Blood Rage (1983)
WRITER: Richard Lamden
DIRECTOR: John M. Grissner
STARRING: Louise Lasser as Maddy
Mark Soper as Terry/Todd
Jayne Betnzen as Julie
Julie Gordon as Karen
James Farrell as Artie
Chad Montgomery as Gregg
Lisa Randall as Andrea
William Fuller as Brad
QUICK CUT: A joyous Thanksgiving dinner is ruined by an untimely reunion involving an evil twin and an escape from a mental institution. Pass the leftovers, it's time to get stuffed with Blood Rage!
Terry Simmons - One of the two Simmons twins, and the one that doesn't get sent to the psych ward after killing a man with an axe when he was a child. But he may have a dark secret all his...oh, screw it. He's the evil twin.
Todd Simmons - And then there's Todd, Terry's twin, and the fall guy for his brutal crimes as a child. His time locked away has not been kind to him, but he's still not as evil as his brother.
Maddy Simmons - The mother of the twins, and her defining characteristic pretty much begins and ends with the wine glass in her hand. But to be fair, one of her kids was a murderer before he hit puberty and locked away, so she has some baggage to deal with.
THE GUTS: Happy American Thanksgiving, everyone! It's time for another Trisk, and this time out, I have plucked Blood Rage, made some gravy, and served it up for you. I've made it a minor tradition to look at Thanksgiving horror movies during November, and I am starting to scrape the bottom of that barrel. I've still got a few potentials, but at least for now, we have Blood Rage. On the upside though, after the debacle of The Day After Halloween/Snapshot, at least we have this nice, straightforward, normal, descriptive ti...
What's the deal here? What the shit is this?? Well, the movie's official title is indeed Blood Rage. But the theatrical version that was released years after it was made? Nightmare at Shadow Woods. The theatrical cut is also just that; cut. Blood Rage is the slightly more complete version, with all the funner gory bits, that was released on VHS. Sadly, guess which version has an official DVD release! So, Nightmare at Shadow Woods it is.
It's never easy around here...
We kick off Blo...Nightmare at a drive in somewhere in Jacksonville, FL, with some fairly typical stuff going on as everyone gets ready for the show. Nothing too special here as the credits roll, which is just fine. People milling about while the movie starts, getting their popcorn and... OH MY LLOYD.
FOUR YEARS! Four years after trying to start a running gag out of the seemingly ubiquitous appearances of Ted Raimi in genre pictures with my Shocker review, and then I never see him again. UNTIL NOW. Four years it took for this game to return.
...And he returns by selling condoms in the bathroom at a drive in, and not a single line. I am most pleased by all of this.
But right, back to the actual movie. More typical stuff continues as the drive-in flick actually starts, with a couple making out in their car, and their kids zonked out in the back.
While the parents snog away, thinking their kids are fast asleep, it turns out the kids were just waiting for their parents to be distracted. So they climb out of the car, and go exploring.
With an axe. What? That's normal, right?
And that brings us to five minutes in when one of the twins takes that axe and gives us our first kill while watching another couple make out. With the bonus that it also gives us our first gratutitous ass-shot as his girlfriend runs away.
The parents finally notice their kids have gone walkabout, and before they can be found, the psychopath in short pants smears blood on his brother's face, hands him the axe, and starts blaming him for the murder. What are brothers for?
With the smoking gun firmly planted, the movie jumps ahead ten years to catch up with little Damien all grown up. Er, Terry. Little Terry. My bad. Trust me, I can almost guarantee you I mix up Terry and Todd's names at some point in this review. Just roll with it.
Terry and his gang of disposable canon fodder go to the pool to blow off steam and set up plot points and... And I can't believe what the movie just did. One of the characters goes to walk off screen, and you hear a muffled, off-mic voice telling Julie to go back the other way Because she forgot to take her baby with her. There is so much hilarity in those five seconds alone, from the director intrusion, to the forgetting of a major prop and plot point to just...wow. Just wow.
I sat here astounded and in utter disbelief that apparently the director couldn't be bothered to edit their direction out of the bloody film. I haven't had THAT happen since our FIRST Thanksgiving review, Blood Freak.
And she then proceeds to finally leave...IN THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE DIRECTION ANYWAYS. I've seen some poorly put together movies, but this may be the single worst bit of editing I've come across in a long time.
The plot resumes after that, but first, let us pause for five seconds of gratutitous nudity! Speaking of poor editing, this becomes a hallmark of this movie, cutting from one scene, to the next, with five seconds of something random in between. I really have to assume this is because of the hatchet job done for this release.
