Friday, May 13, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: The VHS Reviews ~ Blood Rage (1983)

a.k.a. Nightmare At Shadow Woods
"Identical Twins With Brutally Different Personalities"

Synopsis: The film opens with twin boys, Terry and Todd, sneaking out of the back of their mother's car while she's making out with her boyfriend at the drive-in. Terry grabs an axe from the car before he leaves. The boys then come across a teenage couple, who are also making out, in the backseat of another car. Suddenly Terry begins hacking away at the teenagers as Todd looks on hopelessly. Terry quickly hands Todd the weapon and smears blood on his face, before the crowd gathers, framing him for the murder. Ten years later, Todd escapes from the mental institution. The news of Todd's escape, in addition to his mother's engagement, triggers Terry to go on another killing spree. Will Todd again be blamed, or will he finally be able to prove his innocence?

My Thoughts: I doubt there are too many people that would have this on their list of all-time greatest slashers, but still this forgotten gore flick does have it's moments. What this 1983 low-budget slasher lacks in overall acting, it more than makes up for in blood & guts. Unfortunately, the kills are pretty much the only reason to search for a copy of this hard-to-find film (well that, and the synthesizer-driven score ...oh, and the 80's haircuts).

The horrible performances are lead by former sitcom actress Louise Lasser and virtual no-namer Mark Soper, who are totally unconvincing throughout the entire movie. I've never seen her 70's sitcom "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman", but Lasser was completely horrendous here in her role as Maddy, the twins drunk and obnoxious mother. Soper was equally as bad playing both twins (Terry and Todd), although at least he had a couple funny one-liners during his killing spree. The scary thing is the supporting cast was even worse ...much, much worse.

Luckily, in a movie like this one a few good machete kills can make up for just about anything. Not only does this film include a dismemberment and a decapitation, we also get to see a chick get completely cut in two. The director leaves the camera rolling and is never in a hurry to cut away from the gore. Of course, most of it is pretty cheesy, but at least you actually get to see it.

* Note: Look for a young Ted Raimi who is selling condoms in the drive-in bathroom in the film's opening minutes. *

My Rating: 5.5 / 10

Overall, I thought this was a pretty fun slasher. Was it cheesy? Oh, hell yeah ...but in a good way. If you want to see the unedited version (and you do), then stick with the VHS version from Prism Entertainment (a used copy usually goes for about $20). There's also an extremely hard to find restored DVD version out there from Legacy under the title "Nightmare At Shadow Woods", but it's edited and very expensive (so don't even bother with it).

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