Directed by José Ramón Larraz [Other horror films: Whirlpool (1970), Deviation (1971), La muerte incierta (1973), Scream… and Die! (1973), Emma, puertas oscuras (1974), Symptoms (1974), Vampyres (1974), Estigma (1980), La momia nacional (1981), Los ritos sexuales del diablo (1982), Descanse en piezas (1987), Deadly Manor (1990)]
Most commonly known as Edge of the Axe, this Spanish slasher was an interesting movie to revisit. I generally thought it was okay, though I have to admit that I think the finale was a bit on the weak side.
For the most part, I find the story here somewhat strong. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing special about it – a mysterious bout of murders is plaguing a small town – but there’s a plethora of suspects and characters, and a decent mystery. Problematically, the conclusion doesn’t use these elements to the best of their ability, but at least the set-up was solid.
Barton Faulks was okay as a central character, and I actually felt his budding relationship with Christina Marie Lane’s character was sort of cute. Fred Holliday as the Sheriff took a little bit to grow on me (especially as he really seems like a dick in the first half of the film), but I ended up enjoying him during his appearances.
I also appreciated most of the potential suspects (not that the Sheriff wasn’t a potential suspect, or Faulks’ character, but these were more ‘appear a few times to arouse suspicion’ types) such as the priest, played by Elmer Modlin, or the random organist Jack Taylor. Joy Blackburn and her relationship with Page Mosely seemed just thrown in there, but both of them were fine. Patty Shepard (who probably has the most experience of the cast) was nice to see.
The kills were honestly just okay. The opening scene in a car-wash was probably the most memorable, but there’s a character later on who gets a few fingers cut off, which may have been one of the better spots of gore in the movie. That said, for being named Edge of the Axe, there’s not a whole lot of violent axing here. Most of the kills were competent, but not really anything that’d come across as too memorable.
Where the movie truly falters, though, would be in the finale. Throughout the film, we’ve been given plenty of different potential suspects who could be the murderer, and when we find out who’s behind the crimes, I have to admit that it just didn’t feel right. I sort of liked the idea of it – I mean, I’ve seen this movie before, but I forgot who the killer was, and I was 100% surprised by the identity – but the execution seemed a bit weak, and it was followed by a conclusion that feels somewhat cliché (at least nowadays; maybe back then, it was fresher).
Despite the weak conclusion, though, I did like a lot of this. It had quality atmosphere, and though the movie definitely takes some missteps, I dug the vibe. It’s not a movie that’s fantastic, nor is it really good, but I liked it well enough, so rating it around average strikes me as fair.
3 thoughts on “Al filo del hacha (1988)”
I really enjoy horror from other countries. My favorite is Korean horror. This was a great review.
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I’ve not seen that many Korean horror films, but the ones I have seen (such as Train to Busan) are generally pretty solid, so I can definitely understand that.
It’s always fun watching movies from other countries. Personally, I’ve never been out of the USA, so I love seeing the cultures of other places. Adds an element of spice to foreign movies.