The Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter (2014)



I’ve just returned from the very first showing of the newest slasher throwback The Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter.  This means that the movie has not been released widely yet, and is just getting ready to enter some film festivals.  Full disclosure time: I do know the director and several of the actors involved in it somewhat, but I will be as impartial as I can be.

The first thing you should know is that there are no Pick-Axe Murders Part I or II.  In his intro director Jeremy Sumrall explained that with most movies that have sequels, they get worse and worse the more there are, so since this is his first full length film as director, he wanted to start off with the bad one and work his way up to the good one (who knows when Part I will be made, but he promises it will be a masterpiece.  There’s a good chance he was joking about all of that).

This one starts out with a TCM-style title crawl explaining the back story (ostensibly the plots of the first two): In the summer of 1982, a group of campers were horribly slaughtered at Camp Arapaho in the sleepy little town of Woodland Hills. The 10 gruesome murders were blamed on Alex Black, a mysterious man believed to have been the son of Satan himself, whom the townspeople had hunted down and lynched nearly 20 years prior. The only survivors were Adrienne, a camper, and a young deputy named Mathews…

One year later, a series of mysterious killings at the Meadow Falls Sanitarium (where Adrienne had spent the last year as a patient) were once again linked to the mysterious Alex Black. Adrienne made it out again as one of the only survivors…

Part III begins in the summer of 1988 (5 years after the sanitarium massacre), and follows a group of kids going to a typical ’80s hair metal concert.  Unfortunately for them, Alex Black has been resurrected, and returns to spread carnage and death as well as confront the haunted and alcoholic Adrienne and (now) Sheriff Mathews one last time.

The law of diminishing returns states that there is no way this movie could be any good or even interesting in any way.  The reason that people do not like to sit by the highway and watch cars drive by is because it’s something we see every day, and for horror fans, slasher films (of this sort in particular) have been done and redone so often, it’s about the same as sitting by the road watching traffic.  However, every once in awhile a 16 car pile up will happen, and watching traffic might become more interesting.  The question when watching a new throwback slasher has become: is this one like watching traffic, or a 16 car pile up?
Obviously originality is pretty much out the window- everything that can be done with the slasher formula has been done, so what you have left is fun factor and intensity factor.  Few directors have the talent and ability to make an incredibly intense film, much less an incredibly intense slasher, so most go for fun.  The goal is to see how over-the-top crazy you can get.

The good news is that The Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter is just fun enough to call it a success- it’s funny, occasionally clever, and entertaining enough to not be a waste of time.  The characters are silly and over-the-top in an ’80s movie way (obviously something they were shooting for), the dialog is cringe-inducingly goofy (but also in a good way- it’s obviously purposefully goofy), it has just enough clever humor and subtlety  thrown in to let you know that the bad stuff is done on purpose, and of course it’s so full of old school slasher homages and nods that you could overload a boat with them.  But not a boat on the way to New York.  That would be disastrous.

The acting is much better than in most underground/ low budget horror films- a huge step above 90% of the straight-to-video movies that I’ve watched (and I’ve watched a lot of them).  Low budget/ straight-to-video horror uber-queen Tiffany Shepis does a fine job as Adrienne (and actually keeps all of her clothes on throughout the whole movie- one of the only actresses in it that does), and Phantasm‘s A. Michael Baldwin plays Sheriff Mathews.  Most of the other actors and actresses are locals who haven’t appeared in many larger releases, but they all do an excellent job and look like they’re having a lot of fun, so hopefully that will change.
As hinted at above, there is a lot of nudity thrown in.  More than usual for a slasher.  This is, of course, a key ingredient in a slasher film (however in this day and age when anytime you want to see boobs all you have to is go to Google images and type in ‘boobs’, it’s not as much of a draw as it was in the days before the internet, when most of the classic slashers came out).

