PRIMAL RAGE (1988)
Directed by Vittorio Rambaldi
Available to watch on Amazon Prime Instant Video
Sam Nash, a university newspaper journalist, decides to investigate the science experiments conducted by one of the professors on campus. When he chickens out from breaking into the science lab to see if professor Dr Ethridge is experimenting on monkeys, his fellow journalist Duffy decides to do it for him. Nash’s suspicions turn out to be true when Duffy successfully breaks into the lab and finds the test subject but after being bitten by the crazed ape, Duffy begins to experience strange symptoms. Before he knows it, Duffy’s immune system is taken over by an aggressive virus spread the monkey, turning him wild, unpredictable and murderous with brute strength. Nash must do all he can to find his sick friend before the virus spreads throughout the university campus.
Late 80’s horror PRIMAL RAGE has fun with the teenage student horror genre by letting loose a virus within a school environment. At a time when animal testing was more commonplace, it’s great to see the filmmakers showing the horror done upon the poor animal and in return, as some part of revenge, you could say, the monkey giving something wicked back. Bubbling sores, feverish symptoms, facial decay and uncontrollable rage are the outcome of Dr Ethridge’s experiments in attempting to create a regenerative protein, and if Nash, Ethridge and student Lauren don’t put a stop to it, everyone’s life could be in danger as the virus spreads from infected bites.
PRIMAL RAGE works well as a teen comedy drama as it does a horror. It’s got your cliche trio of sex-driven teens, who are looking to fool some gullible girls into attending their orgies, and in the opposite corner, the good guys – the reporters looking for the next big scoop who aren’t afraid of defending the girls from the sex pests. Essentially being white knights to students Lauren and Debbie, Nash and Duffy become targets for the trio whilst Lauren and Debbie become the must-have prize. The students already have enough on their plate without having to cope with a vicious deadly virus.
My favourite scene from the film has to be the Halloween ball towards the end of the movie. All the students attend the ball in fancy dress and whilst there are some typical outfits such as a pirate, there’s tons of frightening, comical and inspired horror costumes that are too surreal or quirky to ever have been sold at a fancy dress store. They must’ve been working on these costumes all year! One guy has a saw through his costume head that moves backwards and forwards whilst another is wearing a naked obese woman outfit back to front. More memorable ones include someone dressed as a giant nose and one other person wearing a three headed mask with a tap for each of the noses. Some of these costumed students become victims during the film and their costumes only enhance their brief death scenes with comical yet grisly effect.
PRIMAL RAGE isn’t that scary for a horror but it’s a tremendously fun one which oozes the 80’s style, from the fashion choices to even the songs, and for that alone it’s worth the watch. The characters are all really likable, except those who shouldn’t be, and the script is pretty decent for the type of film its looking to be with performances to match. Genre fans will also enjoy the fact that Claudio Simonetti is responsible for the film’s score and that like most horrors of that era, the movie showcases its great use of prosthetic effects when necessary.
PRIMAL RAGE would make a cracking Saturday night beer movie for film fans looking for a bit of old skool teen horror fun.