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: Home Sweet Home (1981)

Last year, I had the, er, pleasure of watching Blood Freak for a Thanksgiving-tinted horror movie. It was a bizarre tale in what happens when you take too many drugs (or rather are drug tested on).

That movie was absolutely nuts but kind of fun. So this year I thought I’d test my luck again with the Thanksgiving Day-set Home Sweet Home. Weirdly, this is also about a drug-fuelled maniac but there are no feathers or genetic mutations involved.

Kill Jay Jones is an escaped mental patient who killed his parents. There’s nothing else that you’ll learn about him, and this is apparently not very relevant any way. He hits an old lady with his stolen station wagon and heads on out to a ranch in the isolated countryside.

The ranch is owned by record company owner Harold. He, his girlfriend and his children live together there with a tenant, Scott. For Thanksgiving, Harold brings the family and friends around for a meal.

But things soon go wrong with the power is shut off, and the group discover that there is NO WINE. So the group split off: Harold’s girlfriend Linda and her friend go for wine, Harold goes for more gas for the generator.

Of course ol’ Jay gets to this lot first and kills them. But first not without long, meandering scenes like the women getting lost, then pulled over by police. Or Harold siphoning gas from Jay’s stolen station wagon.

The rest of the guests are also picked off one-by-one in relatively unimaginative ways. Plus by the time they all sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, the night is so dark I can’t make anything out.

One of the more interesting characters is “Mistake” – Harold’s Kiss Army son (who looks rather like Monkey from The Adicts). He carries around a guitar and portable amp just so he can harass people. In a rather strange scene, one woman, Maria, is taken by Jay by knifepoint. Mistake follows, pleading for her to be kept safe. The dumbass doesn’t take the guitar off, though. Which, I don’t know, if in a life-or-death situation I’d say fuck the guitar and use it as a weapon to wield against the GIANT ESCAPED MURDERER.

But he gets electrocuted later so I guess it’s fine?

Anyway, the last third of the film is really rather boring. The whole thing is boring, but this third is relatively more boring. Scott and his girlfriend, along with a little girl named Angel, hole up inside the house. Scott walks around the house a bit and sits back down to hug the girls. Then he gets back up and walks around again to sit back down.

This is truly some incredible and suspenseful stuff here.

But really, the movie suffers too much from being so dark. Thankfully the final scene is during the morning hours. That way I can actually see what’s happening. Not that’s really worth it. You could probably guess the ending with your eyes closed anyway.

It must be pretty difficult to make a Thanksgiving horror movie. The best ‘movie’ to capture the ambiance is probably Eli Roth’s fake trailer for Thanksgiving in Grindhouse. That at least has scenes with turkey in it. I’m not sure if this one did. Mostly because I couldn’t make anything out on the screen.

So to call this a ‘Thanksgiving horror movie’ is probably being really loose with the term. It’s just set on Thanksgiving. And they cook…sometimes. But there’s really no mood or atmosphere and it’s just terrible boring…

Which, actually, was a lot like the Thanksgivings from my childhood. So I stand corrected.

Wicked Wednesday: Blood Freak (1972)

As it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, I’d just like to say thanks for a few things: scores Italian giallo films, my husband, musicals about toxic superheroes in New Jerset, and my life that existed before I saw this movie.

One day, a groovy biker named Herschell stops to help a girl with a flat tire on the side of the road. The girl, Angel, invites him around to her sister’s house where there’s a party. The party is a bit wild: filled with various drugs and ‘scandalous’ women. One of the more scandalous ladies is Ann, Angel’s sister.

The two girls couldn’t be more dissimilar. Angel is a Bible-thumping stick-in-the-mud while Ann is a ‘promiscuous,’ drug-taking lady. Ann allows Herschell and Angel into the party, only under the rule that Angel doesn’t try to talk about religion to anyone.

Herschell sits down, and refuses the drugs everyone offers him as he promised Angel he’d stay straight. One girl tries to come on to him, but he turns her down as she has a boyfriend. Offended, the girl goes back to her boyfriend and tells him what happened. Her boyfriend, Guy, assures her that he knows how to teach Herschell a lesson.

Despite her promise, Angel begins talking about spirituality with one of Ann’s friends at the party. Everything is going well, but it annoys Ann. Even worse, despite Ann trying her best to get Herschell’s interest, he goes away with Angel instead of her.

Angel goes to Guy and tell him that she’s upset that Herschell doesn’t like her. He tells her that he has “something laced with something” that she can give him. Once he’s smoked it three times, he’ll be hooked.

