Edge of the Axe – Arrow’s latest remastered slasher rarity – might well just have it when it comes to ‘best box-art’ award, however, despite boasting some pretty decent cast and crew talent sadly ‘Edge of the Axe’ isn’t quite ‘Edge of your Seat’ stuff, and frankly was a bit of a chore to get through.
That said, it’s got to be one of the most thoughtfully crafted slashers on the market; so, this review is going to end up sounding a little schizophrenic.
The plot follows the various key characters in the mountain community of Paddock County as they hope to fend off and unmask an axe wielding psychopath. The film predominately follows two main characters, Gerald Martin – a computer enthusiast, and his mate Richard, a focus which extends to their loved ones as they somehow begin to realise their unwitting connection to the killer’s identity.
Released right at the end of the 80s slasher films weren’t exactly in short supply, and whilst this movie certainly ticks all the boxes including remote, isolated community, gorgeous outdoor vistas, a fresh supply of young(ish) inhabitants to pick off and of course, a masked killer armed with a big axe, somehow this movie manages to get through all the ingredients into the mix and come up with a film which sidesteps the typical ‘lack of characterisation’ of which slasher movies are often criticised for, but at the expense of some decent slashing.
Its true that these characters, all of whom in parts have some decent subplots, are ordinary people you can route for, and indeed to an extent you do give somewhat of a shit when it seems like it may be their time to bite it, but all in all, your patience only lasts for so long.
The main issue, if you’ve not guessed it already, is the distinct lack of violence.
I’ve watched quite a few bloodless slashers, and ones which have a fair amount of blood and gore but a low body count, but in those cases, the visceral elements are often replaced by some other ‘hook’ – or they are just plain shit. In the case of ‘Edge of the Axe’ I’m somewhat bewildered as to why there’s a real lack of on-screen deaths as the production value, script and acting is well above average; how do you get all that right (something which eludes dozens of other flicks in the genre) and then balls up the staple fayre?
Regardless, it isn’t there, and the film suffers for it.
There are some decent stalk/slash elements, and in many ways the who-dunnit plot and masked/leather gloved killer seems to see the film fancying itself as a US giallo type, indeed, the ending is actually pretty cool – it makes fuck all sense – but it’s a nice go at throwing in a legitimate twist to at least see the credits roll on a high.
But when it comes down to what people actually watch slashers to see – nothing.
There’s some blood here and there, a pigs head left in someone’s bed, the most brutal slaying in the film sees someone get their fingers cut off, but beyond that there’s not a lot to justify even the 15 certificate – which in itself should have been a warning to me.
Overall, there’s not that much to talk about. As a film, it’s probably one of the better produced slashers, and in terms of set pieces, it borrows from the best, but as a piece of entertainment, I would struggle to really recommend it. That said, its always cool to watch something truly obscure from that time period, and Arrow have done a fantastic job of the transfer, albeit with some slightly muffled audio.
Director Larraz says this film is his worst one; he’s probably right.
That said, I’m yet to see ‘Deadly Manor’.