Saturday, June 11, 2011

EDGE OF THE AXE (1988) - an exterminator, an axe murderer, a computer nerd, the women that love them, and the tangled web of murder between them

The Michael Myers retread in Edge of the Axe starts things off with a unique approach to axing innocent victims. In broad daylight, on a busy street, he saunters into a car wash and plants his axe through a lady’s windshield while she drives through the fucking car wash. As absurd as this might seem, it does look pretty damn cool, especially in slow-mo. On second thought, it sorta seems logical, since those suds and big brushes can take care of a lot of evidence. Not to mention, in a car wash, no one can hear you scream. Sort of like space.

Soon after, some chick finds the head of a pig in her bed. I guess the killer is responsible, possibly intending it to be a warning to members of the pork patrol, trying to dissuade them from investigating any local car wash murders. Either that, or it’s some sort of obtuse Godfather reference.

This sets the stage, as it were, but the story is really about two schmucks, one a computer nerd, the other an exterminator. The setting is apparently somewhere in rural California, and you get quite a good feel for the locale, what with the many driving shots of the town. The cynics might complain these shots are there to pad the run time, but it's their own faults they can't comprehend the simple pleasures of staring at redwood trees for five minutes.

Interest is piqued when the exterminator investigates a smell in a bar and finds a corpse. They are hardly concerned, it would seem, with the dead body and the news of the car wash murder, and they just giggle their way over to another bar, where they drink up a storm with two pretty hot chicks (you only live once I guess, and anybody can die at any time, so relax a little). The nerd even accepts a wager from one of the girls over a game of “Alien”, which, surprisingly, is a bit of an aphrodisiac. I think I’ve finally found a solution to my problems with women…oh wait, it looks like they invented it for the movie. Goddamnit.

The nerd’s new girl is truly a godsend. She’s beautiful, kicks ass at video games, and likes nothing but to spend all day with the nerd while he explains his computers to her. However, even I am admittedly impressed with what this guy is towing. It’s circa 1986, and dude has got both a rudimentary internet and an archaic form of e-mail, and looks to have developed an early form of artificial intelligence. I was still dicking around on my Commodore 64 at the time. Not only that, all of this stuff helps him get laid. Asshole.

So, a bar floozy also gets the axe (her being a slut is probably irrelevant; I just like typng the word “floozy”), and the exterminator hears about it but is still not overly concerned. He's too busy spending a carefree afternoon on the lake, in a speed boat with his hot new girlfriend (despite the fact that he’s married to an annoying hag). The lady that found the pig head is the next to get the axe, and I’m reminded of the earlier scene where her husband told the cop about the severed pork noggin, and the piggy (the one with his head intact) told him that there was nothing they could do about it. You’d think the pork officer would want vengeance for his fellow swine, but alas, no. Apparently, he is only out to protect and serve his own donut shoveling ass.

The killer's connection to the two “heroes” is finally cemented when the exterminator’s wife is murdered, but this hypocrite of a husband just thinks she ran off with another dude. In the meantime, the final girl (the nerd’s new chick) spends a lot of time in church and on the nerd’s magical interweb, researching the case of the axe killer and sending instant messages to her new beau. She is key, as you might imagine, to the confusing twist ending.

The director is Jose Ramon Larraz, one of the pseudo masters of Spanish horror, and he injects some Argento-esque style into the murders to separate the film from its otherwise regional slasher trash roots. It’s sort of like taking a trip to northern California with a couple of schmucks, to one of these Redwood preserve towns, and occasionally a cut-rate giallo breaks out.

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