aka: California Axe Massacre, California Axe Murders, Lisa Lisa, The Axe Murders, The Virgin Slaughter
Director: Frederick R. Friedel
Starring: Leslie Lee, Jack Canon, Ray Green, Frederick R. Friedel, Douglas Powers
Total terror – you’ll be scared to breathe..!
The three gangsters Steele, Billy and Lomax are on the run after beating a man to death. They drive out to the countryside to try to seek out a hiding place that can provide them with some food and shelter until the cops give up trying to find them.
They come across an isolated farm where they find exactly what they want. The farm is ran by a young girl named Lisa, who is also taking care of her paralyzed grandfather. The criminals quickly take charge on the farm and forces Lisa to do whatever they want. They never did expect that Lisa has a few issues herself and that the tables can turn quickly, depending on who is holding the axe.
If you think these newer neo-grindhouse films represent the old Grindhouse movies, then think again. Axe is a perfect example of how a Grindhouse film was back in the late 70’s. It’s cluttered, very low budget and almost amateurish made. Well, I guess the last part is still being kept alive in these newer so-called Grindhouse films.
I didn’t remember much from the film before revisiting it now and I can see why since it is very forgettable. It is remembered a bit due to the fact that it was included as a video nasty for some unknown reason back in the early 80’s. The first thirty minutes show the criminals do what they do for a living, making you question if you have put in a low budget crime film instead of a so-called nasty. It takes around 35-40 minutes before they actually enter the farm and the very low amount of violence start to happen. Thankfully the film doesn’t overstep its welcome completely since it only last for 68 minutes.
What works in this film is that there is some weird atmosphere running once they arrive at the farmhouse. There is something wrong with Lisa, although we are never told why. She looks disconnected from the events that are going on, making you think that she has experienced something way worse than this in her past. Since hardly anything is explained here, the option to fill in whatever disturbing past she might have encountered is totally up to the viewer.
Sadly, pretty much everything else is poorly done. The editing and camerawork are amateurish, the storytelling is off and the characters aren’t fleshed out at all. We know the three guys are supposed to be the villains since they are gangsters, but nothing more. The acting is poor, although I did like Leslie Lee as Lisa since her character is a strange one, intentionally or not.
The strange vibe and Leslie Lee is not enough to save Axe from being a bad movie though and I doubt I will ever revisit it again. Some might find the atmosphere in it to be engaging, but it is just not enough to keep me entertained even during its very low running time. Axe is for Grindhouse fans and video nasty fans only.