Rampage (1987)

Starring: Michael Biehn, McArthur

Plot: A liberal DA is torn between his own leftist leanings and the reality of the heinous crimes for which an accused serial killer is being tried.

My Review and Thoughts:

First off William Friedkin is one of the greatest directors of all time. His films slap you in the face, they give you a rush, they make you think, they make you turn your head, they make you say yes cinema is brilliant with minds like this.

Rampage is Friedkin's underrated film. It's really interesting because most of his films are in stark realities and are believable. This one is thoroughly believable because it deals with what is in the news all the time serial killers. This film is a courtroom drama, thriller, suspense, serial killer/on the verge of a horror movie.

I remember first seeing this on a late night movie channel growing up and it really disturbed me because I was such a young age seeing it, but it's one of those movies that has lasted with me throughout my cinema years and it's one I tend to go back to and watch every once in a while. That's one thing about Friedkin's films is they can't be watched on a regular basis, because they're so deep and so brutal and so thought-provoking. Ones that leave you with a smack in-your-face. Certain one's that can cause your skin to crawl when your watching. His films often cause your brain to be unsettled. That's the beauty of his filmmaking with such amazing top-notch masterpieces as The Exorcist, the very underrated The Sorcerer, French Connection, the brilliant haunting and brutal underrated Cruising; which stars Al Pacino in one of his greatest performances. The kick you in the nuts To Live and Die in L.A. The very underrated Rampage that I am reviewing right now and one of his latest films Bug. Bug is a freaking brilliant film that never got its glory in the limelight. And the truly over looked Killer Joe.

So you get my point when I say William Friedkin is a standout brilliant masterpiece film director that will stand the test of time. He will be one director that long after he is gone will be looked at as creating truly stark, deep drama induced suspense thrillers, horror, reality-based films that every generation will look back on and study and comprehend them as being something brilliant, believable, reality-based and most of all, films that leave a lasting emotional love affair with the art of cinema, that he creates.

You know what you're getting into in this film because not even four minutes in, you have a family being brutally murdered. This is loosely based on a true story. The inspiration for this was serial killer Richard Chase, who killed six people in California. Chase like your main character in the movie had an obsession with drinking blood. 

Richard Chase killed two men, two women; which one happen to be pregnant. He also killed a young boy and a 22-month-old baby. In the movie Reece, the killer, kills three women, a man and a young boy. Chase never broke out where in the movie Reece brakes out kills guards and a priest.

So there are many alterations to the story in the movie. Even with the changes, it's like real life, mental illness, was the key factor and drinking of the blood was a factor in both cases. Whatever the case is this is a truly disturbing reality based film. The real serial killer in real life haunted and destroyed and created a fear and just like this movie, the killer in it, creates a haunting atmosphere. A real brutal reality of murder towards innocent people that leaves an impact inside the film for the viewer.

Not only is this directed by Friedkin, it's written and produced by Friedkin. Now what is interesting is this film viewed at the Boston Film Festival, then appeared in European theaters. Shortly after the film studio, that it was created under, went bankrupt, causing the film to be shelved for five years, so it did not get it's American viewing until five years later. 

When it did get its release and the ability to screen in America, Friedkin went back and changed the ending and re-cut the movie. In the original ending, the killer commits suicide, but in the American version its changed and Friedkin cuts the movie different. If you go to see it in Europe and European VHS it has the killer committing suicide.

That is one of it's down falls. I feel it's edited horrible and it looks like it's edited and pieced together. It reminds me of a jumble of puzzle pieces that don't fit; or is not telling the whole story.

The other negativity is the melodramatic soap opera acting or at least dialogue at time's from certain actors, mainly the victims. I feel the editing caused this reality in the film. The victims acting  at times turned into a TV movie of the week.

This stars four amazing actors. Always the overlooked and very underrated Michael Biehn. The brilliant actor Alex McArthur plays Charles Reece; the killer and gives a truly disturbing haunting in your face, sadistic, nightmarish brutality of a character. He leaves you thinking. He leaves you with the mark of insanity. 

This also stars one of the truly gifted female actresses that has graced Cinema for many, many, many years, she is often cast in David Lynch films.  The truly, talented, beautiful, amazing, Grace Zabriskie as Reece's Mother. 

And last but not least in the small role of Reece's defense attorney, the amazing Nicholas Campbell. I have always loved his acting performances and he's always such a believable character. He brings his emotions and his persona into a perfect clarity for the viewer viewing any film that he's in.

This is a powerful in your face drama, thriller, psychological horror film, that brings the wonderment of a twisted scenario to the viewer watching. 

I highly recommend this film even with the negatives.