Liberal district attorney decides to seek the death penalty for a man who slaughtered a family at Christmastime, then drank their blood. He escapes, though, and starts killing again.Written by
Based on the true story of Richard Trenton Chase, "The Vampire Killer" who killed six people in the course of four days in January 1978. See more »
During the amusement/fair scene, when the little boy is being held and throwing ping-pong balls into the cups, my wife and I walk by staring straight into the camera! (filmed in my then hometown) See more »
This film has no opening credits or title. Only the Miramax logo appears at the beginning. See more »
Originally shot in 1987; after premiering in some European countries, the film was shelved when production studio DEG went bankrupt and sat unreleased for five years. In 1992 director William Friedkin re-edited the movie and slightly altered the ending (supposedly because in the meantime his feelings about the death penalty had changed) before its USA release. The European video versions usually feature the original ending. See more »
The difficult conflict of legal insanity and the death penalty.
Rampage is based on the 1978 killings of Robert Chase, Sacremento's "Vampire Killer," aptly named because he drank the blood of his victims, claiming that he believed his blood was poisoned, so he had to kill people for their blood. In four days, Chase killed six people.
Like Charlie Reece, the film version of Chase, Chase had previously been committed to a mental institution, but neither his mother nor the institution seemed to take seriously his condition and peculiar, if not deranged, habits. And indeed, he was much more obvious about those peculiarities than the film lets on.
Both the movie and the case which it is based on bring up an important question about the death penalty. Michael Bein is prosecutor Anthony Fraser, who is prosecuting for the death penalty. Fraser, however, had previously been staunchly opposed to the death penalty, remarking how had he been in the legislature, he would vote against it. But, these are one of the situations where people are forced to ask: are you opposed to the death penalty in ALL situations? Even Fraser was forced to reconsider his position, after the investigation reveals numerous brutal murders. As a result, he tries a tough case.
Tough in part because of the issue of Reece's mental capacity at the time of the murders. The defense argues not guilty by reason of insanity, expecting the plea will keep him from getting a prison sentence (and the death penalty), and instead, get him in a mental institution. Fraser can't believe that someone would want to argue that for someone as vicious as Reece, but one psychiatrist, in testifying for the defense says, nothing can be solved if he is dead. It does nothing for those who died, and it does nothing for him. The psychiatrist reasons that Reece should be put in a hospital and studied, that investigators would be able to formulate a profile to prevent future murders.
Fraser retorts, asking, so people must die for that? The ultimate question becomes, in Charlie Reece's case, would it be worth it to declare him insane? Especially considering the lack of attention he could possibly be given anyways as he sat drugged up in a mental institution as just another patient. The system itself is one of the arguments against the insanity plea in a case like this.
In a case like this, so brutal, and with Charlie Reece (and the real Robert Chase) so wacked, is reform possible? And is it necessary? Those are the issues this film wrestles with, and not easily so. It does somewhat capture the eerieness evoked by such a brutal serial killer, particularly with intermitten scenes of flashbacks and symbolic scenery. You get sucked into this strange character of Reece and you keep wondering if this guy is really crazy or was it all just a game? The movie makes it seem like Reece is initially faking it, but then you can't be too sure. And that's essential to the viewer looking for justification for their conclusions as to whether Reece should be executed or not. Definitely a worthy courtroom drama to try.
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