I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first popped in the new Limited Edition Blu-ray of Blood Rage from Arrow Video. The movie was shot in 1983 but wasn’t released until 1987, which indicated to me a troubled film. However, as soon as the opening credits came up and the synth-heavy soundtrack started blaring through my speakers, I knew I was going to love this movie. The flick is a gory slasher, which wears its bloody heart on its sleeve, and yet, still manages to provide solid performances from both the lead actor Mark Soper, who plays the twins; to the twin’s mother, Louise Lasser, who is haunted by the tragedy that befell her family many years ago. This extremely fun movie is packaged together in a superb limited edition from Arrow Video, featuring not one, not two, but three different versions of the movie. It’s a bloody good time!
SUBTITLES: English REGION: Free RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 1983/87 RELEASE DATE: Dec 15, 2015
IT’S NOT CRANBERRY SAUCE!!!
What do you get if you combine Thanksgiving, American TV star Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman), killer 80s synths and some of the most gruesome special effects in all of slasher history courtesy of Ed (Terminator 2) French. Why, it’s Blood Rage of course!
Twins Todd and Terry seem like sweet boys that is, until one of them takes an axe to face of a fellow patron at the local drive-in. Todd is blamed for the bloody crime and institutionalised, whilst twin brother Terry goes free. Ten years later and, as the family gathers around the table for a Thanksgiving meal, the news comes in that Todd has escaped. But has the real killer in fact been in their midst all along? One thing’s for sure, there will be blood and rage!
Shot in 1983 but not released until 1987, Blood Rage (re-cut and shown in theatres as Nightmare at Shadow Woods) is a gloriously gruesome slice of 80s slasher heaven now lovingly restored (in 3 versions no less!) from original vault elements for its first ever official home video release.
Todd and Terry are twins and one of them just happens to be completely insane. Terry, who committed a crime as a kid and blamed it on his brother Todd, is living the good life. He has a hot girlfriend, who he has no problem dismissing and flirting with other hot woman; he has a crazy mother and finally, he has an urge to kill. His brother Todd, the one who was blamed for the childhood killing, is living a crappy life. He has been locked up an asylum, or as his mother likes to call it, “school,” for most of his life. However, things might be looking up for Todd, as a therapist believes him to be innocent and knows Terry actually did the killing. For some odd reason, Todd decides to break out of “school” and head home. Terry gets wind of this and decides to go on a killing rampage and blame it once again on his brother. Mommy dearest, on the other hand, can’t accept the fact that good ol’ son Terry is a killer and still thinks it’s Todd who is crazy. Let’s just say that Mom and Psycho Son are meant for each other.
Blood Rage was a hoot, plain and simple. It’s got the 80s slasher vibe coursing through it’s veins and it has no problem splashing around the cranberry sauce. We have a bunch of gratuitous killings, most which are pretty impressive in the practical effects category (all thanks to effects wizard Ed French), and the music by Richard Einhorn is to die for. I swear, if you’re not thumping your foot to the groovy synth tunes as a whole bunch of carnage is unfolding on screen, you better check your pulse. Why the film had such a hard time coming out for all those years is strange to me. If it would have come out when it was filmed (1983), it would have been the perfect time, as the slasher craze was in full bloom. Instead, we had to wait a few years for it to finally came out in 1987 as Nightmare at Shadow Woods, which was a heavily cut version, but contained some scenes not present in the “hard” version known as Blood Rage. (You also had the film being called Slasher, which this Blu-ray release uses in the opening credits.) It’s all very confusing and probably ended up hurting the overall success of the movie.
Do I have any complaints about Blood Rage? Besides a few technical goofs, such as the camera guys shadow showing up, or people who are clearly not supposed to be in the shot hanging out in either the background or side of the frame, nothing jumped out at me as being overly terrible. Really, it’s just some low budget stuff that actually lends to the movie’s goofy charm. Those small negatives, which don’t hurt the film one bit, are even smaller when you look at the wonderful performances, the gory kills, the amazing soundtrack and the wonderfully insane ending.
Arrow Video has hit it out of the park with this amazing Limited Edition Blu-ray release. On the video side of things, you have an impressive cleanup job done on the Blood Rage version of the film. Some lovely grain is still present and no noticeable damage. Nightmare at Shadow Woods has a bit of degradation in the inserted scenes, but nothing that takes away from the movie watching experience. The audio also fares wonderfully, with an Uncompressed PCM 2.0 Stereo option that blares that amazing soundtrack through your speakers. I had no issues with any dialogue being too low either.
The special features side of things is also fantastic. First up is the package, with a lovely slipcover, a reversible sleeve featuring new and original theatrical artwork and as usual with Arrow releases, an impressive booklet.
This is a 3 disc set from Arrow, with the first disc featuring the original home version of Blood Rage, a commentary from director John Grissmer, a bunch of different interviews with the cast and crew and finally a still gallery. The interviews aren’t overly long, but what you do get is pretty informative. The second disc houses the other cuts of the film, Nightmare at Shadow Woods and an alternate composite cut combining the two cuts together. Rounding everything out on that disc is 27 minutes of outtakes with no sound. The third disc is a DVD copy of the first disc.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
3-DISC DIRECTOR-APPROVED LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
Three versions of the film – Blood Rage, the original home video version, Nightmare at Shadow Woods, the theatrical re-cut, and an alternate “composite” cut combining footage from both versions
Original Stereo 2.0 sound (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach
Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Joseph A. Ziemba, author of BLEEDING SKULL! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey
BLU-RAY DISC 1 & DVD – BLOOD RAGE
Brand new 2K restoration of the “hard” home video version, transferred from the camera negative and featuring the original title card Slasher
Audio commentary with director John Grissmer
Both Sides of the Camera – an interview with producer/actress Marianne Kanter
Double Jeopardy – an interview with actor Mark Soper
Jeez, Louise! – an interview with actress Louise Lasser
Man Behind the Mayhem – an interview with special make-up effects creator Ed French
Three Minutes with Ted Raimi – an interview with actor Ted Raimi
Return to Shadow Woods – featurette revisiting the original locations in Jacksonville, Florida
Alternate opening titles
Motion still gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes make-up photos
BLU-RAY DISC 2 – NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
Nightmare at Shadow Woods – the re-edited 1987 theatrical cut featuring footage not seen in the Blood Rage home video version
Alternate composite cut of the feature combining footage from the home video and theatrical versions
I fell in love with Blood Rage as soon as the opening credits started up and I heard that awesome theme. The movie hit all the right beats, giving me a good amount of gore, nudity and fantastic acting. The Blu-ray from Arrow Video is a complete no-brainer for fans of the slasher genre. Pick it up for sure!