Unfortunately, it’s lacking in the other slasher key ingredient: the kills.  That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot- there are as many (or more) as in most classic slashers, it’s just that they are mostly all mundane (with the exception of two or three).  Two of them (one of a main character and one of a supporting character) are even done off screen.  I’m assuming that this is because of budgetary reasons (having a big guy squeeze someone’s head and blood pour out of their mouth is a lot cheaper to film than a spectacular kill like the machete between the legs of the guy walking on his hands in Friday the 13th Part 3).  Not everyone can afford Tom Savini, but still the fact remains that this is a slasher where most of the death scenes are pretty underwhelming.  BUT I do have to give them credit for using all practical effects.  It’s a lot more time consuming and harder to pull off, but looks a lot better than a bunch of CGI any day.  The only other complaint I’d have is the music- sometimes it sounded good, but sometimes it just didn’t fit with the scene it was paired with (tho not as bad as in the otherwise also decent  Sweatshop– in which director Sumrall played the killer).  Music is a big part of a horror film, and sometimes (as proven by Halloween) can make or break it.

But overall it is far above most straight-to-video horror drek coming out these days, and makes a good bridge between the above mentioned Sweatshop and Spirit Camp– both slashers produced in the same area as The Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter and using a lot of the same people (Kerry Beyer, director of Spirit Camp, even has a cameo in Pick-Axe as one of the hair band members).

I don’t know how much different the finished product will be- it hasn’t been rated yet, and there were a couple of bits that needed clearer editing, but other than that it looked finished, so hopefully everyone else will get to see it soon.

Watch it with a bunch of friends and beer in a marathon with Friday the 13th Parts 1 – 3, Intruder, The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, Maniac, Stage Fright, New York Ripper, and if you want something modern maybe Hatchet (if you want to get a little more low rent and sleazy you could add in Don’t Answer The Phone, Murder Set Pieces and Strip Nude For Your Killer).

Evilspeak ‘zine #1


Hot on the heels of our last review of a new ‘zine (Organ), we’ve gotten another one- Evilspeak!  Organ was put out by the folks at the metal label Hell’s Headbangers, and Evilspeak is put out by the folks at metal label Razorback.
IMG_0002 IMG_0003
is a horror/ gore film ‘zine that may call back to the days of the ’80s and early ’90s ‘zine scene, but it mostly reminds me of a far older influence- Famous Monsters of Filmland.  All it’s missing are the bad puns and film stills.  Most ‘zines are usually critical of the movies that they include- they write reviews and criticisms and cover current films coming out, actors in up-and-coming films, and news about the newest stuff they want you to discover.  Sometimes they might have a retro article or write about an undiscovered gem or re-issue, but it’s mostly about the here and now.  Famous Monsters, on the other hand, always wanted to share their love of old, classic, and under-appreciated films and actors.  They were rarely ever critical, but generally just talked fondly of monsters and films long gone (at least until some of the later issues).  The current version of Famous Monsters of Filmland on the stands is not really like this, but more like a modern movie magazine, however there are some throwback ‘zines in the same style such as Scary Monsters  that are trying to carry on the tradition started by the classic Famous Monsters.   Evilspeak takes the Famous Monsters template and loads it with horror and gore films from the ’70s and ’80s (which Famous Monsters shied away from) such as Tourist Trap,  Humanoids From the Deep, and the magazines namesakeplus adds in articles on drive-ins, Gore Shriek comics, Filipino horror films, a nice longer one on creature features of the late ’70s and early ’80s such as The Boogens and Without Warning (which has just been re-released by Scream Factory) written by Stevo of IMPETIGO (who somehow forgot the mutant bear flick Prophecy, which terrified the hell out of me when I was a little kid), and the late horror hero Chas Balun (who of course did the one of the best horror/ gore ‘zines of all time Deep Red, among many other things).  It also has interviews with Heather Langencamp and Amber Wyss of A Nightmare On Elm Street and director (and actor) Ulli Lommel, who’s been stuck doing terrible quickie serial killer films recently but who has done some better films in the past such as The Boogey Man, The Devomsville Terror, and The Blank Generation.
IMG_0006 IMG_0005

This magazine shows the love well, and the articles are not dry or boringly written like in some books (who try to sound scholarly, but are just tedious).  There is room for improvement, but this is a very good first issue.  Check it out.

