Rampage (1987 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
For the 1963 adventure film starring Robert Mitchum, see Rampage.
Rampage ver2.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by William Friedkin
Produced by William Friedkin
David Salven
Screenplay by William Friedkin
Based on Rampage
by William P. Wood
Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Robert D. Yeoman
Edited by Jere Huggins
Distributed by Metropolitan Filmexport (France)
Miramax Films
(USA & Canada)
Release date
  • September 11, 1987 (1987-09-11) (Boston)
  • November 23, 1988 (1988-11-23) (France)
  • October 30, 1992 (1992-10-30) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7.5 million
Box office $796,368[1]

Rampage is a 1987 American crime drama film written, produced and directed by William Friedkin. The film stars Michael Biehn, Alex McArthur, and Nicholas Campbell.

In restrospect William Friedkin said: "There are a lot of people who love Rampage, but I don’t think I hit my own mark with that"[2]


Charles Reece is a serial killer who commits a number of brutal mutilation-slayings in order to drink blood as a result of paranoid delusions.

Reece is soon captured. Most of the film revolves around the trial and the prosecutor's attempts to have Reece found sane and given the death penalty. Defense lawyers, meanwhile, argue that the defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity.

The prosecutor, Anthony Fraser, was previously against capital punishment, but he seeks such a penalty in the face of Reece's brutal crimes after meeting one victim's grieving family.

In the end, Reece is found sane and given the death penalty, but Fraser's internal debate about capital punishment is rendered academic when Reece is found to be insane by a scanning of his brain for mental illness. In the ending of the original version of the film, Reece is found dead in his cell, having overdosed himself on antipsychotics he had been stockpiling. In the ending of the revised version, Reece is sent to a state mental hospital, and in a chilling coda, he sends a letter to a person whose wife and child he has killed, asking the man to come and visit him. A final title card reveals that Reece is scheduled for a parole hearing in six months.



Charles Reece is loosely based on serial killer Richard Chase.[3] The crimes that Reece commits are slightly different from Chase's, however; Reece kills three women, a man and a young boy, whereas Chase killed two men, two women (one of whom was pregnant), a young boy and a 22-month-old baby. Additionally, Reece escapes at one point - which Chase did not do - murdering two guards and later a priest. However, Reece and Chase similarly had a history of mental illness and an obsession with drinking blood. Unlike Reece, Chase was sentenced to death, but he was found dead in his prison cell, an apparent suicide, before the sentence could be carried out.[4][5]


The film's score was composed by Ennio Morricone and was released on CD by Virgin Records.


Rampage was originally shot in 1986 in Stockton, California; it played at the Boston Film Festival in September 1987, and ran theatrically in some European countries in the late 1980s. Plans for the film's theatrical release in America were shelved when production studio DEG, the distributor of Rampage, went bankrupt. The film was unreleased in North America for five years. Director Friedkin reedited the film, and changed the ending (with Reece no longer committing suicide in jail) before its US release in October 1992.[6] The European video versions usually feature the film's original ending. In his review, film critic Roger Ebert gave Rampage three stars out of four saying, "This is not a movie about murder so much as a movie about insanity - as it applies to murder in modern American criminal courts...Friedkin['s] message is clear: Those who commit heinous crimes should pay for them, sane or insane. You kill somebody, you fry - unless the verdict is murky or there were extenuating circumstances." [7]

Home media[edit]

As of 2010, the film has been released on DVD only in Poland, by SPI International.


  • Friedkin, William, The Friedkin Connection, Harper Collins 2013

External links[edit]