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Film / Blood Rage

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This cover more or less encapsulates the Slasher Movie genre perfectly.

"Identical twins with brutally different personalities!"

Blood Rage is a 1987 Slasher Movie, which is also known as both Nightmare at Shadow Woods and Complex.

In 1974, while at a Drive-In Theater with his mother Maddy, and his twin brother Todd, a young boy named Terry Simmons brutally murdered a fellow moviegoer and framed Todd for it. Traumatized by witnessing what his brother had done, Todd fell into a catatonic state and was placed in a mental institution, while Terry went on to live a normal life with their mother, even getting a girlfriend named Karen. Unfortunately for Terry, a decade after the murder, Todd starts to come out of his shell, and regains the memories of what really happened all those years ago; he subsequently manages to escape the asylum on Thanksgiving. This, coupled with Maddy's intention to marry her boyfriend Brad (who owns the sprawling apartment complex where they live) causes Terry to snap and go on a killing spree.

The film has a bit of a convoluted history. While made in 1983, it was shelved until 1987, when a severely cut version of the film (dubbed Nightmare at Shadow Woods) showed up in a few theaters, while that same year the original uncut version of the film was released on VHS by Prism Entertainment. Some seventeen years later, Nightmare at Shadow Woods was released to DVD by Legacy Entertainment. Arrow Video released the film on Blu-ray in 2015 with both cuts, plus a third version combining all the footage of both cuts.