Ann manages to coax Herschell into smoking a joint after he falls victim to the “you’re a coward” ploy. They then sleep together, and Herschell’s spiral into darkness begins. Or whatever.

Herschell, with Angel’s help, gets a job on a poultry ranch where there also just happens to be a laboratory.  On his first day, two of the scientists offer to pay Herschell more money if he agrees to take part in their experiments. Something about a human needing to eat the turkey to see if the drugs used on the turkeys is safe? God knows, but I don’t really think it matters.

Somehow, Herschell thinks this sounds just dandy and agrees to partake in the experiment. When he returns home that night, he’s in a lot of pain. He asks Ann to get him more of the drug for him to take. Ann panics and calls Guy to help. And it’s pretty clear that Herschell has become the first and only person ever addicted to weed.

Now hooked on drugs, Herschell returns to the poultry farm to enjoy some drug-laced turkey!

Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t go well, and Herschell literally turns into a turkey (or, at least grows the head of one). He goes home to Ann, who understandably freaks out. “What if we got married?” WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

Thus begins Herschell’s bloody rampage. He kills his drug-digesting victims by hanging them by their ankles, and slitting their throats. He then drinks their blood. Why? Because turkeys. And apparently he’s so addicted to blood, he needs the blood of other junkies.

Ann tries her best to kill for plucky boyfriend. She enlists the help of two dealers who promise to get more drugs for Herschell. I have heard the saying that more drugs cancel out other drugs. But Ann seems quite content that everything will just blow over on its own and Herschell will eventually just go back to normal.

Herschell’s finest hour is attacking a supplier in cahoots with Guy. The supplier attacks Ann while she sleeps in bed, and kills her. Provoked, Herschell attacks the supplier and cuts his leg off with a table saw.

The turkey-man is eventually stabbed by Ann’s dealer friends, and his head is served with dinner. But hey, it’s all just a trip! Herschell wakes up with a human head attached to his human body. The poultry farmer finds Herschell and assists him getting home, later telling off his scientist friends for feeding Herschell the turkey.

For some reason, there’s still ten minutes of the movie. Do I really need to know Herschell’s happy ending? Nope. But anything to pad it out to feature-film length, eh?

This is the type of movie that deserves the Mystery Science Theater treatment. Everyone forgets their lines, some people are obviously reading from a script, and the movie is so goddamn preachy. It’s not at all fleshed out, but rather spends it’s time discussing the philosophy behind drugs.

It’s certainly a trippy film. One I’d only recommend if you want to see a truly one-of-a-kind movie. Also, it’s semi-festive for the season because who doesn’t love a man with a turkey head?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

A Happy Thanksgiving from the American of London

This is my third Thanksgiving in the UK. It feels so strange to watch these numbers get larger. I’ve not celebrated a single holiday in the States for years now. I do wish some times that I could just be transported to my parents’ house where it is full of mash potatoes, that gravy my mom has been slaving over all morning and a massive turkey. If possible, at least three different casseroles.

That being said, I’m still happy to be here. I’m pretty damn thankful that I have a husband who plays along with all of these crazy holidays. I’m also so thankful to be able to have two places to call home. It’s never easy, but almost always worth it.

To my dear American readers, enjoy your extended weekend. And please spend it relaxing with your family or friends. Don’t be that dick on Black Friday. No one likes that.

An American in London celebrating Thanksgiving

In London it’s already Christmas. As soon as Halloween was over, I emerged the next morning in a Winter Wonderland. No – there is no snow in sight but plenty of lights and decorations. But I am an American no matter what and I’m still celebrating our holiday (oh and I guess the one we kind-of share with those Canadians too).

My boyfriend and I will be indulging ourselves in some fanastic Southern-inspired dishes tomorrow in Tower Hill. Probably not the typical Wisconsin home-cooking I’m so fond of, but I’m really looking forward to being surrounded by “my kind.” I’ve actually really missed Americans.

Since there really aren’t “Thanksgiving” songs – anyone who tries usually fails (just because “thank you”  or “grateful” is in the title doesn’t mean we should be putting together crap playlists). The best bet for the holiday tune is by my beloved Vince Guaraldi. Usually referred to as just “Thankgiving Theme” the track comes from the nostalgic TV-special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Below is a talent rendition of the tune by username Chnarles:

So if you’re alone, with loved ones or even too many of them, remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving and that’s just being thankful. We’re really quite lucky – even with shit gets tough. If all else fails – set all the shit on fire like you’re Wednesday Addams.