Blood Rage, 1987
directed by John Grissmer
starring Mark Soper, Lousie Lasser, Julie Gordon
Although most commonly known as Blood Rage, this film was released under the less appealing Nightmare at Shadow Woods and the perfectly simple Slasher. The latter of which seems perfect to prepare viewers for what is ahead of them, but at the same time feels comically lazy. Imagine seeing a movie titled Action or Drama. Anyway, Blood Rage is a fairly standard slasher, with some peculiar efforts sprinkled throughout that seem to imply an effort at a more intrinsic storyline than actually is there. What is actually there is a simple enough story, though: While at the drive-in movie theater with their mother and her date, twin brothers Todd and Terry sneak away from the car and Terry hacks up a male teenager with his girlfriend. As a crowd approaches, Terry smears blood on Todd’s face and places the hatchet in his hand. Despite Terry being covered with splatter marks maybe implying him as the killer, Todd is sent away without question to a mental institution.
Even though there are a few moments so awkward they are comical, Blood Rage is a solid slasher. The kills come at a rapid pace, and the makeup effects are gory and original. Not the finest ever presented, but there is enough creativity in their introduction and likely a good amount of nostalgia in the viewer to find them gruesomely pleasant. What does break the pace of the movie at odd intervals are scenes with Louise Lasser, who plays the mother of Todd and Terry. While there is nothing concrete to point to as evidence, there is absolutely an odd subliminal sense of an oedipal relationship with Terry. She is also rather manic, and while this plays out in the finish of the story, some of the scenes seemed randomly timed and too long. That being said, Lasser is clearly an exceptional actress and presents some of the finer acting you’ll see in a low-budget slasher like this. The same can be said for Mark Soper, who plays both Todd and Terry. The rest of the cast are the nondescript jigsaw pieces to complete the puzzle, none particular bad but none particularly impressive (except maybe Julie Gordon, but that’s probably just because she is really pretty).
For the slasher fan, Blood Rage is definitely a must-see. It’s certainly no Halloween, but it’s definitely in a higher class than many of the other low-budget slashers. The storyline is indeed a bit odd at times, but honestly any effort or originality in that area of a slasher, if paired with the right amount of gore, is appreciated. If Blood Rage had a little more variety in locations, it’s seemingly shot repetitive across fifty feet of an apartment complex and hardly touches the adjacent promising woods, it could have been even more enjoyable. Still, Blood Rage doesn’t falter in the basics of the slasher genre and provides quite a few extra bonuses.