The film (the Blood Rage version, that is) is also known for being gory as Hell.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • '80s Hair: All over the place. Even ten years ago in 1974!
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The main characters are both introduced as children ten years before the events of the story.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Before slicing his head open, Terry cuts one of Brad's hands off.
  • Auto Erotica: It's a horror film that features a Drive-In Theater, it's to be expected.
  • Ax-Crazy: Terry upholds this in proud slasher tradition, even making his first kill with a little ax tool.
  • Batter Up!: After being told Todd is skulking around, Artie decides to look for him, arming himself with a baseball bat beforehand.
  • Big Eater: A lot of Maddy's solo scenes consist of her binge eating.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Terry is killed, but Maddie chooses to kill herself rather than accept that her "beloved son" was the true murderer.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: After hacking open Gregg's throat, Terry shoves him into a nearby pool. Terry himself later falls into the same pool after his mother unknowingly shoots him to death.
  • Blood Spattered Innocent: Todd in the opening, when Terry smears some of his victim's blood on him.
  • Cain and Abel: Todd is the Abel, Terry is the Cain. Though in the end, Todd can't bring himself to kill Terry and Terry fails in his attempt to drown Todd.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one believes Todd when he tries to warn them about his psycho brother. The doctor has her suspicions, but is killed before she can do anything, and the little girl who listens only gets told there's "a bad man" about, with no mention of identity.
  • Cat Scare: Dr. Berman's assistant, Jackie, steps on one while looking for Todd. Plus there's Andrea and Gregg pranking Karen and Artie by pretending to be dead and the killer, respectively.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Police sirens are heard approaching just after Terry and Maddy both die.
  • Chase Scene: Terry chases Karen around the apartment complex several times.
  • Death by Mocking: Andrea and Gregg jokingly rib Terry about his "crazy" brother. Terry does not take it well, and later kills them both to boot.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Julie's only with Bill to secure a financial future for herself and her baby. Artie has a crush on Karen, who only sees him as the classic "like a brother to me" kind of friend. And Gregg is essentially a prototype for what would eventually become known as the gamer archetype. Hope you liked learning about these folks, because none of them survive!
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: It's only mentioned it's Thanksgiving once or twice.
  • Disappeared Dad: The father of the two twins is completely absent from the movie with no information at all about his identity or fate.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The apartment complex has a nature walk. It gets used.
  • Dramatic Drop: Terry, when his mother walks into the pool house after he corners Todd and Karen there.
  • Drive-In Theater: The setting for the first ten minutes of the movie. After that, there's a 10-year time skip to the present day.
  • Driven to Suicide: Maddy shoots herself after realizing she killed Terry, the son she really wanted. Maybe.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Gregg gets called out for making jokes about having a welcome-home party for Terry's crazy brother and how he's just as crazy as the rest of the family.
  • The '80s: From the hair to the clothes to the music, the whole movie is a perfect encapsulation of the eighties decade in general and the slasher film genre as defined during that period.
  • Enfant Terrible: Young Terry in the prologue is still crazy enough to hack a moviegoer to death with an axe.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Though in Terry's case, it's a distinctly Norman Bates kind of love.
  • Evil Twin: Played with as no one can tell the film's two twins apart, not even their mother, even though they have subtly different hairstyles and completely different mannerisms.
  • Fan Disservice: Andrea and Gregg's sex scene is interrupted when Terry appears and hacks them both up.
  • Fanservice: Julie's sexy negligee.
  • Fan Service Extra: The first victim's girlfriend, who runs away gratuitously buck naked after her paramour gets an axe to the face.
  • Fight Scene: A brief one between Todd and Terry, in a pool.
  • Final Girl:While Karen isn’t the only survivor she is the only female character to survive.
  • Fork Fencing: How Artie meets his end.
  • For the Evulz: Most of Terry's victims are completely random, and are killed for no discernible reason.
  • Freudian Excuse: Along with Todd escaping the asylum, Maddy announcing she is going to marry Brad also seemingly causes Terry to snap.
  • Giggling Villain: Terry might have Jason's prudish distaste for sex and love of machetes, but one thing he doesn't share with the more classic slasher is a silent stoicism. If anything, he's more like Chucky once he lets the mask slip.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Maddy, after being told it was actually Terry she shot to death.
  • Gorn: The uncut version is very gory. Averted in the Nightmare at Shadow Woods version, which excised much of the gore.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Maddy shoots herself in the head but her blood is shown splattered on the floor as the handgun falls from her grasp.
  • Groin Attack: Karen briefly escapes Terry by hitting him in the balls with a phone.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Used for Brad's severed hand and mutilated head, and Terry yanking his machete out of the dead Julie's chest.
  • Half The Woman She Used To Be: Doctor Berman gets chopped in half by the killer after unwisely separating from her assistant and running off alone into the woods.
  • High-Pressure Blood: When Brad gets his hand cut off.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: It's probably the best Thanksgiving horror film out there.
  • Hysterical Woman: Maddy just goes completely to pieces when she hears that Todd has escaped the mental institution and spends much of the film hysterically shrieking at a telephone operator to connect her to her boyfriend, even though she could just walk across the complex to his office and save herself the histrionics at any time.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Shadow Woods Apartments.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Jackie gets a machete to the gut seconds after unwisely telling Terry that Dr. Berman suspects him of being the true killer.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: While he kills her and her boyfriend, Terry leaves Julie's baby alone.