It's dinnertime at Terry's place, with his mom, and she announces that she's getting married to her new friend, Brad. Terry takes it well with one of the better looks of shock and horror I've seen in one of these movies.
Brad carves the turkey, and Maddy tells everyone to dig in. But then the actress obviously realises they can't since they don't have any turkey so quickly ad libs, "I mean, the other stuff!" Did this movie even HAVE a script?! Did the director just say, go do whatever, we'll fix it in post??
Ugh, where was I? Right. Thanksgiving dinner gets interupted by a phonecall, however, and gasp surprise! Todd's escape the nuthouse, and is coming home for the holidays! It's okay though, Maddy says they'll keep it quiet so as not to ruin anything or alarm anyone.
So Terry immediately sits back down at the table and tells EVERYone before his ass even hits the chair.
Later that night, Terry answers the door, and gets a gun shoved in his face. Ahh, the kill-o-gram is a lost art. But really, it's just some people from the psych ward looking for Todd, and getting confused. Because twins. This is gonna happen a lot, folks.
Brad tells Doctor Berman and her trigger happy assistant about the land and where Todd might be hiding, and everyone decides to split up. Really? Are we even going to TRY for safety in numbers? We're just gonna dive into making it easy for the killer to strike already? Okay then...
To add insult to inevitable injury, the doc takes Jackie's gun, leaving him completely defenseless if he DOES find Todd lurking on a patio somewhere.
Brad heads to his office as a rally point, to keep track of the search, and gives his soon to be wife a call letting her know everything's okay. Well, everything except for the looming Terry in the corner.
He turns around in his chair just in time to see Terry standing there with a machete. Brad gets out a scream, but only after the hand holding a beer can gets whacked off. Welcome to the family!
Meanwhile, Dr. Berman and Jackie are stumbling around trying to find a killer, and hey! Jackie finds one! Before that though, he starts quietly singing the song Maniac, but with the wrong word, substituting 'lunatic'. Which just doesn't work. But hey, it's another November review reference for me...
Fortunately, Terry interupts the butchering of a classic 80s tune and the two chat just long enough for Jackie to reveal that Berman doesn't think Todd killed anyone. And then he gets knifed in the gut. Quite frankly, for the way he sang, he deserved it.
I really love the completely random and unneccesary cutaways this movie does. First there was the randomly naked woman in the shower for no good reason, then after we go to Doctor B calling out in the woods for a minute, we jump for five seconds back to Maddy gorging on food in the fridge before going right back to the scene we just left with the doc.
My best guess is they needed the time to have Terry catch up to the doc before he could kill her. But then it's another quick cut back to mom dialing the phone and getting drunk, then BACK to the doc's body parts, and then to a sign for Shadow Woods Apartments.
PICK A SCENE I AM GETTING MOTION SICKNESS!
But hey, at least the title makes sense now.
The movie continues to cut back and forth and over and under with a few things, but I guess it's kinda fair, since a lot's technically going on. Terry is getting cleaned up, Todd is...okay, Todd's just standing around. Their mom continues to just get drunk and wait for someone to pick up the phone, and Brad's dead and handless.
After cleaning up the bloodstains, Terry heads over to see Andrea taking care of the forgotten baby, where we see that she's ready to make out, but he just wants to watch the telly. Oh, and Terry's college major is psychology. Snort.
Todd is meanwhile hanging outside his mom's place like a lost puppy staring in the window, when Karen comes over looking for Terry. Man, psychopaths get all the chicks.
So of course, she runs into Todd. This is the horror movie version of the Parent Trap, isn't it? But Todd isn't on the same page as that script, and just blurts out who he is. That's kinda brilliant, really. So many movies would've kept either the audience or the characters guessing, but nope. Not Bloodmare at Shadow Rage!
While she runs off to try and get help, Terry and Andreal watch a horror movie, which horrifies Terry. He even comments about how shocked he is that they can show that kinda stuff on tv. I'm not sure if that's more or less accidentally hilarious considering the cut version of this film removes 95% of the gore.
Oh look, a scene of the bad mother coming home to her forgotten kid that completely grinds the movie to a halt because it becomes nothing more than debating how much to pay Andrea, and warnings about underage drinking. Could we have cut this scene down and instead kept in the gore?
The two teens leave and we cut back to Karen with her friends debating what to do about Todd. One of them sees the other twin and asks, "Isn't that Terry??" Now, considering one of the people you're looking for looks EXACTLY LIKE the other person you're looking for, that is a near meaningless question if ever there was one.
