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Film / Ax 'Em

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"On a cold winter night, in 1990, Mr. Mason, a mean and cruel Towns man, left his job for Home. After arriving home, He took a shotgun And killed his wife and Kids. Then is mean man Killed himself.
When the police arrived they only found the bodies of his wife, Daughter, and younger son. His mentally Ill son Harry Was not ever found.

Legend has it, he will return in 13 years to revenge his family's deaths."
The opening scroll

Ax 'Em (originally titled The Weekend It Lives) is a horror film directed, written and produced by Michael Mfume, made in the '90s and distributed in 2002.

The film follows a group of teenagers who attend Morgan State University, and make plans to head up north for a party at an isolated cabin. Unbeknownst to them, the mentally-ill son of a man who executed himself and most of his family has been wandering the woods looking for revenge and soon comes to massacre the teenagers. What follows is a race as the teens try to survive and look for a way out before Harry kills them all.

The film was the first (and only) film produced and directed by Mfume, the son of former senator (and president of the NAACP) Kwesei Mfume. It was heavily panned during its initial release and languished in obscurity for years until its release on DVD a decade later. Today horror fans widely regard it as one of the worst and most incompetently made horror films of all time.

Ax 'Em provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ax-Crazy: Harry, although he uses a machete to dispatch his victims instead of an axe.
  • Blatant Lies: Despite the title, an axe never appears in the film, only a hatchet, which Harry only uses once.
  • Dull Surprise: The grandfather in the pre-credits sequence, when faced with Harry stalking towards him, matter-of-factly says, "Oh, shit."
  • Excuse Plot: A group of high-school students go up north for the weekend, crack jokes about sex and pop culture, then get stalked by the only witness to a grisly Murder-Suicide.
  • Fade to Black: Used constantly during scene transitions.
  • Faking the Dead: One of the teenagers, when trapped in the house with Harry pursuing him, sits in a chair, throws a sheet over himself and pretends to be a corpse. The ruse works, and Harry doesn't discover him.
  • Filler:
    • The "step show/insult contest" sequence takes up a good 7-8 minutes of screentime and has nothing to do with the rest of the plot.
    • There is an extended sequence where the group is talking and eating. Granted, it's split with other scenes such as Brian's death, Rock trying to screw a female, and Tony taking a pee break, but it's still infuriating because the movie stops dead for a bit.
  • For the Evulz: The supposed motivation of Harry, who is attacking people who stay near him because of what happened to his father and family (an event caused completely by the senior Mason and no one else) a decade-and-a-half prior.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The majority of the film takes place in an isolated, wooded area where the students have no access to phones or communication with the outside world.
  • Hollywood Silencer: During the flashback, the "mean Towns man" kills his family. Note how they don't wake up when they are shot.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Harry clocks Brian in the face with a rotary dial telephone
  • Improv: A lot of the dialogue appears to have been improvised. Some scenes are just multiple characters saying the same things over and over and talking over each other.
  • Irony: In one scene, a teenager enters a seemingly abandoned house and searches the place while loudly demanding a phone every five minutes. As he searches another room, what does the killer knock him out with? A rotary phone.
  • Jump Cut: Used right before characters die.
  • Machete Mayhem: Harry uses a machete as his weapon of choice when he isn't using a baseball bat or a big handgun.
  • Make Sure He's Dead: After the other teenagers leave, Michael goes back, picks up a revolver, and fires several more shots into Harry. Subverted - it doesn't work, and he gets back up again sometime after Michael leaves.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The opening text claims that Harry Mason wants to avenge the deaths of his family members. If that really is his motive, then his targeting a group of random people who had nothing to do with said deaths is even more inexplicable.
  • Monochrome Casting: The majority of the movie's cast is African-American. In fact, only two or three Caucasian people appear in the whole movie. Even then, they don't last long.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: If the opening text crawl is to be believed, the movie takes place in 2003.
  • The '90s: The film was made in 1992, and it shows with the now out-of-date styles (a Mickey Mouse shirt a character wears) and lingo.
  • The Oner: Every single scene is like this, although it is almost certainly not an artistic choice and done rather because the movie is so cheap and crappy.
  • Plot Hole: The opening crawl says that the killer wants to "Revenge (sic) his family deaths". Except we see in a flashback that his father (the one who killed his family) shot himself after doing the deed, and all the people he kills had nothing to do with, making the reason for the killings unclear.
  • Re-Cut: According to one reviewer, the movie was re-edited for its DVD release. The opening crawl is now littered with typos and at least 15 minutes of content were removed with the rest of the movie being re-edited to compensate.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Subverted. Despite saying that he would "revenge his family deaths," Harry doesn't even do that.
  • Shout-Out
  • The Stinger: As the surviving students escape, Harry (who was shot and presumably killed) walks out of the forest and growls.
  • Stock Footage: In the scene where Harry discovers the teens trying to fix the car, the group shouts, "Oh, shit!" And then they replay it backwards. Also, the scene where Nikki flees and screams are played at least twice.
  • Tap on the Head: Rock is struck with a baseball bat by Harry, but later recovers. Aside from the blood dripping down his head, he doesn't really suffer any side effects.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When an old man is attacked by Harry in the beginning, his only response is a very matter-of-fact "ah shit".
  • Too Dumb to Live: At one point, the surviving characters find a car. Rather than just getting in and driving away, they start hooping and hollering in celebration. This gives Harry enough time to find and chase them away from it.
  • Turn of the Millennium: Despite being made in 1992, the movie itself didn't get released until 2002 and apparently takes place in 2003.
  • The Unintelligible: Literally everyone. Their dialogue, such as it is, is barely audible.
  • Unreadably Fast Text: The opening text is on-screen for only 3 seconds before moving on.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • What happened to the white girl who trips every time?
    • Two homeless men stumble out of the forest, make a reference to kicking Harry's ass, then run off and aren't seen again.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Averted - the characters fire several shots into Harry when they flee from the car. It takes several more shots (and a pitchfork) to put him down at the end of the film.
  • Your Mom: Used repeatedly by the emcee during the opening credits.