Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Axeman of Henderson County

Director - Larry Parmiter
Starring - Rush Whitacre (White Zombie), Bob Butler, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (ReZistance)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Small town gets the axe"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (screener)

Rating (out of 5):

      There was once a time fans of horror would have said that the slasher sub-genre was no more.  Now, however, that slasher sub-genre is alive and flourishing and that is because of the same reasons that made them so popular in the late 70s and early 80s.  Slashers of that time could all use the same story and just simply change the killer up a bit.  That was the reason we watched slashers after all.  We wanted a few good tits, unique slasher-esque killer, and a masked killer that we had never seen  before.  This September I attended Shockacon.  This is the only horror/sci-fi con in West Virginia and something I look forward to every year.  While there I met director Larry Parmiter and we talked some about his upcoming film The Axeman of Henderson County.  He had some interesting stories about his former profession.  The movie looked fun so I asked him about review copies and was informed that they were not ready.  Sometime passed and I reached back out to Larry and he was kind enough to send me a review copy.  Thanks Larry!
     The film takes place in small town U.S.A. where a string of murders has rocked this small community. The killer was wearing a black mask and used an axe to kill.  The sheriff (Whitacre) is baffled and has no leads until he receives a letter from the killer demanding some rather odd requests.  He caves in and agrees to the killer's demands and the small town sees peace for a short time until the killing starts again.  It is now up to him and his two deputies (Butler and The Walking Dead's Jeremy Ambler) to use old fashion police work to track down this deranged axeman that just happens to smell like cherries before he can strike again.
     Slashers have the ability to be adapted into any situation, holiday, event, and setting.  Slashers can be in the woods, a girls dorm, sanitarium, abandoned building, and even your dreams.  That is one of the reasons I love slashers so much. We can get so many different scenarios out of the same story.  That is as long as the film gives us a new killer and a clever title with a good pun or relevance.  That one of the things this film has trouble with from the beginning.  When I started watching this film I posted a status about it on my Facebook page.  Within minutes people was messaging me and saying that they hated this film and the Midnight Releasing's Release.  I was confused by this because this film was just now released and Midnight Releasing had nothing to do with it.  Then it dawned on me that these individuals had the film confused with The Axeman at Cutter's Creek.  This film may share a similar story and title but they are completely two different films. The acting in this film is hit or miss.  The film's lead,  Rush Whitacre, is great.  He doesn't look and act like your typical small town sheriff we normally get in film but he does an outstanding job in his role.  Sadly, the talent kinda skips from there.  The rest is amateurish and that is not a bad thing.  For a majority of the cast this is their first film so they are just now getting their toes wet.  A little more experience and hard work and they all will look as good as Whitacre.  Hacksaw Jim Duggan is hilarious in this film.  Most will argue that he needs to stick to wrestling but those people are fools.  This man offers some much needed humor to this film and one of the few gems the film has to offer.  Now, as for Jeremy Ambler who is known for playing several walkers on AMC's The Walking Dead.  Ambler has made a career out of playing small parts and being an extra.  He rarely gets screen time and when he does it's usually just for a few lines before he is removed from the camera.  After seeing this film and his role I think it is safe to say that these small parts has weakened his acting ability.  If his scenes drag on for more than a few moments then they tend to become awkward and hard to watch.  The story for this uses the slasher formula we know and love.  We get a axe wielding maniac who kills methodically.  This is something told before but this time we get a bit of a twist on the murderer and why he kills.  Sadly, the film is slow in parts and instead of the editing helping the film out in that respect it renders it making it move by at a snails pace.  Finally, the film has a slew of on screen kills.  The practical effects look decent but the film decided to add visual effects for the blood splatter and this made the kills seem cartoonish.  CGI can be used to improve the practical effects but in this film is did not.  Overall, The Axeman of Henderson County is a slasher that had the right idea and talent but could not get the entire team on the same page.  Special effects, editing, and acting could have made this film an instant classic.  If the film is ever re-edited and the CGI removed I would love to revisit this.  Fans of slashers and indie films may still dig this one.

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