By 1983 the slasher craze was already a dying fad, so hard luck on Blood Rage, which didn’t actually see release until 1987, and even then it was in a heavily cut version, under the title Nightmare at Shadow Woods. Now Arrow Video is releasing both versions of the film along with a third, composite cut version.
It’s a shame Blood Rage never got a chance actually because, for a slasher, it’s a cut above. The film opens with a horny mother getting it on while her twins, Todd and Terry, are asleep in the back of the car. We’re at a drive-in cinema and it’s in 1974, and while we’re all having fun mocking hippy fashions and slimy condom salesmen, suddenly ten-year-old Terry goes all Michael Myers, hacking a horny teen to death. Scheming Terry wipes some blood on Todd, and that’s enough to convict him, because he isn’t the brightest. Ten years later Todd’s still in the nuthouse while Terry’s getting spoilt by his mother at Shadow Woods apartment complex. Come Thanksgiving night, Todd escapes with no clear purpose and comes to Shadow Woods. Terry seizes his opportunity to go on a spree and get Todd blamed again. The clever plot set-up never really pays off, but Mark Soper is good in his double rôle, with TV star Louise Lasser likeable as an obvious final girl. Actually the film is refreshingly free of the stilted acting that blights the genre, and the script is breezy enough to work, but the main draw is the gore, which is both gratuitous and played much more for laughs than is usual for the genre; highlights include a bisection, a severed hand, and a carving fork to the neck. Those that caught it in the cinema as Nightmare at Shadow Woods will have missed most of the money shots, but gained a swimming pool scene that establishes some later plot elements. Blood Rage (the title appears on-screen as Slasher) is better than Nightmare at Shadow Woods, but best of all is the composite cut. It’s just Blood Rage with the swimming pool scene re-inserted, so the best of both worlds.
Audio and Visuals
Blood Rage has been preserved in better quality than Nightmare at Shadow Woods, which leads to a noticeable drop in quality for the one Shadow Woods scene included in the composite cut. The picture looks nice and clear, and for comparison, the opening credits from the VHS can be watched as an extra. They really look terrible, so distorted it’s difficult to even read the credited names, so once again thank you Arrow for your hard work. The sound, too, is well-balanced with little distortion, though sadly the audio on this picture is not as outstanding as the slasher Madman.
The inclusion of three different cuts of the film is typical of Arrow’s completeness, as is the collector’s booklet included. Arrow’s standard reversible sleeve looks good, too. The necessity of separating Blood Rage and Nightmare at Shadow Woods onto individual discs is questionable, especially on Blu-Ray, but that’s a minor quibble.
The Blood Rage disc includes “Double Jeopardy”, “Both Sides of the Camera”, “Jeez, Louise!”, “Man Behind the Mayhem” and “Three Minutes with Ted Raimi”, which are interviews with, respectively, actor Mark Soper, actress and producer Marianne Kanter, actress Louise Lasser, make-up artist Ed French, and actor Ted Raimi, whose interview is longer than his screentime in the actual film, but whom genre fans will be happy to see anyway. Actually Mark Soper comes off best of all the subjects interviewed, but they’re all nice pieces. The only other featurette is “Return to Shadow Woods”, a short locations documentary. The audio commentary with director John Grissmer is interesting enough; he has an impressive memory. Also included is the aforementioned VHS opening titles. The Nightmare at Shadow Woods disc has only a bloopers reel, which has no audio.
It’s a good enough slasher and, given its Thanksgiving setting, has been released at the right time by Arrow. Fans will definitely want to pick this one up.
Blood Rage received its re-release on DVD & Blu-ray on the 23rd November by Arrow. Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!