Director: William Friedkin
Royce D. Applegate/Gene
A baby-faced dude (McArthur) buys a gun and proceeds to murder a couple of families. They eventually catch the guy and he’s put on trial. Will he get off on insanity or will Michael Biehn send him to the gas chamber? I say gas the fucker….
Rampage is about reality. A reality we read about in the papers or see on the news. The violence is brutal, the courtroom is bullshit and the shrinks can kiss my arse. Sound familiar? Fortunately for me, Friedkin goes two ways with this bad boy. One way is gritty and real, the other is high style. Friedkin goes heavy on the religious undertones and explores the mind frame of the two main characters with visually poignant flashes. I loved the symbolism. If it isn’t Charles (McArthur) flashing about a river of blood falling on his body (with a tiger behind him?) then it's Anthony (Biehn) reminiscing about his dead daughter in odd scenarios. I will admit that at first I felt a bit lost as to why the movie connected Anthony’s dead daughter with Charles' killings. Then it suddenly hit me…they both touch the same theme of loss. The artsy style helped me digest this hard to watch flick.
The dramatic angle is also very powerful. I was immersed in the courtroom drama the whole time. The movie manipulated me very easily and made me feel what it wanted me to feel: anger towards the treacherous shrink, awe over the stupidity of the jury and hope that they gas the killer already. Another pull on my heartstrings came from watching the despair of the husband of one of the victims. Gene (Royce D. Applegate) almost made me cry and I admired the fact that Friedkin didn’t let the character drop once the flick kicked into gear. I was really happy to see his evolution (and of his son) throughout the movie.
My two pet peeves about "Rampage" are: 1- I would have liked Charles' background to be explored more. This killer is one weird puppy and I was really curious as to what made him tick. 2- At a certain point, the killer escapes the cops during a transfer. Not only does the scene feel like it was slapped in there for the sole purpose of giving us an action sequence, it also defied logic. I doubt cops would let a serial killer enter a van without patting him down and would they really take off his handcuffs in order for him to eat a donut? If that’s how it is in real life, then I will enroll myself into the Police Academy and set things right. The sheer stupidity of that scene took me out of what was until that point, a very smart film.
"Rampage" ends very abruptly but the cap off kicked me in the nuts and made me reflect on the society we live in. Once the credits finished rolling I decided that I would never have kids and would eventually one day isolate myself on a deserted island with a bottle of tequila and ten Playboy playmates. Now that’s my kind of rampage…
The violence is brutal but mostly implied. That doesn’t mean we don’t see red. Lot of aftermath bodies, human remains and river red flashes.
Michael Biehn (Anthony) used to play good guys all the time (Terminator, Aliens, Rampage) and now he plays bad guys (The Abyss, Art Of War). Either way, he’s a kool actor. There’s something about him that makes me want to watch him (no, not his tight ass…perv..). Here, he hits all the right notes and delivers a strong show. Alex McArthur (Charlie) talks and looks like such a nice guy. His pretty boy face makes his performance so much more effective. My eyes were glued to the screen every time he popped up. He’s a scary guy. Royce D. Applegate (Gene) is in the film to breakdown. He does it well, there’s nothing more painful then watching a grown man cry. I wanted to give the dude a hug (or a beer). Grace Zabrisikie (Naomie) looks and acts the part…one messed up woman. I was never sure where she was coming from.
T & A
Alex McArthur goes shirtless and the crowd goes wild!
Friedkin handles his actors very well, does great things with lighting (loved the discovery of the killer’s lair) and slaps in lots of symbolism. The movie moves at a fast pace and the high style moments are priceless. One more thing…loved the killer’s red coat…nice touch…
A fitting score that matches the grim subject matter of the flick.
Rampage has a lot going for it: good acting, strong visuals and an unsettling ending. It does stumble a few times and in my opinion, ends too fast. But overall, I recommend you check this red wet flick out, if not for the storyline, for McArthur’s red coat and huge sunglasses. Groovy!
Rampage was shot in 1987. It was slapped on a shelf when DEG went under. Friedkin re-edited the movie and changed the ending for its 1992 release. The European version of the film still has the original ending.
Look out for an appearance by Whitby Hertford. He played the dream child (Jacob) in Nightmare On Elm Street 5.
Alex McArthur played Madonna’s boyfriend in her music video Papa Don’t Preach.