Edge of the Axe is José Ramón Larraz’s second-to-last film he would direct, with Deadly Manor being his last. I haven’t seen Deadly Manor yet, but Ryne has, and you can read his review right here on this site. As for Edge of the Axe, Director Larraz says this film is his worst one. Now, maybe he is right, but I have seen a lot of movies and this doesn’t even scratch the surface of terrible. Sure, the pacing is all over the place, the acting is awful at times, and the ending is a complete nonsensical mess. However, like most so-bad-they’re good movies, Edge of the Axe has some unintentional hilarity that will please lots of cheese-loving horror fans.
The story for Edge of the Axe is simple enough. A masked axe-wielding maniac is slaughtering people in a small town in California. The police chief doesn’t want his career on the line, so he tries to cover up the murders as accidental or suicides. Meanwhile, a lonely computer geek (Barton Faulks) befriends a girl at a bar and their relationship slowly blossoms into something serious. Also going on at the same time is the geek’s friend (Page Moseley) marrying an older lady, but he is only in love with her for her money. This is made blatantly obvious when he tries hooking up with a waitress, a character who eventually vanishes from the latter half of the film. Actually, come to think of it, the cheating friend also vanishes as well.
Does this all sound like it has nothing to do with the main plot of the film? That’s because it doesn’t. All these random subplots add nothing to the overall arc of the story and just drag down the film, making a 91-minute runtime feel much longer.
However, as I mentioned previously, there is some good to be had with Edge of the Axe, even if it’s all unintentional. For example, our two love birds share a scene where the girl randomly tells him a story about how she pushed her cousin on a swing so hard he flew off and smashed his head on a rock. The cousin survived but ended up in a mental hospital. Tragic stuff, but what’s hilarious is the next scene we see the couple on a swing laughing and having a great time. That is not how you transition a scene! Another fun point is the axe murders themselves. They are brutal, but only because the killer is going to town on the actors with the fake axe. Just whacking the shit out of them. And of course, the most unintentional comedy gold comes into play with the ending: a completely unbelievable attempt at trying to pull a twist that makes zero sense. I won’t ruin it, but the ending alone is enough to recommend giving this film a watch at least once.
Arrow Video has released Edge of the Axe on Blu-ray, the first home media release since its VHS debut in 198X. The video transfer is quite nice at times, with only the occasional wear appearing on the screen, such as a vertical line that appears randomly. It doesn’t happen often, and for the most part, the print is pristine with a nice clean amount of video grain. The included booklet says this about the video and audio transfer:
Edge of the Axe / Al Filo del Hacha is presented in both English and Spanish versions in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with mono audio.
The original 35mm camera negative element was scanned in 2K resolution on a 4K Scanity, graded on Digital Vision’s Nucoda Film Master and restored at R3Store Studios in London. The original mono mixes were remastered from the optical negatives by Deluxe Madrid.
All materials for this restoration were made available by Paul Rich and José Frade P.C.
I did find the LPCM audio to be a bit on the lower end, with some of the dialogue being hard to hear. I watched the film with the English dubbing, but others have reported no major differences between the Spanish and English tracks.
Extensive screenshots from this Blu-ray release.
Extra features include two audio commentaries, the first with actor Barton Faulks and Matt Rosenblatt. The second audio commentary is with The Hysteria Continues. We also get three new interviews with actor Barton Faulks, Page Moseley and special effects artist Colin Arthur. The interview with Colin Arthur is a bit on the short side, but he does go into a few interesting details about some of the more graphic scenes, and the creation of the white mask. Rounding it all out are two trailers and an Image Gallery. Not a bad helping of special features on this release.
Edge of the Axe is a slow film with a lot of random stuff happening that doesn’t move the plot along. There needed to be more of a focus on the axe killer than on a relationship built around 80s computer technology. Nevertheless, the film offers up lots of unintentional comedy that will please fans of cheesy horror films. The Blu-ray from Arrow Video is an all-around solid offering.
NEW 2K restoration from the original camera negative
English and Spanish language versions of the feature
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
NEW translated English subtitles for the Spanish soundtrack
NEW audio commentary with actor Barton Faulks
NEW audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
NEW interview with actor Barton Faulks (HD; 11:04)
NEW interview with Page Moseley (HD; 11:23)
NEW The Pain in Spain – an interview with special effects and make-up artist Colin Arthur (HD; 7:47)
Image Gallery (chapter breaks; 3:30)
Original English trailer (HD; 2:46)
Original Spanish trailer (HD; 2:46)
NEW Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn
Edge of the Axe is slow and the film spends too much time on random subplots, but it's also pretty unintentionally hilarious. Arrow Video knocks out a solid Blu-ray release.