Plot: What’s it about?
Lisa (Leslie Lee) lives in an isolated farmhouse with her paralyzed grandfather, where she leads a dull, but peaceful life. She might not lead the exciting life of a more typical teenager, but Lisa is content as it is, at least most of the time. In the same area, three lowlife thugs have been on a crime spree, leaving people dead and abused in their wake and as such, they need a place to lay low until the coast clears a shade. The remote farmhouse seems like a natural choice to them, so the three wait until the right time and then storm onto the grounds, to take control of the house. Of course, the grandfather is unable to defend the household and Lisa is just a young girl, so the crooks are able to overtake them with ease. The three sickos even decide to have some fun with Lisa, by raping her or whatever else they please with her. But Lisa is no normal teen and when she is pushed into this horrific situation, her mind snaps and she starts to fight back. Armed with an axe and a razor blade, can Lisa settle the score with these misfits?
I love to see teen girls with lethal tools and I love bad movies, so of course, I am quite please to see Axe released on DVD. Also known as “Lisa, Lisa” and “California Axe Massacre”, this tale of blood soaked revenge is pretty cool, if you’re into this kind of stuff. Although it lacks the impact of The House on the Edge of the Park or Last House on the Left, Axe is still effective and uses similar elements, at least at times. But where those are more serious efforts, Axe has more camp value and humor, which moves it away from them, at least in general tone. You shouldn’t watch this in a critical mindset however, as the writing has holes and the acting is not too good, but there is plenty of atmosphere and suspense, which levels it off, I think. This is a lot creepier than it sounds and even with a low budget, the filmmakers were able to deliver where it counts, even throwing in some cool gore, which was most welcome. If you’re a fan of low profile, low budget horror movies, then Axe is well worth a look, but don’t expect too much. This disc from Something Weird (via Image Ent.) is worth the cash too, so don’t hesitate to pick this disc up.
Video: How does it look?
Axe is presented in a full frame transfer, which seems to be an acceptable aspect ratio. I noticed no problems with the framing of the image and no pan & scan was to be seen, so I am left to assume this an approved format. The image looks terrific, starting with a clean source print marred only by infrequent grain, which was a pleasant surprise. I had low expectations here, but the image is quite good, even though it does look a tad worn, though that is to be expected. The colors and contrast look smooth and stable, much better than expected and in the end, this image should please fans to no end, very good work indeed.
Audio: How does it sound?
I have no real complaints with the included mono option, but no real praises to sing either. The track has some signs of wear, but this was an ultra low budget production in 1974 and as such, it can’t be held against the normal standards. I heard some very slight hiss and distortion at times, but on the whole, the elements were stable and easy on the ears. As such, I am scoring this one well and on a special scale, given the nature of the release. So while it might not sound pristine, this is as good as Axe can sound, which counts for a lot in my book.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The film’s theatrical trailer is the only film specific bonus, but some other cool supplements have also been tacked on here. You’ll find all sorts of bonus trailers, radio ads, exploitation artwork, and even bonus short film subjects, which are cool to watch. But the best bonus is The Electric Chair, a hilariously bad feature film that all fans of bad movies should see. I don’t have to much to say about how it looks & sounds, but since it is a bonus, I won’t complain much.