Friday, November 21, 2014

The Flesh And Blood Show


The Flesh And Blood Show Directed By Pete Walker, Starring Robin Askwith (1972).

Make sure you got your classic headache inducing red and blue 3D spectacles as you watch This Pete Walker film or you'll be shit out of luck once the technicolor visual assault splatters across the screen. I bet it was glorious in the theater, but in this version we don't get the original eye popping ending, just a black and white one. So forget what I said, unless you've got a time machine.

 I like Walker's style and the music by Cyril Ornadel really sets up the next hour and a half. A blonde bird with luscious bosoms runs totally naked over to a "stupid bastard" named John (played by David Howey) with a fake pen knife sticking out of his belly. He knocks on the door late at night and lunges in, pretending he's been stabbed, pfft, method actors! All of the actors work on horror films-- man I love films within films-- they're cinematic egg rolls stuffed with delightful goodies instead of cabbage and sawdust. The cheeky sense of humor is a welcome presence after a long hiatus from Walkers work here at ToG. This month we've been covering a lot of British treats that Fandor carries and it's good to see another fun one has arrived. 

My bleedin' ulcer

There are a lot of itchy sweaters and mod clothes in this film, the fashion is pretty swell. More actors and producers show up, the London film scene is booming. I'd like to see Randolph Caer star of Garth Marenghi's  "Bitch Killer" show up, he's most likely based on a murderous Walker style character.

more spaghetti sauce please!

The actors all show up at a spooky Grand Guignol style theater, where they find another naked blonde and Robin Askwith with giant mutton chops. The production manager is the spitting image of DonovanOn stage the actors prance around like cave people in loin cloths and the women wear thigh high boots. Schizo was featured in the catalog instead of this, but don't bother with that tepid bore, The Flesh And Blood Show is waay more entertaining.

Now that I've gotten your attention let me sing you a song about Atlantis


Two babes in skimpy prehistoric garb massage each other in a vaguely sexual way; in fact this is the most flesh I've seen yet in a Walker production. I'm also ecstatic to see the title is not bullshit, because we're treated to buckets of blood and mounds of female flesh.
The actors investigate a creaky noise they heard in the bowels of the theatre and all head down. They find a bunch of wax statues, but no one notices but there's a panting weirdo in their midst and what looks like a female corpse.

Mike the "Donovan stunt double" calls the police but is almost arrested for pranking them. It turns out the dead body in the cellar was just another wax dummy. A mysterious new girl shows up played by Luan Peters and all the other women are jealous! She kind of looks like Faye Dunaway in her prime, only cuter. The stupid bastard who likes to play dirty tricks seems to be a creepy voyeur and is always lurking in the corner spying on people. 
Carol, the top heavy blonde, leaves and checks out the beach on a cold dark night and is almost sexually assaulted by a homeless guy with a long knife. 


I'm the porn parody version of Faye Dunaway 



The rest of the troupe figures out that John the leering creep is the most likely culprit. After they assume this, he disappears. They have some tea with a couple of old timers and they think it may be some kind of Shakespearean curse. This gives them a chance to investigate the history of the costal town down at the library which may involve someone named Alfred Kingsley (who's most likely the sinister Major Bell). Candace Glen Denning from Snape island shows off her perky tits she's very cute but not much of an actress.

Don't be jealous because we look like rock stars and you look like a second rate dink


Carol stumbles upon a group of skeletons and somehow ends up stuck on a seaside stairwell ( I know that sentence seems weird, but that's what it looks like to me)! I'm no seaman or anything, guffaw! 

John isn't responsible and we see him in the morgue, it's kinda shitty how his "friends" accused him of sexual assault and dropped him like a sack of garbage.

I'm so alone, and I never got laid

Major Bell (Patrick Barr) one of the old timers shows up in one girls dressing room. He starts reciting poetry from Othello in the theatre, he's wacked out of his mind, maybe he forgot his brain medicine! They flashback to his time and it turns out he was an actor in that very institute who murdered his wife. His scene is shown in black and white and even though he's supposed to be Othello, he looks like Rasputin, the Mad Monk! 


In Russia this is 3D scene (in Yakov Smirnov voice).

There's a very disturbing sex scene that has a little kid in the background, as major bell interrupts his cheating wife and ties the couple up naked.
I like how his reaction to their debauchery has him yelling "excrement!" During the last 10 minutes he kind of takes over. So step aside young hipsters and watch this old coot get fucking mental! This along with The Comeback is one of Pete Walker's strongest films, I loved it and found it to be a total blast! Fandor is currently streaming it.

HIGH RECOMMENDED!  

