Blood Rage/Nightmare At Shadow Wood (1987) (Blu-ray/DVD film review)

Talk about going in for the kill, this is overkill in more ways than one. First of all, it’s all bit confusing because there are two titles to this 1983 movie, ‘Blood Rage’ and ‘Nightmare At Shadow Wood’ (released in 1987) and, on the discs, you get three versions in DVD and Blu-ray formats, the latter in glorious blood-splattered high-definition. What more could you want? Fortunately, the story itself isn’t all that confusing and if you want an inkling of what it’s all about then here goes.


It begins at a drive-in movie where many of the couples seem to be engaged in activities of a copulatory nature. Mary (Louise Lasser) is thinking about having a good time with her boyfriend but the twins, Todd and Terry, are in the back seats. The twins abscond but Terry takes an axe to an unfortunate guy in another car, hacking his face to bits, and then blames it on Todd who is a bit simple-minded and laconic. Not very politically correct, Todd gets banged up in a loony bin with Terry the psycho twin getting off as free as a bird.

We then cut to 10 years later, when Todd escapes and makes for the rural location beside Jacksonville Florida where his mother and the rest of the family reside. Terry sees this as an excellent opportunity to begin his murderous ways again, blaming it on his brother, of course. He then commences his slaughter with impunity, first of all picking on the mother’s boyfriend, chopping off his hand as he drinks a can of fizzy juice. Later, a youth gets cut right through the guts and a female psychiatrist is chopped into pieces. Still able to scream despite her body in pieces, we are left to see everything wriggling about in red splattered gory detail. Yes, there is plenty of the bloody stuff about, maybe a bit too red to be realistic, but frightening nonetheless.

All the other teen-agers are too thick to realise that Terry is the real killer. Maybe they are blinded to the facts, swayed by his upright and proper manner, teetotal and morally correct, even to the point of resisting the many scantily clad young ladies willing to throw themselves and their bodies at him. The killing goes on and on, with each act becoming increasingly brutal and outrageous. It’s all heading for a showdown between the two twins. Both are played by Mark Soper, so how do they get around the problem of showing them together? Nothing you haven’t seen before, folks, but it’s quite well done and the acting, for a B-movie, isn’t that bad at all.

Yes, it’s a B-movie meant for the drive-in cinema and, despite being made for teenagers, it’s something every age, above 18 of course, can enjoy. How can you enjoy the sight of people getting slashed? Although it’s not funny, the gruesome and awful nature of the scenes are obviously false and looking back on it from 30 years down the line, it is mercifully detached from our reality today.

Now to the confusing bit! On the discs, you get three versions of the movie. The first is the original and uncut version with all the bloody scenes. This is called ‘Nightmare At Shadow Wood’. Next is a theatrical version, ‘Blood Rage’, with a lot of the gruesome bits cut out. This is actually a bit sanitised and probably a waste of time. Then you get a third version which is a mixture of the two. Confusing? Probably but, as said, they’ve gone for the overkill.

Having been hidden away for 30 years, now this effective epitome of the slasher genre is out on disc for everyone to see. But there’s more! It comes with a coloured booklet and up-to-date literature. On the discs, the extras include a commentary by the director John Grissmer and an interview with the producer Marianne Kanter. There’s also interviews with the main actors and even one with the guy who did the special effects. The locations in Jacksonville Florida are revisited and with a few other extras from the original home video version, here we have a bumper bonus of extra material.

If you like slasher movies with plenty of blood, guts and gore, you will not get much better than this. It’s one of the classics from the days of old when this stuff was at its peak. You just can’t get movies made like this anymore which promotes the incentive of reinventing them in modern times, trying to imitate and recapture the atmosphere and aura of 30 years ago. Why bother when you can get the original? Not only that, in this case you can get it in triplicate and in high definition. It’s one to be recommended.

Rod MacDonald

December 2015

(region 2/B DVD/blu-ray: pub: Arrow Films. 2 dual format DVD and Blu-ray disks 84 minute film with extras. Price: £12.99 (UK). ASIN: B00WZSOZJ2)

cast: Louise Lasser, Mark Soper and Marianne Kanter

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