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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Axe to Grind (2015)

February 24, 2015 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #346: Axe to Grind (2015)

Debuary: A Month of Debbie Rochon: Week 4

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that promises not to cry when this column goes on indefinite hiatus after next week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and forty-six, the second Debuary: A Month of Debbie Rochon concludes with Axe to Grind, which appeared on DVD just a few weeks ago.

Axe to Grind (2015)

AxeToGrind

Axe to Grind, directed by Matt Zettell, is a weird sort of slasher movie because the slasher killer is the star of the movie, Debbie Rochon. And by star I mean she is the main character and the one that drives the plot. How often does that really happen in the slasher movie world? The movie also uses a flashback structure that is a little disorienting at first, but it’s a strategy that gives the movie a rhythm that allows it to truly stand out in the slasher movie world.

Rochon stars as Debbie Wilkins, a psychotic aging B-movie star that’s pissed off at her ex-husband and movie producer Peter (Mathew James Gulbranson) for not offering her a part in his next horror flick. Deciding to exact revenge on Peter for ignoring her, Debbie flips out on him, kills his young, mega hot mistress, and holds Peter hostage in his own home. She intends to torture him, to get him to admit that he’s a piece of garbage that just uses people, and that he really loves her. All of this plays out in a flashback sequence that’s broken up into several pieces. In between the flashbacks, Debbie shows up unexpectedly at the set of Peter’s next horror movie, the Linda Vista Hospital, an abandoned hospital somewhere in Los Angeles. The assembled actors, mostly hot babes (played by Paula LaBaredas, Michelle Tomlinson, Rachael Robbins, among others), aren’t happy with Debbie’s presence on set, mostly because they’re competitive women in a competitive field and they don’t like the competition. The movie’s director, Eddie Wilcox (the immortal Guy Torry), doesn’t object to Debbie’s presence but, at the same time, he’s dumbfounded as to why she’s there. Peter didn’t tell him anything about hiring Debbie Wilkins.

After some drunken partying by the cast and crew (Debbie doesn’t participate in this debauchery) the night before the movie production begins… sort of. No one seems to know what the heck is really going on. Wilcox is disorganized, no one can get Peter on the phone, and cast and crew members keep disappearing. Heck, no one seems to know what kind of horror movie they’re actually making. The movie’s title is Bayou Butcher but it doesn’t take place in a swamp or in Louisiana. So why is it called Bayou Butcher? It’s a mystery.

And while all of that is going on, the weird beard hospital property janitor/security officer Norman (Adrian Quihuis) is watching everything via security camera and helping Debbie exact her revenge. Norman also has an axe collection in his office. I don’t think I have to say why he has that collection in his office, do I?

Because of the flashback structure and the fact that the killer is the lead character, Axe to Grind doesn’t play out like your typical slasher movie. There really isn’t any “kill suspense,” where we see Debbie’s victim get stalked and then killed without the audience knowing what’s really going on. We know what’s going on. And that lack of typical suspense makes for a strange movie watching experience. You don’t really root for Debbie Wilkins or her victims. You just sort of watch what’s going on. It’s a daring strategy for a revenge/slasher movie. And, for the most part, it works. The ending is a little too strange for its own good but it isn’t a liability. It’s almost like the movie is setting itself up to become a franchise. And that’s a great idea.

The movie isn’t as gory as I expected it to be, but it is bloody enough to keep the kills interesting. I expected to see at least one big gore set piece, but for whatever reason that didn’t happen. The last kill is disappointing because it’s the least brutal kill. Perhaps it’s part of director Zettell’s generally weird strategy?

The cast is excellent. Rochon anchors the movie with a scary, hilarious performance that will make you both howl with laughter and cringe with fear. Much like her badass performance in American Nightmare, Rochon owns the screen and just kicks ass. You will remember her when the movie is over.

