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Generation Ax

Okay, I’m not naive, I know a no-budget regional slasher nobody’s ever heard of from the advanced year of 2001 was a long, long, loooong shot for kicking off Slasher Search 2017, this year’s quest to find a great obscure slasher movie I’ve never seen before. But I don’t know, man. The title GENERATION AX always intrigued me. That was a pretty good exploitation title for its time, or at least for several years before its time. The opening credits spell it out “GENERATION aX,” as if we might not get the play on “Generation X” without typographic hints. In that case it’s a misnomer, because this is a movie about 17 year olds in a year when the youngest Gen Xers were 25. In the movie’s defense, though, the entire cast looks closer to 30.

The story opens with Todd (Brian Kelly, “Jacobi Boy #2,” MANHUNTER), sort of a young Shea Whigham type, in a lone containment cell being taunted by a completely-by-himself cop or sheriff or whatever (Robert Steinmeyer?) who complains about having to fill out reports and helpfully talks about “those teens” and “those cheerleaders” Todd is accused of killing. Of course Todd escapes and the story jumps back two weeks. This tension-by-telling-us-the-future is maybe the closest thing to a successfully executed technique in the movie. If we were invested in the character Leslie (Jennifer Peluso, coach for The Firm: Total Body series of workout videos) it would be suspenseful as it goes back and forth about whether or not she’ll make the cheerleading team.

I guess Leslie and Blair (Marina Morgan, CYBER VENGEANCE, TERROR FIRMER) are supposed to be cool outsider kids, hence Leslie’s vintage Pac-Man lunchbox and Blair’s disappointment at her friend’s cheer aspirations. It’s hard to really know how the cliques work in this high school, though, since we only ever see a tiny squad of stuck up cheerleaders, a handful of football studs (in one scene, I think) and a small group of stoner friends. I’m pretty sure we don’t ever see any other students, even in the background.

Blair brings Leslie to meet the stoners at a… bar? All ages club? Some place where they serve drinks but allow adult looking teens. They order “suicides,” or “all the sodas mixed together” like a third grade roller skating party, as well as the very specific cocktail “Some hard liquor!”

Blair and Todd fall in passionate-young-people-love after a brief conversation about having “secrets.” For Blair that means she murdered a cheerleader to get Leslie on the team. For Todd I guess it means a willingness to kill his friend for drugging and date-raping another friend in the club bathroom. (At least the rape scene is not graphic – the camera very slowly zooms into a snowy TV they have as restroom decoration.)

So then they go on a murder spree, for example they behead a bizarrely rude movie theater employee who refuses to sell them “suicides” because he claims it will screw up his inventory. The posters displayed in the theater seem to tell us the type of movie the filmatists are trying to make: SCREAM meets TRUE ROMANCE and WILD AT HEART. I’m sure they tried to get NATURAL BORN KILLERS too. They wanted to fit into the movie-savvy slasher wave caused by SCREAM but also do one of those murderous couple movies. I can see it. But I also noticed AIR FORCE ONE, FACE/OFF, MARS ATTACKS!, FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE and G.I. JANE posters and standees, so I’m not sure how those fit in.

The movie made me really curious about South Carolina-based writer-director Tommy Faircloth, because it simultaneously seems like it’s made by kids who don’t know what adult life is like and adults who have no clue what the kids are up to. Turns out Faircloth was old enough to be a P.A. on DIE HARD 2 eleven years earlier, so he has to have been in the grownup category. He didn’t make another feature until 2014’s DOLLFACE (a sequel to his 1996 debut, CRINOLINE HEAD). According to his self-penned IMDb bio he spent the interim doing shows about theme parks for the Discovery and Travel Channels.

Some people are better than me at enjoying the hand-made-ness of these regional productions. Or at least they would be if it was shot on VHS. This looks slightly more professional than that but not much. It’s one of my least favorite levels of horror movie – amateurish and not funny but with occasional “wink wink nudge nudge this is satirical” type jokes as a defense mechanism. The kind of movie that is not imaginative or dreamlike, but I keep getting distracted by how nothing feels like the real world. That’s not what a news anchor would say. That’s not how school works. That’s not how a guy would sell a movie ticket. Why is this weirdly assholish popcorn seller still wiping that one section of glass with a rag?

And you don’t get the consolation of seeing inventive low budget gore like you’d hope for in the FRIDAY THE 13TH ripoff days. Instead you get multiple scenes with the shadow of an ax being swung – not even blood splattering onto the shadow – and then the actor laying still with some blood on them.

