There's a killer in a small community who wears a mask and is chopping up women with an axe, and the sheriff seems oblivious to the threat despite the concerns of the locals. This leaves the computer whiz Gerald, who just arrived in town along with local girl his romancing Lillian to figure out the identity of the killer.
As slashers go, Spanish director José Ramón Larraz's (Vampyres, Black Candles) 'Edge of the Axe' is a modest (and typical) low-budget throwback to the sub-genre. Maybe not as daring and spirited as it could have been with the work that's behind this director, but it's gloomy factor is detectable. The main problem here was that it would switch on and off. Meaning one minute it would have you grip (especially when it was focusing on the killer stalking their victims), but then suddenly it would release its firm hold (when it decided to meander on nowhere plot stoppages and awkward exchanges). Credit due, as it tries to develop its characters in some shape and promote red herrings, but few aggravations arose namely in the close-minded and uninterested attitude of the sheriff. Sure it's set in a small town, and the officers wouldn't have experienced anything quite like it, but the manner they went about things were tritely unconvincing.
Larraz's direction is ably pulled off (despite sluggish passages) with a certain flourishing style (gliding camera-work) making the attack scenes viciously intense (although not particularly gory) and bleeding out a creepy atmosphere within a cowering country town in fear. The images of the brutal killer with their shiny axe and white plastered mask are an unnerving sight, but the revelation and story surrounding the masked murderer becomes rather daft and low-brow. I don't think it's as predictable, because I didn't really pick up on any clues that would suggest so but in the end it's too convenient and the sudden conclusion you see coming. There are some strange country music inclusions too, but the score has some ominous moments. The performances range from fair (Christina Marie Lane) to reasonably static (Barton Faulks). Patty Shepard shows up too.
Effective when it wants to be brutal, but very casual otherwise. An unusual, if loose slasher enterprise.
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