Almost every true horror fan is aware of the early 80’s list of banned films in the United Kingdom known as the video nasties. Slowly but surely, over the years, the films began to see the light of day, with almost every single one of the original 72 films being readily available on home release today. Thanks to studios like Severin who themselves are huge fans of the golden years of horror, we not only get home releases of the violent films once banned outright, but we get them in amazing Blu-ray packages with tons of extra features. One of the latest nasties to see the HD treatment is Frederick R. Friedel’s Axe.
After committing a murder, three criminals are on the run and looking for a place to hide away. They stop at a local farmhouse where Lisa (Leslie Lee) is living with and taking care of her paralyzed grandfather. The boys overstay their welcome, however, and Lisa takes matters into her own hands, as she disposes of the intruders one by one.
In the same vein as Craven’s The Last House on the Left and similarly Deodato’s The House on the Edge of the Park, Axe is essentially a home invasion/revenge film. It consists of what one would expect from a 1974 film that cost $25,000 to make — low-budget effects, sub-par acting, etc. It is slow-moving and for a rather short film, only running at 67 minutes, it still felt somewhat dragged out. The lack of dialogue from our main protagonist, Lisa, played by Leslie Lee, and her mute paralyzed grandfather did nothing to help move the film along either.
The very tiny cast, which actually includes writer and director Frederick R. Friedel himself, is typical of an independent film from the 70’s with the exception of one performance. Jack Canon who portrays Steele, the leader of the trio on the lam, is really the only actor who puts on a respectable performance. He was perfect to be the lead antagonist and I commend Friedel for virtually writing the script around Canon.
By today’s standards, Axe is a very tame horror film. The blood seen splashed around the film is almost assuredly just thick red paint and would be laughable if used in any film these days. Back in 1974, however, I can see how a film of this nature would have been so unnerving. Slit necks and chopped up bodies were not as common as they are now and although most kills are done off-screen, I’m sure audiences were shocked nonetheless.
Severin Films has done a remarkable job breathing new life into this nasty little flick. With tons of extras, including a making-of featurette with cast and crew interviews and tons of tidbits about the behind-the-scenes goings on, this newly restored version of the film is the ultimate edition for any fan. The Blu-ray release also features Friedel’s other film, Kidnapped Coed, the long cut of both films together, which became known as Bloody Brothers, TV and radio spots, a bonus CD of the original film soundtrack, and much more. Be sure to pick up a copy from Severin Films, available now!
I give Axe a rating of 2 straight-edge razors out of 5, but the new beautiful release itself gets a perfect score of 5 straight-edge razors out of 5.