Edge of the Axe Blu-ray Review: Careful with That Axe, Psycho Killer

It is always fascinating to me when the makers of low-budget slasher films try to inject their films with an actual story and well-developed characters. This seems rather pointless when all fans of the genre want is attractive people being hacked to death in creative ways. This is especially interesting as the majority of people who make low-budget slasher films wouldn’t know an interesting story if it slapped them in the face with a black leather glove, nor a well-developed character if it stabbed them in the eye with a shiny, sharp knife. Edge of the Axe is a Spanish-American co-production that wants to be so much more than its genre roots will allow, and it fails at nearly everything except for chopping up its characters with the titular axe edge. And even that is done without style.

In the sleepy mountain community of Paddock County, someone is hacking various women to death. The local sheriff, like all local sheriffs in these types of films, keeps writing the deaths off as really strange and crazy violent accidents. Meanwhile, a couple of local boys, Gerald Martin (Barton Faulks) and Richard (Page Moseley), try to solve the crimes. Wait, no they don’t do that. They spend their time trying to sleep with a couple of women. Richard is married to a much older, much wealthier woman and he spends a lot of his screen time complaining about her (or talking about the “bodacious tatas” of the girl he’s trying to lay).

He sweet talks her into showing him her favorite spots on the lake. They go out once in his boat where she complains it isn’t nearly as fast as hers. They take her boat another time and after they do a little kissing, she finds the severed head of a local barmaid floating next to the boat. After a little screaming, we never see her again. She doesn’t get murdered or anything but the film seems to have no use for her after that. It barely has a use for Richard after that but he does show up a little later to complain about his wife once again. This is the film trying to develop its characters. This is what we get instead of more murders.

The film spends the bulk of its time with Barton. He’s a computer geek who bonds with computer geek Christina (Lillian Nebbs). The computers don’t have much to do with the overall plot either but it does provide some wonderfully hilarious scenes in which they ask the computer questions such as “Is Richard gay?” Again this is what goes for a plot in this movie. This is what we get instead of more axe edges.

What makes the film even slightly enjoyable is the gigantic mountain of red herrings it provides. The killer might be the guy whose name was written in the notebook of one of the victims and who just happens to be handy with sharp tools. Or it could be the priest who spends his evening with the all-girls choir. Or maybe it is the sheriff who seems more interested in keeping the murders out of the newspapers than he does actually solving them. Probably it is Christina’s deranged brother who just escaped from the insane asylum. Or it could be Barton who creepily keeps a list of all the pertinent details of the victims on his computer. The reveal of who actually wields that blade isn’t nearly as clever as the film wants it to be, but it is mildly entertaining getting to that point.

There is lots of axe-murdering going on and director José Ramón Larraz doesn’t shy away from the blood though the effects makeup is not particularly memorable. Two of the victims do run pig farms which is such a strange thing to include I have to wonder if the film wasn’t getting kickbacks from the Spanish pig industry. There are enough Coke cans on display to make me think they were definitely vying for some of that cash. You’ll need more than a few cans of soda if you want to make it through this film without doing a little axe-murdering yourself.

Arrow Video presents Edge of the Axe with a new 2K restoration from the original camera negative. As it was a Spanish/American co-production, you get audio in both languages. Extras include audio commentary with Barton Faulks and another one with The Hysteria Continues. There are also interviews with Faulks, make-up artist Colin Arthur, an image gallery, and the usual essay in the nice booklet.

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Mat Brewster

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