This Thanksgiving, It’s Not Cranberry Sauce.
Happy Thanksgiving, fellow fiends! It’s the time of year when pumpkin spice, woolly sweaters, and sharp implements adorn our homes and hearts alike, filling them with festive, murderous rage… Blood Rage, that is.
This month from the NOFS Video Vault, a holiday slasher with double the trouble and enough T&A to shake a pubescent stick at. We’re talking John Grissmer’s Blood Rage (1987).
Gimme the Skinny on Blood Rage
Blood Rage, AKA Nightmare at Shadow Woods, AKA Slasher, best known as Blood Rage is a 1987 American slasher movie that… Aw hell, are you as confused as I am right now? Here are the Cole’s notes:
Filmed in 1983 in and around Jacksonville, Florida, the working title was Nightmare at Shadow Woods. During filming, however, things weren’t the rosiest on set and the director quit. Ultimately, he was talked into returning and the title was then changed to Slasher.
The film had a limited theatrical run under the Slasher title but it quickly slipped into obscurity. (FYI, there are some copies of the Slasher title still kicking around the interwebs if you are so inclined to find them.) It wasn’t until the film was picked up for home video release in 1987 that the title would be changed once more to Blood Rage. Get all that? Neither did I, but moving on.
It’s 1974. Two boys, twins Terry and Todd, are running around a drive-in while their mom, who’s clearly too old for such shenanigans, makes out with her slimeball boyfriend. The two boys are on the loose just long enough for one kid, Terry, to bludgeon some young dude with a hatchet and frame his dimwitted brother Todd for the whole bloody mess. Fast forward ten years to 1984. It’s Thanksgiving. Terry is in college, has a pretty girlfriend, lives a life complete with lots of friends, an Aquafresh smile and a head full of gloriously blond coif. Meanwhile, Todd, now certifiably insane, is locked up inside the sterile halls of a psychiatric hospital. He’s got some serious anger issues and an equally serious hate for pumpkin pie. Well, eventually ol’ Todd escapes and then BOOM! The folks around Terry’s apartment complex start dying in glorious, gory Technicolor.
Blood Rage knows exactly what it is and it gives zero effs about what you or anyone else thinks.
“What’s that in your hand?”
In the early 80s, there was an onslaught of “slasher” films after the huge success of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980). They were so successful that movie studios quickly jumped on the bandwagon ordering up countless (sub par) copycats in hopes that they would score with the next big thing. Because of this flooding of the market, the golden age of the slasher trend had burned out by 1984 and Blood Rage, with its late 80’s release date seemed as doomed another hapless victims. Thanks to home video though, the rage… raged on!
The Rise of a Cult Following
The film gained traction as a go-to rental and eventually gained a small cult following. Slasher fans still to this day regard it as quintessential holiday viewing. In fact, the film’s tongue in cheek approach to the formula has prompted props from more than a few critics.
There were others though, that weren’t as kind to the film. Critics have always loathed slasher films. All one has to do is read any Prom Night (1980), Don’t Go In the House (1979) or Maniac (1980) reviews by Siskel and Ebert and you will clearly see that they used these films as fodder for their hate of horror cinema and Slasher, er, I mean Blood Rage was no exception.
Variety called it a “trite slasher flick” and “Only [Louise] Lasser, experienced enough to realize the anemic script can only be played for laughs, has any screen presence.”
But like I said, Blood Rage didn’t cater to the critics. They knew who their audience was, it just took them a little longer to find it. It’s following, though small, is devout and they seem to get the over the top gore, the play it for laughs acting and the silly premise. It has elements that freshened a stale formula and gave it some spunk. I mean, how can you not love a movie that has a character, while looking at blood, say “That’s not cranberry sauce.”
If you haven’t seen Blood Rage don’t go into it expecting Shakespeare. While trite and formulaic, it has a kind of punk rock attitude. It knows exactly what it is and it doesn’t apologize for it. Gorehounds will be in heaven, perverts have their hands full (so to speak) and stoners will have one helluva ride after hitting some of the blue kush they just blazed. As for the rest of us, Blood Rage delivers a little something for everyone and that’s why it has earned entry into the NOFS Video Vault.
Thanks for visiting! Remember to close the door on the way out. We can’t have any of our video nasties getting out now, can we? Be sure to check out Nightmare on Film Street on Twitter and Instagram as well as our Horror Movie Fiend Club. Until next time, guys and ghouls, Happy (*deep monotone voice*) Thanksgiving.