Guy Torry is funny as director Eddie Wilcox. You’ll just laugh when he’s on screen. And Mathew James Gulbranson is about as skeevy as you can get as Debbie’s ex-husband and producer Peter. He’s such a piece of garbage yet you can see how he uses his position as a movie producer to hold sway over the women he hires for his movies. I mean, outside of his powerful producer position what does he have to offer anyone? Listen to what Debbie says when she holds him hostage. She isn’t in love with him, she’s in love with what he can do for her. And he’s okay with that because, let’s face it, he isn’t going to get any via any other way. And I also want to go on record in saying that I never want to see Gulbranson in a bathrobe ever again. Ever. It will give you nightmares. Bad ones.

Debbie’s fellow female actors are all quite good. Michelle Tomlinson, Paula LaBaredas, Michelle Tomlinson, Rachael Robbins, and Dani Thompson are all awesome to watch and look at (I’m sorry for being a pig). It’s fun watching them go after one another in small and big ways. The movie business is competitive so people are always looking for any advantage they can get.

And Adrian Quihuis is strange as hell as Norman the janitor. I’m shocked that he isn’t directly involved in Debbie’s axe wielding shenanigans. Perhaps that’s being saved for a sequel? Quihuis and Rochon do have an off-beat chemistry that could work as riff on Natural Born Killers. The ending sure does suggest that as a possibility.

I did not see the ending coming at all. I didn’t think it worked while actively watching it, but it made sense to me a few hours later while thinking about it. Of course, my opinion of the ending may change if someone involved in the movie ever reveals that it’s not meant to be the start of a franchise. I’m not sure the ending works by itself as its own thing. The ending needs the implied promise of more.

And that’s what I hope we have here, the start of a bigger story involving the psychotic and disgruntled movie Scream Queen Debbie Wilkins. I want to see her do more and go on more adventures. Not so much because I like her and want to root for her, but I am curious to see what she can get into next.

See Axe to Grind as soon as you can. It’s worth checking out. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Around 10.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None that I remember.

Doobage: Off-screen bloody commotion, a severed arm, a personal meltdown, a giant purse, tension, a strange janitor, a lack of dressing rooms, attempted seduction, multiple flashbacks, potential lesbianism, a dead body wrapped in plastic, hatchet terror, boob shots, hair brushing, attempted curling iron to the face, hatchet to the chest, donuts, a nasty looking morgue, bloody finger removal followed by an epic axe beatdown, fridge door washing, a door lock, axe swinging, attempted strangulation with a bullwhip, implied S&M, chair bondage, axe across the neck, a bloody axe, actual strangulation, shiv through the hand, and the threat of a sequel.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Jacksonville, Florida Debbie Rochon, Debbie Rochon having a public meltdown, bitchy female actors, I Defecate on Your Grave, a strange janitor, an axe collection, a Lizzie Borden replica hatchet, texting, a final toast, multiple flashbacks, pot smoking, Debbie Rochon eating a donut, scene 62, a fireman’s axe, a magnum opus, a female defense attorney, and the threat of a sequel.

Best lines: “Ah! What the fuck?,” “It’s going to be a pleasure to work with you,” “Welcome to Linda Vista Hospital. My name is Norman,” “Hey, Normie, what’s with the camera?,” “Down the hatchet,” “Should I stay or should I go? Maybe I should stay,” “There ain’t no crazy like California crazy!,” “You can trust me with your life or you can trust me with your death,” “Damn, girl, nice makeup job, girl!,” “If we’re shooting in a hospital why is the movie called Bayou Butcher?,” “Did you fuck him or did you shove a dildo up his ass?,” “I’m gonna kill whoever thought that was fucking funny!,” “That was really smart,” “What’s the matter, you can’t scream anymore?,” “This is your fault you scrawny little bitch!,” Fuck you! I’ve won acting awards!,” “That’s a wrap! Another one in the can, baby,” and “Say hello to Peter for me, bitch!”

Rating: 9.0/10.0

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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!

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DebbieRochonAxeToGrind

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1

Zombieworld

Zombieworld: This is some sort of low budget zombie anthology deal. It looks insane and shockingly well done. I’ll have a DVD review of this movie up on the site very soon. Hopefully it lives up to its potential. Because the trailer below is, in a word, fabulous. You very rarely ever hear that word used in conjunction with a zombie movie.

Vanish

Vanish: This low budget action flick features both Danny Trejo and Tony Todd, so based on that alone it’s a must see. The trailer below is pretty awesome, and it’ll be great to see Trejo wielding an Uzi inside of a car. You just don’t see that every day.

