When not hacking up chickens, Lisa likes to hack up gangsters.
Leslie Lee plays Lisa: A young woman who lives on a farm in the middle
of nowhere. She spends most of her days caring for her invalid
grandfather. Living out by Green Acres, hobbies are few and far between;
Lisa seems to enjoy killing chickens, but has a bad habit of leaving
headless fowl in the sink for days on end. Needless to say, she’s a
bit off her rocker.
Jack Canon plays Steele: The
leader of a trio of thugs who inadvertently kill (they merely meant to
pound him a little) a former associate named Aubrey. After the
unintentional homicide, Steele and his cronies seek refuge at the
aforementioned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Steele also harbors a
deep hatred for bad fruit.
Frederick R. Friedel plays Billy:
One of Steele’s thugs. Billy feels guilty about the murder of Aubrey,
and feels even guiltier still after the gang takes over Lisa’s
farmhouse. He’s the crook with a heart.
Ray Green plays Lomax: Yet another
thug. Lomax is just as ruthless as Steele, but unfortunately, not as
bright. After Axe Green went on to do The Natural History of
Parking Lots. You think I’m joking?
Frank Jones plays Aubrey: The poor slob that is
accidentally killed by Steele and the gang (not to be confused with Kool
and the Gang). Even when it isn’t fatal, having a cigar shoved down
your throat is rarely pleasant. We’re never given a reason as to why
Aubrey was targeted by Steele - or who Aubrey is, for that matter –
but in retrospect, I guess it really doesn’t matter.
Douglas Powers plays Lisa’s grandfather: A
disabled WWII veteran who nowadays merely sits around the house, watches
television, and is spoon-fed by his granddaughter.
back when I was a kid, my first exposure to the art form known as
b-movies was a show on a local cable-access channel called Thriller
Double Feature. As the title implied, the show consisted of two
back-to-back horror films (with the occasional sci-fi thrown in for good
measure). Said horror films were usually of the ridiculously low-budget
variety - such not ready for primetime fare as: The Rats Are
Coming, The Werewolves Are Here, Shriek of the Mutilated*,
and Zombie Lake. And because of Thriller Double Feature,
these grainy, poorly-lit, basement-bargain productions became somewhat
of an obsession. Sure, I love Halloween just as much as the next
dork, but there is a special place in my cold, black heart for those
relatively unknown gems.
ran only on Saturday, and was usually a highlight (if not the
highlight) of my weekend. Like the films themselves, the show’s
production was fairly cheap: The opening titles were goofy – several
movie clips strewn together with Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”
playing in the background (I have strong doubts about that song being
public domain); cheesy computer graphics comprised the opening titles.
And though these monetarily-challenged production values can easily be
viewed as detrimental, ironically, they were the exact reasons why I
found the program so endearing. Despite its miniscule budget, you could
tell that the operation was a labor of love – not unlike Axe.
(See? Didn’t think I was coming to a point anytime soon, now did you?)
was filmed almost entirely in a single house, and featured actors who,
for the most part, played in this film alone. A majority of the special
effects could probably be found in most kitchen cupboards. Because of
this, Axe falls easily into the aforementioned “labor of
love” category; Despite its
shortcomings, director Friedel somehow manages to pull off an effective
mood piece. Three depraved murderers on the lam seek refuge in an
isolated farmhouse – the sole inhabitants being a pretty, young girl
(who is oddly quiet) and her invalid grandfather. An intriguing (albeit
predictable) formula, supported by strong performances from the cast in
general (specifically, Ray Green and Frank Jones). This being her first
and last feature, Leslie Lee proves fairly convincing as the naïve farm girl
who’s just a bit nutty.
foundation of Axe, however, is the cinematography – or lack
thereof, if you will. Cheaply shot and dark is usually a problem, but in
the rare case when it’s done right* (like The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, for instance), it can add a little ambience to the
proceedings. Axe has a rustic look that helps adhere a somber
tone to the action. Considering the story’s slow pace, said tone
proved to be a fine fit.
let me stress that Axe is not for everybody – few films are,
save perhaps Jungle Hell. Axe is seriously flawed, but for
some odd reason, I kinda liked it. But I also like The Jackson’s
“Victory” album, so what does that tell you?
The fruit fight!
The thrilling consumption of raw eggs!
Feeling rather saucy, Lomax attempts to have his way with Lisa one
evening while everyone's asleep. He makes his move, she screams, they
fight, she stabs him in the back of the neck, he screams, he dies, she
drags his big carcass down the hall, into the bathroom, then chucks said
cadaver into the tub. Finally, she hacks up the corpse with an ax then
hides the pieces – all the while, not a soul hears them!
Artsy chicken beheadings!
Steele’s insatiable fascination with his cuticles!
out a clip from this film, along with many others, here!
-- Copyright © 2001 by J. Bannerman