Axe

  • 1974
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime, Drama, Thriller

One of two released films by promising '70s filmmaker Frederick R. Friedel, this Southern psychodrama was promoted as a bloody B-movie revenge-fest on the order of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Fortunately for all concerned, it's not. Filmed around Charlotte, N.C. under the title LISA, LISA, this little-known, low-budget effort is a well-photographed, refreshingly...read more

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Reviewed by Frank Lovece
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One of two released films by promising '70s filmmaker Frederick R. Friedel, this Southern psychodrama was promoted as a bloody B-movie revenge-fest on the order of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Fortunately for all concerned, it's not. Filmed around Charlotte, N.C. under the title LISA, LISA, this little-known, low-budget effort is a well-photographed, refreshingly naturalistic drama of almost mythic retribution and victimization. Two workaday mobsters, Steele (Jack Canon) and Lomax (Ray Green), torture a small-town gay man who owes them money. They don't necessarily mean to kill him — or for his panicked friend to jump out a window to his death — but, hey, things happen. Watching the proceedings with increasing agitation is the mobsters' young accomplice, Billy (filmmaker Friedel), who instantly knows he's in way over his head. Steele and Lomax's casual cruelty continue at a convenience store, where they terrorize and humiliate the clerk, forcing her to strip to her bra and taking pot shots at her with their guns. Elsewhere, in a creepy silent sequence, a young farm girl, Lisa (Leslie Lee), resignedly beheads a chicken and carries it to her kitchen for the bloody job of cleaning. In another room, she feeds a drink of raw eggs to her catatonic grandfather, who spends the day in front of a TV set. The mobsters and their conscience-stricken but cowed companion find Lisa's isolated farmhouse and decide to lie low. With threatening mock civility, they make the virtually silent young woman cook for them and put them up. We learn how close she is to the edge when, alone in a bathroom, she toys with slitting her wrists. Over the course of two days, Billy tries to steel himself to leave with Lisa, for whom he feels something of a reverse Stockholm Syndrome. But Lisa, in the pragmatic way of farmers who must unsentimentally butcher animals, has her own ideas, and begins to play the men — even poor wrong-place-wrong-time Billy — off against each other. Looking far better than its absurdly small $25,000 budget would suggest, this first of Friedel's two features boasts warmly evocative cinematography and some interesting and adventurous music that shifts at the appropriate points from haunting to jazzy to found-sound-like percussion. A sequence that crosscuts between the thugs driving in a barren countryside and Lisa's silent ministrations has an entrancing, almost dream-like quality, and Canon brings effortlessly authoritative menace to his role. The psychological narrative can be slack, and the acting and technical aspects are uneven. But overall, the film makes you wish Friedel had directed more pictures.

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  • Released: 1974
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: One of two released films by promising '70s filmmaker Frederick R. Friedel, this Southern psychodrama was promoted as a bloody B-movie revenge-fest on the order of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Fortunately for all concerned, it's not. Filmed around Charlotte, N.C.… (more)

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