DangerouslyClose

Dangerously Close: This action flick, from the legendary Albert Pyun, was released by the equally legendary Cannon Films back in the mid-1980’s. I remember the title but I don’t remember ever seeing it. The trailer below doesn’t ring a bell. Anyone out there see this? Anyone remember it?

SonsOfAnarchySeason7

Sons of Anarchy Season 7: The final season of the acclaimed biker gang drama saw lots of people die, lots of violence, and lots of self-pity. I liked it in general, although the ending wasn’t the spectacular send-off I was hoping for. I’ll get into the details of that below in TV Quick Hits, but, if you missed the series finale, what better way to see it, plus the other episodes in the show’s final season than with this DVD set?

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Did you watch Constantine?

ConstantineTVshow

Check out my reviews of each episode of the first season below!

Pilot Episode.

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

Episode 10

Episode 11

Episode 12

Episode 13

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TV Quick Hits

SonsOfAnarchySeriesFinale

Sons of Anarchy series finale thoughts: So, I finally got a chance to see the series finale of Sons of Anarchy. Was I the only one put off by Jax’s endless self-pity and the fact that he didn’t really follow through on his promise to kill off all of the bad guys?

Oh, sure, Jax killed off Peter Weller and August Marks and then killed himself by riding his father’s motorcycle head on into a tractor trailer driven by Michael Chiklis, but if he was really all about getting rid of all of the bad guys in Charming why didn’t he kill the remaining members of his gang? How many people did the remaining guys kill? How many people did Tig kill? And how much carnage did they all commit? Tig, Chibs, and all of the rest are piece of shit criminals just like Jax. So again, why didn’t Jax kill them, too? Shouldn’t he rigged their bikes up to explode, or poisoned them, or just ambushed them at some point? If Jax is all about ending the gang and the carnage and evil and whatnot everyone should be dead. How are Jax’s sons going to have a viable future if the SAMCRO group is still around in some form?

And Jesus Christ, why did Jax whine so much? Isn’t he supposed to be the ultimate badass? When did badass badasses start whining so much?

I also thought it was weird that the final episode didn’t feel like a series finale. The ending felt like the ending for a particular character not so much the end of a series. Yeah, yeah, Jax is the gang and the show and all that, but I was expecting to see something with a little more finality. It probably would have been wiser to end the series with Abel holding his father’s ring while riding off with Nero and Wendy. It also would have been wise to actually show Jax getting hit by the truck and being torn apart/exploding. It didn’t need to be too graphic, but some quickish cuts of Jax exploding/getting run over by the truck would have worked. Then we would know that it’s really over.

Who was the homeless person? I don’t remember seeing her in any earlier episodes. I don’t have instant recall of every character from the show so I could be wrong about that. It was nice to see CCH Pounder come back (did she have to take days off from NCIS: New Orleans to do the show?).

So what happens next for the Sons franchise? Will we get a prequel or a sequel? A prequel sounds more likely at the moment, mostly because that’s what everyone seems to talk about. I still don’t think it’s a good idea, but then I’m sort of willing to give a possible prequel a chance. I would just like to know why anyone cares how the group was formed. What sort of insight are we likely to develop with a prequel?

Overall, despite my issues with the show, I generally liked it. It went on a big too long and featured some of the biggest scumbags in the history of TV, but it had a great cast and was interesting more often than not. It’s too bad Lee Toric didn’t last until the end. We could be preparing for a Lee Toric spin-off right now. That would have been awesome.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of life the show has in syndication. Will FX or FXX air the show in late night like Rescue Me? Will Spike air the reruns like it did with The Shield? Or will the show live on solely through streaming and DVD? Will people continue to be interested in the show if there are no new episodes coming?

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

TheOddCouple2015

The Odd Couple premiere thoughts: I was not looking forward to this The Odd Couple rehash at all. The previews were not promising at all and the presence of Mathew Perry spelled disaster. When was the last time he headed up a good sitcom? Mr. Sunshine? Remember what a ratings disaster that was? How was this reboot going to work with Perry at the helm?

