Writer/director Robert Kurtzman is reunited with WISHMASTER actor Andrew Divoff in THE RAGE. Divoff plays Dr. Viktor Vasilienko, a brilliant, but mad Russian scientist who worked to develop a cure for cancer. The fall of the Soviet Union saw major pharmaceutical firms gain influence in his homeland and the cure he creates is swept under the rug since it is much more profitable to treat the disease rather than cure it. So for his great work Vasilienko is stripped of everything and imprisoned for years until he is finally able to escape.
Making his way to America, Vasilienko is determined to bring his cure to the world and punish the America and its capitalist system. To this end he now spends his days in a remote woodland laboratory torturing unfortunate victims as he tries to develop ‘the rage’. The rage is a virus that Viktor plans to unleash on an unsuspecting America that causes horrible mutation and homicidal urges to come forth in its victims. Only when the virus has brought the government to its knees will he appear and offer the cure for the rage in exchange for development of his cancer cure.
An accident results in the doctor being infected with his own creation and allows the escape of a subject of his experiments. The infected escapee dies and is devoured by vultures, who in turn mutate into crazed monsters that fly forth killing and spreading the rage where ever they go. Unfortunately for a group of college students on their way home from a rave in the woods nearby, they are the next entrée on the vulture’s menu.
Kurtzman’s THE RAGE is a good horror film that just misses the mark of being a great one by a little bit. Andrew Divoff is brilliant as Dr Vasilienko, a monstrous character in both his appearance and insanity. Vasilienko is a cruel and inhumane in his attempt to create the rage virus, yet his character’s noble intentions give an undertone of sympathy to the character, albeit a small one. Actress Erin Brown is also worth noting as she plays one of the college students who wander into the doctor’s mad path. Kurtzman also brings a good deal of humor to the grizzly tale not only through Vasilienko’s memorable dialogue, but also through a number of his hideous yet humorous creations including a mutant dwarf monster that steals every scene that its in.
Unfortunately, Kurtzman’s film fails to be all that it could be, mostly due to the distractingly poor quality of the CGI effects used for the mutated vultures. The vultures, the horrific vehicle for the spread of the rage, appear cartoonish and do little to generate fear or tension in the viewer. The conventional make-up effects and the non-CGI gore are first rate, but despite their quality, the CGI effects are enough to drag the overall level of the film down. With that in mind, it can still be said that THE RAGE is a good horror film. There is plenty of gore and action with enough humor thrown in to keep the movie fresh and entertaining. Cult favorite Reggie Bannister (from the PHANTASM series) even pops up as Uncle Ben, whose fishing trip with his young niece and nephew doesn’t go so well. So before you pack up your RV and head out to that all night rave in the woods, check out Robert Kurtzman’s THE RAGE, and be sure to pack a shot gun along with your glow sticks and ecstasy.