In the heart of an unnamed stretch of American woods, mad scientist Viktor (Andrew Divoff) experiments in a wooden laboratory on a helpless family. He witnesses the mother's head explode due to extreme blood pressure, and watches as his caged mutant cannibals devour the daughter. He then turns to the patriarch - strapped to an operating table - and explains that he is testing out his "rage mutagen" - a virus he has developed in the hope of some day bringing the world to it's knees.

He saws off the top of the man's skull and injects a small dose of the plague directly into his brain. Within seconds the man has mutated into a crusty zombie-thing and begins growling frantically. Caught on Viktor's surveillance camera, we witness as the man breaks loose from his shackles and proceeds to stab Viktor repeatedly.

The man then flees into the woods where he manages to kill a couple fornicating in a convertible, before collapsing from a stab wound inflicted by Viktor in the earlier struggle. As he lies motionless, vultures descend upon him and bite chunks out of his carcass. Oh dear.

This is going to be very bad news for a bunch of dumb teens who, in another part of the woods, are busy camping, fucking and taking drugs at an outdoor metal festival. Meet young lovers Josh (Ryan Hooks) and Kat (Erin "Misty Mundae" Brown), slightly more sensible couple Jay (Anthony Clark) and Pris (Sean Serino), and flighty singleton Olivia (Rachel Scheer).

After a night of debauchery followed by a morning of leftover horniness and puking, the quintet decides to leave the festival and make for home in Jay's RV. Unfortunately, Jay's heard of a short-cut that can be taken through the local woods. Josh isn't so sure, pointing out that "I've seen a hundred horror movies that start like this", but he's outvoted and the short-cut route is applied.

It's not long before Olivia and Kat are scrapping over Josh (well, threesomes can lead to awkward situations the morning after) and Jay's distracted from his driving. This results in him running into a mutant and steering the RV off the road. Oops.

The group get out to check whether their victim is still breathing. He sure is - and he's very pissed off! Panic ensues furthermore when the vultures turn up, still hungry after feeding on a fisherman and his niece and nephew, and looking to spread the rage virus a little more.

THE RAGE is a simple, fast-moving story that makes little sense but powers it's way through it's 81-minute running time by way of endless shouting and unbelievable amounts of gore.

The cast are largely likeable, and although there are no Oscar-worthy performances, everyone takes to the project with plenty of gusto. It looks like everyone's had a whale of a time making this wryly so-bad-it's-good slice of nonsense.

It's nice to see the cute Brown continue her transition into more mainstream fare, and she gets plenty of screen time in THE RAGE. Okay, it's true to say that while she is often the best thing about a Seduction Cinema offering, here her acting limitations come more readily to the fore - but she looks as fine as always, so who cares?

THE RAGE is little more than a showcase for (a) the splatter FX of David Barton & Co, and (b) the directorial skills of FX supreme Robert Kurtzman. On both counts, it succeeds in impressively showing us what they're capable of.

Kurtzman's direction is taut and breathless, filling each snappily edited scene with welcome colour and quick-fire dialogue, never once allowing the pace to falter. He certainly delivers in the gore stakes too, bringing us to the FX - which are all squishy prosthetics and fake blood for the most part, looking primitive and impressive in equal measures.

Some CGI is utilised and looks extremely ropy. Had the tone of the film been more serious, this would have been an issue. But the comic-book-style look and feel of proceedings makes the cheesy CG vulture attacks seem natural in their own amusing way.

Performances and dialogue are kept deadpan during the numerous horror set-piece scenes, and Kurtzman employs shaking hand-held cameras to good effect in an effort to heighten tension. You may have a headache by the end of the film though, as I don't think I've heard so much screaming in one film since FIVE ACROSS THE EYES.

Amusingly poor CGI, copious amounts of blood and an overdose of shouted profane dialogue. They're the main ingredients in this gumbo. Add to them a couple of Mushroomhead songs on the soundtrack and Divoff offering a wonderfully hammy foreign accent, and what you get is a trite but extremely enjoyable film. In terms of entertainment, it's a huge step-up from Kurtzman's BURIED ALIVE.

Anchor Bay's disc presents the film uncut, in all its gory glory (honestly, you thought BRAINDEAD had guts? Cop a load of this!). The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and has been enhanced for 16x9 TV sets. The picture quality is superb. Looking like it was shot on DV, the film is filled with rich solid colours and unbelievable sharpness, making it a truly pleasurable visual experience. Hardcore gore has rarely looked so good!

The English 2.0 audio track is efficient throughout, offering a consistently clear and well-balanced playback.

Unusually for an Anchor Bay disc, there are no extras on offer - not even a trailer. All we get are static menus, including a static scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

So, to recap: You're getting set-piece after set-piece of piercing screams, shaky camera movements and uber-gore. THE RAGE is a shallow but extremely fun proposition that is probably best viewed in the company of drunken friends. The end credits capture the tone of the film perfectly, with the following disclaimer: "No animals or humans were harmed in the making of this film. All freaks and mutant vultures were harmed in the making of this film".

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review