Friday, April 2, 2010

Edge of the Axe (1988)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5

As the 80's drew to a close, and the proliferation of slasher films was veritably on its last appendage, filmmakers attempted to rehash the stylings of earlier films which were successful. However, a few attempted to be original within the relatively rigid constructs of a slasher film. One of those films was Edge of the Axe.

Kicking off our film with the second greatest car wash scene ever committed to horror celluloid (see here for my personal favorite), a woman is stalked and attacked by a pale white masked man as she's waiting for the wash to finish its bidness. He gets down with a whackity whack whack whack and smashes through her front windshield, embedding his axe into her body in the process.

We next see a typical first person point of view shot complete with the midi keyboard notes which accompany most films of this ilk. Our killer comes upon a pig farmer and makes his mark by hacking off the head of one of his piglets and leaving it on their bedroom bed as a sort of calling card.

Our story further unfolds in a town surrounded by woods and mountain ranges. It looks a lot like Northern California, Lake Tahoe to be specific. A computer nerd and his pest control buddy (who despises his wife and makes many mentions of it) are called out to a local tavern owner's bar to investigate a strange stench. Thinking its nothing more than a bunch of dead rats, their thoughts are quickly disspelled when a ceiling board is removed and a dead body is uncovered. Being the ever so genius that he is, the local sheriff who arrives on the scene thinks that its nothing more than a suicide. He is afterall new to the town and he doesn't want his reputation to be tarnished right off the bat. Nonsensical conclusions be damned!

The knucklehead friends venture on to the local bar where our computer nerd-tastic friend hits on a gal and gets her to come over to his pad later that night. He goes on about his new computer, how she can ask it ANY question and it will spit back to her a response (in between the soundtrack which has become softcore porn at this point), and that he'd be more than happy to give up his old computer so they can talk to each other at any time! Which leads us to this amazing exchange:

*Softcore porn music continues to play*
Girl: 'Could we communicate to each other whenever we wanted?' Guy: 'Sure. (Sounding all smarty like) I'll plug it in to the central terminal.'
Girl: 'I want to ask Icarus (the name of the computer) a question.'
Guy: 'Yeah sure.'
*Porn music continues to play*
Girl: 'So what do I do?'
Guy: 'Push in the brown key and type your question.'
Girl: 'OK, don't look.'
*Giggles are exchanged between both*
Girl: 'Turn around. No looking! OK now what do I do?'
Guy: 'Push the other brown button. Sit back and wait for the answer...' *Computer emits a flatlining sound*
Guy: 'What is it? Wha wha what did you ask it?'
Girl: 'You probably don't want to know.'
Guy: 'It reads right here, 'Data incomplete'. What the hell did you ask it?
*Girl kisses guy and then starts giggling*
Girl: 'I asked it if you were gay.'
*Both giggle some more and start making out*

Its eons before our next kill which occurs at about the 30 minute mark or so but that's OK because we are super entertained by our computer nerd guy, his girl (who tells the story of having to take drugs because of mental problems, hellooooooo red herring) and his douchebaggy friend who's trying to get into the knickers of the tavern owner's young daughter. An eastern European vacationer leaves the tavern late that night and is hunted down and waxed, er I mean axed by our masked assailant.

Investigating the scene, our genius sheriff talks about the victim, saying she was a hooker, charging a $100 a night for her services. To which the lead inspector (yes, inspector) responds: 'Jesus, she wasn't cheap.' The sheriff replies, 'Yeah but she was worth it'. The inspector laughs and says 'You had some of it?' The sheriff 'Oh naw, my salary doesn't allow for such luxuries.' The sheriff and one of his officers talk of the woman tripping over the tracks and falling victim to the passing train as an explanation for the death. The inspector responds, 'Oh no, those cuts were deep and clean. They could not have been caused by the wheels of a train.' To which the sheriff geniously quips, 'Inspector, are you sure your imagination isn't getting the best of you? For now, in my report, this is going down as an accident.' Nonsensical conclusion times two!

The remainder of our film sees a load of other red herrings that keeps you guessing: the creepy local pastor, a new to town pianist in the church choir who's history is unknown and even our computer geekish guy who laughs out loud when his woman pours out her heart, telling him the story of how she became to be so traumatized. She relays the story of pushing her cousin on a backyard swing when they were younger, harder and harder. The geek so insensitively and laughingly responds 'I can just see your cousin flying through the air!' *Somber music plays* Girl responds, 'He fell off the swing and fractured his skull.' Dead silence from the geekazoid.

As things unravel and the body count rises, we are kept guessing who the killer is right up until the end. Its not fairly obvious but it isn't totally shocking. And its not Scooby Doo retarded either (like most slashers) and it has a nice little crazy freeze frame ending to the romp a la Sleepaway Camp.

Edge of the Axe isn't anything completely genre defining but it does attempt to add something new to the mix by being a little more mischievous and inventive in its handling of red herrings. Its not the greatest slasher out there but you know me: cornball dialogue, some suspense and great kills is all you need to get me, hook, line and sinker. I can't recommend this to everyone but if you are a fan of 80's slashers, this one is right in your wheelhouse. I just could have used a heaping dose of boobage to put a nice cherry on top.

No trailer for this but check out the neat-o opening scene below, en espanol!

Cortez the Killer

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Jay Amabile said...

dude this is a classic post. hysterical. press the brown key! lmao!

Matt-suzaka said...

Yo, that car-wash scene is dope! Love how she's smoking a butt with the windows up! Great review and I need to see this one soon!

Chris Hallock said...

where did you find this? I keep thinking this is an April Fools post, but then I look at the date.

Pax Romano said...

Please god let this one be at Netflix!

Planet of Terror said...

@Jay, thanks man. This one brings the goods (unfortunately, minus the boobage).

@Matt and Chris, it hasn't been released on DVD. I have a VHS copy that I've burned to DVD (although not a great quality but its decent). It's also in the public domain. Hit me up if you'd like a copy.

@Pax, unfortunately not. See above.

J. Astro said...

HA! I used to see this video cover at our local Fagan's Video rental place all the time and I thought it looked like a total, sad-ass FRIDAY THE 13TH-ripoff... and I had completely forgotten about it up 'til now. Great blast from the past!

A most excellent post!

William Malmborg said...

Hopefully this one will be on DVD soon because now I really want to see it after reading this post. No one seems to have it yet, though. I may try finding it online to download if its in the public domain like you say.

Planet of Terror said...

@J. Astro, thank you good sir. It is, to a certain extent (the buildups and music particularly) a ripoff of Friday the 13th but it has a character all its own. Mainly due to the goofy onscreen shenanigans of all those involved.

@Will, I should have said don't quote me on that :) But I think its in the public domain.

Carl (ILHM) said...

I just broke a new record: I went from not having heard of this to immediately needing to own it in less than 2s flat! w00t!!1

Geof said...

This looks like crap, so I MUST see it. Just the thing I need to see after a terrible week!

Erica said...

This is on YouTube - if you can stand watching it in 10 minute increments, it's totally worth watching! I've got 2 more to go and I'm dying to find out who the killer is. Truly a movie so bad that it's good.