Friday, June 1, 2012

SUMMER OF 87 #6: Rampage

 The cover of my VHS copy of Rampage

8.45pm, Day 1:
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Michael Biehn, Alex McArthur, Nicholas Campbell
Format: VHS (Kerridge Odean Amalgamated)

Plot: Liberal district attorney (Biehn) decides to seek the death penalty for a man (McArthur) who slaughtered a family at Christmas time, then drank their blood. He escapes, though, and starts killing again. Based on the true story of Richard Trenton Chase, "The Vampire Killer" who killed six people in the course of four days in January 1978.

- I've always been a fan of Michael Biehn. Everyone knows about his roles in The Terminator and Aliens, but my favourite role of his was in Tombstone. His performance as Johnny Ringo is outstanding.
- Friedkin is of course best known as director of The Exorcist and French Connection. He also helmed the underrated To Live and Die in LA.
- There's Whitby Hertford, a couple of years before he played the creepy kid in Nightmare on Elm Street 5.
- Grace Zabriskie (TWIN PEAKS, GALAXY OF TERROR) in one of her trademark wide-eyed crazy roles.
- Alex McArthur isn't an actor I'm familiar with, but he's very effective in his role as serial killer Charlie Reece. Charismatic in a boy next door kind of way, with an underlying creepiness.
- So apparently this movie wasn't released in the US until 1992, due to its distribution company going under. Mind you, it would have been tough to market anyway - a movie revolving around the trial of a serial killer isn't an easy sell.
- For the most part this is a crime procedural, but there are sporadic scenes of disturbing violence, with lots of bloodshed.
- I've been reading that Friedkin changed the ending when this movie was released theatrically in the US in 1992, but from what I can tell my VHS has the original ending.

Overall thoughts: It's hard to review a movie like Rampage. It's well shot, has a great score by Ennio Morricone, and has good acting performances across the board, particularly from Biehn and McArthur. William Friedkin knows how to build drama and suspense and the violence is brief but brutal. If crime thrillers are your thing, then you're going to enjoy Rampage. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it to a certain degree, but give me boobs, ninjas and explosions over courtroom drama any day.

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