If anything, one of the main things 80's horror will be known for is being the decade in which the splatter comedy came to be. Granted, the 60's and 70's gave us movies that mixed gore with macabre humor, with fair like "The Undertaker and His Pals" and Herschel Gordon Lewis' "The Gore Gore Girls" playing in Drive-In and Grindhouse theaters (especially in the South), but it was the 80's in which the dial was turned up. Movies like "The Evil Dead" and it's sequel, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" and lesser known fair like "Blood Diner" and the films of Troma Studios mixed geysers of viscera with baroque laughs in ways previously unseen, creating a generation of kids and fans who ate it up. This kind of horror movie has lived on to this day for better and for worst, with several films paying tribute to those films of Splatter Day's past. One of the more recent examples is Robert ("Wishamaster") Kurtzman's 2007 gore flick "The Rage."
The plot is nothing spectacular-essentially a pastiche of films like "Re-Animator" and the aforementioned TCM 2. Dr.Viktor Vasilienko (Andrew Divoff) has created a deadly Rage Virus that turns people into bloodthirsty mutants. Well, one of these said mutants gets loose, causes a little havoc, and dies. End of problem, right? Well, some vultures pick at the corpse, and soon they become infected. Oh, and let's not forget those partying kids (including scream queen Erin ("Shadow: Dead Riot", "The Lost") Brown, better known to guys who watch Cinemax at 12:30 A.M. as Misty Mundae.)
From the get go, you can tell "The Rage" isn't really anything special. The acting is largely uneven (Brown in particular is bad-shocking considering that she gave good performances in "The Lost", "Shadow" and the "Masters of Horror" episode "Sick Girl") and at times annoying. It also doesn't help that it feels the need to reference other, better Horror movies. Come on guys, do we really need another Horror Comedy that references the likes of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Phantasm"? The humor is also hit and miss, as the film at times seems to be unsure of it's tone (though Brown calling an infected dwarf an "Evil Oompa Loompa" is pretty hilarious.)
That out of the way, there is still plenty to enjoy about the movie. While it's not the least bit original, it at least knows it and has fun with that fact. The plot (and a sub plot involving Viktor) is so 80's that one can't help but smirk and join the ride. Speaking of Divoff, he's a blast as the villainous doctor, giving a delightfully over the top performance that is a ton of fun, and makes up for the other mediocre performances. Oh, and the gore? It's fantastic and plentiful. Eyes are torn out, heads role, blood sprays in literal fountains-it all looks great. Well, the rage infected vultures that spit acid are pretty cheap, but they have their own little charm.
In the end, "The Rage" is far from a classic-it's a bit too slight and at times uneven to warrant such a status. For a Straight to DVD Splatter movie though, it's largely fun but flawed, and would make a great rental with friends and some beer.