AXE (1977) Review

Directed by: Frederick R. Friedel
Starring: Leslie Lee, Jack Canon, Ray Green

Logically you'd think that the infamous 'Video Nasties' list would be comprised of only the sickest and most depraved films to ever be released on video, right? But the reality is that for every Cannibal Holocaust or The Toolbox Murders on the list, there is a much more tame counterpart which really has no place being included at all. AXE is one of the latter.

Essentially AXE (aka LISA, LISA) is a home invasion / rape / revenge flick similar to Last House on the Left or I Spit on Your Grave, albeit much more mild. It's inclusion in the nasty list is probably due to its marketing, with the trailer describing it as the most terrifying movie since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Echoing this comparison is one of the movie's alternate titles 'The California Axe Massacre'. The misleading trailer even describes a 'killing spree' which never actually happens. But unlike the three films I've just mentioned AXE isn't overly violent (most of the violence happens off camera) and its single rape scene is awkward rather than brutal. Even by 1977 standards this movie would seem tame compared to most other horror releases.

Three men - Billy, Steele & Lomax - have been involved in a murder and decide that they need to find a place to lay low until the heat dies down. After having a bit of fun with a female clerk they drive out to a house seemingly in the middle of nowhere. A young girl named Lisa lives in this house with her paralyzed grandfather.
After deducing that Lisa and the wheelchair-bound man are the only inhabitants of the house the three men decide that they've found as good a place as any to hide out. At first things go smoothly, they order Lisa to make them food etc but in general they aren't too aggressive towards her or her grandfather. But later that night Lomax gets a bit horny and decides to sneak into Lisa's room where he proceeds to slip into her bed and rape her. Lisa pulls out a straight razor and kills Lomax, but curiously she does so by hacking at the back of his neck instead of his throat for some reason. While he's being sliced he screams fairly loudly but miraculously nobody in the house wakes up. Lisa uses an axe (it's a hatchet really" to dismember the body.
You can probably figure out the rest of the movie yourself.

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie, especially with it being a very low budget film from the 70s but it does have a certain charm. Technically it is terrible, with laughably fake red paint blood, horribly dubbed sound bites and possibly the most annoying soundtrack I have ever heard in my life. I honestly think that somebody must have said "Hey let's gather the most annoying instruments ever made and use them for the soundtrack" because AXE's music is almost entirely comprised of bongos, tambourine and a very irritating high-pitched synthesizer-like sound. The only way it could have been worse is if it had included bagpipes.
There are plenty of plot holes, some stupid writing and the acting is nothing to be proud of. Basically the movie looks bad and sounds bad. But as I mentioned there is something enjoyable about it. Maybe it's the simple fact that it was one of these 'video nasties' and subconsciously we know that it was once 'forbidden'. It's inclusion on that particular list is actually the only thing this movie has going for it, well that and the fact that the character Billy looks exactly like Bob Ross. AXE is a very tame, dull movie and ironically if it hadn't been included on the nasty list it would almost certainly been forgotten by now.

No comments:

Post a Comment