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Rage, The

Universal // R // February 26, 2008
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bill Gibron | posted December 22, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The Product:

If we were grading on a curve, the current wave of horror revivalism would be headed toward academic probation. Where once the genre seemed hearty, delivering brand new genre classics like Hostel, Hatchet, and Rob Zombie's Halloween on a fairly consistent basis, the stench of mediocrity is starting to pull down the entire class. It's not just the far too late J-terror takes, or the endless PG-13 remakes of previous dread classics (next up - Friday the 13th!?!?). No, fright filmmakers have so bought into the mild mannered mainstream idea of macabre that they've forgotten what makes a scary movie soar. Not The Rage. Oh sure, it's nothing more than a low rent retake on every zombie/slasher/splatter fest ever helmed, but if Robert Kurtzman (the former "K" in F/X house KNB) knows one thing, it's grue. And there's enough of the red stuff here to get us over even the rockiest narrative retardation.

The Plot:

A rogue Russian scientist, working out personal issues over Capitalism and his imperfect past, decides to experiment on humans in hopes of creating a virus which causes/cures cancer (sorry - the whole sloppy science angle is not very clear). Unfortunately, one pretty important side effect of his trials is the creation of blood lusting loonies who resemble two legged pus-infected sugar warts. When one of these mad monsters escapes, it terrorizes a fisherman and a couple of kids. Unfortunately, when it finally dies, it is eaten by vultures. The birds instantly turn into rabid buzzards of hate. These freaked out foul then focus their feeding frenzy on a group of concert goers whose RV has gotten lost and crashed in the woods. One by one, these claret craving feathered flesh fiends attack and tear apart their post-party prey. As you would expect, anyone that survives is transformed into a humors hungry abomination of nature.

The DVD:

Welcome to the wonderful world of excessive gore. The Rage is one hilarious, hacky, sluice juiced vein drainer. One assumes director Kurtzman was crushed when he heard the title of Paul Thomas Anderson's latest epic, since this amazingly funky film could easily have been subtitled There Will Be Blood. As a matter of fact, an even better tag would have been There Will Be Gallons and Gallons and Gallons and Gallons of Blood. While the premise is definitely nothing new - mad scientist creates creatures when he tampers in God's domain...yawn - and the acting is amateurish at best, the corpse grinding goofiness of the entire enterprise results in a dingbat dumbbell delight. Kurtzman's other films - Wishmaster, Burial Ground - all took themselves way too seriously. They were framed more toward the art oriented element of the horror aesthetic. The Rage is pure b-movie super schlock, baby, the kind of insane in the membrane workout that turns crappy CGI predators into laugh inducing death dealers. And thanks to the ample - and it needs to be emphasized, AMPLE - arterial spray, we sophisticated fright fans gladly drink in every last dread drop.

Don't misunderstand - without the healthy dose of heart sauce, this movie would suck rancid beaver butt. It's practically numb in its narrative conceits, doing little except setting up victims and picking them off - one bird beak at a time. A cameo by Phantasm's Reggie Bannister is a welcome relief, but after a couple of kooky lines and a nice bit of self-referencing, he's gone under a gauze of face appliances. The rest of the cast is a blink and you'll never miss them mixture of unknowns, never were's, and Misty Mundae. That's right, under her 'legitimate' moniker, Erin Brown, the former softcore sex queen is here to dull up the proceedings with her patented blend of failed cheerleader flimsiness. She's the kind of performer who works better shirtless and shimmying, not trying out her limited lung power as a movie macabre scream queen. Sorry fans - this is one critic who doesn't get this exaggerated waif's appeal. Luckily, she spends a lot of time covered in corpse consommé, so it doesn't really matter.

The other good thing about The Rage - aside from the nauseating amount of offal - is Kurtzman's attitude. He realizes this isn't Shakespeare...or Olan Ray for that matter, and simply lets the stupidity take over. Heads spilt, chests explode, limbs are ripped from still living bodies and eyes are routinely gouged out, all in an effort to keep the viewer from giggling themselves silly. Fellow make-up man John Bisson helped the director co-write this collection of grade-Z riffs, and together they barely dredge up a Charles Band level of legitimacy. But then they cut a throat, or split open a midriff, and everything is right with the world. Anyone who loves their horror dripping blood red with brains will get a kick out of this retrograde genre junk. Indeed, The Rage plays like a late '80s entry into the 'hurry up and make money" home video market business plan. Luckily, technology has taken all the guess work out of making such mediocrity. As long as you don't mind lame plotting, inconsistent characterization, whiny actors, totally fake birds and other acrimonious animals, and an ending that tends to meander before getting mean, then you'll love The Rage. And remember, it's gloriously gory - something we splatter hounds can't get enough of.

The Video:

As a straight forward screener, without any reliable tech specs to speak of, there is no way this critic can comment on the image here. Any failings - lack of anamorphic transfer, grain, bad compression - will all most likely be dealt with come the final packaging and presentation (due sometime in February, according to the 'Net).

The Audio:

It's a similar situation with the sound. There is no way to grade this preview copy, since the lackluster Dolby Digital Stereo may or may not represent the final mix.

The Extras:

No bonus features means no score - and no further discussion.

Final Thoughts:

As witnesses to one worthless example of misplaced horror hubris after another, we fright fans are a very forgiving lot. We will literally accept almost anything as long as it doesn't suck too hard and insult our intelligence too badly. Luckily, The Rage is a perfect illustration of this macabre magnanimousness. It is by far one of the most lackluster fright films in a long time. But thanks to the copious amounts of blood and the mound of mangled body parts, we turn off our tolerances and go along for the gross-out ride. Easily earning a Recommended rating, this is guilty pleasure fodder plain and simple. Many will hate this mindless exercise in bird dropping balderdash. But if you lower your expectations and embrace your morbid curiosity, you'll enjoy what Robert Kurtzman has to offer.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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