Friday, October 7, 2022

axe the family.

Found this in the cupboard today whilst looking for a Playstation 2 camera.

Can you tell I'm really trying with the whole 31 Days of Horror thing?

Edge of the Axe (1988).
Dir: José Ramón Larraz (as Joseph Braunstein, go figure).
Cast: Barton Faulks, Christina Marie Lane, Page Moseley, Christina Lane, Fred Holliday, May Heatherly, Patty Shepard, Elmer Modlin, Joy Blackburn and Jack Taylor.

Insert memorable quote here....oh hang on there aren't any.

Welcome to the tiny Northern Californian community of Big Bear Lake - famous for its big bears, its, um lake and the world renowned Sparkle Car Wash.

And it's at the aforementioned Sparkle Car Wash where our story begins with the harsh yet strangely attractive nurse Mirna Dobson (Lane - but not the one who wrote Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two and blogs about food obviously) who, after a hard day wiping old peoples arse and cleaning sick off walls has decided that her grimy but reliable Lincoln Mark VII LSC needs a good clean, so to this end pays the $3.60 for a drive thru (car) shampoo.

Unfortunately she never lives to see the sparkle of the by now spotless bonnet as halfway thru' the wash cycle a masked mentalist brandishing an axe appears from behind the giant brushes and hacks her to death.

"I'm sorry I have my woman's period." (can we still say that?)

After that wee bit of bloodshed it's time to start up the plot good and proper so we're quickly introduced to the human pipe-cleaner Gerald RR Martin (Oscar winning Coen Brothers film and star of Freeze and Future-Kill Barton Faulks, looking for all the world like Mark Hamill drawn from memory) - a geeky obsessed with computers who has recently moved to town and who lives in a huge potting shed owned by a beardy old bloke named Brock (Modlin, from loads of stuff including The Story of O 2 and Rosemary's Baby).

Reading this back I've realised that I'm giving these characters way more background than writers Joaquín Amichatis, Javier Elorrieta, José Frade and Pablo de Aldebaránever (yes, it took fucking four of them to write this) did but that's lock-down for you.

Anyway when not spending his time 'online surfing the interwebs' Gerald works alongside professional stud-muffin Richard Simmons (Mosely from such varied fayre as Quantum Leap, The Jigsaw Murders, What's Love Got to Do with It and Melrose Place as well as your Auntie Jean's bed) in his extermination business.

And it's whilst on the way to an extermination job at a local tavern (which it must be said appears to be made of matchsticks) that we find out a wee bit more in regards to everyone's character and motivation as well as discover the huge swathe of latent misogyny running thru' the script like Jimmy Savile running thru' a school shower block.
You see it appears that Richard is unhappily married to local businesswoman Laura (US born Eurotrash star Shepard who appeared in everything from Hannah, Queen of the Vampires to Slugs via the Terence Hill/Bud Spencer classic Watch Out We're Mad) who he admits to only marrying for her money because "She's way too old for anything else!" (the actress was 43 at the time) and whom he hates because she has male friends she does business with. Obviously - he surmises that because of this his habit of sticking his cock into anything female that moves - or doesn't move fast enough - is also her fault.

Because women.

"Is it in yet?"

And with that the pair arrive at the tavern where the owner has reported a bad smell (that surprisingly isn't related to Richard's attitude) in the basement.

A basement that scarily for viewers in The Scotland has a Tennent's Lager poster on the wall.

Can I can't?


Poking about in the dark our delightful duo soon come across (not in that way tho' with Richard's attitude to women I wouldn't be surprised) the rotting corpse of a missing barmaid named Mary West, whose body has been jammed into a cupboard alongside an old copy of Razzle and some old crisp packets.

Obviously the barman phones the local police who decide it'd be easier to say she killed herself before hiding in the cupboard and leave it at that.

She is only a girl after all.

Deciding that a beer or two is in order to calm their nerves after such a gruesome discovery, Richard and Gerald head over to the local lakefront bar where not only is Laura out fishing with her business buddy Christopher (genre God Taylor - seriously his CV is cinematic gold - Exorcismo, The Ghost Galleon, Dr. Jekyll vs. The Werewolf, Female Vampire, Marquis de Sade's 'Philosophy in the Boudoir' and the all time classic The Vampires Night Orgy among others) but Susan (Blackburn, best known for her stand out role as the Concession Girl in Anguish), the only barmaid in town that Richard hasn't fucked yet, is starting her afternoon shift.

Leaving Richard to rub his knees violently as Susan bends into the car to hand him his drink Gerald decides to head to the lounge for a few shots on the bars video game machine because if you remember he's a geek and this was the fashion.

