BLOOD RAGE is a weird one in the best possible way. Helmed by John Grissmer with a screenplay by Bruce Rubin, this 1987 slasher was actually filmed in 1983 and is also known by the titles SLASHER and NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS.
BLOOD RAGE has a lot in common with SLEEPAWAY CAMP, including an interest in siblings and a certain duality to the inexorable murders. It takes place in a limited location, specifically the Shadow Woods apartment complex. This not only sinks us into the material’s sense of place but gives the characters a space in which to play.
We begin with twin boys at the drive-in with their mother Maddy (Louise Lasser). She’s getting it on, which sends her sons out of the car. One of the boys, Terry, murders a teenager and blames it on his brother Todd. Years later, Terry (Mark Soper) is living with mom and Todd (Soper) is locked the hell away.
One day, Todd breaks out. Believing the falsely-accused killer is returning home, mom freaks and Terry starts killing people to frame Todd. Todd’s doctor (Marianne Kanter) hopes to intercept her patient. Soon, the twins clash in a showdown for the ages. More or less.
Soper is fantastic in the two roles. As Terry, he is deliciously evil. His facial expressions and sociopathic approach provide for plenty of entertainment. He keeps insisting the blood on his machete is not cranberry sauce, serving up the perfect reminder that it is indeed Thanksgiving and the turkey’s not the only thing being carved the hell up.
Todd is the silent type. He’s been devastated by his homicidal maniac of a brother and doesn’t say much, but when he does talk it seems to matter. His fiendish life is offered a splinter of redemption as he moves home to confront the past and dispatch his demons once and for all.
The third vital piece is the mother. Lasser’s Maddy is magnificently absurd. She spends most of the movie drifting around in a drunken haze. She doesn’t know what to do when the shit hits the fan, so she starts cleaning and drinking and eating Thanksgiving leftovers on the floor of her kitchen.
The killings of BLOOD RAGE are grisly. Watching Terry creep around the complex with his bloodied machete draws out a special kind of ominous delight, especially as he hops on the diving board while stalking Karen (Julie Gordon) and a baby. The ending is its own gut-punch, a final blast of despair that only offers hope if you keep an open mind.