WATCH HERE

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thirst


Thirst Directed By Rod Hardy, Starring Chantal Contouri (1979).
If you woke up one morning and found out you were related to someone famous would you be excited? What if you found out it was Elizabeth Bathory, the infamous bloodsucking countess, you have no control over your lineage and must submit to a vampire secret society, that's the premise of Thirst.
   Anything with Henry Silva or David Hemmings is worth checking out at least once, both have some of the best exploitation films to their credit. Even before the movie gets rolling, the score and atmosphere suck you in like a helpless victim. We get to see Henry Silva dive onto some power lines (it might be my favorite career highlight, enough for the price of admission)!

I was really fried to death, Bullshit or Not?

   Kate (Chantal Contouri) is a just a swingin gal who makes out on a shag carpet with her bottomless mustachioed boy toy, she seems to have the world all figured out. That is until a vampire conspiracy is triggered by her blood drinking cat, the crimson liquid mysteriously oozes from a milk carton, seems like a red flag that things are off kilter, right? Next Robert Thompson star of Patrick peeps in on her from outside the window, is she on hallucinogens or am I? The Brotherhood, a vampire clinic are attempting to brainwash her into assimilating into their secret club. You may recognize the actor who played Patrick the telekinetic mute with cryptically gaunt features, here he plays one of the vampires and this time they let him speak.

me and Silva are gonna do some blow later and share a bacon cheeseburger

   Kate is abducted and taken to a clinic where she finds out her true calling and legacy as someone related to Countess Bathory. Had she been more of a hesher, then Kate probably would've been more stoked considering how many metal bands devote songs to Bathory (Tormentor, Ghost, Bathory, Venom, etc). To the vampire sect, blood is the ultimate symbol of aristocracy and power! Kate is not at all on board with this notion and just wants to forget this ever happened (but it's too late, she's already in their clutches). One nurse tries to feed her a cup of steaming hot artery liquid and she tosses it against the wall as if it's a cup of rancid Sunny D!

SAY WHUH?

   If I were Kate, I would cooperate because as we all know, vampires don't have a reputation for being the friendliest down home folks! Hemmings plays the only sympathetic character, the rest want to condition her into a new role of mindless bloodsucker (they even give her silver fangs to place over her canine teeth--man they thought of everything)!

   The clinic is actually a human blood draining farm where the patients are recycled in the same way the Eloi venture down into the air raid caves and are soon devoured by the Morlocks like in H.G. Wells Time Machine.  

I'm really diggin this new IPhone

   Once Kate discovers that the lethargic and weak patients at the clinic are being drained like livestock for her consumption, she escapes real fast and steals a truck. But there's no escape, I mean it's Australia--nothing but desert for aeons. Kate is a reluctant vampire and feels sympathy for her victims, it's the same scenario that happens to hardcore meat eaters after they visit a real slaughterhouse. They even have a guided factory tour, where they show how humanely the victims are processed into liquid refreshment, it's a nice little bite of social commentary (pun intended). I wonder if the filmmakers were vegetarians because it's a very clever allegory about the disconnection from cattle carcass to juicy steak. The feeding ceremony is priceless, it looks like some of my relatives' 70s weddings photos minus the fangs of course.

MAZEL TOV!

   Thirst likes to mess with the audience and unravels your collective paranoia, it makes you feel as if you can't trust anything and that all your surroundings may just be a parallel universe manipulated by a pack of night creatures, it's all very unnerving and deceptively effective. The clinic teases Kate with a fantasy picnic with her boyfriend, but it's only an illusion as they chip away at her resolve. The way her safe house starts to crumble all around her and the extreme white lights that flicker as she's carted around on a gurney, reminded me of Seconds by John Frankenheimer. When we get to her indoctrination/ communion it looks and sounds like an unholy Bat Mitzvha. If you're looking for an effective psychological vampire conspiracy film that's a total blast, check it out! Fandor is currently streaming this title and Synapse carries it on DVD. It's hard for me to believe that this film has eluded me for so long, it's a lot of fun and very original. This would pair up well with Strange Behavior, another Ozploitation favorite of mine about mind control.

