

Directed by: John Grissmer

Starring: Louise Lasser, Mark Soper, Marianne Kanter, Julie Gordon, Ted Raimi

"Truth be told, this is strictly pound shop fodder in Harrods packaging. A by the numbers slasher that whilst watchable enough in a six pack of beer way, has no particular lasting merit. Rubbish indisputably but rubbish with some charm."

Note - the images and trailer accompanying this review are not representative of Arrow's blu-ray.

I like to think that my knowledge of horror films is fairly comprehensive. So when a three disc limited edition 2k restored slasher movie gets a bells and whistles release, something ripe for discovery should be coming your way. Truth be told, this is strictly pound shop fodder in Harrods packaging. A by the numbers slasher that whilst watchable enough in a six pack of beer way, has no particular lasting merit.
With three cuts of the film in this package it is obvious that this has had a checkered release (even the restored version goes by the name of Slasher here). This release includes a truncated, more chatter less splatter, version and an amalgamation of the two cuts is also included. As historical artefacts, these may hold some interest, but the streamlined full gore version is really the only one you need to see.
Plot wise, we are in familiar evil twin territory. When Maddy (Lasser) takes her two sleeping twins, Todd and Terry, to the local drive in to make out with her lover, the two boys sneak out of the car to watch other couples make out. Terry is less a voyeur and prefers a more direct approach, which unfortunately includes the use of a hatchet, framing his brother for the incident. We then flash forward 10 years to find the unfortunate Todd (Soper, now playing both brothers) now incarcerated in a mental institution. It’s a quite nifty opening riffing on Halloween, but it also exposes a problem. As we know from the start who the murderer is, there is no tension in the film. No attempt is made to confuse the audience with which one of the brothers is on screen at any one time; we are therefore only here for the brutal but effective murder scenes that pepper the by the numbers plotting.
Ignore the horror and go for the wonderfully '80s style. A pulsing electronic score that sounds like Spandau Ballet gone horror; a psycho who looks like the lead singer from slap bass funk band Level 42 with the voice of Jerry Seinfeld; some of the tightest shorts ever worn for the cinema screen (less a horror film, more a public information short warning of the dangers of thrush); and enough hair spray to have caused significant damage to the ozone layer. All that’s missing is death by shoulder pad.
It is the secondary bits of business that draw interest, not least Louise Lasser's bizarre performance; by turns comic, uncomfortably Oedipal and excessively neurotic, it feels as if it belongs in a different movie. It feels like a character workshop for a John Cassavetes movie committed to celluloid a dyspeptic control freak with an eating disorder. A weird freaky performance that teeters regularly into full on ham. The remainder of the cast seem to have been hired for either their willingness to strip off or had nothing to do during the week it was shot.
John Grissmer never really gets to grip with the horror; all the scenes are flatly staged and have a slight comical edge that is clearly intentional but sits uncomfortably with the gore. It also takes an actor with bigger chops than Soper to make a catchphrase out of repeatedly saying “this sure isn’t cranberry sauce,” a nod to Thanksgiving, when the film takes place, but is not made use of in the way that Carpenter and Bob Clark mined so effectively their holiday horrors.
See it for Ed French and his gore effects, and Lasser, but you will spend more time looking at how the baby grows and shrinks during the film, which corpses are corpsing and the occasional intrusion into the shot of a member of the film crew. Rubbish indisputably but rubbish with some charm.
As stated earlier you get three cuts of the film, and a direct video transfer of the opening with the correct title on.
An audio commentary by the director which is a little on the dull side. You can tell this was a job for hire as he seems to talk more about distribution wrangles more than any stylistic choices.
A series of interviews with Producer/Actress Marianne Kanter, lead Mark Soper and most interesting, Louise Lasser. Ed French talks about the effects and Ted Raimi gives a quick interview regarding this, his first role.
There is also a dull look at the locations of the film, some outtakes and a booklet featuring the writings of Joseph A Ziemba. More comprehensive than the film needs but also not a great deal to excite any devotees of this outlander of '80s slasher horror.
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