Organ ‘zine #1



Organ is a new ‘zine put out by some of the guys at Hell’s Headbangers.  I don’t see many new ‘zines these days (tho they seem to be gaining in popularity- there are more coming out every day), so getting one this thick and detailed is very nice.  And what detail it has- the art and layouts are phenomenal!  It’s all black and white, but I love that look- like an old Creepy or Eerie comic book (but 10 times as thick).  You can tell they took a long time putting this together- the art is painstakingly intricate, and everything is very neatly hand written (which I still don’t like that much, but it fits in this ‘zine).
IMG_0002 IMG_0003

The interviews are very well done and informative, with bands such as IMPETIGO, ASPHYX, CIANIDE, NOCTURNAL, DENIAL, and UNDERGANG to name a few.  They also have interviews with Mike Howlett about his awesome book The Weird World of Eerie Publications, and Mike Minett (who played Frank in the splatterpunk classic Bad Taste).  There are articles on Coffin Joe, ’80s sword and sandal movies (such as Deathstalker and The Sword and the Sorcerer), VHS trading in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and a rather pedestrian one on Japanese hardcore (the only article in the whole ‘zine that seems a little threadbare).  There are also some old school comics along the lines of the above mentioned Creepy and Eerie mags, and scads of movie reviews (mostly gore/ horror/ exploitation).

The pages are very think and the print is dark (you can’t tell on these scans because the ‘zine is so thick that my scanner couldn’t scan it that well so the print look a little light- it’s not like that in the actual ‘zine).

This was a pretty damn fun read, and I’m looking forward to more…

The Greatest Albums of All Time: Septic Death- “Now That I Have the Attention What Do I Do With It?”


Not a lot of bands come from Boise, Idaho, however even if SEPTIC DEATH were the only band to emerge from there, it should put the city on the map as birthing something great.
The band was formed by late ’70s/ early ’80s California skate regular Brian “Pushead” Schroeder, who had already made a bit of a name in the underground hardcore/ punk scene not only as a skater, but as an artist.  He began sending his art to bands and ‘zines in the early ’80s, and many of them chose to use it.  Later he became the main artist for Zorlac Skateboards, designing the artwork for a special edition METALLICA skateboard .  The band soon used him to design art and t-shirts for them, which propelled him to even larger fame.  At this point he has done art for tons of bands both big and small, and his unmistakable gruesome and original artwork and attention to detail was first brought into full bloom in the service of SEPTIC DEATH.
Now That I Have the Attention What Do I Do With It?
(which came out in early ’86) is not actually an album proper, but a re-issue of the band’s first 12″ep Need So Much Attention… Acceptance of Whom mixed with some compilation tracks and some new songs.  Side A features 3 tracks from the 12″ep that have added guitars and re-recorded vocals, as well as songs from compilations such as PEACE/ WarCleanse the Bacteria, and the Putrid Evil flexi (some re-recorded).  Side B features the other 9 songs from the 12″ep in their original versions.

Back cover of the Need So Much Attention... 12"ep

Back cover of the Need So Much Attention… 12″ep

Pushead still considers it his band’s debut album rather than a compilation, so we at PMT count it as such. The music on this is astoundingly perfect, jaw dropping hardcore thrash. There are few albums that deal in this kind of music that are this phenomenal. The songs are fairly simple, but very original sounding even today (after almost 30 years). The musicianship is as tight as can be, with insanely fast picking from guitarist Onj, talented and original bass lines from bassist Mike Matlock and a stop-on-a-dime delivery that belies a strong intimacy with the songs and their instruments. There is no band that I can think of who play thrash that can top this. Some people say SLAYER’s Reign In Blood is the ultimate thrash album, but this one blows it away. The fast parts are incredibly fast, and the breakdowns are rocking and make you want to kill. The vocals sound like a cross between a hardcore screamer and a gruff black metal vocalist (with just a bit of a snotty punk snarl), and the song structures are interesting and well put together (even the shorter songs like “Advantage” and “Dream Silent” seem carefully crafted). It’s worth mentioning that drummer Paul Birnbaum is insanely talented and his outstanding drum work is a perfect testament to what a thrashcore drummer should sound like- not just fast, but rhythmically interesting.
The lyrics are also written with a high level of quality, mostly concerning madness and horror (with some social ones thrown in).
The production is perfect- clear enough to hear everything well, but grimey enough to not sound too clean or overproduced.  The buzzsaw guitars and fuzzy bass compliment the machine gun drums (that at times sound like he’s pounding on a coffin) perfectly.

