Primal Rage (1988)

Virtually a little unknown b-grade campus-based oddball shocker that’s efficiently catered for, but doesn’t break any ground with its unspectacular story structure (written by Umberto Lenzi) and systematic thrills, despite its unsparingly nasty tone (which goes overboard in the film’s last 30 minutes at a Halloween party) and suitably icky if makeshift make-up FX and special effects (done by Carlo Rambaldi who did such films like; ‘Planet of the Vampires (1965)’, ‘A Bay of Blood (1971)’, ‘King Kong (1976)’, ‘Possession (1981)’ and ‘E.T (1982)’). While two different films, the way the story flowed kind of had me thinking of the 1989 sequel ‘Gnaw: Food of the Gods II’, but this one wasn’t that shonky and campy. Again there’s a focus on a cringe-worthy 80s tune, which oddly makes it way in the opening credits (which will have you thinking what am I getting myself into?) and then during the Halloween costume party as the band is performing live. Oh good.

The story sees two college students Sam Nash and Frank Duffy working as journalists for the campus paper, where they suspect a professor there is doing inhumane animal experiments in the quest to restore dead brain cells. So Frank sneaks into the laboratory one night to take pictures, where he encounters a very aggressive baboon that in the process of breaking out bites him. Slowly he begins to feel the effects, he starts forming ugly looking sores and then uncontrollable bursts of raging violence takes over. Soon the virus begins to spread leaving a bloody trail and Sam along with his girlfriend try to put a stop to it.

After quite a slow-going set-up, it goes on to build up a head of steam with some grisly strokes with chaos erupting and a few moments of kinkiness from a couple of ridiculously twisted beef heads. Vittorio Rambaldi direction is efficiently surefooted for its minor budget, but the half-baked execution just lacks that punch where atmosphere isn’t projected and the suspense doesn’t eventuate too much than just unpleasantly rowdy jolts. Then at the end you get sudden jump scene that comes from nowhere, as like a second thought because they forgot about a character. Claudio Simonetti’s wonky score is just like a ragingly spreading virus with primal instincts and Antonio Climati lenses with a professional curtness. The performances are modest with Patrick Lowe and Cheryl Arutt making likable heroines. Sarah Buxton also shines in her part. Bo Svenson presenting a fashionable ponytail makes light work as the devious professor.