Monday, September 22, 2014

A Review of The Pick-Axe Murders Part III: The Final Chapter

This past Saturday evening, I had the distinct pleasure to coordinate the Houston premiere and Q&A of this film, The Pick-Axe Murders Part III: The Final Chapter.  First, to understand the impetus behind this film, you have to understand the director, Jeremy Sumrall.  He is a lifelong fan of the genre, especially the neo-classic 80's slasher era and all the sequels they generated.  Jeremy understood the pitfalls of delving into this type of filmmaking.  Jeremy himself put it best at the Q&A when he mentioned that the first film in any horror series is the undoubtedly the best.  They tended to get campier and campier as more sequels were released.  Owing to the fact that Jeremy was still new to feature-length film directing, he says he chose to dive into the deep end and make the usually schlocky sequel first!  So that means, there is no Part I or Part II, not yet at least.

Jeremy gets around this by having old-school title inserts explaining the back story of the characters, or what you might have missed in the first two non-existent films. It was the Summer of 1982, ten teens were horribly murdered in the rural area of Woodland Hills.  The murders were committed by the reputed son of Satan himself, Alex Black, an indestructible killing machine.  Black was imprevious, I mean, impervious to injury (inside joke for those who have seen the film) due to his link to an mystical amulet he wears.  Eventually, he is hunted down and killed by the locals.  The only survivors were a teenage camper named Adrienne and young sheriff's deputy Matthews.  Black's evil amulet is reportedly lost somewhere in the woods.

Approximately one year later, now a sanitarium patient, Adrienne, is again tormented by the monstrous Alex Black as he returns and begins his killing spree anew.  Once again, Adrienne is one of the only survivors to escape.  Is Alex Black gone for good this time?  No chance.

Part III picks up about 5 years later, young Matthews is now Sheriff Matthews (he won the election, that no one seems to remember) and Adrienne is a disturbed alcoholic, haunted by the memories of what she has endured.  A pair of teen campers have unwittingly resurrected Alex Black after they stumble across the amulet, albeit after having genre-mandated sex in the woods.  Black is now back and free to spread death and mayhem across Woodland Hills.  Are Sheriff Matthews and Adrienne up to the task of stopping this seemingly unstoppable killing machine once and for all?  You have to see the film to find out!

This film is Jeremy's love letter to the slasher films of the 1980s.  It is chock full of easter-egg callbacks to those classic horror films we all loved so much.  There is no new ground to be broken here, the formula for classic slasher is definitely evident.  However, it's a formula that horror fans carry a fondness for and can appreciate.  Jeremy aims to give his audience a roller-coaster ride of slasher excitement and he delivers.  There is ample blood, gore and nudity to go around (as one of his producers so succinctly put it, Jeremy exceeded his "budget for boobs").  This film will hopefully get a wide release.  Right now it is making the film festival rounds.  If you get a chance to see, definitely check it out.  This is only the beginning for Jeremy Sumrall.  He will undoubtedly make many other films, but hopefully, someday, he will make a return to Woodland Hills.  The Pick-Axe Murders Part III: The Final Chapter is 50% blood, 50% boobs, 100% fun!

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