The packaging and artwork is top notch, as you’d expect from a detail-oriented perfectionist like Pushead.  However he gets a couple of other artists to do some work on it as well, so the artwork is varied and not one-dimensional.

Many bands, from METALLICA to INTEGRITY have heralded the brilliance of SEPTIC DEATH (James Hetfield even did vocals on their follow-up 7″ep Burial, and Kirk Hammett played mead guitar on a song on their Kichigai 7″ep).  If you like hardcore, thrash, crust, or extreme metal and you haven’t checked this album out, do yourself a favor and listen to it now.

Their drummer and guitarist have switched instruments and now play in a band called Little Miss and the No-Names (who are much more punk rock sounding).

Subterrenea ‘zine #6


The late ’80s and early ’90s brought on a slew on ‘zines of all types, including a ton of horror/ gore/ exploitation flick ones.  SubTerrenea was one of them.  I can’t say a lot about it because this was the only issue I ever had, but I liked that they did really in-depth reviews instead of just throwing something together and putting a bunch of stills up to make it look longer.  The big thing about this issue was of course the Dario Argento interview.  I wish I had gotten more issues of SubTerrenea, because I like this one a lot.  Here are some pages for you to check out:

IMG_0002 IMG_0003 IMG_0004 IMG_0005 IMG_0006 IMG_0007 IMG_0008 IMG_0009 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0012 IMG_0013 IMG_0014

Eaten Alive (1977)



With the untimely passing of Marilyn Burns earlier today, I thought I would take a look at one of her best movies (not that there are a lot to choose from- unfortunately, she was not very prolific, and most of her roles were cameos and small parts).

If you ever wondered what the missing link between the Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is, it’s Eaten Alive.  It has the feel of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but also has the over-the-top, absurd, almost slapstick acting and characterizations of part 2 (which part 1 had a bit of, but they really went all out with part 2).
It is Tobe Hooper’s second movie (after TCM), and was also co-written by Kim Henkle and stars Marilyn Burns.  It’s set somewhere in Texas (close to the Louisiana border, one would assume because of the swamp setting and the continual mentions of cities like Houston and Huntsville), in a small redneck town.  A crazy one-legged scythe wielding hillbilly named Judd (who makes me think of a cross between The Cook and Chop Top (tho mostly The Cook)) runs a motel on the edge of a swamp, where he has a pet gigantic Nile alligator he evidently got from a zoo somehow.
When a young lady gets thrown out of a nearby brothel for refusing to allow Buck (a very young looking Robert England) to do her in the butt, she goes to the motel along with several other travelers (including her father (Mel Ferrer) and sister who’ve come looking for her), quite a few of which are then killed by Judd and fed to his pet.

There’s not much more to it than that.  It has an 18% rating on Rotten (which to those of you unfamiliar with that site, is a very low score), but I really like it.  The only complaint I have is that the acting is a little too over-the-top in places.  One reason that the nuts in TCM stood out so well was that the protagonists were pretty normal kids.  In this movie, almost everyone is batshit crazy or quirky or an outlandish caricature.  It’s not quite as ridiculously unrealistic as a Rob Zombie movie, but it’s still a little much in places.
One thing that balances that out is that it features a lot of classic Hollywood actors, which makes it stand out a bit from other exploitation films (and I think really disappointed a lot of highbrow critics).  Neville Brand (who was also in the TV movie I just reviewed Killdozer, as well as respectable films like  Stalag 17, Tora Tora Tora, and Birdman of Alcatraz) plays Judd as a twitchy, demented redneck  with delicate sensibilities who attacks people who offend them.  Carolyn Jones (House of Wax, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Morticia in The Addams Family TV show) is almost unrecognizable in her small but memorable role as the  frumpy down home good ole gal rodeo queen headmistress of the brothel (who at one point, tells a character that she has some land she wants to get rid of real cheap, which has a large pecan tree in the front yard. This is obviously a reference to the TCM house, which implies that the TCM universe and this one are the same).

