“It’s not cranberry sauce”: “Blood Rage” is a little-known Thanksgiving-themed slasher flick

By on October 11, 2017

Our favorite month has finally arrived, and we here at Night Flight HQ couldn’t be happier to present to you a little-known slasher flick called Blood Rage, one of the more outlandishly entertaining titles in our carefully-curated collection of B-movie, cult, and strange Horror flicks.

You’ll find them streaming in our newly-added “Horror Month on Night Flight Plus” section over on Night Flight Plus.

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Blood Rage was originally shot in 1983 as Slasher! in Jacksonville, Florida — and you’ll see the title card announcing that as the film’s title early on — before it was released to a handful of theaters later that same year.

Blood Rage certainly has all the death scenes you gorehounds would ever want from a grisly ’80s slasher flick, including lots of machete hacks and a bloody decapitation and dismemberment or two (one poor soul is chopped in half, while another gets a fork in their throat).

Creepshow II‘s SFX specialist Ed French’s gore-filled make-up effects stand up alongside the decade’s best slasher classics.

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Director John Grissmer even adds a few gratuitous all-nude scenes too, including an obligatory shower scene — Jayne Bentzen is the lovely, uninhibited Julie — and a couple screwing at the pool, atop a diving board.

(That’s our way of letting you know now this one is NSFW if that’s where you were planning on watching it).

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Four years after it was first shown as Blood Rage, Grissmer’s film was re-cut for an “R” rating and re-titled Nightmare at Shadow Woods and then given a limited theatrical release.

It also aired on cable TV under that title (that version eliminated much of the gore, and a few plot scenes were missing, replaced with alternate scenes).

The film was also released on VHS home video as Blood Rage by Prism Entertainment, and there was also a low-budget DVD release of the film in 2004, but the version we’re streaming is Arrow Video’s restored original 82-minute version of the film, released in 2015 on DVD with all the nudity and gore intact.

Read more about Blood Rage below.

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Here’s what it says on the box cover of the original Prism VHS home video release:

Todd and Terry are twins — blonde, cute as buttons, bright and identical in every respect, with one exception. One of them is a murderer. It all started one night at the drive-in when a teenager was slaughtered in the back seat of his car while his girlfriend watched. Todd was found guilty for the heinous crime and locked away in an asylum.

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Years passed and Terry lived happily with his mother (Louise Lasser — “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”), who smothered him with enough love for two sons.

All was fine until one night when they received news that Todd escaped. The nightmare begins once again and out of its forbidding darkness steps a maniacal killer, raging for blood. But which brother is the killer? The truth may not be seen… until it’s too late!

The screenplay was written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who in 1990 won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Ghost (he also wrote the screenplays for Jacob’s Ladder, Deep Impact, The Last Mimzy, Brainstorm and other titles).

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Prior to Blood Rage, director John Grissmer wrote the screenplay for The House That Cried Murder (1973), which is playing at the drive-in in the opening sequence of Blood Rage. He later directed Scalpel (a.k.a. False Face, 1977).

Louise Lassser — who plays Maddy Simmons, the twin brother’s troubled mother — really chews a lot of scenery here, hamming it up in all of her neurotic, booze-filled scenes.

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One of the highlights of the movie is a Thanksgiving dinner — you could probably guess that from this blog post’s headline, no? — which takes place after crazy mom Maddy reveals to her son Todd (still in the insane asylum at the time) that she and new boyfriend Brad have gotten engaged, which then leads to a new killing spree.

In case you were wonderin’, “Shadow Woods” is name of the residental complex where adult Terry and his girlfriend Karen are living a rather dull life until they hear that Todd has escaped from the mental hospital.

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Lasser — who was at one time married to Woody Allen and appeared in some of his earliest movies (Take the Money and Run, Bananas), and we also loved her in Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker — was also in director Sam Raimi’s Crimewave (1985), from a screenplay by Raimi along with Joel and Ethan Coen, the Coen Brothers!

Speaking of Raimi, his younger brother, actor Ted Raimi, has a really strange cameo appearance early on in Blood Rage, playing a weirdo who approaches other dudes inside the men’s bathroom at the drive in, offering to sell them condoms.

He’s got them displayed inside his coat (we’ve seen the old movies where a guy on a city street tries to pawn off shitty fake Rolex wristwatches to unsuspecting tourists, but never rubbers!).

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Although the violence in Blood Rage certainly would have qualified it to have been added the the UK’s “video nasties” list in the early ’80s — we told you a little about that in our previous Night Flight post about Abel Ferrara’s Driller Killer, which did make the list of films that were criticized for their blood & gore content — the film barely blipped on their radar apparently.

We have, actually, recently added one of those “video nasty” films — Oliver Hellman’s Madhouse (a.k.a. There Was a Little Girl) — and we’ll be telling you about that one in another future blog post.

Watch Blood Rage and all of the newly-added titles to our “Horror Month on Night Flight Plus” section over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.