Monday, January 6, 2020

It's a Twin Thing

Just when you think you've seen every over-the-top '80s slasher, the internet shows up to remind you that this world is far richer than you knew.

Quick Plot: Young Terry and Todd are resting in the backseat of a station wagon while mom Maddy (Mary Hartman herself, Louise Lasser) makes out with her date. Disgusted, Terry pulls Todd outside to wander the grounds, quickly finding a loose hammer and using it to smash a naked teenager's face in. Without skipping a beat, Terry covers his shocked brother's face in blood, leading everyone to believe Todd's guilt. 

Ten years later, an institutionalized Todd has finally made a breakthrough, which we find out via one narrated scene by his psychologist (apparently a producer who was forced into the role when the cast actress backed out last minute). Maddy refuses to believe the boy she's raised into a nice young man is actually a sociopath, leaving her to storm out in fury. 

Back home, Maddy hosts Thanksgiving with high spirits, announcing her engagement to her cheery guests. Terry, on the other hand, immediately turns to ice. 

Meanwhile, back at the hospital (or "school," as Maddy chooses to say), Todd has run away. His psychologist and her stoner teenage assistant (remember: the '80s) arrive to search the 10 acres of land surrounding his neighborhood. Before anyone can suggest doing something crazy like, you know, calling the police, Terry's bloodthirst has rekindled.

What follows is a strange, strange ride into, what little Judy rightfully described in Dolls as "the longest night in the world." Between condoned drunk babysitting, tennis matches, diving board sex, dismemberment, vacuuming, and a LOT of wine, Blood Rage has a lot of...stuff to do. Rarely is it good by any classical definition, but for the most part, it's weirdly entertaining. 

Lasser throws herself into her role, notching her performance up to 11 as a supreme blousy alcoholic unable to face the truth about her child. She largely acts by herself, slurring through one-sided phone calls with abandon. As both the Bundy-esque Terry and shellshocked Todd, Mark Soper manages to create two distinctly odd characters, and the young (or rather, "young") cast of pals he slices through sell their over-the-top, gooey deaths in glory.

Much like The Mutilator, Blood Rage is fairly mean-spirited tale, sparing few and delighting in the others' gruesome murders. Still, it's goofy enough that you can't take anything too seriously as an audience member, even if the actors are admirably committed to giving it their all. This is the kind of film that repeats the line "that's not cranberry sauce" as our killer licks blood off of his stained machete. It's hard not to be entertained.

High Points
Though she doesn't get much in the way of character development, it's a nice touch that our final girl chooses to save a stranger's baby in the midst of fleeing her insane boyfriend

Low Points
It's never a good idea to cast very similar looking people in similar roles, and the only two young females being blond with the same body type 


Lessons Learned
A more mature term for a stepfather would be "new manager"

You can take coconut liqueur any darn way you like

If you substitute the word 'lunatic' for 'maniac' and change the gender, you just get away with not getting sued for using the tune of "Maniac"*

*Fun fact: according to the beacon of undisputed knowledge that is Wikipedia, songwriter Michael Sembello originally intended "Maniac" to be used IN a slasher film, with the opening lyric "He's a maniac that's for sure / He will kill your cat and nail it to the door." 

Look! It's-

Ted Raimi as the '80s grooviest drive-in bathroom condom salesman

I don't know why I haven't been eating my second round of turkey to Blood Rage for the last 32 years of its existence, but it sure is nice to know there are always buried treasures floating around the streaming universe of Amazon Prime and Shudder. 

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