Carilyn Jones as Miss Hattie

Carilyn Jones as Miss Hattie

Marilyn Burns plays the wife of quirky weirdo William Finley (Phantom of the Paradise, several other DePalma movies) and mother of shrieky 8 year old Angie (Kyle Richards, who went on to play similarly terrorized kid Lindsey in Halloween the next year).  The cast is rounded out by Roberta Collins (who played Matilda the Hun in the original Death Race 2000 and was in a bunch of other old exploitation films) and another well respected classic actor Stuart Whitman, as the consummate good old boy redneck town sheriff.
It’s a little talky (or perhaps I should say mumbly in the case of Judd) in places, but has a great feel to it; kind of a  creepy, swampy atmosphere mixed with a bit of sleaze and a touch of bizarreness to make a top notch exploitation film with more blood than TCM or the disappointing The Funhouse (the movies he did before and after Eaten Alive) and a lot of cheap thrills.  It also features another weird but cool experimental soundtrack by Hooper, much like TCM‘s.

Supposedly it’s based on a true story, of a man named Joe Ball (just as TCM was partially inspired by Ed Gein).
People hate this movie, but I liked it.  It makes a good bridge between TCM 1 and 2.

Aspirin ‘zine #3



This was a great ‘zine that suffered from bad printing.  I have to apologize for how faded and terrible it looks- it was bad when it came out, and has only gotten worse over the years.  But the content was fantastic- an excellent mix of grindcore, death metal, hardcore, and black metal with a bunch of my fav bands.  This issue was huge, and had interviews with PROCESS REVEALED, MY MIND’S MINE, NECROPHILE, RADIATION SICKNESS, KOVEN, LEGION OF DEATH, LIBIDO BOYS, NOCTURNUS, REDNECKS IN PAIN, SADUS, BOLT THROWER, SMOLDERING REMAINS, BLOOD, TOXODETH, OLD LADY DRIVERS, ROTTING CHRIST, and SORE THROAT, as well as ‘zine and music reviews and ads, and a couple of live show reviews to finish it out.

Here are some pages from it for you to check out:

IMG_0002IMG_0003 IMG_0004 IMG_0005 IMG_0006 IMG_0007 IMG_0008 IMG_0009 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0012 IMG_0013 IMG_0014 IMG_0015 IMG_0016 IMG_0017 IMG_0018 IMG_0019 IMG_0020 IMG_0021 IMG_0022 IMG_0023 IMG_0024 IMG_0025 IMG_0026 IMG_0027 IMG_0028 IMG_0029 IMG_0030 IMG_0031 IMG_0032 IMG_0033 IMG_0034 IMG_0035 IMG_0036 IMG_0037 IMG_0038 IMG_0039 IMG_0040

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

purJust a quick one here, to let you guys know about the surprise of the summer for me.

I did not see the original movie The Purge, because it looked fairly typical of modern horror movies, pretty predictable, and (worst of all) was produced by Platinum Dunes.  The overrunning plot, in which all crime in America is legalized for 12 hours (from 7 PM to 7 AM on March 22 every year) was intriguing, but the home invasion story just didn’t appeal to me much.

This new one looked a little more interesting to me, so I took a chance on it and I’m glad I did.
It begins a couple of hours before commencement of The Purge (the event, not the first movie) and the people are preparing in different ways- some are boarding up their houses and arming themselves, some are trying to cash in by selling weapons and security equipment, and others are preparing to go out during The Purge and commit crimes.  We are introduced to three sets of people- a waitress and her daughter and father, who are very poor and live in an apartment; an estranged couple who are going to a relative’s house to wait out the Purge; and a mysterious man who is arming himself with guns and a bullet proof vest, preparing to go out during the Purge on an unknown mission.

Events conspire to bring these people together, as they try to make it through the city in the middle of a warzone, where almost anything is legal.

