Horror Movie News and Reviews

The Thanksgiving Slasher You Never Knew Existed

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Think you have seen every slasher film there is — every one that takes place on a United States holiday circa the 80’s? Think again.

This Thanksgiving gem is called “Blood Rage,” originally “Nightmare at Shadow Woods,” but if you watch it on Amazon Prime right now you’ll notice the title credit sequence has it as “Slasher.” Confused? Just look for “Blood Rage” on Amazon.

You see, in 1987 the film had a theatrical run but was heavily edited and released as “Nightmare at Shadow Woods,” Arrow has resurrected it, put all the missing pieces back and re-released it on DVD.

In the title role is whiskey voiced Louise Lasser as the matriarch of twins Todd and Terry; one a sociopath the other his pawn. In the cold open amid synth-heavy Casio keyboard midi claps and cymbals, we are introduced to the young twins at a  drive-in theater with their mom and her new beau.

The boys sneak out of the car and spy another couple in mid coitus. The young Terry somehow has an axe and bludgeons the man’s face with the blade then implicates his twin. As a result Todd is institutionalized having been fingered for the crime.

Todd is catatonic but escapes the hospital ten years later. Meanwhile his twin, the real guilty one, is enjoying Thanksgiving with mom who makes an announcement she is engaged. For some reason Todd isn’t thankful for this revelation and goes on a killing spree. His victims are high school (college?) friends although, it’s not clear why.

As slasher movies go, this one is surprisingly gory. Although the kills aren’t that great, you’ll appreciate the department workroom’s detailed and sometimes effective attempts at viscera.

Who doesn’t love when a therapist is separated from the bottom half of her body and her legs continue to move? Or soon-to-be-stepdad is be-handed with a beer still attached — It’s really cult gold. Especially one scene involving the same stepdad in an office chair (wait for it).

It’s sort of American Psycho without the etiquette or wealth.

Mark Soper plays both Terry and his twin brother. He gives a sort of humorous side to Terry, trying to perfect the 80’s art of zingers before or after some kills. “It’s not cranberry sauce,” he says at one point after tasting the blood spatter on his jersey. So that’s what you’ve got to work with for 90 minutes.

But through its thigh hemmed gym shorts, calf length striped tube socks, headbands and feathered hair  “Blood Rage” isn’t at all bad.

All the tropes are there if only briefly and the cube in the Magic 8 Ball would make a better script, this 80’s blood bath should be more of a cult classic than it is: heavy handed piano F and F sharp keys notwithstanding. This is strictly-by-the numbers horror fare, none of them prime.

It has a high body count and a twist ending so awkward you’ll writhe in discomfort as the performers try to method act their way out of it.

Undeniably campy, overacted and with an overstuffed gimmick, “Blood Rage” is a finely cooked turkey just in time for Thanksgiving.