Saturday, October 23, 2021

rage hard.

Been after this since we drunkenly saw the trailer about 20 years back (seriously stuff got in the way), partly because not only did Umberto Lenzi 'write' the script but it was also the last film that FX god Carlo Rambaldi worked on.

Mainly tho' it was because I enjoy watching films with this title, like the one where Bigfoot has sex with Casey Gagliardi in a cave.

"Ooh Vic I've fallen!"

Primal Rage (1988)
Dir: Vittorio Rambaldi
Cast: Bo Svenson, Cheryl Arutt, Doug Sloan, Mitch Watson, Patrick Lowe, Sarah Buxton

"Listen you dildos, I´m going to have the last laugh!”



Part time baby-faced wannabe white knight and investigative journalist in training Sam 'Nosher' Nash (Slumber Party Massacre II 'star' and father of Rob - Lowe), between helping snazzy redhead - and soon to be love interest - Lauren (Arutt who's probably been in loads of stuff) avoid parking tickets and gatecrashing random music events has decided to investigate the college science lab where, it is rumored that the crap ponytailed and big binned Dr Ethridge (Svenson who's worked for everyone from Clint Eastwood to Quentin Tarantino via a spell at Quick-Fit) is performing illegal experiments on monkeys.

Well on a monkey.

OK it's a model.

But a fairly convincing one I have to say.

And by investigate I mean get his pal Frank 'TinTin' Duffy (Watson, who went on to produce Scooby Doo and the King Julien animated spin offs) to do it instead so that our 'hero' can stay at home dreaming of Lauren's admittedly fantastic curly locks.

Which is nice.

His camera might not lie but his student ID sure does.

With the film having a fairly short running time, Duffy - after a few beers obviously -  heads over to the lab and is soon taking (candid) photos of an obviously fake monkey stuck in a cage with a mass of wires coming out of its head.

Because abusing rubber animals is bad or something.

Anyway the flash from the camera sends the stitched up simian totally bonkers and he angrily smashes out of his cage and bites poor Duffy on the arm before leaping to freedom out of an open window.

This freedom is short lived tho' as he's soon squashed by a passing police car giving Duffy ample time to sneak back home for a tearful (left-handed) wank and a Pot Noodle.

"Bananas in mah mooth!"

Unaware of all the chaos and carnage that went down the night before, Sam is back to his old white knight routine, firstly by saving Lauren from accidentally going to a frat party organised by badboy Barry Lovejoy (the entertaining Sloan) and his college rape squad (no really) and by setting up her roommate Debbie (TV stalwart and mum of Adam - Buxton) with Duffy so they can all go out on a double date.

Debbie by the way has far too much backstory for a film of this kind seeing as within minutes of meeting her we find out that not only is she a maths whizz but she's missed a whole term because she was away having an abortion.

And no, neither of these points will be of any importance later.

No words.

As a new day dawns, Duffy realises that the bite might be a wee bit infected seeing as he's woken up covered in a sour smelling gunk - as opposed to a stiff cheesy film like usual - but that will have to wait as he has to get ready for his date with Debbie, so one quick shower and shite later he's propping up the bar waiting and looking for if not love then at least a wee reach around on his porch.

Yes, I know it appears that it's taken him a whole day to get ready but I can't remember if owt else happened at this point.

The excited chat and drinks are going well until the leader of 'rape squad' decides to try and seduce Debbie whilst Duffy is having a piss, his "Would you like to come in the back of me car and let me bite ya!" chat does little to tempt her tho' and the whole situation culminates with Duffy returning and giving Roger Rapey a painful Chinese burn.


As the four call it a night, Debbie and Duffy decide to go for a romantic walk along the side of the college swimming pool, chatting about life and the like which ends up in the couple having a wee kiss before Duffy accidentally bites her neck.

Ouch again.

Debbie, being a nice, understanding type of gal doesn't mind tho' and excitedly arranges to meet him the next day after class.

The Pet Shop Boys are taking the divorce well.

Unfortunately the next morning Duffy wakes up sweating buckets and covered in sick so decides instead to go to the college hospital for a check up little knowing that his fever is due to a rage infection he's caught off the monkey.

Think 28 Days Later but watchable.

As the queue at the clinic gets longer Duffy gets more and more angry before finally letting loose with a violent torrent of abuse regarding a mans trousers that culminates in him hitting a nurse with a fire extinguisher and legging it down the fire escape and hiding in a bush till nightfall when he kills a poiliceman.

To death.

Meanwhile, Debbie is beginning to show signs of 'the rage' too so decides to skip class and go for a walk soon coming across the evil rape students from earlier who - taking advantage of her confused state - drag her into their car and back to their dorm where in a scene of chutzpah over talent via a borrowed strobe light Debbie violently kicks - and bites - their arses before escaping into the night.
Wanting to not only save his pal but score some Brownie points with Lauren, Sam begrudgingly teams up with Dr Ethridge in order to find a cure for the monkey-based madness.
But time is running out.
The college Halloween party is fast approaching and Lovejoy and the boys have a plan to bite and bum their way thru the entire campus....
 The lights are on...

From the son of special effects maestro Carlo (King Kong, ET, Dune) Rambaldi, the mind of the late, great Umberto Lenzi and the company that gave us such classics as Edge of The Axe and Nightmare Beach comes this frankly rather wonderful anti-vivisection monster mash that is surprisingly way more entertaining than it has any right to be.

Maybe I'm losing it during lockdown or maybe I'm getting soft in my old age but honestly I don't think you'll find a more satisfying - or fun - campus-based monkey virus movie ever.
The direction (from the aforementioned Vittorio Rambaldi who later gave us the Ornella Muti-voiced Yo-rhad, un amico dallo me neither) is solid enough and Rambaldi gets some entertaining performances from the genuinely likeable cast - Patrick Lowe is all teeth, hair and sincerity, Cheryl Arutt (now a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, fact fans - tho' fuck knows what she'd think of this blog) has that 80s ginger curl thing going on so is a win for me whilst Mitch Watson and Sarah Buxton give some great sweating beast acting as they tear the cast - and the scenery - to shreds, especially in the (usually) oh so tiresome "Let's have a wee sexual assault scene" that seems to haunt late 80s horror as pre-pubescent directors mistake rape for sexiness, here the scene plays out exactly the opposite to you'd imagine and the film is all the better for it.
 Super-nanny's gone a bit dark....
If you have to be negative about anything tho' (which sorry - I have to, it's my way) it's the fact that Debbie character has such bad luck throughout the movie (from teen abortion to attempted rape to beast infection) you end up feeling way too sorry for her and just want to give her a hug as opposed to just sitting back and enjoying the carnage.
Because as the film rushes toward its climax there's a fair amount, especially when Lovejoy's gang, infected with the rage and decked out in slightly camp matching skeleton outfits (resplendent with glowing red eyes) crash the Halloween party and start murdering the guests in all manner of exotic and fun ways - a guy dressed as a tap has his head crushed and bleeds out of the faucet, a vampire has his throat ripped out and a man dressed as a hanging ghost is hoisted to the roof by his fake noose.

And all to a pounding Claudio Simonetti soundtrack that features the classic Fast Food Girls 'hit' Love Is My Mania not once but three times.

Did I say genius?

The obvious inspiration for 28 Days Later and the whole sprinting zombie genre, Primal Rage is a hidden gem in the over-saturated 80s horror scene that needs to be elevated to the classic status it deserves.

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