Well, I’m happy to say that the pilot episode of the new The Odd Couple was pretty good. It wasn’t great or anything but it clearly has potential. Perry is good as the slob Oscar Madison, and Thomas Lennon is good as the clean freak Felix Unger. They seem to have decent friend chemistry and you need to have that for this kind of show. I was also intrigued by the presence of the great Wendell Pierce as one of Oscar’s best friends. Pierce is a great actor and deserves a viable show (that Michael J. Fox thing last season was terrible). And it was nice to see Dave Foley for a brief moment. He’s kicking ass on two shows (the other one is Hot in Cleveland.

Now, I probably wouldn’t have started the show right at the beginning with Felix getting dumped by his wife. I probably would have started immediately with Oscar and Felix sharing an apartment and then moved on from there. Did anyone out there that saw the show like the way it started?

Some people have complained that, with Pierce and Foley and, potentially, the two female neighbors, this show is going to be a Friends clone or come close enough to being a Friends clone that it just won’t be worth watching. I agree with the idea that the world doesn’t need a Friends clone, but I’m willing to let the show figure out who it needs to have beyond Oscar and Felix. I am a little leery of having the iconic The Odd Couple theme song used throughout the show. I would rather have the theme be the opening theme and then have something similar used as the rest of the show’s music. At the moment the theme beyond the show opening is just annoying.

I’m going to keep watching. I want to see if it gets any better or if it morphs into something else. I also want to see if Perry and Lennon get better as a team. There’s major potential there. It’ll be interesting to see if the show’s audience grows at all and how long CBS will keep the show. Having The Big Bang Theory as your lead-in can work for you in tremendous ways. Look at The Millers. And when Bang stops being your lead-in bad stuff can happen. Look at The Millers.

So, yeah, I’m going to keep watching The Odd Couple. I’m intrigued enough to stick around.

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The Man Movie Encyclopedia

PunisherWarZoneDinnerScene

Coming Soon

After The Gratuitous B-Movie Column goes on “extended hiatus” next week, the great Caliber Winfield will debut his truly epic column The Man Movie Encyclopedia. You can check out what to expect via the “Coming Soon” link above. If you’re a fan of ass kicking movies and good writing, in either order, I think you’ll enjoy it. And if you’re not into either of those things, well, there could be something seriously wrong with you.

The Man Movie Encyclopedia… it will own you.

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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2

BattleApocalypse

Battle Apocalypse: This is apparently some sort of low budget zombie apocalypse deal that you may have seen under its original title Chrysalis. I have no idea why the title was changed as neither one really makes any sense. Although Battle Apocalypse does have the word “apocalypse” in it. I guess that is important to have when you have a zombie movie in this day and age.

AmityvilleDeathHouse

Amityville Death House: The great Eric Roberts is featured in this low budget horror flick produced by the immortal Fred Olen Ray. The special effects in the trailer look pretty decent, and when was the last time we saw a movie where a woman turns into a giant insect for no apparent reason? I know I can’t remember the last time.

AngelsOfDarkness

Angels of Darkness: This lowish budget horror fantasy flick, originally titled Styria, features Stephen Rea and Eleanor Tomlinson and is about… well, I’m not sure what it’s about. There’s a town, people start dying for some reason… just rent it and see if it’s any good. I’m willing to do that.

ExtractionDay

Extraction Day: This is some sort of low budget action flick about a badass agent with memory loss and a group of terrorists trying to destroy the world for some reason. I couldn’t find a proper trailer for the movie anywhere so the sort of trailer below will have to do for the moment. Hopefully someone will release a trailer for it in the next few days.

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Who is this week’s Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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NASCAR and Indycar thoughts 

So the 2015 NASCAR season is now officially underway with the Daytona 500 in the books and a new champion crowned. I managed to see about 130 laps before my cable decided to flip out on me so I didn’t get a chance to see the end of the race, the pandemonium that ensued, or eventual winner Joey Logano’s victory lane celebration. I can say that I’m surprised that Logano won, as I didn’t expect him to be up front at all towards the end. I figured it would be one of the Hendrick cars, either Dale Earnhardt, Jr, or Jimmie Johnson. Pole sitter Jeff Gordon, in his last Daytona 500, ran well and led a ton of laps but ended up in one of the big wrecks at the end.