FANDOR LINK (get a trial)

You're not on the guest list

Don Post Yankee Candle

I'd like to see her on an episode of The Golden Girls

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Luther The Geek

"Luther The Geek" (1990)
Directed by: Carlton J. Albright
Written by: Whitey Styles (aka Carlton J. Albright) 
Starring: Edward Terry, Joan Roth, Stacy Haiduk

Review by: "Machine Gun" Kristin





 Ahh, that first shot on the screen of that construction paper like city back drop set to that "News At 11" weird stock music really spells quality doesn't it? Eh, if you're not sure of what I'm referring to, I'm describing the Troma movie opening (pictured above) tacked onto all their releases with head honcho, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz's names in yellow letters. I can't say for certain that all Troma films are bad, (they're not to a degree), most are sorta bland, but also probably important to the history of B Movies in general. Here we have one of the bad ones from their catalog: "Luther The Geek". It's about a carnival freak named Luther Watts who killed people as a teenager, was thrown in jail and then is released for being a "model prisoner". He's a "geek" because he "likes to bite his victims on the neck and watch them bleed to death". This was brought on by witnessing a fellow "freak" bite a chicken's head off, which I guess he wanted to imitate. 

young Luther


Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! 


Is he a "cereal" killer? harhar


There's some fun blood gushing scenes from Luther's neck-biting method of killing his victims. He's played by Edward Terry, who looks like a janitor blend of Ron Howard and Christopher Lloyd. Luther gnaws on a old lady (who I first thought was a guy in drag) at the grocery store and fountains of what resembles soy sauce spews from her neck. He hides in another lady's (Joan Roth) backseat and coincidentally ends up at her chicken filled farmhouse in the boonies. Her last name is LAWSON as spelled in all capital letters across her mailbox, typographically shouting at you. Luther bites her chicken's head off, ties her up and then her stupid daughter Beth (Stacy Haiduk) unknowingly shows up with her dumb-ass "smile ball" boyfriend, Rob (Thomas Mills). This of course calls for some nudity! Haiduk and Mills seem to be the only ones who seemed to have a career post "Geek". Haiduk with a long list of soap opera roles (The Young And The Restless, Melrose Place, etc) and other various movies/tv credits. Mills having many random TV parts.


Whhhyyy?


 A love story!

The many loves of Luther!

Luther clucks like a chicken throughout the film. I guess after witnessing a freak biting the head off a chicken in exchange for a shot of whiskey messed up his mind. I personally thought of it as just plain stupid as opposed to so silly that it was weirdly disturbing like the killer's quacking from "New York Ripper". There's so many problems with the razor thin plot line (if there is one) with "Geek" and the pacing is sluggish at best. We're stuck watching a group of morons trying to escape a killer who by pathetic comparison is a genius who happens to only speak in chicken. I couldn't understand how the daughter could untie her mother's (LAWSON!) gag over her mouth, but somehow is dumbfounded by the knots around her arms and legs. Beth's ridiculously idiotic choices throughout the movie are mind boggling. I mean, you want to yell at the screen. AAHHH!!!


Somebody forgot their teeth! 


Yep, this movie was a hard one to watch, made worse by having to rewatch it multiple times for clarity and screenshots. Blecchhh. If we were going by the original Deep Red ratings, this one would get a dog! Hell, give it 5 dogs, it's really bad! It's unfortunate, because the first 5 minutes are the fairly entertaining. Instead of sticking with the freak show theme, delving into the origin of the "geek" we end up at the farm house in the middle of Illinois somewhere. Greeaatt. It should've been set during the murders he committed in his teenage years in the 1940s and 1950s. Instead, we're shown this history in green text across an old computer screen. I think this movie should renamed "Attack Of The Bumbling Fools". You just don't like anyone in this film enough to have them saved, their lack of cranial capacity has brought their fate upon themselves. There's many who like this movie. I guess I'd say, more power to ya. I've never seen one before, so I guess I can't join in on the "haven't seen it in awhile, have a childhood appreciation for it" crowd.

I'm back for that cup of coffee!!


The Chicken Dance


If you'd like to check out "Luther The Geek", watch it HERE
You can purchase it through Troma HERE
Apparently there's some unfunny sounding appropriate behavior on the DVD involving fake blow jobs and Lloyd Kaufman. Not a good combination. 

Check out my Etsy shop HERE
I most of the time make buttons for my reviews, but man, this one just didn't warrant one. If you have any button suggestions, feel free to write me

Here's the trailer!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blood Rage (Or Never Pick Up A Stranger)


BLOODRAGE Directed By Joseph Zito, Starring Ian Scott (1979).

