The True ABCs of Death: R is for Rampage



Suggested Audio Candy


[1] EPMD featuring LL Cool J “Rampage”

[2] Slipknot “My Plague”

[3] Rob Dougan “Chateau”



There are few sights in horror quite as gratifying as a good old-fashioned murderous rampage. We’re not talking of a solo kill here, these are the moments when the killer in question isn’t satisfied with adding another notch to his tally and, instead, goes off in search of the all-important package deal. Any dispatch artist staking their claim has the opportunity and, if they’re lucky, the remaining budget for at least one good wholesome spree. Horror is a numbers game and a rampage is the perfect way to whittle those lambs down in style. A good budget-sapping melee can help turn a faceless picture into the Mona fucking Lisa and I aim to recall a fair few before our time here is done. You may be needing an abacus to keep up with this particularly bloated body count as more bodies are about to hit the floor than The Black Death and Scurvy combined. Best be packing your dustpan and brush then. On second thoughts leave the tidy-up job for me as there is no end of fun to be gleaned from reacquainting all these body parts with their rightful owners.

Slice and Dice The Burning

Tony Maylam’s The Burning is a film which I will never tire of talking about as you may well be aware by now. I make no secret of the fact that I regard it to be the crème de la crème of slasher movies, both past and present, and there are a myriad of reasons why I believe this to be so. Its killer Cropsy was utterly uncompromising and also decidedly unfussy as attested by the fact that, once Eddy made unsavory advances on the hapless Karen, he wasn’t looking to reprimand the philandering boy for acting out of turn and, instead, decimated the innocent party and allowed Eddy to paddle back to base camp and spank his monkey back in his sleeping bag. However, the very next morning, it became a case of wrong place, wrong time for Eddy as he set out with fellow campers Woodstock, Fish, Marnie and Rhoda on a makeshift raft and came a cropper in spectacular manner.


The Burning found itself in hot water with the bigoted censors for reveling a little too freely in the thrill of its kills. Tom Savini’s make up was at its prime and Cropsy’s hedge trimmers were put to good use as he trimmed the numbers with no shortage of finesse or guile. However, if you were sitting on the fence after a languidly paced opening hour, then the notorious raft scene provided all the rampage required to encourage you produce your red marker pens and scrawl “pass” across its term paper. Five teens of various ages fell foul to his shears in one of the most effective package deals in modern cinema history. The real body blow was that, by and large, the lemmings were supremely affable.


I plan to take my sweet time when elaborating on this scene as it truly was everything it was cracked up to be and there were a number of factors which made it so dominant. As the group spotted one of their discarded canoes by the bay side, they decided it best to investigate and commenced on one of the most painfully protracted paddles I have ever witnessed as they made their way across to claim their bounty. They’d enjoyed their summer camp experience to this point and were in high spirits, despite the fact that Karen never returned from her midnight swim the night before. They were all cheek dimples right up to the moment where they eventually reached their target but little did they know that Savini was lurking in the canoe alongside Cropsy, with his blood bags at the ready.


As the crispy critter rose from the supposedly abandoned vessel with his tool hoisted high above their heads, it became a frantic dash for survival but, on a raft, there really aren’t that many places to flee. We were treated for our patience up until this point with five kills in quick succession as the murderous caretaker called time on their expedition. Foreheads were sliced, backs stabbed, and poor old Woodstock lost all five fingers from his wrangling hand. But the best was left for last. Eddy may have thought that he had dodged a bullet when coming on way too strong the evening prior but this time he was little more than the final fodder.

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Cropsy’s shears found a new home dead center of the boy’s throat and, to this very day, there are few practical effects so beautifully implemented. It was the crowning moment of one big crowning moment, and undoubtedly one of the most realistic denouements ever committed to celluloid. Actually, Marnie got it last and could only watch on like a terrified bunny as Eddy’s Adam’s apple was soundly punctured before receiving the final slash herself. The screen then bled to red and my very next action was to call my own counselor and inform him that I wouldn’t be attending summer camp after all. Consequently, I have never since built a raft.


