Monday, 30 November 2015

Blood Rage (1983 / 1987)

Bloody hell it's BLOOD RAGE, an eighties slasher that falls into the rare and peculiar group of films where it's almost impossible to tell if they intended it to be a comedy or not. Anyway, now you can judge for yourselves with Arrow's three disc (!) set of this 1983-but-not-released-until-1987 slice of backwoods USA cinema.

Florida. 1974. A drive-in where suspiciously old teenager Louise Lasser is with her date. And her twin sons who are asleep in the back of the car. Aha! She's not a suspiciously old teenager at all but a suspiciously old single mother! Whether or not either of these factors are intended to rather indelicately suggest to us reasons why all might not be well with her boys is never explored, thank goodness. The boys wake up, see mum kissing a man and escape from the car while she's otherwise occupied. One twin sees a naked couple frolicking uncomfortably in a car (all I could think here was how lovely and warm it must be at drive-ins) and is driven to hack them to pieces with a handy axe that presumably all these drive-in things also come equipped with. Other twin becomes catatonic at the bloodshed. Bad twin puts the axe in good twin's hand and smears blood all over him. Good twin goes to loony bin. Bad twin stays free.

Ten years later (ie 'the present' with all the absurd pyramidal frizzy hairstyles and pastel coloured costumes that means if the present you're working with is 1984). Good twin has remained in the mental institution & has only just realised he wasn't the killer. Bad twin has remained free but has somehow managed to rein in his psychotic behaviour and limits it to using excessive amounts of hair spray and admiring himself in the mirror. Good twin escapes. Bad twin uses this as an excuse to kill everyone. Mum Louise Lasser, scary at the best of times, goes off the deep end and demonstrates her not-unenviable ability to pour wine into a glass while making a phone call and drink the wine at the same time as doing the hoovering.

        A collection of frizzy-haired casual sports-attire-wearing characters are introduced so they can be killed. None of them can act, but some of them don't act more than others. There are lots of murders, a bit of nudity and then a climax that is sufficiently bonkers that anyone who has stuck with BLOOD RAGE this far will not be disappointed.
I'm quite serious when I say it's difficult to know if BLOOD RAGE was conceived as a comedy or not. Certainly there are many chuckles to be had, and for a mid-1980s slasher it's actually extremely entertaining. The makeup effects by Ed French are excellent, and the music score by Richard Einhorn is even more 1980s than the film is, if that's possible - and I mean that in a good way.

Once again Arrow are to be commended for going the extra mile with this one. We get no less than three different cuts of the film across two discs. BLOOD RAGE is the original cut (with all the gore). NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS is the cinema & VHS release edit which loses a lot of the violence but gives you a bonus swimming pool scene (?). Finally, there's a composite cut that pulls it all together.
Other extras include a commentary track with the director and the current owner of the film moderated by Ewan Cant. Ted Raimi appears briefly during the opening titles and we get a brief interview with him. There are also new interviews with Louise Lasser and Mark Soper, who plays the grown up twins, as well as producer Marianne Kanter and effects man Ed French. You can also revisit the locations used and on the SHADOW WOODS disc there are 12 minutes of silent out-takes. 
              Hugely entertaining and with plenty of gory deaths, BLOOD RAGE is hardly a classic, but it is remarkably entertaining if you're in the right mood. And Arrow's detailed and loving presentation has to be the best package BLOOD RAGE is ever going to be available in.

Arrow Films released BLOOD RAGE in a three-disc set (two Blu-rays and one DVD) on 23rd November 2015

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