by Steve Fenton

Okay, so there’s a reason why I’m reviewing two unrelated movies with the virtually identical title for Theater of Guts, and here it is: I got confused, and originally reviewed the wrong fucking movie (namely BLOOD RAGE – note the subtle difference in the title). After all the months I kept Crankenstein waiting, it turned out I’d reviewed the ‘other’ one by mistake! Which, because I feel like such a idjit, is why I am now rectifying my oversight by covering the ‘right’ one (i.e., the BR which is listed in the Deep Red catalog, in keeping with T.O.G.’s unifying concept). That said, although I was hoping the present BLOODRAGE (1979) under review would at least be somewhat better than BLOOD RAGE (1987), the fact that the former Joseph Zito film has a substantially lower user rating (5.1) at the Internet Movie Database than the latter John Grissmer one (5.7) did make me expect the worse; not that said site’s ratings are always indicative of how entertaining a movie is, by any means. Not sounding too promising, their mini-synopsis sums up the present title’s plot thusly: “A sexually frustrated young man kills hookers”; and, after scanning over a couple of the IMDb’s largely negative user reviews, they didn’t exactly have me primed for a high-quality viewing experience. However, without further ado, I’ll bash on regardless with my humble appraisal of the thing…

Opinions are like assholes . . .

In small town U.S. of A. (somewhere in New York state?), after he kills Beverly, a part-time work-from-home hooker (Judith-Marie Bergan)—this by ‘accidentally’ shoving her head through a window pane, thus causing her jugular to be severed—virginal momma’s boy and all-round social misfit Richie (Ian Scott) thereafter desperately attempts to dispose of the body and cover up all evidence of his unwitting homicide. And with good reason too, as the recently late Bev’s boyfriend is a local uniformed police officer, Ryan (James Johnson), who—in an odd moral twist—also happens to be one of her biggest customers. Considering she had her throat cut, the killer’s initial victim doesn’t bleed very much, and she croaks without barely even twitching, let alone actually going into convulsions, with a single large shard of glass sticking from her neck. While shot in a completely matter-of-fact, non-stylized manner, the death-by-broken-window scene brings to mind similar scenes in more than one Argento movie, but other than for basic content, the presentation styles couldn’t be more dissimilar. In broad daylight, Richie carts off Bev’s fresh corpse (“Goddamn whore!”) in a wheelbarrow for disposal, then goes on the lam in the big city (NYC, to be precise), where he takes a room at a fleabag rooming house in the theater district.

Welcome to New York, now get the fuck outta here!


Deadpan and oftentimes inane narration intermittently conveys the killer’s thought processes (e.g., “I’m tired of people pushin’ me around. I’m gonna start pushin’ back now, only I’m gonna push harder. They won’t fuck with me anymore! I’ll make sure o’ that”). Really overusing the gimmick—which is thankfully abandoned within the first third of the movie—we also get introspective voiceover c/o the dead hooker’s cop beau too. Although ostensibly the hero, this arrogant character is pretty much an authority-abusing a-hole who thinks nothing of overstepping the bounds of legality while attempting to solve the mystery of his missing GF (“my old lady”), even though he is well out of his jurisdiction and acting above the law. For these reasons and more, he makes for a decidedly unsympathetic protagonist. Strangely enough, there are times—albeit few and far between—when we actually sympathize more with Scott’s pitiable Richie character…but then, maybe that was Zito’s express intention.

Wake up, I made you a breakfast knucklesandwich

Following the initial non-sensationally depicted killing, things settle into a long, slow groove  (perhaps rut might be a better word for it!) where next to nothing happens…repeatedly. Well into the 31st minute, Richie randomly abducts and abuses an easy bar pick-up aptly named Lucy (Blair Trigg), who apparently hadn’t seen the controversial then-recent commercial hit LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, and hence didn’t know better than to take strange men home for one-night stands. After he first half-drowns her in her own bathtub (fully-clothed), there then follows some extended verbal abuse, whereupon the sick puppy, evidently just acting on a spontaneous whim, strangles her with a telephone cord. While eking out a meager subsistence via a day job working in an entry level position at a Yoo-Hoo cannery/bottling plant, Richie’s out-of-control obsessive/compulsive disorder subsequently gets the better of him yet again.

Yoo-Hoo employing murderous weirdos since the 60s

When not casually offing ‘immoral’ women (albeit a mere two thus far), Richie’s related hobbies include playing voyeur in people’s windows; allowing for some would-be REAR WINDOW-styled peeping tom scenes. In one such scene, he eyeballs a disrobing chick whose shaggily unkempt ’70s-style bush is clearly visible through her sheer pantyhose. Amusingly enough, a glaring continuity error occurs when this same chick (who looks a bit too much like Ruth Buzzi for my tastes) is shortly shown removing her G-string—even though she obviously wasn’t wearing one in the previous shot! (Although perhaps my eyes might simply have been playing tricks on me due to the fuzziness of the rip of this flick which I viewed on YouTube…but I don’t think so.) During the same overextended sequence—amounting to one of the movie’s few poignant moments—Richie spies an old lady silently and motionlessly regarding him from a window opposite while he is spying on the other tenants like their private lives are his own personal peepshow. Having said that, come to think of it, this supposed ‘old lady’ might just as easily be a young man wearing a hairnet and curlers, for all I know (once again, the fuzzy upload rendered things indistinct).

