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Edge of the Axe (1988)

Arrow Video

Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/28/2020

All Ratings out of



Audio: 1/2

Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/14/2019

In my recent review for Nightmare Beach, I wrote about how foreign directors would often use American locations in order to convince the viewer that the film was taking place in the United States, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.  This occurred a lot in the 1980s, mostly amongst Italians directors, many of whom would wedge in some shots of New York City in order to create an American feel.  Nightmare Beach was an outlier, as it took advantage of Florida locations.  Not to be outdone, a group of Spanish filmmakers loaded up on shots of Northern California and then took everybody back to Spain in order to complete obscure oddity Edge of the Axe.

Gerald Martin (Barton Faulks) has moved to a small, picturesque town to work on his computer project.  (He’s apparently inventing text messaging, but he doesn’t realize this.)  When he’s not slaving over his keyboard, Gerald likes to spend time with his friend, Richard Simmons (Page Mosely), who works as an exterminator, despite the fact that his much older wife (Patty Shepard) is rich.  (Wait a minute, that guy’s name is Richard Simmons?)  Richard takes Gerald to a bar, but insists on getting curb service, while Gerald goes inside and meets Lillian Nebbs (Christina Marie Lane), and the two quickly begin an awkward courtship.  Oh, did I mention that an ax murderer is terrorizing the town?  Killing people seemingly at random, the murders are creating a scandal, but the sheriff insists on treating all of the killings as accidents or suicides.

If you’re like me and thought that the Italians had a monopoly on non-sensical horror movies from the 80s, then this Spanish team has something to prove, as Edge of the Axe is one nutty affair.  Screenwriters Joaquín Amichatis & Javier Elorrieta & José Frade have certainly put their heads together to create a script which strives to be a giallo.  But instead of taking place in a mysterious European city, the action is happening in sunny California.  They have also gone overboard in providing suspects as there are a ton of characters in this movie.  Seemingly every scene introducing someone new.  Of course, in true Euro-horror fashion, none of these characters are fleshed-out, but you’ve got to hand it to the movie, there sure are a lot of them.  The interactions of the characters and some of the more salacious parts of the story reminded me somewhat of Bava’s A Bay of Blood.  And, Director José Ramón Larraz has taken advantage of the various locales to give the movie a nice look.  For a horror movie, there are plenty of shots which take placed outside in the daylight. 

All of this sounds pretty good, but when you actually begin to examine Edge of the Axe, you realize that the movie is a confused mess.  Right off of the bat, even the most forgiving viewer will notice that in the first 30 minutes of the movie, three characters that we don’t know get killed.  These people literally die in the scene in which they are introduced, so not only do we not know what is happening, we have absolutely no connection to these characters.  Things improve somewhat in the second half of the movie, but the multiple murders continue to carry little dramatic weight.  The murders themselves are relatively tame and don’t offer much gore.  (This might get a PG-13 if released today.)  The Blu-ray Disc slipcase boasts “It Takes A Lot of Guts to Make a Movie Like This.”  Not really.  The ending offers a twist which is somewhat interesting, but it comes from so far out in left field that it’s very difficult to swallow.  (And it makes you realize that none of the murders made any sense.)

I was a constant visitor to video stores in the 80s and I knew the horror section very well.  So, kudos to Arrow Video for releasing scary movies from the era that I’ve never heard of.  These obscure relics are often interesting, but after viewing them, we get an idea as to why they are obscure.  Edge of the Axe is another one of those European horror movies which will delight fans of the genre and baffle anyone who is not familiar with the sub-genre.  If nothing else, the movie must be seen for the scene where Gerald and Lillian keep mis-pronouncing Icarus and which ends with Lillian uttering the least-sexy seduction line of all time.

Edge of the Axe really makes Lillian look bad for wanting a cold Coke on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Arrow Video.  The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 36 Mbps.  The image is sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The depth works well and the image doesn’t carry the flat look which can often hinder movies from this era.  The level of detail is also good and the image is rarely soft.  The Disc carries a Linear PCM Mono audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 2.3 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  Being a mono track, we don’t get any dynamic effects, but we can always hear and understand the actors, and they aren’t overpowered by the sound effects or music.

The Edge of the Axe Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features.  We begin with an ADUIO COMMENTARY from Barton Faulks and Matt Rosenblatt.  This is followed by a second COMMENTARY by The Hysteria Continues.  “Gerald’s Game” (11 minutes) offers a modern-day interview with actor Barton Faulks, who offers an enthusiastic overview of this time on the film.  “The Actor’s Grind” (11 minutes) brings us a new interview with actor Page Moseley who walks us through his career.  Special Effects and Makeup artist Colin Arthur is allowed to chime in on the film with “The Pain in Spain” (8 minutes).  The extras are rounded out with an IMAGE GALLERY and a THEATRICAL TRAILER.

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long