Director William Friedkin (who passed away earlier this year) made a lot of great films, including Best Picture winner The French Connection and one of the best horror movies ever made, The Exorcist. One you don’t hear referenced very often is the serial killer thriller Rampage, which had trouble making its way out into the world and was a project where Friedkin felt he had missed the mark, as the finished film wasn’t close enough to his original vision for it. But now Kino Lorber is showing Rampage some of the respect it’s been lacking over the decades, as Blu-ray.com reports they’ll be giving the film a 4K UHD release sometime in early 2024.
Scripted by Friedkin and based on a novel of the same name by William P. Wood, Rampage delves into the subject of legal insanity, so often the default defense in modern-time gruesome crime trials. Alex McArthur plays an outwardly normal guy who goes on incredible killing and mutilating sprees until (and even after, when he escapes for a short time) he’s captured. When he comes to trial, the liberal DA (Michael Biehn) is torn between his own leftist leanings and the reality of the heinous crimes for which the accused is being tried. He must argue for the death penalty.
Alex McArthur and Michael Biehn are joined in the cast by Nicholas Campbell, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, John Harkins, Art LaFleur, Billy Greenbush, Royce D. Applegate, Grace Zabriskie, Whitby Hertford, and Joseph Whipp.
Filmed in 1986, Rampage had a fundraising premiere in 1987 and played at the Boston Film Festival the same year, but then its North American release was delayed five years when production studio and distributor DEG went bankrupt. During that time, Friedkin re-edited the film and changed the ending – so you might see a different ending based on which territory you live in, as versions available in Europe usually have the original ending.
Friedkin told Vulture, “At the time we made Rampage, [producer] Dino De Laurentiis was running out of money. He finally went bankrupt, after a long career as a producer. He was doing just scores of films and was unable to give any of them his real support and effort. And so literally by the time it came to release Rampage, he didn’t have the money to do it. And he was not only the financier, but the distributor. His company went bankrupt, and the film went to black for about five years. Eventually,the Weinsteins’ company Miramax took it out of bankruptcy and re-released it. But this was among the lowest points in my career. I’d been away from the A-list for a while, and a lot of directors never survive a disaster like that. But you don’t stop, unless you lose interest in it, and I had not lost interest.“
Are you a fan of Rampage, and you glad to hear it’s getting a 4K UHD release from Kino Lorber? Share your thoughts on this one by leaving a comment below.