Travis Bickle was one big rampage waiting to happen and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver gave him plentiful reason to ultimately flick the angry switch and embark on a decisive spree as he rid the city of its countless dregs. Of all the seventies exploitation flicks, this was perhaps the most effectual, not only because of Robert De Niro’s iconic turn as Bickle, but because it placed you in the head space of a man clearly teetering and watching on as the final few hinges vacated their fixtures. In truth he was doing something of a public service by wiping out these petulant pimps and pushers and it was hard to shed a tear for a single one of them once he cocked his trigger. But this didn’t make it any less shocking.


We should’ve seen the signs. The moment when Travis requested to know who the hell his bathroom mirror was ogling at was the one where I decided not to trust Shirley Valentine or anyone else who made conversation with themselves for that matter. I’m as culpable as the next man here and frequent in such one-way conversation. The difference is that I don’t own a firearm. I’m fairly assured that by holding up a banana and reciting Bickle’s monologue, the very worst that can happen is a dash of food poisoning once I open fire, should the fruit be spoiled. With a loaded weapon, stomach cramps become the least of your concerns and De Niro’s eventual rampage is still unforgettable to this very day.



The Resident Evil franchise takes a lot of flak from critics and its gamer fan base also but I have always found its entries to offer perfectly palatable no-brain entertainment. Paul WS Anderson’s original spent its first act building a head of steam before leading troop leader One and his ill-fated gaggle of mercenaries into a seemingly defunct enclosed electricity chamber. Enter a devastating network of laser beams which cut through any silage with precision before preparing for their final run, with only one still standing. As Colin Salmon, who possessed the ideal set of facial coordinates to play a vintage hero, steadied himself for the final assault, that pesky console moved the goalposts as if to say “waffle this motherfucker”. Waffle he did as he was effortlessly diced by the unruly beams and left to count the cost of his unlawful entry. Say what you will about Resident Evil naysayers, but there was prime veal amongst the gammon.


My next rampage comes from way out of left field as it isn’t even vaguely situated in horror. Carl Reiner’s Summer School was a glorious eighties comedy which pitted slacker remedial English teacher Freddy Shoop against a class of reprobates, kleptomaniacs, and general dunces, when he should have been vacationing with his hot momma in Hawaii. The scene in question came when Shoop decided to wash his hands of these misfits and a supply teacher was brought in to rally the rabble. The problem was that these kids had grown a little attached to their leisurely tutor and, aided by wonderfully wistful horror aficionados Chainsaw and Dave, they set out to make their point to the new victim.

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Summer School found its way onto the cover of Fangoria, back when the magazine was in its heyday, and did so through some astonishing practical SFX from an uncredited Norman Cabrera. We witnessed the aftermath of said rampage and were in on the joke as the teens slouched at their desks sporting all manner of gruesome impairment. Hands were cut off at their wrists, dislodged tongues dragged from mouths, intestinal matter rifled through with gay abandon, board rubbers swallowed sideways, eyes punctured with pencils… it was a real bloody mess. Whilst Reiner played strictly for chortles, this scene still celebrated all that is good about organic splatter and, for Chainsaw and Dave, cult hero status could only but beckon.


I can’t resist throwing a cat amongst the pigeons at this point and my next rampage features one of the most heinous criminal masterminds ever to require 3 AA batteries. Strawberry scented sicko, Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, ran a dictatorship so fiercely unjust that Sunnyside Daycare became little more than a maximum security toy slayground. Woody forgot about not ever getting around to boning Bo Peep and led the mutiny as Andy’s rejects found their inner demonic toy and followed their master…straight towards a fiery incinerator. For those few distressing moments on the conveyor belt, I forgot I was watching an animated feature, and fretted as it appeared that Lee Unkrich had taken full leave of his senses. Surely he wouldn’t be so barbarous.


I glanced over at my four-year old son and his look of sheer horror confirmed that I had become the daddy of shattered dreams. As the toys slid closer to the eye of the furnace, all appeared lost, and Lotso’s rampage was set to continue, leaving me with some rather uncomfortable questions to answer. Suddenly a dazzling blue light appeared overhead and a giant mechanical claw scooped up the entire troupe just before they wound up as a pair of plus sized PVC trousers. Crisis was averted, my boy could smile once more, the tiny nugget resting against my sphincter retreated to its safe distance, and everyone’s favorite toys returned to their beloved Andy for their happily ever after. The threat of Lotso had passed but there was one more sting left in the tale as Andy decided they were shit toys anyway and dumped them off on some other unfortunate sap.


