Saturday, October 17, 2015

Axe (1974)



Barely qualifying as a feature film given its 65-minute running time, this logic-impaired horror picture was originally titled Lisa, Lisa and then slapped with the lurid moniker Axe during reissues. Rest assured that an axe does indeed get utilized during one of the film’s myriad murder scenes, so at least writer-director Frederick R. Friedel delivers on that level. On other levels, not so much. The behavior of the characters is often nonsensical, and the basic premise—a captive proves more dangerous than her captors—is familiar. Furthermore, even though the tone is consistently menacing and there’s a measure of artistry to some of the editing and photography, the combination of leaden pacing and a somnambulistic leading performance keeps the picture from building a head of steam. Worse, a solid 20 minutes of the very short running time are wasted on drab filler scenes. In any event, the movie opens violently, with a trio of crooks led by the cold-blooded Lomax (Ray Green) beating a man to death and causing the victim’s male lover to jump out a high-rise window rather than face such abuse. To avoid capture, the thugs leave the city for the countryside. Then Friedel cuts to a remote house where young adult Lisa (Leslie Lee) lives with her invalid grandfather. Lisa is a space case who seems to take special pleasure in slaughtering chickens. Therefore, once Lomax and his cronies arrive at Lisa’s house and demand lodging at gunpoint, the audience knows it’s just a matter of time before Lisa gets homicidal. This being a ’70s movie somewhat in the grindhouse mode, naturally the trigger for Lisa’s rampage is an attempted rape, and naturally the scenes depicting Lisa’s murder spree are filled with copious amounts of gore. To his credit, Friedel tries to give his troubled protagonist a few emotional shadings, so at one point she considers attempting suicide rather than inflicting violence on others. However, these weak attempts at narrative flourishes are for naught, because Friedel’s storytelling is as amateurish as the leading lady’s acting.

Axe: LAME

1 comment:

Gerald Martin said...

There is nevertheless a very unnerving scene early in the movie where the two thugs menace a helpless convenience store clerk.