I’ve somewhat seen Blood Rage prior to my Arrow Blu-ray viewing. I attended the 2014 Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-thon, which is 24 straight hours in a theater viewing horror and sleaze displayed in gorgeous 35mm. However, it was so late into the night, and so hot in the theater that I was watching it from the hallway, where it was a little cooler. I don’t have any experience with this movie before then, and I felt like such shit at that point, that I didn’t even really see it then. That’s unfortunate, because this is one wild-ass slasher movie. It takes place on Thanksgiving, and is just barely holiday-themed enough for it to work its way into the yearly rotation, but it’s not a Black Christmas or Silent Night, Deadly Night, or anything that takes the holiday approach and hammers it over your head. It’s sleazy, cheesy and gory, and has a great score. I wish I had felt better, so that I could have soaked this bad boy in fully during the 35mm screening.
It’s hard for me to tell you how the story reminds me of certain other pieces of pop culture without spoiling it for you, but I guess it is an Eighties slasher movie. My apprehension comes because of the fact that it’s a more “obscure” slasher than say, Friday the 13th. If you haven’t seen all of the F13 movies by now, well, I have no sympathy for you. This, however, may not be a hidden gem in some circles, but for the bulk of the horror community, it could and should be exactly that. This is, in some ways, everything you could ask for in a cheesy slasher flick, and honestly, the cheese factor is handled so perfectly that it barely comes off as cheese at all. As far as the story goes, to sum it up succinctly, it follows a pair of twin brothers, one of which is a psychopath who murders a man with a meat cleaver, and gets sent away to an insane asylum. Ten years later, during Thanksgiving dinner of course, it is discovered that the evil twin has escaped, and everyone fears that he’s coming back for blood. Sounds sorta familiar, right? And I assure you, if you’ve ever watched a movie with a (sort of) twist ending, or if you’re an avid viewer of The Simpsons, you can see the twist coming a mile away. But this isn’t an M. Night Shyamalan movie, so that’s not important. What is important is the ride to that twist, and the ultimate showdown.
If you have a personal check list of the elements you require in a film of this nature, I’m certain Blood Rage has them all covered. Exploitative nudity, over-the-top practical gore effects, a hefty body count, a score which screams Eighties, a twist ending, just twisty enough to barely matter, beautiful actors playing one-dimensional characters who you will love as they engage in random carnal acts of lust, and eventually, be carved to pieces. This movie has it all, and it’s surprisingly high-quality stuff. Don’t get excited, this isn’t a long-lost oscar-worthy slasher. I’m just saying, in comparison to things like Graduation Day, Blood Rage is top-notch.
So, how is the Blu-ray? Well, it’s an Arrow Video release, so if you’ve been following along with their output, you already know what to expect. For films like Blood Rage, Arrow Video is our Criterion. So much attention to detail goes into every release. From the actual video transfer, to bonus content, and especially the packaging, Arrow has released the undeniable definitive edition of Blood Rage. It is highly unlikely that you’re ever going to get a better package than this, for a movie of this nature. The video transfer is absolutely gorgeous, for lack of a better word. The grain structure is present, and beautiful, the level of detail never fails to impress. The release itself, as far as presentation, packaging, bonus content, it’s second-to-none. Blood Rage comes as a 3-disc director-approved ‘limited edition’, featuring three versions of the film itself. Including the original home video version, “Nightmare at Shadow Woods” which is the theatrical version, re-cut, and an alternate composite cut, combining footage from both versions. The extras are definitely special, and they are plentiful, ranging from audio commentaries, interviews, featurettes, deleted footage, still galleries, alternate opening titles, and outtakes. The limited edition comes packaged in a very nice slipcover with alternate art, and you already have reversible cover art on the main case, featuring newly-commissioned pieces specifically for this release. There is a full-color booklet/insert, and much more.
If you are a collector of horror, slasher movies, if you just love discovering highly entertaining cult films, or even if you’re just starting to get into the whole horror collecting thing, Blood Rage is one new release that deserves to be on your shelf. Arrow Video has continued the trend of releasing Criterion-level releases of movies that most distribution houses wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. This Blu-ray is highly recommended.