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Ovidio G. Assonitis
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A group of three criminals on the run from the law, go about terrorizing the local townsfolk of a small community, before descending on an isolated farm which is home to a young girl named Lisa and her paralyzed grandfather. After being sexually assaulted by two of the gangsters, she retaliates using an axe and a razor blade. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Very low budget 70's exploitation film with problems but with plus points too
Axe is yet another very low budget exploitation flick that would be very obscure today was it not for the fact that it gained lasting notoriety as one of the infamous video nasties. These were of course films deemed criminally obscene by the British authorities back in the early 80's as a consequence of the unregulated home video boom. Furthermore, Axe was one of the 39 titles that remained on the list to the very end and so is regarded by purists as one of the 'true' video nasties. Having just seen it, it doesn't really warrant such a label as, while it has its moments, it's hardly all that shocking even compared with many other similar films from the time. It does appear to have taken a lot of influence from another more notorious video nasty, namely Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left (1972). The story-line has some pretty obvious similarities. Three criminals go on the run after killing two men and wind up at a remote house where an unstable young woman called Lisa lives with her paralyzed grandfather. They subsequently terrorise these people but the gangsters are in for a shock when Lisa enacts vicious revenge on them.
I got the feeling when watching this one that its fashions implied that it might have been made in the early 70's as opposed to the specified release year of 1977. If this is so, it hardly seems so unlikely as this is an ultra-low budget affair with quite a number of deficiencies about it due to the inexperience of the film-makers and the obvious limitations of the production. It's exactly the kind of movie that could conceivably have sat on a shelf for a while before a distributer picked it up. Whatever the case, it seems to have been released as a film that would make up only part of the bill at the American drive-in circuit. It only clocks in at just over an hour and even the credit sequence is very elongated to extend the run-time (so protracted that I even picked up on the very minor trivia fact that the make-up artist was Worth Keeter the future director of the Pamlea Anderson soft-core classic Snapdragon (1993)). Despite the minimal run-time there is a pretty obvious lack of material and the film has many scenes that seem to just be padding. Little is explained in the film in terms of character motivations or background, things just happen. Aside from the lacking story, it's not in all honesty a very well-directed or edited film either.
Yet despite all this, it does have something. The very low-key and minimalist approach does achieve a certain strange atmosphere and it's also shot reasonably well. The lack of any background or explanations does also inadvertently give the whole endeavour a somewhat enigmatic feel, which kind of works in its favour at least to a certain extent. I suppose it mostly falls under the rape/revenge sub-genre of film, which was quite popular at the time. It isn't really a very graphic example of this type of film though. Although I did find think the nastiest scene was the one where two of the bullies terrorise a nice cashier girl in a convenience store. They stop short of either killing or assaulting her but they humiliate her nevertheless. It was a scene I found very unpleasant to tell you the truth. The subsequent, more typical rape/revenge material was done in ways that was less disturbing oddly enough. Overall, while it's undeniable that this is a film with pacing problems, it does have a lo-fi ambiance that ensures that it's worth a watch, especially if you like 70's exploitation.
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