for all you know, I'm the sexy Ruth Buzzi lady 


In what appears to be her sole screen credit, one Rita Ebenhart plays Candice, a booze-swilling, all-used-up party girl / groupie with pronounced anger management / misandry issues who lives just down the hall from Richie in much the same dive digs as him. All things considered, Ms. Ebenhart performs well in the role; enough to cause you to wonder whether she ever acted again after this (frankly, she’s annoying as hell, but since her character is meant to be, you might say she aced it). In a scene which is sure to displease animal lovers, out of simple vindictiveness Richie first throttles Candice’s pet pooch, then chucks its corpse out a window (i.e., right through the glass); but not to worry, nothing of an overly graphic nature is shown, and a plush doggie toy seems to have subbed for the real deal. Subsequent to this more minor atrocity—which is dispensed with almost offhandedly, rather like an afterthought—the sick fuck then proceeds to murder the dog’s owner Candice, while her player Ebenhart shrieks exactly like an overexcited chimpanzee (I kid you not. Check it out for yourself, if you don’t believe me!). Now that his pathetic excuse for a life has really started going to hell in a hand-basket big time, everything spirals still further out of control and falls apart in short order, the narrative included (not that it had been very together prior to this). After he attacks her, the Ruth Buzzi lookalike stripper/hooker (played by Susan Doukas?) goes at Richie with a knife, whereafter Ryan the revengeful pig appears from out of nowhere to bodily hurl the now mortally wounded Richie through—yes—yet another window! (Oops! Do forgive me for spoiling the ‘surprise twist’ ending. But trust me, you won’t wanna endure this tripe through right to the end anyway, so consider it a favor I be doin’ ya by saving you the trouble.)

The Voluptuous Horror Of Sally Struthers

Nowadays, due to its frequent misappropriation as a handy feminazi catch-all for any sort of male anti-female sentiment whatsoever, however slight, I am a lot more reluctant to use the dreaded m-word (“misogyny”). However, that said, there is definitely a palpable vein of it running through BLOODRAGE, and we get the distinct impression that not just the film’s disturbed protagonist, but possibly its director too, were simultaneously giving vent to their misogynistic tendencies herein.

What Fred the Dunkin Donuts guy does off the clock


Including porno grindhouses, not-so-exotic dancers, pimps and various other forms of street lowlife, the sleaziness and sordidness of downtown New York is well conveyed. There is an oppressively, depressingly seedy air to the proceedings which rather fits the dubious subject matter, and, while performances are far from great—nor even particularly good, for the most part—there is often a naturalism to them which at times give things a tangibly documentary-like feel. What with all the cinéma vérité touches, at times Zito (credited hereon as “Joseph Bigwood” [!] – how’s that for a perfect porno pseudonym?!) seems to be playing at poverty row Altman. Indeed, the ‘narrative’ is virtually formless, with the action meandering aimlessly from scene to scene. Individual scenes, seemingly strung together at random, go on (and on) without rhyme nor reason, making the just over 80-minute runtime seem much longer than it actually is. Zito seems to be making some half-hearted attempts at emulating Polanski with sexual repression and alienation themes à la REPULSION and THE TENANT (at times there is also a bit of a BASKET CASE vibe, speaking strictly in terms of ambience). That said, there is definitely some sort of assured aesthetic sensibility going on here, although it certainly isn’t a very appealing one, but I can only assume BLOODRAGE’s crude, raw approach has its share of admirers, so I’ll resist belittling it too much and try to remain objective in my appraisal.

I'm so inbred, I can't help what I do

As the hangdog, sadsack Richie, facially Scott at times rather reminded me of a weird combination of Dick Bakalyan, John Savage and Andrew Robinson; which is apt, because all those actors are well-known for portraying mentally unstable characters (Robinson is best-remembered as the demented “Scorpio” in Don Siegel’s DIRTY HARRY, and Savage played memorable loons in both Curtis Harrington’s THE KILLING KIND and Michael Cimino’s THE DEER HUNTER. Bakalyan appeared as an assortment of unsavory creeps for much of his career, including a lot of psychotic juvenile delinquents back in the ’50s. He had a knack for instilling pathos into even the most hateful characters, allowing for more audience empathy. In BLOODRAGE, Scott at times engenders similar emotions in us; if not enough to make us really give much of a shit about what happens to him, though).
Can I interest you in a business hug Mr. Tierney? 