I have never so much as necessitated a view of any of the Twilight series after coming away from a forty-minute stint with New Moon which left me feeling as though I had been accosted and molested by Buffy’s spiritual kindred. It was all a little too teenybop for my sensibilities but that is not to say that it isn’t without merit. I’m sure they’re perfectly acceptable slabs of adolescent angst but I just don’t possess the available man-hours or desire to undertake this particular pilgrimage. That is where YouTube comes in handy as a close friend suggested I give a particular climactic battle scene between The Volturis and The Cullens from Breaking Dawn Part 2 a closer look-see and I decided why the hell not.


Nearly a full ten-minutes later I exited the fray feeling mildly pleased by the rampage I had just witnessed. Sure, it was squarely PG-13 fodder which meant a distinct lack of deep red and over-reliance on CGI as it got to its nitty-gritty, but it was admittedly quite a rumble. What we had was essentially a showcase for effective beheading and Peter Facinelli became the first of many to lose their top blocks in the heat of battle. But the film suddenly took a far darker tone as we finally got to see the casualties of this perpetually percolating blitzkrieg. By the end I was sold on one thing and that isn’t that I’m about to rush out and procure the box set. A twist existed at the close of skirmish which worked quite beautifully as it suggested the power of foresight. I’m not on Team Jacob, neither do I have a pair of Team Edward pom-poms, but I will return to YouTube and get my hands dirty at least one more time.



I couldn’t dream of concluding the letter R without making mention of The Matrix and, after trailing off with Toy Story 3 and Twilight, feel it necessary to prove that I am, in fact, man and not muppet. It has to be the breathtaking lobby crusade as Trinity and Neo revealed their secret stash to a packed out vestibule of villainous nodes. Their defragmentation skills were immeasurable as they masqueraded in horizontal fashion across their fast-crumbling environment, whilst emptying chamber upon chamber on their collective quarry. But I must confess an ulterior motive for highlighting this particular rampage. I was still recoiling from its divine majesty when The Wachowskis presented me with my all-time favorite ever line of dialogue. It wasn’t simply the nonchalant nature in which Trinity suggested the agent “dodge this” but also the glorious wide lens shot which accompanied her one-liner. Put simply; I came a little first time out and every single countless time since I have cum that little bit more. It simply doesn’t get any better than that.


Steve Beck’s Ghost Ship may not have been a bona fide classic and sits comfortably within the middle tier with Virus, Thir13en Ghosts, and other perfectly enjoyable but ultimately disposable fare. However, the opening scene lent more weight to the term “doozy” as an entire ocean liner were bisected by a wayward length of razor-sharp electrical cable and their luxurious ballroom adorned with their cross sections. Only little Katie survived the carnage as the wire unspooled with devastating effect. If she had bitched about not being classed tall enough to ride on Elliott’s bicycle at Universal Studios, then here she could thank her lucky stars for not eating sufficient vegetation to sprout that additional inch. Alas, her childhood was somewhat tainted by witnessing sights no little girl should be made privy to and rumor has it that she ended up huffing crack in a Bronx alleyway whilst turning tricks for kicks.

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Like the proverbial runaway locomotive with realigned trajectory I cannot resist one final flurry and Marcus Dunstan’s The Collection is on hand to provide us our final waltz. A nightclub packed to the walls with sweaty revelers offered the dance floor for our collector to cut his losses on this particular crop circle. This was no field of dreams and instead nightmares were dished up for our delectation as he released a set of combine harvester blades from the rafters and stopped the underground party right in its tracks. Pictorials really cannot do this scene justice and I propose instead that you watch this and its predecessor The Collector back-to-back and find out for yourselves. You shouldn’t regret it.

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I have tried as hard as I feasibly could to cover all bases for rampage. Should my memory become jogged or I feel like a further jaunt at a later date then, who knows, we could see a part two. For now I think I’m all rampaged out and a Steve Martin marathon may well be in order. Thank the heavens for rampage; such massive scale destruction offers up some of the most affecting depictions of superiority and excess that the medium of film can provide. I, for one, will never pass up on a good ruckus and if that leaves me labelled as Andy’s bitch then I’d say it is worth the disgrace.




Click here to read S is for Sublunar








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