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The Pick-Axe Murders III: A True Old-School Slasher

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Jeremy Sumrall got the idea for The Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter in 2007. Back then he was know more for his scriptwriting and for playing roles like The Beast in Sweatshop. Still enough people told him that he should give it a shot that he started making plans.

You know how in general slasher film franchises get slightly less impressive and more ridiculous with every subsequent entry? Sumrall knew it, too, so he decided his skill level would work best by writing and directing the crappy second sequel first. Then when he got better he'd write the sequel, and by the time he'd got enough experience to craft a really great film then he'd be ready for the original.

It's a good plan... if a little nuts. You don't have to worry, though, because Pick-Axe Murders really does deliver on its promise of an old school horror outing in a big way.

It's a very lean film full to the top with bare breasts, big bush, booze, and bloody brutality. The overall premise is that a Satanically-enhanced murderer named Alex Black has been resurrected from the bed to wreak havoc on pot smoking naked teenagers. Nothing original, nothing fancy, but it's quite inventive on how fast the film takes you and how smart it is not to waste time trying to be something it's not.

If you look at something like Hatchet that promised a return to classic form, you see that it really did nothing of the sort. It's too eaten up with origin story, too dedicated to trying to make you remember slasher films instead of actually being a slasher film. There's this subtle feeling that the filmmakers want you to know that they're making you what you've asked for, but that they are better than their elders.

Pick-Axe could literally have been lifted off a VHS rental shelf in the late '80s aside from you're typical low budget anachronisms. Your origin story is just words on a black screen, and everyone acts like they don't care a fig if you've seen the first two films in the first place. Strangely enough, this doesn't leave you confused (Again, slasher film), but allows you to build up the mystery yourself in your head.

One of the things that really helps sell the movie is its cast. We've got some horror royalty in the form of Phantasm's Michael Baldwin and Scarecrow/Sharknado 2 actress Tiffany Shepis in starring hero roles. It's also a cornucopia of the best of the Houston local horror scene with talent like Joe Grisaffi, Kelly Byrns, and Keefer Barlow involved in the making.

The true stand out is Michelle Ellen Jones as Dana. In the shocking and beautiful opening scene she embodies the best of horror by being both unbelievably alluring and unstoppably frightening. You won't see a moment of it coming. And every second is shot and captured with a loving attention to detail. It's out there, unashamed, and unforgettable.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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