About the only genuine point of interest here is a ‘guest’ appearance by the late, great Lawrence Tierney as Malone, a bulky, heavily balding plainclothes NYPD detective (“Awright, lock this bastard up!”). He only appears in a handful of throwaway incidental scenes, but, if nothing else, his gruff, gravel-voiced delivery and overall imposing presence at least reminds us of far, far better films than this one (such as Robert Wise’s exquisitely nasty 1947 noir BORN TO KILL, for example; at this low point in Tierney’s career, his ‘rediscovery’ in Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS was still more than a decade on down the pike).


I hate to say it (no I don’t!), but if I was forced to choose between watching either Zito’s BLOODRAGE or Grissmer’s BLOOD RAGE again, I’d take the latter…even if I’d rather not take either, ideally. That other movie may have been bad and boring, but, other than for the odd more memorable moment, this one really takes the cake on both counts! In summation, the one motif which most stuck with me from this less-than-scintillating cinematic experience was how much producer/director Zito seems to have a ‘thing’ for windows. That may not be much to take from this, but it’s the best I can do, I’m afraid.

WATCH HERE

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blood Rage


BLOOD RAGE Directed by John Grissmer, Starring Louise Lasser (1987).

Review by Steve Fenton

Originally shot—or possibly shat—in 1983, according to reports this wasn’t actually released until ’87 (as NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS, whose title was evidently a vague cash-in on A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET). Speaking objectively, it’s pretty easy to see why it shat – I mean sat – on the shelf for so long after its completion. Hell, why anybody ever bothered releasing it at all is beyond my ken to grasp! But the damage is done, so let’s proceed, shall we? I’ve been promising Crankenstein I’d review this bugger for about six months now, so it’s now or never! So, for better or worse (accent on the latter), here goes nothin’…and there’s a whole lot of that going on here, but you takes what you can get where you can get it, as they say.


it's about time Steve!

The film’s supposed main draw, ‘offbeat’ actress Louise Lasser, is arguably best-known by most who know of her for playing the title character of the cult sitcom / soap satire Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976-77), but she also co-wrote and dubbed the voice of a character on Woody Allen’s ‘reimagined’ Japanese crime flick WHAT’S UP, TIGER LILY? (1966), and is also well-remembered by countless gazillions for her roles in both Sam Raimi’s CRIMEWAVE (1985) and Frank Henenlotter’s FRANKENHOOKER (1990). BLOOD RAGE is another of her cult psychotronic offerings, albeit a (deservedly) lesser-known one, which was formerly available on VHS/Beta videocassette from the prolific Prism Entertainment, who were a dependable source of cult and/or trash flicks back in the ’80s and ’90s, even if they did release more than their fair share of über-turkeys, as in the case of our current half-heartedly Thanksgiving-themed gobbler, which might have taken place pretty much any old time of the year (‘holiday’ themes—then, as now—were all the rage in slasher flicks, you see).

Prism Video paid me in pocket lint and good intentions


The film opens in Jacksonville, Florida way back in 1974, at a drive-in showing of a (fictitious) horror movie called “THE HOUSE THAT CRIED MURDER” (sounds like it might be some Italo giallo retitled for import Stateside!). After witnessing two teenagers making it in the front seat of their car at the drive-in, one of a matching pair of preteen twin brothers takes an axe to the male make-out artist, killing him; this evidently because the boys had only just witnessed their ‘shockingly promiscuous’ mother Maddy Simmons (Lasser) necking with her boyfriend in the front seat of his van. Rather than resort to some good old-fashioned slut-shaming, the twin responsible for the foul deed evidently turned his latent hostility towards their mater elsewhere instead. After committing the murder, Terry the wacked-out if wily perpetrator smears Todd with blood so as to paint his brother—who has gone into deep, mute shock at the sight of it being committed—with the blame. Sure enough, the innocent one takes the rap, while his terrible twin gets off scot-free. I ask you, how’s that for a totally predictable plot ‘twist’?

Also predictably enough, as per yer typical slasher formula, action then flashes ahead a whole decade (even a slightly more inventive number like 13 years was beyond the scope of the screenwriter’s imagination, I fear). We learn that the wrongfully-blamed Todd has spent the entire time since in an institution for the criminally insane, under constant observation. Over the course of his stay there, Todd’s recollection of the fateful night of the awful axe murder which precipitated his descent into madness begins gradually creeping back, and Dr. Berman (Marianne Kanter), the psychiatrist who has been handling his case, believes him innocent of the crime for which he was (and still is) accused. On Thanksgiving night, Terry—having gone AWOL from the loony-bin—takes a machete to Momma Maddy’s fiancé after they ‘joyously’ announce their wedding plans over a really dull turkey dinner. Subsequently, Doc Berman—a kind of (very) poor woman’s distaff variation of Donald Pleasence’s Doc Loomis from the HALLOWEEN franchise—comes looking for the prodigal Terry. One by one thereafter, the bodies—and boredom—begin to pile up with clockwork regularity…

Who's in Charge now Charles?

