Monday, 23 November 2015



Or is it? The onscreen title may be the wonderfully generic Slasher, and it also goes by the name of Nightmare At Shadow Woods (in a slightly different edit), but it's Blood Rage on the menu screen and the packaging (which may lead to confusion with Joseph Zito's Bloodrage). Whatever you end up calling it, it's actually a vintage 80s slasher movie that showcases the best, and arguably worst, of the genre and era, and ends up as an enjoyably daft low-budget body count movie with terrible dialogue, splattery gore scenes and a few bits of completely unnecessary nudity.

Made in 1983 but for some reason not released until 1987, Blood Rage is the one about the twin brothers (both played by Mark Soper), one of whom gets institutionalised for a motiveless murder carried out by the other. Ten years later, Todd starts to remember the truth of what happened that night, so he escapes from the hospital and heads for home, where his mother has just announced her engagement over the Thanksgiving turkey. News which brother Terry does not take well, so he takes his trusty machete and starts killing Everyone....

It's all very silly and despite Ed French's full-on gore effects (lopped hands, decapitations, stabbings, plus a woman cut in half) it's not actually nasty or objectionable. It's also got a certain nostalgia value: twenty years' distance provides another perspective on movies and this one now obviously feels dated; seen as a product of its time it's ludicrously entertaining nonsense of the kind that just wouldn't get made now. Richard Einhorn's score is full of 1980s synths, there's a gratuitous shower sequence, nobody ever calls the police despite the presence of a homicidal maniac on the loose in the apartment complex, and everyone behaves illogically throughout. Meanwhile Mom (veteran actress Louise Lasser, easily the biggest name in the movie) spends the entire second half of the film getting increasingly drunk, and Ted Raimi (the second biggest name in the movie) pops up briefly as a condom salesman in a gents. When Terry has to finally appear with Todd in the same shots, Todd's stand-in is clearly wearing a wig and looks nothing like him.

But does it really matter? Despite all that's wrong with Blood Rage, it's still fun: technically more than watchable, and it certainly doesn't stint on the kills. The 2K restoration obviously looks great, immeasurably better than the VHS version which is excerpted briefly in the extras section to show the replacement title card. As you'd now expect from Arrow, there are a host of extras including several interviews with cast members but on the second disc (which I wasn't sent) there are two other cuts of the film: the original, slightly softer theatrical version retitled Nightmare At Shadow Woods, and a new alternate cut comprising footage from both release versions. Maybe that's overkill for a low-budget gore movie that hasn't even been seen in the UK before. But it's still definitely worth picking up for Golden Era slasher fans who (like me) might not have even heard of it.


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