If my faithful TV was a fancy nightclub and I was its bouncer, I swear I’d never card an eighties slasher movie. I’d let them ALL in with a wink and a nod even if they were visibly drunk and not wearing shoes. EDGE OF THE AXE (1988) is just such a hard to reject eighties slasher movie (although I hesitate to call it a slasher movie due to the fact that nobody gets slashed- they’re too busy getting chopped and hacked — and rather viciously I might add– to pieces). This flick is indeed partially goofy but that doesn’t curb its potent violent streak one iota. Directed by our old pal JOSE RAMON LARRAZ (he who gifted us with THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED, VAMPYRES and DEADLY MANOR among others), EDGE OF THE AXE relays the standard tale of two computer obsessed nerds who fall in love investigating a barrage of axe murders mostly aimed at the psychiatric community. There are oddball characters falling out of the woodwork and every single one of them seems like a viable suspect. I don’t suggest trying to decipher any possible clues in this random mystery, just sit back and enjoy the woodsy scenery, the instantly outdated technology, and the eerie omnipresence of orange SUNKIST soda cans.
EDGE OF THE AXE acts a lot like fellow Spanish-American co-production PIECES (1982). Maybe something was lost in the translation while these films were being made but they both end up being lovably quirky, oddly histrionic, and ultimately effectively brutal. EDGE’s white-faced killer is pretty darn scary at times and I’ll also say alarmingly enthusiastic. Not only does this flick not shy away from gory kills it also doesn’t flinch when revealing the aftermath (there’s at least one applause-worthy severed head found floating in the lake). As creepy as the white-masked murderer may be, he’s got nothing on the free-floating computer voice that allows the two main characters to communicate with each other. It’s the strangest thing; every time something is typed onto a computer screen, it is read aloud by a voiceover that I’m guessing is supposed to sound robotic but sounds bored instead. It’s off-putting and clumsily done but of course, endearing as well. I’m unsure but it’s possible that this movie invented texting.
EDGE OF THE AXE is available thanks to the fine folks at ARROW who consistently knock it out of the park in regards to releasing idiosyncratic obscurities ripe for wider notoriety. The Blu-Ray’s got some lovely new cover art by Justin Osbourne, liner notes by our beloved chum Amanda Reyes and a commentary by the always brilliant, Hysteria Continues. As someone who has only seen the movie on VHS, I gotta say the 2k restoration looks amazing. It’s such a handsome, generous package overall that I’m going to overlook the fact that this movie shamelessly kills a doggie and an innocent pig for no reason. For all its sloppy faults it can’t help being a delicious horror hoagie stuffed with a to-die-for synth score, old school gore, a masked killer, buckets of red herrings, romantic meet-cutes that involve changing light bulbs, dead bodies crammed in attics, ancient computer espionage, weird dubbing, and random Dudley Do-Right sightings. It takes a long route to get nowhere but its vivid murders scenes are worth the ride alone and really, you should have vowed to buy this movie at any cost as soon as I compared it to PIECES.