Blu-ray Movie Review – Axe / Kidnapped Coed Double Feature (1974/1976)

Axe / Kidnapped Coed Double Feature
Directed by Frederick R. Friedel
Courtesy of Severin Films
Year(s) of Production: 1974 / 1976
Release Date: December 15, 2015

AXE-Blu-2D

In all my years of film-watching (which total about thirty-five now), I had heard the name Frederick R. Friedel only a couple of times, usually in passing conversation. Friends of friends had heard of his works or had seen them onscreen, but had no idea how to obtain them. I’ve always been curious about what the man had to offer; he was supposed to be a legendary auteur, of sorts. Now, thanks to the fine folks at Severin Films and CAV Distribution, my curiosity has been satisfied, and the rest of the world can see the genius that is Frederick R. Friedel as well.

AXE and KIDNAPPED COED are presented in HD on a double feature Blu-ray that comes with a slew of Special Features and a CD of the original motion picture soundtracks. If you are any kind of Grindhouse nostalgia lover or horror fan, this two-movie collection is a ‘must have’ for your collection.

If you are not familiar with AXE or KIDNAPPED COED, here are the plot synopses courtesy of Severin Films:

In the mid-1970s, writer/producer/director/actor Frederick R. Friedel went to North Carolina to film a pair of enigmatic yet startling low-budget thrillers – AXE and KIDNAPPED CO-ED – only to see them both presumed lost to shady dealings, sudden tragedies, moral outrage and drive-in oblivion. In AXE, depraved killers on the run hold a young woman and her invalid grandfather hostage in an isolated farmhouse. In KIDNAPPED CO-ED, the teenage daughter of a wealthy family forms a perverse relationship with her abductor. Once thought doomed to drive-in obscurity, fans and grindhouse historians have begun to compare Freidel’s films to those of David Lynch and Terrence Malick, and now the complete story behind this strange journey can finally be told. Severin Films is proud to present both features restored from their original negatives, plus BLOODY BROTHERS, Friedel’s recut of the two features as one twisted crime epic called BLOODY BROTHERS, and loaded with exclusive Bonus Features that reveal the startling saga behind the casts, crews, disastrous fate and surprising rediscovery of these nearly forgotten grindhouse/arthouse classics – the ultimate look at one of the most fascinating sagas in indie exploitation history!

I enjoyed both films, however I have to admit AXE is my favorite between the two. KIDNAPPED COED had a different sort of feel, more like a crime drama rather than horror. AXE kept a foreboding tone throughout the whole film, and it constantly kept me on edge.

Both films are shot well, particularly when you consider Friedel was a new filmmaker around this time. He manages to capture some interesting camera shots that help enhance the mood he’s trying to create. Likewise, he does a great job of capturing the cast’s emotional states onscreen as well.

And speaking of the casts, Friedel puts together a winning team for each film. In AXE, viewers are treated to Leslie Lee, who portrays the enigmatic Lisa, and Jack Canon as the bastard Steele. In KIDNAPPED COED, we get to see Jack Canon again, this time alongside the talented Leslie Rivers, who plays Sandra Morely. Although these are lower budget pictures, Friedel does a great job of utilizing the talents of everybody onset.

The special effects are laughable, but only in that it is very obvious the production team uses red paint as blood. The liquid is bright red and very fake…but I suppose it made a statement for its time. Still, I think chocolate syrup might have achieved a more realistic feel.

Nevertheless, this AXE / KIDNAPPED COED double-feature is a real treat, and fans of grindhouse horror and exploitation films will want to snatch this up immediately. In addition to the digital restorations, the Blu-ray contains a nice batch of Special Features, including:

* AXE feature, new 2k transfer from Original Negative
—Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Frederick R. Friedel, Production Manager Philip Smoot, Makeup Artist Worth Keeter & PA Richard W. Helms

* KIDNAPPED COED feature, new 2k transfer from Original Negative
—Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Frederick R. Friedel, Production Manager Philip Smoot & Makeup Artist Worth Keeter

* BLOODY BROTHERS feature, conformed from new transfers
—Audio Commentary with “Nightmare USA” Author Stephen Thrower
—At Last… Total Terror! – The Incredible True Story of AXE & KIDNAPPED COED (61 mins.)
—Moose Magic – The George Newman Shaw & John Willhelm Story (38 mins)
—Stephen Thrower on AXE & KIDNAPPED COED (10 mins)
—Trailers, TV Spots & Radio Spots
—Special Limited 2 Disc Edition comes with Audio CD of the first ever release of AXE & KIDNAPPED COED Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Plus Bonus Tracks By Soundtrack Composers George Newman Shaw & John Willhelm

This is available now, so make a note!

MSB

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