80s horror

Wicked Wednesday: Blood Rage/Slasher (1987)

There are a number of films based on everyone’s third-favourite holiday. Each one is a treasure to be admired in its own right. While Blood Feast is bonkers and Poultrygeist is vomit-inducing, I think I like Blood Rage best.

After last week’s Final Exam, was 100% jaded with 80s slashers. Had been feeling it coming on for a while. But Blood Rage certainly perked me up a bit. It has everything a b-movie slasher should: great one-liners (“It’s not cranberry sauce…”), a memorable final girl and cast of zany characters, and great moments of gore with a fun killer to go with.

In 1974, twin brothers Terry and Todd are in the back of a station wagon ‘sleeping’ while their mom makes out with her date at the drive-in. The boys decide to exit the car quietly. Terry (somehow) finds an axe, which he promptly puts through the skull of a sex-having teen.

Terry quickly cleans the blood off himself and hands the axe over to Todd. Being in such a state of shock, Todd is unable to move. Ten years later, it’s Todd in the mental hospital, not Terry.

But as Todd grows older, his memories of that night begin to come back to him. Todd’s doctor is fairly certain that he is innocent, and that Terry was the killer. But the twins’ mother, Maddy, is much less convinced. She becomes hysterical after hearing the suggestion from the doctor.

Maddy decides to leave Todd behind in the asylum. She instead joins her family on Thanksgiving, as if nothing were wrong. And seemingly nothing is until she announces her engagement.

The announcement seems to upset Terry, who becomes sullen. But the news that his brother has broken out of the asylum cheers him up considerably.

Soon Todd’s doctor and her assistant arrive at the apartment complex that Maddy and Terry reside in. The two head out into the woods while Maddy’s fiance goes to his office. But he soon discovers that it’s Terry who is the true threat. And the deviant soon makes quick work of the rest of the search party.

In between his deadly shenanigans, Terry meets up with his friends. He slowly stalks and torments each one of them. The while his poor mother is losing her mind, cleaning the house and getting drunk off red wine. But when his wannabe-girlfriend Karen accidentally meets Todd, she begins to suspect something is not quite right.

And she definitely knows something isn’t right when Terry begins chasing her with a machete. But soon the brothers must come face-to-face and learn the reality of a mother’s true love.

So no. Blood Rage (also known as Slasher and Nightmare at Shadow Woods – none of which are any good) isn’t an out-an-out Thanksgiving him. Not quite like some others. But I would say it definitely is in the league of “most fun”. Is it cheesy? Oh fuck yeah.

I do have to say, this is one slasher there more than one character is memorable (a true rarity). Both Terry and Todd are incredibly different, played excellently by Mark Soper. Equally excellent is Louise Lasser, the quickly-losing-it Maddy. Each work very well with each other, delivering some fantastically silly and bizarre lines. Also, shout-out to my girl Karen, played by Julie Gordon.

Anyway. You’ve got nothing to do on Black Friday. You’re shopping from your sofa and binging on turkey leftovers. Check out the Arrow Film Blu-Ray release of Blood Rage, which includes several version of the movie. Watch it with your family, I’m sure they’ll love it.

Wicked Wednesday: Final Exam (1981)

It has come to a point in my life where I’ve asked myself, “Have I watched too many 80s slasher movies?” After watching Final Exam, I’m leaning towards “yes”.

There is nothing wrong with this movie. It’s not even the straw to break the camel’s back. But at some point during the course of these 90 minutes, I realised I’m a bit over the formula.

While one of the earlier Halloween knock-offs, Final Exam easily fits into the slasher mold. A group of students at Lanier College are preparing for their final exams of the school year.

During a chemistry exam, a fraternity stage a mass shooting ‘prank’. The frat boys involved receive no punishment when their coach steps in to help them against the sheriff. It’s ok, though, as the real joke will be on them.

Afterwards, one of the frat’s pledges, Gary, is asked to break into a professor’s office and steal the exam. He does so quite easily, but is then hazed by his potential brothers. He’s tied to a tree in his underpants, freezing in the cold. After an age, he’s finally released – by a motiveless killer.

After Gary’s death, his fellow frat brothers are killed off, as are the nerds and girlfriends. None of the deaths are particularly interesting or gruesome. The death in the gym reminds me of a very tame version of Killer Workout or Fatal Games (both of which were much more fun and memorable) – but was easily the best bit of this movie.

Then we reach our final girl: Courtney. We don’t know anything about her other than she’s insecure because her roommate is really confident. Courtney finds everyone on the campus is murdered, and the sheriff sure as hell isn’t about to arrive and help. She’s eventually chased throughout the school and escapes to the top of the school’s clock tower.

During the ensuing scuffle, the killer falls from a height, seemingly dead. When Courtney attempts to escape past time, he grabs her – forcing her to stab him ’til he’s real dead.

There’s never a backstory given to the killer, only that he killed at another university before attacking Lanier College. In some ways, I could see where this angle could really work. It’s why I love Black Christmas. But mystery doesn’t have to mean boring.

Perhaps I need a long break from the genre. Or next time only seek out something with a very serious reputation (whether that be good or bad).

Final Exam is by no means bad. It certainly tries to do something a little different with its frat-boy shenanigans. (Though those have, unfortunately, aged very poorly.) Personally, I didn’t care about any of the characters other than the nerdy Radish. They weren’t likeable or dis-likeable enough. And if you aren’t cheering or mourning the deaths, what’s the point?

This all being said – I’m always a sucker for an 80s slasher movie. I’ll probably be here again next week with another one…