Well, it was about 5 years previously but there you go.

That's not a joystick and she's not a real welder.

His high scoring prowess is soon spotted by the bars owner, the button-nosed Lillian (Lane in her only film role) and the pair soon bond over their mutual love of all things computer-based culminating in Gerald offering Lillian his old computer so that they can 'connect' online too.

Which is nice but let's be honest we're here for the killings and we don't have to wait long as, later that night after a few drinks and lewd suggestions in (another) local bar the town beautician cum prostitute Rita Miller Exterminators of The Year 3000 'star' Moro) is brutally murdered while walking along the railroad tracks.

This time the police are actually slightly concerned (well concerned enough to involve folk dressed like extras from a Thomas The Tank Engine fan film) but only because it means that their wives will start being suspicious that all the men are now staying in, even when they interview one of her main clients - the hammer carrying handyman Beardy Pete he's painted as the true victim and Rita as the evil seductress extorting money from the weak willed menfolk.

Seriously the film is less of a throwback to a bygone, more sexist era and more of a manifesto of mad misogyny that would do Trump proud.

And no-one, I mean no-one wears a bra.

It's like they were banned on set.

"Oh no!" said Thomas, "Sir Topham Hat's wife is a dirty whore!"

As all these bad murders continue so does Gerald and Lillian's burgeoning, stone wash clad romance, tho' Lillian is a wee bit concerned that Gerald's computer contains a list of the women killed so far but luckily he explains that he just likes collecting data for a laugh.

So that's OK then.

With a fairly short running time and more murders to fit in we've soon jumped forward to night-time where during a terrible storm another woman is attacked and killed by the mysterious mentalist.

Luckily tho' to differentiate this one from all the others it features some pigs in a barn.

And with that out of the way we can get back to the more important plotline regarding Richard's attempts to shag Susan on a boat.

Well we never know if he does or not as just as the pair start getting frisky the severed head of another victim bobs up in the water next to them resulting inscreams from Susan and many manly stares from Richard.

Well either that or he's holding in a really big shit.

Your mum looks nice tonight.

Realizing that they've killed a woman off-screen (which frankly just isn't on) it's full scream ahead for the next murder, which this time is of the - sensible shoed - leader of Lillian's church choir, Anna Bixby (Heatherly from Cannibal Apocalypse, where she was treated way better it must be said) who after returning home to find her dog bludgeoned to death is stalked around her house for a bit in the hope of creating some (any?) tension before having her fingers cut off and finally being hit repeatedly with a foam axe.

And if that wasn't enough the killer also trashes her fishtank.


All this murder isn't getting in the way of Lillian and Gerald's ever growing romance tho' (I mean it's only women getting killed, not real people after all) and the couple are wiling away the afternoon playing on a kids swing.

As grown adults are known to do obviously.

The to and fro motion has a strange effect on Lillian tho' who suddenly starts screaming "Charlie! Charlie!" before storming off in a huff.

Giving chase Gerald soon catches up with her and begs her to explain what's going on, turns out that she's just discovered that her cousin - the aforementioned - well screamed Charlie - has been recently released from a mental hospital following a head injury he received as a child when Lillian violently pushed him off a swing.

No, really.


But that's not all, as Lillian suspects that it is in fact Charlie who is responsible for the killings.

Because reasons.

With the girlie hysterics over and done with the pair head back to Gerald's shed for a Cuppasoup and some crisps.

And maybe even a scotch egg if there are any in the fridge.

As the pair sit scoffing Lillian asks Gerald if she can use his computer to look up plastering course at the University of Portland as she's decided she no longer wants to be a pipe fitter, Gerald reckons being married to a plasterer would be pretty cool and leaves her to it as he goes to make some coffee.

Little does he realize tho' Lillian is actually looking up the names of local psychiatrists dealing with swing-based head trauma.

To be honest, reading this back it makes even less sense than when I watched it, which is pretty worrying.

Boris Johnson farted....and it smelled of egg. And shame.

With the climax lurching drunkenly into view it's time to go back to Laura and her 'friend' Christopher - partly because that subplot seems to have been forgotten about in the middle of all this woman hating but mostly because they're paying Jack Taylor as shed-load of cash for doing absolutely fuck all.

He is a legitimate actor you know.

Except get more and more drunk that is as poor Laura complains that her investments have gone wrong and she's now bankrupt.

Morally and monetarily if this film is anything to go by.

The pair leave the bar and Laura offers Christopher a run home but just as you think he's going to pull some smooth, sexy moves he actually pulls a dog blanket up from the floor and falls asleep before letting out a fart so noxious  that she crashes into a tree.