Also, why does it open with him escaping jail, then flash back, then not get back to the point where he’s in jail? Did they not know that that structure creates an expectation of returning to the opening to find out what happens next? Not that I’m complaining. I was definitely happy that it abruptly ended 15 minutes before story structure and standard running times dictate it should.

I’m afraid I cannot endorse GENERATION AX. But if they ever do a sequel or remake it should be called KILLENNIALS.

 

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 9:23 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

16 Responses to “Generation Ax”

  1. I saw a slasher on Shudder called Hide and Go Shriek. It was entertaining but the background of the killer is really troublesome. I’d kill (pun intended) to hear Vern’s thoughts on it.

  2. FUCK YEAH SLASHER SEARCH 2017!!!! IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!

    This one sounds terrible in a not-awesome way, so I’ll get the ball rolling on the traditional SUGGESTING OF THE SLASHERS, in which we try to help Vern out on his harder-every-year quest to not subject himself to a bunch of unwatchable swill. Only watchable swill, as is the way of our people on this most sacred of occasions.

    HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY 5: Not a pure slasher, per se, but I don’t know what else to call it. Made over a span stretching from 1978 to 1984 (the greatest years in horror history), it’s as freewheeling as a giallo, as oddball in tone as a Larry Cohen joint, and as inscrutable as a regional horror production, and also it has an unkillable slasher in a Richard Nixon mask. So it’s also kind of a POINT BREAK prequel in my opinion.

    SCREAM (1981): Your basic first-wave slasher set in what is obviously a standing Western ghost town set, which the director obviously got the idea for from his years as a stuntman. A sort of art-damaged bare bones slasher with a dreamy vibe and an amazing out-of-nowhere monologue from Woody Strode.

    SATAN’S BLADE: An early ancestor of the FROM DUSK TILL DAWN “You thought it was a crime movie but psych!” school of horror about some bank robbers and other people getting slaughtered by some kind of vengeful mountain man spirit at a ski lodge where nobody skis. A weirdly successful blend of brutal frankness and low-budget psychotropia.

    TRICK OR TREATS: Another one with a Larry Cohen-y vibe about a babysitter on Halloween dealing with a piece-of-shit rich id playing practical jokes while his escaped mental patient daddy is making his way home. Kind of a black comedy, kind of not. The people feel real and the tone is loose enough to make room for a B-horror parody sequence without killing the reality of the situation.

    THE SILENT SCREAM: A classy, late 70s slasher with solid filmatism and classically constructed scares. Should really be better known but missed the post-FRIDAY THE 13th boom by a few years.

    SLAUGHTERHOUSE: A movie I always confuse with MADMAN about a similar overalls-wearing beefy redneck murderer. It’s a solid late-80s slasher that doesn’t get too jokey.

    HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE: Another classy first-wave studio slasher with good production values, this one with an early Tom Hanks performance in it.

    GRADUATION DAY: A competent PROM NIGHT-style slasher whodunnit.

    TO ALL A GOODNIGHT: A killer santa movie directed by David Hess. Not as memorable as it sounds but not-terrible.

    Anyway, glad to have you and the Slasher Search back, Vern.

  3. feel so blessed to have you back on this tip, Vern. been looking forward to it all year.

    Majestyk flagged some gems in his post so the only recommendations i can think to add are FADE TO BLACK, BLOOD BEAT and MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE.

    FADE TO BLACK because i haven’t seen it in a million years and would love to have my fond memories of it either confirmed or denied. probably denied.

    MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE because it isn’t really a slasher film per se but i do think it is a sorely underrated horror joint with a slasher-esque central conceit that everyone should check out at least once in their life.

    and BLOOD BEAT simply because Vinegar Syndrome are dropping it on blu-ray as we speak and i have never been able to make heads nor tails out of that fucking thing, possibly because the VHS-ripped bootleg dvd that i bought off of Amazon renders all of the scenes that take place at night visually incomprehensible and also because the rest of the movie is pretty much incomprehensible whether you can see what’s going on or not anyway.

    as far as general horror movies go, THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER is my favourite horror movie of the year and actually possibly my favourite overall film of the year as well (which is not to say i am unaware of its flaws. perfect not being the enemy of the good etc). geoffreyjar beware mwhahahahaha.

  4. A couple more Slasher Search suggestions:

    NEXT OF KIN (not the Swayze flick, which I haven’t seen but looking at a blurb on it, I’m curious to check that one out) anyway, I’m referring to the 1982 retirement home set slasher movie made down under.

    JUST BEFORE DAWN – George Kennedy in a solid, hiders and backwoods slasher. Strong DELIVERANCE influence. I’ve still got to get ahold of the uncut version, if the censored version I watched earlier this year was pretty alright, then I assume the uncut version should be even better, as was the case with THE MUTILATOR.