When they tease Terry about his crazy brother, he gets angry and rushes home to mom so he can break the news to her. And she's still drinking, but has moved on to aimlessly cleaning the house. I swear, if you take a drink every time you see her with a wine glass, you'd be dead by the end of the movie.
Meanwhile, Todd runs into a little girl and urges her to go home before the bad man gets her. And I will say this for the movie, the actor playing the brothers? He's actually pretty decent. Not great, but he plays both of them differently, from the way they speak, to the look in there eyes. There is real talent buried beneath this movie somewhere.
But wait, there's time for more pointless scenes! Because this movie needed a scene with all of Terry's friends sitting around playing video games and doing tequila shots! AND NOTHING ELSE! There is a fine line between character development scenes, and scenes that just sit around and kill time. And this movie goes nowhere near that line.
The only plot related saving grace is that they mention Todd and how creepy he is. But we kinda got that from the earlier scene they're talking about WHICH WE ALREADY SAW five minutes ago!
After more random sex, the movies gets back to business when we jump back to Julie and her boyfriend settling in, and while she gets comfortable, Terry shows up to remove Joe's head. Sigh. Those kids in Florida and their bath salts, going all crazy. And then helps Julie put on a robe to cover up, but I think we all know that's not going to end well.
And meanwhile, Todd's breaking into his mom's place, wanders around a bit, and finds her drunk on the floor in the hallway. Surprising no one.
The movie continues to spin its wheels with Terry's friends still playing video games, but at least two of them have gone missing and when they scream, the others go to check it out. But sadly, the dead bodies aren't so dead, and are instead just a prank with makeup. I'm not sure how I feel about the fakeout. It's actually well executed, but in a movie already determined to take its time getting to the point...
But hey, you know what this movie hasn't had in forever? A scene of Maddy drinking.
Which must mean it's time for more pointless nudity, but at least Terry's lurking in the background while Andrea showers, unlike last time. ...Even if I suspect they used this same footage.
Oh wait!! I think I get the scenes with Maddy now! They're the comedic interludes! That's the only explanation that makes sense for such lines of her, on the phone with the operator, "He is definitely there! He is waiting for my call right now! He is sitting there and waiting for my call! This is a really real emergency!" Did they even script Maddy's lines? Was the actress actually drunk??
I'm not gonna lie, I had literally begun drumming my fingers at this point of the movie. It's cutting between Maddy on the phone trying to find Brad, and Andrea and Gregg playing tennis. This is not everyday life and we don't need to see all this fluff, damnit!
Then it's BACK to the phone, then BACK to Andrea and Gregg who get bored losing balls on the tennis court, so decide to have sex on the pool's diving board.
Fortunately, a wild Terry appears weilding a machete. It is surprisingly effective!
Elsewhere, Karen and Artie are wandering around talking. Thankfully, before I can start to whimper about the plot resuming its lack of momentum, Terry shows up and grabs Karen's ankles from under the foot bridge. Oh, that scamp!
Terry sends Artie off to find Gregg and Andrea, like he doesn't know where they are, and enjoys some alone time with Karen. Which lets Artie find a Todd hiding in his backseat, and trying to explain that he's not the crazy one.
His point may have been better made if it wasn't at gunpoint.
While Terry and Karen make out, and he starts to hurt her, Todd and Artie arrive and the brothers finally come face to face again. All so Todd can run away. Get on with it, already!
The two guys chase the supposed psychopath, and come across a stash of weapons. Artie checks out all the siny pointies, and hands a carving fork to Terry while he plays with a bloody machete. It doesn't take long before Artie is added to Terry's pile of dead bodies.
Karen finds Terry wandering around with the machete, which he is still constantly saying is not covered in cranberry sauce. Stop saying it's not cranberry sauce! It's not cranberry sauce is never going to happen, Gretchen!!
He tries to convince her the weapon isn't his, for all of five seconds, and then swings it at her while saying I love you. Dude, that is the most mixed of mixed messages ever.
The chase continues to the house they were all XBoxing at, and in case you were wondering, the great mystery can at last now be answered! YES Maddy is STILL on the phone!! But here's the twist...SHE DIALED A WRONG NUMBER!
At least Terry is having some fun showing off his kills to his girlfriend. It's a fun, if brief little scene of craziness, before the running resumes. Karen tries to get into a house, but wouldn't that just be the luck? She runs to the door of the little girl that Todd told to go home and not let anyone in. That's the greatest twist of all time, right there, and a surprising pay off to an otherwise random scene.
The chase continues on to Julie's house, where Terry is pulling his knife out of her chest, which doesn't really make a lick of sense, unless he wanted a fresh coating of cranberry sauce on it. Karen tries calling for help from there, but Terry chases her off as she grabs the baby. At least he wasn't left behind this time.