  • Improvised Weapon: Terry stabs Artie in the throat with a big fork, and as mentioned above, Karen attacks Terry's nuts with a phone.
  • Irony: Todd tells a little girl there's a bad man on the loose, and to go home and lock the door, and to not let anyone in, no matter what they say. When Karen later comes banging on the door while running from Terry, the girl refuses to let her in.
    • When Brad gets his hand cut off, a preacher on the nearby radio says something to the effect of "an eye for an eye, and a hand for a hand".
  • Karmic Death: After framing his twin brother Todd for a murder he committed as a child, it is satisfying to see Terry on the wrong side of Twin Magic as he gets shot by his mother, thinking he was Todd.
  • Lady Drunk: As if being hysterical and delusional weren't enough reasons to make the audience dislike Maddy, she's also a lush.
  • Last-Name Basis: Artie almost exclusively refers to Terry as Simmons.
  • Licking the Blade: Done by Terry once or twice, usually when he's reusing the "It's not cranberry sauce!" line.
  • Madness Mantra: By the end, Todd is reduced to yelling "I'm Todd!" while banging his head against a wall.
  • Menacing Stroll: Terry's highest level of speed.
  • Manchild: Both the Simmons brothers, although in Todd's case it's a result of his trauma. Terry is more of a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • Nice Guy: Despite having been framed for a murder he did not commit and spending 10 years in an asylum away from civilization, Todd, while socially awkward, is a good person. He even tells a little girl to go home and be safe when the killing spree begins.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: A horny one appears as a viewer at the drive-in at the start of the film.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Furthering the Jason parallels, Terry does this several times while stalking his victims.
  • Off with His Head!: Bill gets his head lopped off and hung up with an extension cord to scare Julie.
  • Only in Florida: Sadly there are no "Florida Man" headlines since this movie predates the Florida Man meme.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: While fleeing from Terry, Karen stumbles across several bodies.
  • Pool Scene: The film's climax takes place in one. There's an earlier scene where Terry and his friends all hang out at said pool, but it's only on the censored Nightmare at Shadow Woods VHS version (which cuts the much more important hospital scene to make room for it).
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Interestingly, all the main characters can be said to be this. Maddy is an overgrown little girl in denial, Terry is a bigger Chucky who just wants to "play" with his victims in the most violent ways possible, Todd is stunted to the point where he tries to push one of the killer's victims back together, and Karen is a hysterical ninny.
  • Recut: The extremely cut down Nightmare at Shadow Woods.
  • Rule of Three: Terry cracks "It's not cranberry sauce..." in regards to his victims' blood at least three times.
  • The Scourge of God: Jackie gets killed shortly after deciding to take a marijuana break.
  • Screaming Woman: As Terry approaches her with his machete, Doctor Berman just stands there with her mouth hanging open.
  • The '70s: The first ten minutes of the film take place in 1974, though most everybody is still dressed like it's the eighties anyway.
  • Sex Signals Death: Lots of it, also in proud slasher tradition. The first victim, Bill, is killed while having sex with his girlfriend Julie (who escapes by running away buck naked).
Later Andrea and Gregg also fall victim to Terry's Jason-esque prudishness.
  • Shower Scene: Features both a male (Terry, washing blood off) example and a female (Andrea, washing off the makeup she wore to prank Karen and Artie) example.
  • The Shrink: Doctor Berman, who is good enough at her job to draw out Todd's repressed memories yet somehow enough of an idiot not to call the police or at least not wander off by herself in classic slasher victim tradition.
  • Single Parents Are Undesirable: Between her parental favoritism, hysterics, and copious drinking, audiences will wonder what on Earth Brad sees in Maddy. She does keep a clean house at least?
  • Slashed Throat: This is how Gregg goes out.
  • Straight Edge Evil: Terry does not drink alcohol. Even during the Thanksgiving dinner, he does a toast with a glass of milk.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Maddy's struggle is with sanity more than it is with finance. She mostly seems successful in finding men to attach herself to and making ends meet in between.
  • Super-Strength: Terry has Jason levels of strength despite supposedly being an ordinary human teenager. He completely bisects one of his victims with a single axe swing.
  • Take That!: One of the film's taglines is "Not all the evil is on Elm Street..."
  • Thanksgiving Day Story: Mostly so the killer can make repeated wisecracks about how "That's not cranberry sauce" as he kills his victims.
  • Theme Twin Naming: The film's twins both have names that started with T, Todd and Terry.
  • Title In: 1974 - Jacksonville, Florida and Ten Years Later.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Naturally, given that it's a slasher film played straight.
    • Jackie. Even though he knows a dangerous killer is out and about, he still feels like it's a good time to toke up, and when Terry arrives he lets it slip that Dr. Berman suspects he might be the real killer.
    • Dr. Berman. She has helped Todd unearth his buried memories that strongly implicate his brother of being the true murderer, but she still goes to Shadow Woods with only a single assistant and doesn't bother to have anybody keep an eye on the brother she suspects to be the true murderer. Naturally said true murderer quickly comes after her, and instead of trying to shoot him she just screams like a ninny.
    • Julie. After finding her boyfriend's severed head, she, instead of immediately running away with her baby, decides to grab a big coat and struggle to put it on. Also, no one bothers to call the police or hold up somewhere, even though they know there's a potentially dangerous killer lurking about.
  • The Unfavorite: Maddy prefers Terry to Todd. She has lost her mind in the end to the extent that she shoots the killer thinking he is Todd and ends up shooting herself when she finds out it was Terry.
  • Word Salad Title: This film has no fewer than four different titles. It was originally called Complex (like an apartment, not Oedipal, although with the way this film's killer acts you'd be forgiven for thinking so). The director renamed it to the much more generic and direct Slasher, which was then changed to the film's most well-known title, Blood Rage. Unsatisfied with just three titles, the film snuck one more in when it was renamed yet again to Nightmare in Shadow Woods for its VHS release.