Stumbling into the woods to look for help she soon gets bored and returns to the car only to find Christopher's body gone and the mad axe murderer sitting in his place, she runs screaming, the killer runs after her, the cameraman tries to track them both in the dark and eventually the killer catches up with her and she dies.

Don't get too upset tho' remember she was old and her hubby only married her for her money so now she's skint it's probably for the best.

Or so the film would have us think.

I mean the next morning, Richard angrily turns up at Gerald's complaining not that Laura is missing but that the money out of their bank account is missing and when her body is found you can tell that all he wants is to search it for loose change.

And you're sure that in this script the police would let him.

Interestingly as soon as Christopher's body is discovered everything changes and the local police suddenly decide that there's a killer on the loose that must be found.

Hang on, I know I said that there was a (very) thinly veiled streak of misogyny  running thru' the movie but I may be mistaken, maybe they're just all gagging for a prime piece of man-ass and the ladies were in the way?

Whichever it is the police find a badge from the Lillian's dads bar on Christopher's lapel so decide to head over there as soon as enough time has passed for Lillian to hear noises in the bar as she's home alone.

Taxi for Castlemilk.

Upon investigating the aforementioned noise, she is surprised to find - a really sweaty - Gerald skulking about behind the bins.

Terrified for her life - and no doubt for her career -  Lillian angrily accuses him of actually being her cousin Charlie, who has return to extract his revenge for the terrible swinging incident.

Moving slowly toward her Gerald begins to explain that after researching her background on his computer (as you do) he has discovered that Charlie is actually a figment of Lillian's imagination - it was actually her that fell off the swing and banged her head causing a spate of mentalism that required her to be hospitalized.

No really.

But if that wasn't enough it turns out that each of the victims were either hospital employees involved with Lillian's recovery or women who had attempted to shag her dad.

The new Erasure video looks a bit shit.

Being female and mental (or is it just female?) Lillian attempts to kill Gerald with a handy axe before running into the carpark with Gerald in hot pursuit shouting "I love you Lillian!" just as the police turn up.

Seeing Lillian jiggling and crying and Gerald not jiggling and sweating they decide to shoot him dead.

Just because that's how apprehending folk works in America obviously.

As the police secure the crime scene, the sheriff consoles Lillian with a big hug not noticing her "I'm a bit mad me!" smile to camera....

It has to be said that by far the most terrifying and disturbing thing about Edge of the Axe is that it was directed by José Ramón Larraz, the masterful Spanish film maker behind such classics as the fang-tastically erotic lesbian vampire cum National Trust camping advertisement that is Vampyres thru' to the equestrian-bothering The Coming of Sin (which still has one of the scariest film posters of all time) and the pyscho-sexual scare-fest Symptoms - all of which  tended to feature acts of startling - and disturbing - sexuality and wanton acts of violence set against an idyllic backdrop of everyday British (or in the case of The Coming of Sin) or Spanish life.

So fuck knows what he was thinking when he decided to direct this.

His usual interesting take on the power of female sexuality is replaced by basic unreserved misogyny, the flirty and confident (and sometimes uncomfortably damaged) females of his previous films are replaced with denim clad, bra-less stereotypes of whores, harridans and faceless bimbos whereas the men strut around with permanent erections and too tight jeans and are shown to be straight up bullies and sex beasts unlike the pitiful testosterone-fueled caricatures of his other work - spending the whole film as they do fucking, flirting and complaining their way thru' a plot so threadbare as to almost disappear in a puff of in-consequence long before the frankly ludicrous reveal.

And it's the cheap laziness of everything on show that, if anything, is what saves it from being just downright offensive.

I mean it took hours to even remember anything of consequence that happened in it - and I'd taken notes. 

Anulka Dziubinska and Marianne Morris - not in this film.

Put it this way, when the most memorable bit of a slasher movie is the use of a wide-angled fish-eye lens during a funeral service (for no other reason it seems than to show up the pores on Jack Taylor's nose) then you know you're in trouble.

It's almost like he sobered up at this point just long enough to remember what he was doing then quickly fell back into a coma whilst leaning on the camera enough to point it vaguely in the direction of the actors.

And I use the term 'actors' loosely.

I mean come on they even pronounce Icarus incorrectly.

Grimmer than your dad's post-divorce dating history and flimsier than your aunties baby-doll nightie she wears when you visit Edge of The Axe is at least fairly short.

Which is a blessing if I'm honest.


Spartan said...

Larraz's Vampyres is probably my fave vampire erotica film out there. Don't suppose you have a review of that, I could read?

Ashton Lamont said...

I love that movie too but never gotten round to reviewing it! - Will get on it ASAP!