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Edge of the Axe Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

Edge Of The Axe Large

Directed by José Ramón Larraz (as Joseph Braunstein)
Written by Joaquín Amichatis, Javier Elorrieta and José Frade
1988, 91 minutes, Not Rated
Released on January 28th, 2020

Starring:
Barton Faulks as Gerald Martin
Christina Marie Lane as Lillian Nebbs
Page Mosely as Richard Simmons
Fred Holliday as Frank McIntosh
Patty Shepard as Laura Simmons
Alicia Moro as Rita Miller
Jack Taylor as Christopher Caplin

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Review:

The small town of Paddock is normally a peaceful community, but a mysterious axe-wielding maniac wearing a mask and trench coat has the locals on edge. The police try to keep a lid on the crimes, dismissing the deaths as either accidents or suicides – despite all the victims having numerous stab wounds.

Gerald is a mild-mannered computer whiz just trying to get by and do his own thing. He goes to a bar with his friend Richard where they meet the owner’s two attractive daughters, Susan and Lillian. Richard is unhappily married to a wealthy older woman and begins seeing Susan on the side. Gerald and Lillian start a more tempered relationship as friends sharing an interest in technology.

The murders continue with growing frequency and everyone in town is behaving like a suspect. Lillian tells Gerald a story about her cousin, Charlie, recently released from a mental hospital and her fear that he may be the killer. While working on Gerald’s computer, Lillian uncovers a file listing information on all of the victims. Gerald is secretive and a bit of an oddball, but could he be the butcher? Local authority figures remain no closer to solving the case and Lillian begins doing research on her own. She discovers a surprising connection to the killings, one that changes everything and puts her and Gerald’s lives at risk.

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The slasher film was all the rage in the 1980s, featuring countless teens brutally murdered by masked psychopaths while away at camp (Friday the 13th, The Burning) or at a school event (Graduation Day, Prom Night) or even celebrating a festive holiday (Black Christmas, Silent Night, Deadly Night). The subgenre is primarily a North American phenomenon, but there are several European entries worth mentioning, including titles like Pieces (Spain) and The New York Ripper (Italy). By the end of the decade, the subgenre was winding down, but there were still a number of titles that arrived late to the party. Edge of the Axe, directed by José Ramón Larraz (Vampyres), credited here as Joseph Braunstein, is an English-language Spanish production set in the US but shot in Madrid.

Edge of the Axe doesn’t try to break new ground in storytelling despite having three writers. The plot focuses on two young adults flirting with romance while a lot of their neighbors are brutally hacked to death. The killer’s motives aren’t immediately clear, but when later revealed rely heavily on coincidence and are pretty preposterous. The film offers some decent moments of horror of the stalk-and-slash variety and the villain has a distinct look which is striking. The bad guy is played by a number of actors throughout the picture, so viewers cannot get a grasp on physical size, and the plot is filled with suspects and red herrings. When unmasked at the end, the reveal stems from an attempt at surprise, but is unrealistic and despite a dark twist remains implausible.

The film is well directed, beautifully shot and performances are respectable, but the script is overloaded with clichés and settles for copying a formula that was already growing stale. One element of the plot that is kind of interesting is the use of technology. Gerald and Lillian frequently communicate via computer through an early form of instant messaging that may not have been as developed in 1988 as it appears here. The computers in this film are similar to those in other ‘80s movies like Wargames and Jumpin’ Jack Flash. The concept is intriguing but doesn’t explain why they don’t simply pick up a telephone. Overall this is an entertaining effort that benefits from lowered expectations.

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Video and Audio:

Arrow Video scores once again giving the original camera negative a 2K scan and restoration. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and boasting a strong color scheme, the picture looks amazing. Black levels are deep and flesh tones appear natural throughout. Previously available only on VHS, the detail present in this new transfer is unexpected and quite welcome.

The original mono audio recording is offered here in either the original English or dubbed Spanish language tracks courtesy of a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. Dialogue levels are free from any distortion and are always clear and understandable.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

Lead actor Barton Faulks contributes an audio commentary moderated by his drama student Matt Rosenblatt, who walks him through an interesting and revealing discussion about his work on the picture. Faulks shares his memories of the director and tells a number of entertaining stories. Shortly after this movie, he left acting to become a teacher and details some of his later experiences outside the industry.

The second audio commentary is a lively track featuring members of The Hysteria Continues podcast, who examine this picture and its place within the slasher cycle. They talk about this and other Spanish horror productions and how they differ in style from their North American contemporaries. There are notes on the cast and crew and an overview of the director’s filmography and style. Other topics include a critique of the killer’s physical appearance and the use of computers as a way of tracking victims.

Barton Faulks sits down for interview segment Gerald’s Game (11 minutes) in which he reflects on the making of this film and his life outside of acting. There is a lot of overlap in the information from his commentary, but he is a likeable guy who appreciates the interest in the work and hopes people will enjoy it.

In The Actor’s Grind (11 minutes), co-star Page Moseley talks about the great experience he had on this shoot and remains grateful for the opportunity. He shares his memories of shooting in Spain and tells some entertaining production stories. He has nothing but great things to say about the director and his fellow actors and the talented sound crew.

Special make-up effects artist Colin Arther details his work in the featurette The Pain in Spain (8 minutes). He remembers this as a particularly smooth shoot without any problems and talks about designing specific gags, including the killer’s mask.

A still gallery (22 images) features a collection of international lobby cards and poster art and a look at some of the special effects shots.

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Grades:

Movie: Twoandahalfstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Cover
Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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