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Review: PICKAXE (2019)

Pickaxe has had a hell of a road to distribution since being shot in 2014 as The Pick-Axe Murders Part III: The Final Chapter. But writer/director Jeremy Sumrall has brought Alex Black back for another round of killings. Was it worth the effort, or should he have let sleeping undead serial killers lie?

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Pickaxe gets off to an impressively 80s style start. By 2 minutes in, we have bare breasts and energetic sex in the woods from Paul (Kile Moore) and Dana (Michelle Ellen Jones, Conjoined). By five minutes in, he’s discovered a Satanic medallion that used to belong to Alex Black (Perry Batson, Jayson Champion). And immediately after that the naked lass produces a pickaxe, kills him and baths in his blood while chanting something in Latin.

Cue opening titles and text filling us in on the previous films. And that we are in the year 1988.

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Which means Adrienne (Tiffany Shepis, Tar, Strange Nature) has just been released from the asylum. Sheriff Mathews (A. Michael Baldwin, Phantasm, Flay) is looking for the missing couple. And a group of partying teens including Jamie (Elizabeth Redpath, Manos: The Rise Of Torgo, Doll Factory), Heather (Ashley-Marie Zgabay) and their horn dog boyfriends are on their way to a concert, and a date with death.

Pickaxe sets itself up perfectly as an old school slasher. The fun kind that came out with the “There is no explicit sex in this picture, however, there are scenes of violence which may be considered shocking. No one under 17 will be admitted.” warning. Which means gory kills and lots of bare skin.

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Apart from the main cast, Pickaxe adds in obvious cannon fodder like a trio of petty crooks led by wrestler Shawn Hernandez as Victor. Sadly, as with Don Frye in Animal Among Us, the film wastes his skills by not letting him fight. Though arguably what does happen here is more amusing. Also watch for actor/director Joe Grisaffi (Bloodsucker’s Planet, Lars The Emo Kid) in a small role.

The effects are, for the most part, well done, practical and messy. Impalement, throat slitting, disembowelling, all the favourites are on display here. The one place Pickaxe comes up short is the use of, you guessed it, CGI blood spray. Especially towards the end when guns come into play. Alex himself is a silent, creepy blend of Jason in FT13 2, the killer from The Town That Dreaded Sundown and a scarecrow.

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Running a fast 76 minutes including credits and “hidden” scene, Pickaxe is a fun dose of blood and boobs. I’ll take it over higher-profile films like Victor Crowley any day.

Pickaxe is available via Wild Eye Releasing on streaming platforms and DVD. You can check for updates on the film’s Facebook page.

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