Although played as juveniles by genuine twin bros (namely Keith Hall as Terry and Ross Hall as Todd), as young adults the twins are both portrayed by the same actor (Mark Soper, who does fairly well with the dual role, all things considered; which isn’t really saying much. For what it’s worth, he later played the male lead role in Jerry Ciccoritti’s low-level Canadian vampire flick THE UNDERSTUDY: GRAVEYARD SHIFT II [1988]). In scenes herein where the brothers interact together, Soper’s obvious ‘double’ was one Ed Brophy (no, not the Ed Brophy! He died in 1960. Plus, even if he was still living, he would have been pushing 90 at the time; hence, not a good match for a man roughly in his early-twenties).

I'm here for the Bill Maher look-a-like contest


Quite frankly, Lasser’s ‘central’ performance—in what is more of a tertiary than principal role—verges on broad parody, almost as though she still thinks she’s playing Mary Hartman, and some of her hysterically histrionic reactions are decidedly hammy (e.g., “My children are not guinea-pigs!” is one line that readily springs to mind). But given material like this to work with, who can blame her for trying to inject some intentional (?) humor into it by playing it for laughs! Some of her more convincing scenes come while she is interacting with a prop telephone, addressing a nonexistent (i.e., unseen and barely heard) person on the other end of the line. Ironically enough, these one-sided over-the-phone convos register a lot more believably than most of the actress’ one-on-one, eye-to-eye interactions with her fellow ‘actors’ (note quotes). Evidently of the opinion that his star’s performance on the blower carried much more conviction than her face-to-face dramatic scenes, director John Grissmer—whose slim filmography also includes another shocker called FALSE FACE / a.k.a. SCALPEL (1977), which I know I saw about 30 years ago, but honestly can’t remember a thing about it—repeatedly returns to more shots of Lasser emoting on (and at) the telling-bone.

OMG This disembowelment is doing wonders for my aching back

Usual makeup man and sometime actor Ed French—here at times looking a tad bit like a goofier, way-less-cool version of Nick Cave of The Bad Seeds, albeit with even less of a chin—appears as a nerdy, bashful if filthy rich milquetoast who gets all nervous while on a ‘stay-home-and-smooch’ date with his sexually aggressive, gold-digging GF, a single mother who is just trying to score herself a sugar daddy. French provided his own severed head for the scene when it is seen dangling just outside a doorway; which might be kind of ironic if it looked a hell of a lot more like him than it does. Appearing very boyish indeed, Sam’s kid bro Ted Raimi—listed in the cast as “Condom Salesman”—appears in just one short scene as a “black market” rubber-pusher whose jacket is lined with packets of assorted brands. Within the same period, the Raimi Bros. both appeared in Josh Becker’s actionful killer thriller THOU SHALT NOT KILL… EXCEPT / a.k.a. STRYKER’S WAR (1985), which is by far preferable to the title currently under discussion.

I contracted syphilis while auditioning with the Raimi Bros for Evil Dead 2!

Richard Einhorn’s mostly earitatin’ by-the-numbers, color-within-the-lines synth score accents cheesy instrumental dance-pop with inevitable rips from both John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN theme and Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (which was famously sampled for use in THE EXORCIST). The Einhorn compositions here do improve somewhat later into the runtime—there’s even at least one quite solid Tangerine Dream / Giorgio Moroder-type pummeling rhythm piece that actually generates some tension, and even a bit of actual excitement—but the decent parts are greatly outweighed by all the derivative dreck our earholes have been subjected to up till then. Another audio track lowlight comes when a short-lived minor character tunelessly sings a famous lyric line from FLASHDANCE, albeit replacing the word “maniac” with “lunatic” instead (evidently so as to avoid a potential copyright infringement lawsuit against the producers of the present flick, one would imagine).
"We're Maniacs, Maniacs on the Flooor"