  5. MIXALOT: FADE TO BLACK never quite takes off but it’s a well-made and interesting slasher with some clever stylistic conceits. It’s more in the vein of DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE or MANIAC than a traditional HALLOWEEN ripoff, in that it doesn’t follow the victims, it follows the killer as he slowly comes unraveled.

    BLOOD BEAT sounds awesome. I’ll have to track it down.

  6. Whoops, turns out, I missed Vern’s review of JUST BEFORE DAWN.

    Just Before Dawn

    Here's a pretty obscure one - a good kind of DELIVERANCE / TEXAS CHAIN SAW type inbreds-in-the-woods movie from director Jeff Lieberman (SQUIRM, SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER). Gregg Henry (Val Resnick from PAYBACK) plays a guy who's inherited some undeveloped land in some mountains somewhere. So against the warnings of a park ranger (George Kennedy) he takes some friends up there to camp and check the place out. I love this type of movie, and this has a good twist on the usual subtext. There's the traditional class difference - Henry and friends drive into town in a top-of-the-line RV, listening

    I’ll have to take a look at some of the suggestions already posted in the comments.

  7. Same thing almost happened to me. I was THIS close to recommending GIRLS NITE OUT because the killer wears a bear suit like Nic Cage in THE WICKER MAN, only to find out it was covered a scant four Slasher Searches ago. That’s why the Slasher Search gets more challenging (and, to me, more rewarding) every year.

  8. I love how the poster of this has SCREAM? in big letters. It’s like they were trying to draw in the SCREAM crowd, but the guy that put it on the poster was thinking, “Really, SCREAM? Is that what I’m supposed to put here, because that doesn’t seem likely.”

    For a suggestion I want to put forward THE LAST SHOWING. Not because I’m saying it’s good. Or scary. Or slashery. It seems to have an opinion on the art of cinema and kids nowadays and scary movies and reality TV and celebrity and stuff and I’d be curious on what Vern (and everyone else) thought about it.

  9. This reminds me of another DTV slasher from the same year called DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET? which I haven’t seen, but did see the trailer for in another movie once and have always been curious about, maybe you could review that one, Vern?

  10. There’s also this charming little title

    Kracker Jack'd (2003) (V)

    Directed by Chad Hendricks. With Julius Golden, John W. Sloan, Vesher Yisrael. A whiteboy gets mudholed & plots revenge on the brothas at a house party in the Dirty South! Visit IMDb for Photos, Showtimes, Cast, Crew, Reviews, Plot Summary, Comments, Discussions, Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Fan Sites

  11. Sobriety-induced insomnia has recently driven me to watch almost every forgotten horror movie that the youtube has to offer (not ideal, or even cool, I know), so here are my top of the head recommendations:

    THE FOREST (w/Gary Kent!)

    THE DEADLY INTRUDER

    ICED (I think you’d get a kick outta this one, Vern)

    THE CARRIER (not a Slasher, per se, but must be seen to be believed)

  12. Thanks for the recommendations! I actually did review a couple of these:

    TRICK OR TREATS: http://outlawvern.com/2010/11/02/trick-or-treats/
    FADE TO BLACK: http://outlawvern.com/2012/10/18/fade-to-black-not-the-jay-z-one/

    The rest I have not seen, except for SLAUGHTERHOUSE, which I don’t remember at all and was thinking of renting.

  13. I will recommend the Aussie slasher BLOODMOON (1990) out of national pride/shame, not to be confused with the more enjoyable Gary Daniels DTV action movie of the same time.

  14. BLOODMOON actually got a cinema release in our great land way back when, and buying a ticket came with the promise of “If you’re not scared shitless, you can get your money back at the box-orifice after the film!”. Well, my shit remained in my bowel region, so me and the mate I was with claimed our money back, then went and bought a $20 foil and got stoned. Advance Australia Fair, and don’t be a cunt to your mates, is how we say it.

  15. I know you did OKC’s shit show Offerings a few years ago but, if I may, throw NE Oklahoma’s Terror at Tenkiller onto the suggestion pile

  16. This… looks dreadful.

    I’d like to recommend February. It’s not really a slasher, more of a classy, slow-simmering horror movie that builds up to some not-very-gory but pretty brutal mischief. Still, it’s a great atmospheric horror movie with a blacker than black sense of… not humor, but irony, I guess, and it’s stayed with me since I watched it. Superbly edited, too.
    It’s got a killer (ho ho!) slasher heritage, too- it was made by the son of Anthony Perkins.

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