Reviewed By Lawrence P. Raffel
Associate Producer, Broadband
What do you get if you cross the old school insanity along the lines of of Dr. Butcher MD and Re-Animator?
Robert Kurtzman?s The Rage
Andrew Divoff stars as Dr. Viktor Vasilienko, a disgruntled Russian sawbones who at one point in his career had discovered a cure for cancer. However, the fall of communism also found the fall of his findings. In retaliation, he crafted a virus in his make shift laboratory/shack dubbed ?the rage? - with the intent of releasing on an unsuspecting mankind. 2 problems; One of Vasilienko?s mutations gets to him first infecting him and in turn making him even angrier (and crazier, if that?s even possible) ? and then the vultures enter the picture. Yup, vultures begin feasting on the remains of Vasilienko?s test subjects and the birds wind up carrying the infection as well. Ultimately the mutated birds reach a van load of concert going nexters (including former sexpot turned good girl Erin Brown AKA Misty Mundae). Insanity ensues!
At its highest point, Robert Kurtzman?s The Rage is an all out slap happy gorefest that echoes the sentiments of films like Re-Animator and Peter Jackson?s pre Lord of the Rings efforts Bad Taste and Dead Alive. Once the film lets loose, it barely lets up for even one minute of its all too brief running time. There may be a total 10 minute stretch to ?catch your breath,? but beyond that, the film is relentless in its action and carnage. Not even children are safe?not even director Robert Kurtzman?s children are safe! You gotta love this guy.
However, if The Rage falls a bit short it?s in some if its amateurish performances. Easy to let go, but undeniably noticeable. Optical effects often verge on slightly silly as well, but depending on your perspective this may not necessarily be a bad thing (at least it wasn?t for me). Truth be told, we are dealing with ?rage? infected vultures after all. So don?t be surprised if there are moments that don?t gel quite as much as Sandman in Spidey 4. Explosions, rabid flying vultures and other typically ?big screen? (often green screen) effects seem to suffer slightly from the films? budgetary limitations. However, the old school ?stop motion? and at times low rent vibe certainly carries its own weight and worth as well. And beyond all of this, The Rage is still light years beyond your average indie horror flick.
And the award goes to Andrew Divoff for easily stealing the show during his opening and closing scenes as the evil Russian scientist (?Get away from her you perverted wretch! ?). I could have listened to him all day and night. His role is brief, however, during production Kurtzman saw fit to extend Divoff?s scenes as much as he could, and I?m thankful for that. A film like The Rage needs a memorable character and they?ve got one in Vasilienko. But that?s not to take away any of the thunder provided by the good Doc?s ?experiments? either, which for the most part are all as equally charming and/or entertaining (often subtitled with hilarious results mind you ? ?Kiss the monkey!?) It?s hard to believe that Kurtzman and his crew filmed the lab scenes in a corner of his SFX studios in Ohio, but they did, and they manage to seamlessly pull it off.
Kurtzman shows he still owns his filmmaking chops since his days on the set of Wishmaster as he manages to effortlessly tie the whole thing together. Despite its shortcomings (of which there are a few), The Rage is proof positive that the days of the fun (and not mean spirited) splatter fests are most certainly NOT long gone and horror is once again, enjoyable. I so missed the days in which I could watch heads being blown off, arms being chewed, and nubile young coeds being pecked at by ravenous vultures without feeling guilty. Thankfully, those days are back, and with Kurtzman behind the camera ? they are hopefully here to stay.