Maddy finally does something when she finds one of Terry's bloody polo shirts in the trash. At this point, she probably thinks he spilled some of her precious red wine all over it. She hurries to Brad's office, rather than spend the next few hours still trying to call, and finds her fiance's dead body.
Karen finds herself and the baby at the pool and catches her breath there. Not for very long though, as Terry decides to go bouncy bounce time on the diving board. Completely robbing what little threat I felt from this guy, and melting away the last shred of dignity.
She runs from him anyways, straight into the bathroom, and yet another scene of someone randomly coming across his victims. Man, he picked the perfect spots for every single body to be stumbled upon coincidentally. That takes some planning.
More chasing ensues, until Karen runs into Todd, who holds his brother at gunpoint. She takes the gun from him and tries to shoot Terry, but oh gee, the gun is empty. Sigh. How convenient to drag this out even further.
Things actually take an interesting turn as the events from the start of the movie seemingly begin to play themselves out once more. Terry smears blood on his brother's face, and tries to hand him the weapon, but rather than just passively stand there and take it, Todd cries out and the twins fight each other into the pool.
In a real surprise twist, Maddy shows up with a gun that's actually loaded, and shoots Terry several times with it, until he falls into the pool. The surprise being that she's a good shot for someone who probably has close to three bottles of wine in her by this point of the movie.
Of course, we find out she thinks she killed Todd, thinks she's killed the brother she thought was crazy these past ten years, but when she hears that Todd is the one she's comforting in her arms and she killed her baby, Maddy starts to freak out. She can't deal with her grief at what she thinks is an accident, thinking she killed the good son, and takes her own life.
And cut to black. Boy, that's a real downer of an ending, eh?
Video: Well...this definitely falls into the better than expected, but not great category. Which means its pretty much the Trisk standard. The colours are a bit dull, the picture is a bit chunky and washed out, but everything's clear enough.
Audio: It's all clear through a stereo mix, and the only character who suffers audibly is Maddy, and that's because she's drunk.
Sound Bite: "It's not cranberry sauce..." Says Todd after licking blood off his shirt. And when he shows the knife to three different people. BECAUSE THANKSGIVING.
1 - The kills begin five minutes in when one of the twins gives a guy a whack with an axe.
2 - Terry kills Brad after slicing off his hand.
3 - Jackie gets gutted.
4 - Doctor Berman gets sliced in half somehow by Terry.
5 - Julie's boyfriend gets beheaded by Terry.
6 - And then Terry finishes off Julie herself.
7 - Terry shows up and slits Gregg's throat and shoves him in the pool.
8 - Andrea probably dies, even though we only see a scratch.
9 - Terry takes out Artie in the neck with a fork.
10 - At last, by his own mother's hands, Terry is shot and drowns in the pool.
11 - And in her grief, Maddy kills herself because she thinks she killed the wrong son.
Best Corpse: Well, there's plenty to choose from! I'm kinda partial to Artie being necked by the carving fork.
Blood Type - C+: At least, as far as this rated, cut up version goes. There are oh so many brief hints of gore, but the editing slices them out before you can even acknowledge they are there. But Terry spends a lot of time with bloody clothes and knives, so its not bloodless. Plus, Joe's head is a nice effect.
Sex Appeal: Andrea sure likes to shower! And even Terry gets topless for the ladies.
Surveillance Video: Enjoy the clip of Julie forgetting her baby!
Movie Review: This is a toughie. I genuinely like the film. The story is solid, if VERY straightforward and overly simple. There is a ton of room for improvement here. I'm also unsure about knocking the movie for seeming disjointed, because, as I keep saying, the available release is so very edited, it's almost unfair to judge. Still, SOMEone made those cuts, and judging it on that, it ruins the movie. But there's not much here to ruin, at the same time. But even so, it's coherent, which is something to say for twin movies. Nightmare could've been a lot more weird and confusing. So, two out of five cans of cranberry sauce, but three if I don't count the poor editing against it.
Entertainment Value: Now, this is where the movie shines. It may be a bit of a trainwreck in the filmmaking department, but a lot of the fun still remains. Terry/Todd is a solid enough actor, and actually gives both brothers distinct performances. Which is NOT easy. And Maddy is just a blast to watch. I am serious, drink along with her. It'll be fun. The kills are good, but the characters are so bland. Still, it rides the line between camp, and bad, and good fairly well. It fits well in the Trisk mold, so I give it a four out of five forgotten babies.