It’s been the better part of a decade since special effects maestro Robert Kurtzman lensed his film WISHMASTER and a lot has changed in those 10-years. Kurtzman has a new production company—Precinct 13—and the name alone should give genre fans a good taste of the type of cinema Kurtzman and company plan on contributing to the wet and wild world of sanguinary cinema.
THE RAGE is a B-movie marvel in all its gory glory—frame-for-frame soaked to the exposed bone with gallons of grue. The film tells its familiar tale of a mad scientist who creates a deadly virus intent on the total destruction of the human race, and a group of burned out college kids rolling through backwoods America in their RV that are sucked up in the nefarious plot. What raises the bar on this derivative story is Kurtzman’s wanton disregard for any semblance of seriousness. Indeed, the film is so campy that it’s a wonder that none of the characters are seen pitching a tent.
Trapped inside the walls of this celluloid massacre is a cast of familiar industry faces, including the winsome Erin Brown (THE LOST), PHANTASM favorite Reggie Bannister and WISHMASTER alumni Andrew Divoff as the crazed
Dr. Viktor Vasilienko. Divoff—as he often does—steals the show after succumbing to his own mutant strain in the films opening moments. When the veteran actor reappears in the third act for the time-honored tradition of explaining away his character motivations, he is in full manic force. It’s an over the top moment in a production filled to the brim with over the top moments.
I guess it would be a colossal let down for Kurtzman—a man with his name attached to such bloody messes as THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, CABIN FEVER and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN—to deliver anything other than a cacophony of carnal delight. And, in that sense THE RAGE delivers on all its expectations. But, what really propels the project forward is the filmmaker’s no holds barred approach to death, which encompasses everything from slaughtered six-year-olds and ROBOCOP-inspired rundowns, to a flock of virus spreading-flesh-feasting-vultures whose unsuspecting purpose is to extend the Rage as far and wide as wings will fly.
THE RAGE may not be busting down the doors of originality, but Oscar Wilde once said, “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess” and in those prescient words Robert Kurtzman has created his latest opus. It’s everything a gorehound dreams about late at night. It’s everything that was great about the Grindhouse era of the 1970’s and everything that is missed from the slash and trash horror shows of the 1980’s. You’ll probably see better films this year, but that is hardly the point. The point is that Robert Kurtzman has a fanboys love for horror cinema and that torn out, still beating heart, stains every soiled second that passes before your bloodshot eyes.