|Directed by||John Grissmer|
|Produced by||Marianne Kanter|
|Written by||Bruce Rubin|
|Music by||Richard Einhorn|
|Cinematography||Richard E. Brooks|
|Edited by||Christine P. Williams|
|Distributed by||Film Limited|
|79 minutes (censored)|
82 minutes (uncut)
Blood Rage (also known as Nightmare at Shadow Woods and Slasher) is a 1987 American slasher film directed by John Grissmer, written by Bruce Rubin and starring Louise Lasser and Mark Soper. Set on Thanksgiving, the film follows a woman and her adult son who are stalked at their remote apartment community by the son's unhinged twin brother who has escaped from a psychiatric institution.
The film features additional performances from producer Kanter, Jayne Bentzen, as well as a cameo appearance by Ted Raimi. Filmed in 1983 in Jacksonville, Florida, it was released under the title Nightmare at Shadow Woods in 1987 in a censored cut which eliminated much of the film's elaborate gore special effects. It was subsequently released on home video under the title Blood Rage. The film received a Blu-ray and DVD release by Arrow Films in December 2015, featuring the three varying versions of the film.
Todd and Terry are blond and identical twins. In 1974, one night at a drive-in theater, Terry sees his mother and her date begin kissing inside the car. Tired of seeing his mother "back at it again" Terry escapes from the backseat with Todd. Deep inside, Terry soon becomes violent from always seeing people, including his mother, having sex. Taking a carpenter's hatchet, he murders a teenager having sex with his girlfriend in the backseat of their car, and frames a shocked Todd by smearing the blood onto him and placing the hatchet into his hand. When their mother Maddy and the police arrive on the scene, Todd without question is found guilty and is locked in an asylum.
Ten years later, in 1984, Terry lives happily with his mother in their neighborhood Shadow Woods. On Thanksgiving, Terry's insanity revives again when not only his mother is getting remarried again with her fiancé Brad, but news that Todd has escaped from his mental hospital. To ensure that Todd gets framed for the murders for him to go back to the asylum, Terry murders Brad by chopping his right hand off with a machete before splitting his head.
Meanwhile, Dr. Berman and her assistant Jackie go out in search for Todd. Terry greets Jackie before stabbing him with his machete and murders Dr. Berman in the woods by dismembering her waist. After this, he switches from his bloody T-shirt into a vest. He then proceeds nearby to his new neighbor Andrea, who is babysitting a young newborn baby. They begin to have a relationship until her mother Julie and her date Bill come home. During this, Terry's friend Karen bumps into Todd, who she believes is Terry; Todd announces himself and she flees to tell her friends about her encounter. She also tells Terry about her brother, and he then disappears into the night in search of him, while Karen and her friends Gregg and Artie to go to Andrea's house to party.
Maddy begins to panic upon hearing about Todd coming into Shadow Woods, and Todd breaks down in the woods when he comes across Dr. Berman's body; he takes a hidden revolver with him. Meanwhile, at Julie's house, Bill is decapitated by Terry, and Julie is stabbed after this. Terry spies on Gregg and Andrea playing tennis, before he murders both of them by the swimming pool. Artie finds the bodies of Gregg and Andrea, and in his car is held at gunpoint by Todd who tries to truthfully convince him that Terry is actually murdering everyone. When Artie, still under gunpoint, knocks on Terry's door, the latter answers and sees Todd before the said person flees. When Artie and Terry look for Todd, Artie gets stabbed in the neck with a carving fork.
Karen soon discovers Terry's true nature, and he chases her around the neighborhood to kill her. In the process, she discovers Brad's body. She flees to Julie's house to find her body and takes the baby with her. During this, after Maddy contacts the police, she discovers Terry's secret upon finding his bloodied T-shirt in the garbage bin and horrifyingly discovers Brad's body with his head split open. At the swimming pool, Terry finds Karen with the baby, but Todd arrives and fights his brother inside the pool. While Todd gets pulled out by Karen, Maddy appears and shoots at Terry, killing him and thinking it is Todd. She turns frightened when she realizes that she shot Terry and when Todd reveals himself to her, she commits suicide by shooting herself in the head. The film ends with Karen fleeing with the baby, and Todd remains shocked over his mother's death as police sirens can be heard, leaving his fate unknown.
- Louise Lasser as Maddy Simmons
- Mark Soper as Todd and Terry Simmons
- Marianne Kanter as Doctor Berman
- Julie Gordon as Karen Reed
- Jayne Bentzen as Julie
- Bill Cakmis as Maddy's Date
- James Farrell as Artie
- Ed French as Bill
- William Fuller as Brad King
- Gerry Lou as Beth
- Chad Montgomery as Gregg Ramsey
- Lisa Randall as Andrea
- Doug Weiser as Jackie
- Dana Drescher as Little Girl
- Brad Leland as Drive-in Boy
- Rebecca Thorp as Drive-in Girl
- Ted Raimi as Condom Salesman
Filming of Blood Rage took place in 1983 in Jacksonville, Florida, where producer Marianne Kanter had secured a large number of local film investors. Scenes on the nature trails were shot on the campus of the University of North Florida, while the apartment complex was located in west Jacksonville. Additional filming for the opening drive-in sequence took place in New Jersey.
According to Kanter, the only reason she appeared in the role of Dr. Herman had been because the actress hired to do the role from New York failed to show up. Kanter also noted that the production of the film was rocky, with star Louise Lasser and director John Grissmer not getting along on set. According to Kanter, Grissmer quit during the middle of the shoot, though she was able to get him to agree to return. The film's working title was Complex, though it was re-titled Slasher by Grissmer.
Although the film was shot in 1983, it was given only a limited release theatrically in the United States by the Film Concept Group under the title Nightmare at Shadow Woods in 1987; this cut of the film truncated a considerable amount of the gore special effects.
Nightmare at Shadow Woods (which was also the cable television title for this film) was heavily edited, abbreviating much of the gore, but it contained a swimming pool scene not found in the 1987 VHS Blood Rage version by Prism Entertainment. The latter contains all of the gore and includes an early scene, missing from the Nightmare at Shadow Woods version, where Maddy visits Todd at the mental hospital.
On December 15, 2015, Arrow Films released the film on Blu-ray in a 3-disc limited edition Blu-ray and DVD combination set which contained an additional Blu-ray disc featuring the Nightmare at Shadow Woods cut of the film as well as outtakes and a composite cut. A standard two-disc Blu-ray and DVD combination set was released in January 2017.
Clayton Dillard of Slant Magazine awarded the film four-and-a-half out of five stars, writing: "Funny, brutal, and featuring an above-average amount of T&A, Blood Rage epitomizes the slasher film's sense of transgression, both in terms of bodily awareness and genre play." The Variety Film Reviews guide deemed the film a "trite slasher flick," adding: "Only Lasser, experienced enough to realize the anemic script can only be played for laughs, has any screen presence."
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