You know you’re in for a good time when you pop in a slasher film that opens with a slow-mo killing in the middle of a car wash in broad daylight…
…That’s how Edge of the Axe (1988), beautifully restored by Arrow Video and now available for all to see, begins. Directed by Jose Ramon Larraz (Deadly Manor) and written by Joaquin Amichatis, Javier Elorrieta and Jose Frade, Edge of the Axe is a simple little slasher that follows (as the synopsis describes), “two young computer-obsessed” adults, Gerald (Barton Faulks) and Lillian (Christina Marie-Lane), who attempt to solve a string of axe murders in a small town.
Now, back to that car wash scene. Edge of the Axe opens with a catchy synth score by Javier Elorrieta that slashes through the screen and bleeds the 80s, a decade when things were simpler. A time when “plot” was sometimes an alien word. A time when “computer-obssessed” meant two scenes with kids in a computer chat. A time when it didn’t matter if it was logical for an axe murderer to dispatch a woman IN HER CAR while getting her car washed during the middle of the day because it looked cool.
My fiends, those were the days. And not only do scenes like this in Edge of the Axe look cool, but Arrow’s restoration looks spectacular.
The blood on screen is so red and glossy, it practically screams like the victims it came from. Time and time again, Faulk comments during one of the new commentaries on the disc that the film looks the best he’s ever seen it, and it does. If not for the dated hairstyles and gag-inducing clothing, you’d practically swear Edge of the Axe was a new movie. Edge of the Axe looks that SHARP. Yes, I rolled my own eyes at that pun, but it’s true!
If you’ve never seen the film itself, Edge of the Axe is a slice of slasher camp that brings back memories of staying up late watching horror hosts like Joe Bob Briggs wax philosophically on the trashiest of horror flicks. More mindless than a Friday the 13th film, Edge of the Axe sees Gerald hanging out with girlfriend Lillian. Between melodramatic scenes with the two that feel a step away from breaking into soft-core porn, an axe murderer slices and dices people in town, some of whom they know, with chops that tap the characters rather than break the skin. But hey, there’s still blood splashed about, so that’s fine!
The killer themselves will have fans of classic slashers in a hysterical riot, looking like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees stepped into a telepod together and came out as the bastardized, papier-mache wearing monstrosity that appears before you. And it’s great. Edge of the Axe isn’t aiming for originality, but rather, it comes on the edge of the 80s, attempting to invoke the silly fun of slashers in that decade, and it does so wonderfully.
The kills are goofy and entertaining. Characters often glean with an impossible amount of sweat. Bloody pig heads are found in bed ala The Godfather. The dialogue is so corny it consistently gets an unintended laugh. And hardly a thing makes much sense. Not to mention, there is a twist that, once you see it, you’ll ask yourself how this one isn’t talked more about in horror circles for a damn good reason.
My only complaint is the brutal shot of a dead dog, which doesn’t many anyone happy. A moment of silence for Fido…
Edge of the Axe isn’t a “good” movie, but it’s far from boring. Larraz and his crew might have been ripping off various slashers without injecting much of anything unique, but the love for the genre and wanting to do something enjoyable for slasher fans is there, and in that, they succeed.
As for the special features, Arrow killed it.
Arrow’s Edge of the Axe disc doesn’t provide a bloody fountain of extras, but what’s there is mostly excellent. Aside from a brand new 2K restoration of the original camera negative, the disc comes with two new commentaries. One features a podcast called The Hysteria Continues, an informative group that has a lot of passion for the film, but is undercut by poor audio and a host that seems lost at times. Normally that might bother me, but the second commentary more than makes up for this. Featuring actor Barton Faulks and one of his ex-students, Faulk’s commentary is full of warmth, behind the scenes knowledge, and an utter joy at watching his film all these years later. Faulk constantly engages with what’s on screen, remembering the shoot with the sort of glee we get when we look back on our favorite Christmas mornings.
Gerald’s Game, an interview with Faulk, gives us a face for the now much older actor as he discusses the experience of shooting the film and the career that followed, and the man is a joy. I could listen to him talk about this film for hours with his grandfatherly excitement looking at the good olde days, but sadly, we only get two hours worth between Gerald’s Game and the commentary.
Hell, even the image gallery is worth perusing for a while, displaying a ton of attention-grabbing Spanish one-sheets (the film was filmed in Spain) and original VHS artwork.
Fans of Edge of the Axe will scream with delight at the crisp look of the restoration and extras, and newcomers will find something that is nostalgic and fun with an unforgettable ending that will shock them. Slasher fans, slice into this disc.
Edge of the Axe is now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
Full Blu-ray Specs:
By Matt Konopka