Thursday, June 28, 2012

Double header - Edge of the Axe and Blood Frenzy

Edge of the Axebeware the spoilers!

A car wash patron is cut down brutally with an axe; blood and soap everywhere.  In the country a local pig farmer and his wife are harassed and stalked by a faceless stranger in the night.  The police curiously dismiss it all as accidents, pranks, and bizarre circumstance, almost as if they are covering something up, but in the end they really aren’t.  They’re just incompetent and lazy.  There’s a relief to Paddock County; aka axe murder central. 

As the death toll mounts only one boy genius and his new fangled invention, a talking computer called “Hyper”, can crack the case.  Edge of the Axe is a rare gem, a European influenced stalk and slash foray with a pulse on the technological beat of the 80s, right at the cusp of the home PC explosion.  Computers talk in this movie and it’s hysterical.  Did Gerold, the computer genius with “microchips for brains” invent instant messaging so he could talk to his neurotic girlfriend?  Probably not, but I can pretend he did.  Anyone who sports a sweat outfit like it’s the high rung of fashion should be able to lay claim to any invention.  That’s confidence folks.    

Gerold meets a young nubile blonde named Lillian, who tells him that she feels a bit like a monster.  She couldn’t be the mysterious killer.  No way.  No how.  Her life was dramatically altered by a horrible swing-set accident that she just can’t put behind her.  Maybe the writers felt like having mommy issues was a little too passé for slasher flicks by 1986; but a swing-set accident?  If this all boils down to being caused by a swing-set accident I’m going to…oh wait…nevermind.

To pacify any leftover downers Lillian may have had from her terrible swing accident she spends a lot of time casually strolling alleys and train tracks at night, meeting strangers, and mercilessly cutting them to pieces with an axe.   Sounds like a fun Friday.  The axe attacks are brutal, where the killer takes several swings, hacking the victim down like a tree.  Each connection with the axe produces a satisfying wet heavy sounding smack, like the person’s limbs are made out of blood soaked wood.  It’s great.  If there’s one thing this movie does right it’s a brutal axe bludgeoning.   There’s also one scene with a church chorus singing and some very intense scowling.  I think this movie does scowling right as well.  Probably some of the most intense scowling in cinematic history can be found in this flick. 

In the end the bad guy, gal, whatever wins and is anybody really surprised?  I wasn’t, not with how callous the cops were acting about the mass murders happening in town.  A very low key approach to crime solution is to just dismiss it all as accidental; like that person accidentally cut themselves up into slabs of meat with a fire axe, or got hit by a train.  Unfortunately however the world loses a flowering computer nerd at the end as well when the police finally decide to act and mistake him for the killer.  Best Buy is going to have to cut their Geek Squad one short I’m afraid.

So is Edge of the Axe any good?  If you enter it with virginal expectations, a clean slate, you will be entertained by it.  It is a competently executed flick with plenty of unintentional laughs.  If you think computer font is fun then you’re likely to have your processor blown in by this movie.  However I don’t think it stands as tall next to many other slashers of the era.  Maybe it relies too heavily on the whole computer gimmick, which dates the movie and makes all the computer talk kind of obsolete to the modern audience.  It also seems to meander a lot, trying to find a solid narrative and direction to keep interest peaked.  There’s a lot of time spent following individuals affected by the axe slayings, it’s a small town and practically everyone seems to drink at Nebb’s Bar, so storylines intertwine but don’t necessarily lead to anything worth while when all the audience wants is blood, blood, blood.  The axe slayings are utterly fantastic though, probably some of the best in horror.               


Blood Frenzybeware spoilers!

Greetings fellow nut bars, and welcome to Blood Frenzy, a movie that proves that a family that slays together stays together.  When a drunken dad looking for some kiddy kinder-love trips on a “Lifesaver” pillow and gets his throat aerated by his daughter with a Jack-in-the-box fetish, her loving brother does the most logical thing, and takes on all the blame for the crime.  I totally would have pinned it all on her; my sister would snitch me out all the time when I was a kid.  Killing brings the family together, always.  Cut to some twenty some years later and the maniac psycho-bitch Dory is back at it, misleading a group of mental patients to remote patch of desert, where she and her gibbering insane brother Lonnie (who reminds me of Ramses from Blood Feast) can leisurely kill off the support group one by one.

I spoiled some of the mystery behind who the killer is, but I thought it was fairly obvious.  Everyone else in the support group other than Dory has one obvious crutch.  One woman cannot stand to be touched by other people.  One man is a shell shocked vet; the other is a helpless slob and alcoholic.  There’s a nymphomaniac and a shameless macho man.  Dory’s only personality flaw is that she’s a bitch that screams her lines so I had her tagged as the killer from pretty early on in the movie.  Actually almost everyone screams their lines in this movie, so really the only thing that separates Dory from the pack is her crankiness.  Psycho killers can be so rude.  And she leads the group to a place called “Old GhostTown Road”, the very place where the “hills have eyes” and people mysteriously wake up with their throats sliced at night, so again she seemed pretty suspicious.  During the movie she constantly blaming Rick the shell shocked veteran for the murders, but it seems like a very obvious ploy to get any suspicion away from her.  She also talks about the desert like she’s a native, so it’s really just kin d of obvious that she has something to do with the murders.  The only curve ball they really throw you is that there is no mention of any brother until towards the end of the movie, which explains how she got away with killing her drunken touchy father to begin with.  

Blood Frenzy gets really interesting, and well, frenzied at the end.   If only they could have maintained that kind of intensity through more of the film, it would have been a stalk and slash home run.  I thought the concept of the killer as a kind of Jack-in-the-box was a good allusion, one that fits well in the slasher genre, and the kills were fairly brutal.  The slashed necks and impalements looked real and red enough to me.  The brother reveal was pretty shocking and the end sequence where he cuts a damsel’s feet made me pretty squeamish, for an otherwise pretty vanilla effort that scene had a lot of bite.   The way Lonnie laughs also seemed to rate high on the goosebump factor.  He definitely had me sold on the idea that he was some reclusive maniac living in deserted caves. The support group of mental patients did make for an interesting hodge podge of characters flaws, even if they were all some walking stereotype.  Crazy people are always more interesting than normal norms.  Some of it grated my tender sensibilities, some of it had me staring into space wondering what to eat for dinner, but the bloody payoff at the end was worth it.