But in low-grade fare such as this, it’s the splatter that matters most, right? Such scenes here include a hand—still possessively clutching a can of beer!—being severed, followed by shots of the victim’s gore-gouting amputated wrist, from which about a half-pint of the red, red groovy is squirted forth with each gout. Elsewhere a machete is shoved clear through another victim (and if it happened to you, you’d scream as much as he does too!). Although her severed trunk is only seen after-the-fact rather than during commission of her murder, a woman in the woods gets chopped in half at the waist; whereupon the actress playing her screams and waves her arms around a lot, buried up to her chest in the ground while reacting to the exceedingly phony gore FX appliance to which she is tenuously attached, which only happens to resemble what it’s supposed to simply because it’s all red and ragged at the severed end; but other than that, any and all similarity to the equivalent part of the actual human anatomy is purely coincidental. Tying in limply with the Thanksgiving ‘festivities’ (yawn), following this murder, Soper as Terry licks his blood-smeared fingers, saying as much to we the audience as to himself, “It’s not cranberry sauce!” He makes virtually the same exact ‘in-joke’ later during yet another half-hearted attempt to stay on the loosely-defined ‘festive’ theme, this time just prior to sticking one of those big two-tined forks used in the carving of turkey (get the “Thanksgiving” connection?!) into the throat of some sucker who is dumb enough to turn his back on him. Then, just in case we didn’t laugh at that howler about cranberry sauce hard enough the first two times, Soper obligingly proceeds to repeat it again for us twice more while muttering to his freshly-bloodied jugular-jabber. Much of the grue is shown after the foul deed has been done, as in the case of a split skull with visible brain matter within which goes for the grosseries without actually succeeding in making us woof our cookies.

That's not a Turducken!


On the nudity front, skin initially limits itself to a single jiggly shot of a (female) bare ass running away from the camera at the scene of a homicide. Some almost full-frontal nudity is later seen while one of the film’s numerous interchangeable big-haired bimbos takes a shower. Still more chaste T&A comes when Terry discovers a couple having sex atop the diving-board beside a swimming pool; a sight which prompts yet another of his random homicidal rages. This two-stroke “chop/chop” sequence is so poorly-directed and badly-framed (and don’t try blaming it on pan-and-scan!) that the double murder registers as little more than an afterthought on the part of both the onscreen killer and the behind-camera personnel. It’s almost as if they thought up the idea of this scene on the spot, much in the same way that the murderer apparently felt the sudden spontaneous impulse to kill the poolside lovers, and merely trotted the scene out ASAP while giving nary a second thought to its conception or composition.

Ouch, hey wait my watch fell off with the wrist!


Unusually inept even for a formulary ’80s slice’n’dicer, BLOOD RAGE’s seemingly made-up-on-the-fly narrative largely unrolls like toilet paper, but is a lot less useful. About as razor-honed as a dull cheese-grater, the script, direction, editing (etc.) all have about as much imagination invested in them as…I dunno what. Hell, from what I can remember of it—not much; I haven’t seen it since about 1989—even the execrable amateur-league stalk’n’slash (“S&S”) entry SATAN’S BLADE (1984) had more going for it than this paltry poultry does. If nothing else, BLOOD RAGE makes me remember why I largely despised slasher flicks the first time ’round (i.e., back in their ’80s ‘heydays’); which isn’t to say I hate all of them, just those without a single thing new to bring to the table…and this doesn’t, I’m sorry to say. If I’m gonna subject myself to one, at least let it come with a memorable psycho, rather than a totally bland boy-next-door-gone-wrong who not only can’t be bothered to at least wear a cool-looking mask while committing his killings, but whose most ‘inventive’ weapon of choice is a forkin’ fork, for fork’s sake!

A memorable psycho like me, there's always room for Cropsey!


I must confess I was relieved when Lasser’s shrill shrike of a character at last blew her brains out with a snub-nose .38 in the 77th minute (Yippee! Only a few more left to go, then I am outta here!). Not so much because she’d put herself out of her own misery—okay, I admit it; not at all for that reason, really—but simply because she’d put herself out of mine, simple as that. Call me selfish, but hearing her chant the meaningless phrase “I’m Todd!” at close to the top of her lungs approximately 20 times in rapid succession was more than enough to make me want her dead, just to shut her up. Thankfully much of the time remaining in this 82+-minute snoozefest of a movie were taken up by credits, which meant I could split right after the final freeze-frame/fade-out partway into minute #78. Bonus! Catch ya later, BLOOD RAGE…then again, maybe not (ever).

I’m assuming that some sort of vague ‘identity transfer’ took place for the final twisteroo…only I honestly can’t be bothered to pontificate on it further. My brain hurts!


Note: BLOOD RAGE is up for view on YouTube, as is a (needless to say!) completely unrelated 2011 Nollywood SOV movie of the same title, which is evidently some kind of action drama and not a horror flick. Come to think of it, you might wanna try your chances with that flick instead, as I doubt it could be much worse than this one is. (Editor's note, there's also the 1979 Joseph Zito Blood Rage coming soon).


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