The Halloween Bash third act is one of the most satisfyingly consumable 80s horror moments imaginable, with the soundtrack you deserve.
While trying to reanimate dead brain tissue a scientist unleashes a rage virus on the town and the high school Halloween ball. Let’s dig into 1988’s “Primal Rage”, directed by Vittorio Rambaldi!
As I See It
I’ve been hoping, through the seventy-five or so digs thus far, that I would find neon gold like this. I’ve not been more pleased than when I was watching the final act of this film.
From the synth and sax-heavy opening song (“Say the Word” by The Facade Band) to the Scientist with a rat tail, and all the wood paneling you can stomach – this film is just totally 80s. I’m still smiling, anticipating the next time I watch it.
It shares a handful of commonalities with an earlier Dig (Nightmare Beach 1989). Both were written by Umberto Lenzi, and director Vittorio Rambaldi also gets a writing credit for Nightmare Beach. Both were filmed in Florida. Both feature the beautiful Sarah Buxton (Debbie). The comparisons stop there for me as the pacing, structure, and execution are at another level in Primal Rage.
Though the odd-looking monkey is featured on all the artwork and is a central point of the story, we never get bogged down in technicalities and scientific exposition. Mess with Mother Nature and bad things can happen. Nice and simple. And now that we’ve got the rage virus passing through humans, we can have fun ripping out the throats of faux vampires and degloving scalps of large men dressed as babies.
If I were to repackage this film, the Halloween party would be the focus of the art. That’s the memorable part of the film, not the dog-faced monkey.
The costumes… holy shit, the costumes!
It’s a family affair as the Rambaldi name is all over the credits. The unique costumes (Nose face, Lip face, Spout face) were created by none other than Carlo Rambaldi; the creator of E.T. and father of Director Vittorio. Twisted Alice in Wonderland level fantasy creations and the brilliant idea of having blood pour from the three spouts as Spout face is murdered in the middle of the dance floor. I’m still reeling. I watched that scene three times.
I can’t recommend you dig this up quick enough. Watch it now. Watch it for Halloween. How this film hasn’t received a proper release from some of the reputable repackaging distributors is beyond me. I didn’t even get to talk about the masterful Claudio Simonetti and his heightening score!
Sarah Buxton (Debbie) as mentioned was in Nightmare Beach.
Cheryl Arutt (Lauren) took on a different career path and this is her only feature credit, though she has been featured on countless TV shows, including Dr. Drew On Call, as a psychological expert.
Of Gratuitous Nature
It’s a rape scene. There’s no easy way to swallow that. The three bully archetypes who are soft antagonists up until this point finally make good on their promise to inflict violence on our crew, and they decide to do so when Debbie walks alone at night. In a bit of karmic retribution, they’ve done so after Debbie has already been infected.
The scene leaves me torn. Strobe lights, heavy metal (Steel Grave – “Knights of the Night”, which was also featured in Argento’s Opera), and the quotable cheesy rendition of “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” as they march to perform their crime all make for a memorable scene. But it is after all a rape scene. I wish Debbie, even in her rageful state, was awarded more revenge.
Sarah Buxton has maintained her beauty through the decades and was a bit twee here compared to later roles in soap operas and such which had more conventional make-up rather than virus-infected veins and blood.
Ripe for a Remake
This deserves a re-release before a remake.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Dark Force Entertainment has put out a Blu-ray which can be hunted down, or you can stream on Flix Fling.