Sometimes you need a film with multi-faceted characters, clever dialogue and an intricate story with many layers, but other times you've just got to let the entrails fly. The Rage very much falls into the latter category, giving us buckets of gore over substance, and doing it beautifully.
Mad scientists used to be a B-movie staple. These days not enough guys in blood-caked lab coats are trying to conquer death/raise the dead/cure gingivitis, and mad science is becoming a lost art. Russian scientist Dr. Viktor Vasilienko (Andrew Divoff from Lost) is hard at work in his secret laboratory hidden in a junkyard, of all places. His true motivations are saved for the third act, but he's infecting his very unwilling test subjects with a viral form of rage (obviously someone has seen 28 Days Later and probably Dr. Butcher M.D.). Aside from being slightly healthier than your average horror movie zombie (meaning they're not actually dead) , these infected have all the standard anti-social traits including cannibalism and bad skin. One of the test subjects breaks free and takes several bites out of the good doctor before lurching off into the outside world.
He does a fair amount of damage by spreading the plague to kindly Uncle Ben (a nice cameo from Phantasm's Reggie Bannister), but things really ramp up when some endearingly cheezy looking vultures chow down on some infected flesh, inspiring their own rage against the machine. A handful of young folks on the way home from an outdoor music festival pulverizes one of the infected with their Winnebago, and when they get out to investigate, find themselves turning into buzzard bate.
Erin Brown, formerly the softcore porn star Misty Mundae stars as Kat, one of the besieged young people. This is another role in which she attempts to separate herself from her previous body of work (as she did with the far less enjoyable Splatter Beach, which I reviewed here) by changing her name and keeping her clothes on. Though she'll never win an Oscar, Brown has a definite screen presence and some reasonable acting skill, or maybe it just seems that way because most of her co-stars are such stumps. What does it say about a film when the porn star in the cast is one of the best actors? The script could have used a few more rewrites as the dialogue does nothing to move the story along but rather seems like it exists because these characters have to say something.
Still, the film works well as a fast-paced gore-fest with lots of noteworthy makeup effects, a little gratuitous nudity, and LOTS of gore. The score from Midnight Syndicate -- who have been composing music for non-existent horror movies for years -- is excellent and augmented by a few pretty decent songs from the band Mushroomhead. The disk is nicely loaded with extras, including an audio commentary with Producer/Director Robert Kurtzman and Producer/Writer John Bisson, a gallery of FX stills, a making of featurette, concept designs, production stills, and music videos for the two Mushroomhead songs.