Axe (1977) aka Lisa, Lisa (1974) aka California Axe Massacre

written and directed by frederick r. friedel
frederick productions/Boxoffice international pictures, inc.
a harry novak presentation

Despite its bare-bones script, rudimentary plot development, bland camerawork, lethargic pacing, and some less-than-inspired acting performances, I found this flick interesting. Possibly its very simplicity helped, as might its hints that latent violent tendencies on behalf of the victim/avenger were merely awaiting a particular catalyst to turn from self-directed to outwardly focused. Those suggestions gave this film enough of a push not only to overcome its brevity (barely an hour running time) but to invest the enigmatic acting of its female star with a compelling strength that it may not otherwise have warranted. Strangely, this rape-revenge pic (of sorts) isn’t much of an exploitation flick, despite containing all the elements – it’s probably the most restrained and puritanical production possible featuring three murders, a sexual assault, an attempted rape and a police shooting. I always wonder why and how films of this ilk were produced … and in this case, it’s because Friedel – a complete novice, as it turns out – wanted to break into the film business, and somehow sold an investor on this scheme.

why did i watch this movie?

You probably figure it’s because it’s called “Axe” and you know I can’t ignore films titled so … succinctly, but it’s actually because the original title, “Lisa, Lisa,” provoked thoughts of the many amusing movie names bandied about on Seinfeld. (My personal favorite being “Ponce de León.”)

should you watch this movie?

We’re living in a society here, people.

highlight and low point

The many different scenes in which a closeup focuses on the weapon in Lisa, Lisa’s hand tickled my fancy, and Leslie Lee’s nearly unchanging deportment in her depiction also fascinated. The writer/director’s acting as “Billy” is impressively lousy, despite the wise choice of name.

rating from outer space: C+

 

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