Double Feature #29: Psycho Killers '87

Tonight's Double Feature is Blood Rage and Anguish, both from 1987, and both featuring a tormented killer; however, the films couldn't be more different.  Let's have a look...

Blood Rage (1987) 

I had high expectations for this one.  It's written by Bruce Rubin, the creator of Ghost and Jacob's Ladder, and it stars Mary Hartman (Louise Lasser) - and you know I'm a huge fan of that show. Let's see if it delivers....

It starts out promising enough with a murder at a drive-in - and the killer is a little kid.  Unfortunately, as most slasher films seem obliged to do, we have to fast forward to 10 years later.  (A kid slasher would given this a more unique twist).

I've developed a keen eye for guessing dates, and I could instantly tell this wasn't 1987.  Sure enough, it was filmed in 1983.  For some reason, it had to sit on a shelf for five years before release.

Also note that the film surrounds Thanksgiving.  Given slasher films' propensity to name themselves after holidays and special occasions (Halloween, Friday the 13th, New Year's Evil, April Fool's Day, Happy Birthday to Me, etc.), I'm surprised they didn't call this "Thankskilling" or something.

Spoiler Alert:  The killer kid is actually a twin.... and the wrong twin was institutionalized! When news comes that Todd (the good twin) has escaped from the institution, the family goes into panic.  Little knowing the real killer (Terry, the bad twin) has been in their midst all along.

The film contains a respectable amount of gore; I was actually quite shocked at the levels of blood and guts they got away with.

Collar up and playing Atari.  Sweet.

A nice Romantics poster - again, dating this to the early eighties, and definitely not '87.

Among Terry's many victims is, apparently, Yoda, whose head sits on the bookshelf.  A troubling sight to say the least.

Karen (Julie Gordon) plays the final girl.  She's okay in the role, but nothing to write home about, and certainly doesn't provide a shred of T&A.

That honor goes to her friend, Andrea (Lisa Randall), the wild girl who always is horny.  Naturally, she must be punished for her wickedness.

Randall provides two nude scenes - one obligatory shower scene, and then her poolside murder scene. This is Randall's only acting role.  Yet another example of an actress who gets completely naked in a film then disappears off the face of the earth.

In the end, Louise Lasser confronts her son and kills him.  But did she kill Terry or Todd?  I think you can guess.

All in all, a solid slasher movie.  Mark Soper does a good job of filling both roles as normal and psycho twins.  And Lasser is great as the bedraggled and ever-worried mother.  For fans of the slasher genre, if this has flown under your radar, this will be a nice find.  Recommended.

Anguish (1987)

The little paranormal investigator from Poltergeist (Zelda Rubinstein) hypnotizes her son to kill an affluent woman (and then her husband).  The messed up son is played by Michael Lerner - who does a respectable job of creeping me out.

It's a pretty original movie in the way it uses the "movie within a movie" trope. Sure, there are other horror films (ex. Demons) which use this device; but this one delivers its own demented twist. Highly underrated and well executed.

Annoying, bitchy and rich, Caroline. Robinson (Isabel GarcĂ­a Lorca) is very unhappy with the treatment she received from Michael Lerner, an opthamologist.  Admittedly, he did behave a bit oddly (in a Norman Bates kind of way), but that's no reason to be so rude.

Mommy will make sure she pays for the indignity delivered to her son...

Squeaky voiced Zelda Rubinstein plays a deeply creepy mother, subconsciously commanding her son to murder via hypnosis.  So, like a good boy, John goes to the rich couple's mansion, kills them with a razor blade, then plucks their eyeballs out.

But it's just a movie....

We now see it from the audience's viewpoint; although, the film (called "Mommy") continues to play throughout the movie, and not always on screen.  Thus, the line between movie and reality is blurred.

In the audience are Linda (Clara Pastor) and Patty (Talia Paul).  Linda is having a difficult time with this gruesome movie, so she goes to the restroom.

She returns to tell Patty that there is a man (Michael Lerner as "John") in the restroom.  Patty goes to investigate herself.

Patty, originally discounting Linda's story, is now a true believer as she witnesses two murders in the movie theater lobby...

Check out those prices - $2.00 for nachos.  Also notice how small the popcorn buckets and cups are.

Anyway, concession girl (Joy Blackburn) gets shot by John.  Next he shoots the ticket girl (Tatiana Thauven) - all while Patty looks on in horror.

Patty hides in a stall in the ladies room; unfortunately, John drags the bodies to a neighboring stall..

Patty looks under the stall to see the victims.... and the movie is off to the races.  The bodies pile up, and tension builds as Patty desperately tries to get help and escape being the next victim.

Back in the theater, Linda is dealing with a madman - but it's not John.  You'd think this would get confusing and ridiculous - and in the hands of the wrong director, it would. Director Bigas Luna unfolds the suspense and horror with skill.

In the climactic scene, the whole theater is in a panic, the police arrive, shots are fired.... and I'll just leave it there.

While pretty low budget, and not likely to wind up on your top ten horror films of all time, it's still a highly watchable, enjoyable and original flick.  Gilligan recommends.

1 comment:

  1. Upon closer inspection of the bookshelf in photo # 7, I believe that is a Kenner Stretch X Ray on the shelf above Yoda.Thats a transparent Stretch Armstrong with an alien head and plastic alien guts inside the body.Also, those leather Nikes northwest of Yoda's head are very indicative of the early 80's.1987 shooting probably would have featured a newer,trendier brand of the time,like maybe British Knights or Reeboks.