Tho it is a lot more involved and updated, it brought back fond memories of old urban wasteland movies like The Warriors, Escape From New York, and 1990: The Bronx Warriors, which is a genre you don’t see much anymore (the last one I can think of was Neil Marshall’s Doomsday (2008), and this one is much better).  There are no big actors (the only one I recognized was Frank Grillo, who had a smaller role as Crossbones in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and almost no CGI was used.  I would have liked there to be just a little more gore and exploitation elements, but this movie still blew away most horror and action movies that come out these days.  There are several ham handed attempts at social commentary (some work well, while others lay it on a little thick), but that doesn’t get in the way of the entertainment (and a lot of it is actually quite relevant and timely).

It is still out in theaters, so you have a chance to go see it if you haven’t already.  We here at PMT recommend it, and we don’t do that with many modern movies.
There was a trailor for the Cannibal Holocaust/ Cannibal Ferox/ Trap Them and Kill Them, etc. homage The Green Inferno before it, which also intrigues us, tho it looks just a bit too clean and modern to these eyes.  Going into it with hopes but strong reservations.

Killdozer (1974)

Oh, man, the TV movie- can anything be more insipid?  Usually with a low budget, bad acting, and bad production values, this doesn’t  necessarily make a bad movie (I love tons of movies made with these detriments) but made for TV movies usually have one thing that can’t be forgiven: they’re boring as hell.  Part of this has to do with television censors not allowing much of anything all that interesting to take place on screen, but mostly it’s because these movies are made in a hurry by people who don’t care, and are designed to do one thing: fill a two hour hole to sell commercials during.  But in the ’70s, there arose quite a few decent ones made with some amount of talent and inspiration.  Gargoyles, Salems Lot, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Trilogy of Terror, and Dark Night of the Scarecrow (which wasn’t released until ’81) are a few examples of ’70s TV movies which actually went above and beyond their job description and entertained (even thrilled at times).

Killdozer is another decent one, perhaps not as thrilling as the best of the ones mentioned above (it is a little slow moving in places), but just the name and overall plot is more interesting than most TV movies (or even a lot of theatrical ones).
Written by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon (who also co-wrote the screenplay), it’s about six men building an air strip on a remote (and presumably deserted)  island in the Pacific.  When one of them digs up a meteor, a malevolent entity ‘possesses’ the bulldozer and begins attacking and killing them.

Let’s not mince words here- the storyline is ridiculous.  After it kills several of them and they figure out that it is alive, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep out of reach of a slow moving bulldozer (and watching the bulldozer stalk them, hiding in the bush and watching for it’s chance to strike is pretty amusing).  The thing that makes it tolerable is the brisk running time (just 73 minutes) and the absolute earnestness of the cast.  This is a cast of grown men playing no nonsense construction workers, and they sell it.  Every one of them is a typical square jawed ’70s working man, and they play their roles seriously. That includes fighting a sentient serial killing bulldozer.  There’s no cuteness or tongue in cheek winking, they all work very hard at making it believable.
There isn’t much in the way of special effects (mainly a man with radiation burns), but everything looks authentic and realistic and the acting is good (featuring actors such as Neville Brand (Eaten Alive) and a young Robert Urich (The Ice Pirates)).  It’s also shot with a bit more care and artistic flair than your typical TV movie, and looks great- obviously a better stock of film was used to shoot it than your average TV production..

While it probably would not thrill modern audiences in the least, it is still worth mentioning for the ambitiousness of the producers to greenlight such an absurd concept, the dedication of the cast to sell the plot with everything they’ve got, and it’s historical significance (it is one of the very first killer vehicle movies, predating The Car, Christine, Maximum Overdrive, and most any other killer vehicle movie I can think of except for Spielberg’s Duel (1971), which was also a TV movie).  I have to say that if I was a kid  sitting at home in 1974 and it came on TV, I would have thought it was pretty damn cool.

That’s not to say, however, that I don’t wish this was an R rated theatrical production.  I’d love to see a sentient killer bulldozer wreck some real carnage with a bit more money and some gore thrown into it.  Now that would be a true cult classic.
kd 2