The part of the race I did see was pretty good. It wasn’t anything spectacular but it was fun to watch. I’m happy that the racing season has finally begun.

The Xfinity Series race on Saturday was a decent race that ended with one of the nastiest crashes in a long time as Kyle Busch hit the inside wall head on. The wreck didn’t look all that bad live but when it was replayed in slow motion I knew that he was injured in some way. The impact with that inside wall was nothing short of immense. Busch, who is probably going to be out for most of the season, is lucky that he only ended up with a broken leg and foot. I really thought it was going to be worse. Ryan Reed ended up winning the race.

Kurt Busch’s indefinite suspension for domestic violence has put Tony Stewart’s NASCAR team in rebuild mode as it will have to find a permanent replacement for Busch. If Busch does ever come back it won’t be for a while, maybe a year or more. Regan Smith replaced Busch in Daytona and is expected to do so again at Atlanta, the next track on the schedule. Will Smith be the replacement for the rest of the season? Will Stewart-Haas find someone else to drive the #41? Or will Haas shut the team down since Busch isn’t around anymore? It’ll be interesting to see.

I didn’t get to see much of the Truck race on Friday night, a race that was won by Tyler Reddick. I did get to see one of the Budweiser Duels on Thursday night. I’m glad I didn’t see the second Duel as it sounded like a bore.

Atlanta is up next for all three of NASCAR’s top touring divisions. Both the Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series will race in Saturday, with Xfinity racing in the afternoon and the Trucks racing in the evening (yahoo shows 5:49 PM EST as the start time for the Trucks). Sprint Cup races on Sunday afternoon. I will hopefully get a chance to see at least one of those races in full.

Over in Indycar, Chevrolet released its road/street course/short oval aero kit to the public. To me, even with the added pieces to the body, the car really doesn’t look any different. Granted, I’m not an engineer so I have no idea what kind of advantage the added pieces are supposed to provide, so on that level there could be something to get excited about. Again, though, I’m not an engineer and the added pieces don’t make the car look any different. Now, you can go here to see the technical specifications, and you can watch the aero kit video below. I just have a hard time believing that this is what everyone was so damn excited about.

I’m going to assume that Honda will be releasing its aero kit to the public fairly soon. The season begins at the end of next month in St. Pete so, even if we don’t get a full on official release soon from Honda one of the Honda teams will no doubt end up showing something off. Andretti Autosport or Schmidt Peterson will be the first to let loose.

Indycar also sent out a press release in relation to Kurt Busch, presumably because someone started the rumor that, because of his indefinite NASCAR suspension, that Busch will race in Indycar in 2015 instead. On one hand, I’m sure Indycar would love to have Busch run full time in the series since he’s a known commodity in the world of auto racing and a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, but he would have to bring major sponsorship with him, and with the domestic abuse allegations and indefinite suspension where is that money going to come from? What company/entity is going to get involved with him now? Now, Busch was rumored to be contemplating “doing the double” again in May, and it is the only plausible reason for the series to send out a press release about him appearing in the series at any point in 2015. So, in short, Kurt Busch isn’t going to be racing in the Verizon Indycar Series at all in 2015, even the Indy 500. 500 participation changes, though, if something drastic happens in the next three months in Busch’s case, and the odds of that happening are astronomical.

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Next week: The Gratuitous B-Movie Column goes on “extended hiatus” with Falcon Rising (2014) and Mercenaries (2014)! Don’t miss it!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.

And don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

Axe to Grind

Debbie Rochon– Debbie Wilkins
Guy Torry– Eddie Wilcox
Mathew James Gulbranson– Peter Burgess
Paula LaBaredas– Delilah Finn
Michelle Tomlinson– Cheryl
Dani Thompson– Nikki
Adrian Quihuis– Norman
Tony von Halle– Lance
Rachael Robbins– Ginger Garson
Tawny Amber Young– Tawny

Directed by Matt Zettell
Screenplay by Scott C. Sanford, with “additional material” by J.P. Linde

Distributed by Midnight Releasing

Unrated
Runtime– 84 minutes

Buy it here

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