Alex Black still has an axe to grind. 

In 2014 Jeremy Sumrall brought us The Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter. Near as I can tell, there was no I or II.

In 2019, he returns with Pickaxe, a sequel. A sequel to a sequel to nothing. Cute. Cute premise.

The opening titles tell us all we need to know:

In 1982 the town of Woodland Hills was shocked when ten teenagers were murdered at Camp Arapaho. The only survivors — Adrienne Palmer and Deputy Dwayne Mathews — reported that the killings were the work of a local boogeyman known as Alex Black, rumored to be the son of Satan.

The following summer, a string of killings occurred at Meadow Falls Sanitarium, where Adrienne had been a patient for nearly a year. Believing Alex to have returned, Adrienne burned the institution to the ground and escaped, determined to put Alex Black’s memory to rest.

For five years the town of Woodland Hills has been unusually quiet, but that’s about to change…

Pick-Axe Murders III seems to happen between the second and third paragraphs.

The film opens with Paul and Dana (Kile Moore and Michelle Ellen Jones) in the woods at night, using a compass. They are trying to follow directions to where Alex Black‘s amulet that made him immortal is allegedly hidden. Paul wants to sell it for lots and lots of money. Dana, as we learn, has other ideas.

Paul finds the amulet (it looks like a Hot Topic basic Satanic necklace, very clean), and then Dana somehow decapitates him with a pickaxe. See, she wants to bring Alex back, and the amulet and a blood sacrifice will do that. She begins chanting some Latin (In nomine Satanas etc) and calls out, “Rise again Alex Black!” We see his hand pop up out of the ground à la Carrie White.

Dun dun!

Elsewhere, Jamie (Elizabeth Redpath, probably the best part of this film) wins concert tickets (a band cleverly called Sacreligious Desecration) and talks her friends into going. The concert is in Woodland Hills, though, and they decide to spend the weekend at Heather’s (Ashley-Marie Zgabay) family’s cabin, which from later scenes seems to be next door to the concert. And we  may be sure, right in the area where Alex arose.

High schoolers here are played by 30-year-olds as usual. Which makes the sex scenes a little less icky. But just a little.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Mathews (A. Michael Baldwin) from the previous movie comes to the local watering hole asking about the missing Paul and Dana and finds out they were looking for the legend of Alex Black. He also learns that Adrienne (Tiffany Shepis), also from the previous movie, is back in town. He’s suspicious.

The kids arrive in town in a pot-filled van and start getting wasted and being creepily debaucherous in a way that screams, “written by an old dude imagining how teenagers behave.”

And from there it’s pretty much paint by numbers. The kids and townies get picked off one by one, usually after demonstrating some sort of moral failing. Alex’s motive is unknown, the motive of Dana resurrecting him is unknown (it is implied she also meets her end at Alex’s hands).  The kill count is pretty high once Alex crashes the party.

Horror movies have always relied to a certain extent on humor. “If you can’t scare them, make them laugh” is a standard philosophy, and killer quips have been with us from the beginning of slasher films. The thing is, if you rely on one over the other, it has to be a strong game. This movie’s scare is not strong, and its humor seems to be on a level of the nerdy kid getting sexually assaulted and saying, “I think I just lost my virginity.”

There is also this, which is kind of subtle:

Kevin (Will Morgan): Don’t tell

Ashley (Danielle Jones): “Cross my heart and hope to die”

Alex: Stabs her through from behind (somehow, with a huge pickaxe), then kills Kevin. (EVERY death doesn’t need a blood cap in the mouth, sheesh.)

Though I guess the highlight of heroic quip comes from the sheriff: “Hey, maggot fucker, remember me?”

Titillation, then, is the next place to go. Ooh, shocking, Adrienne seems to be bi, and there are lots of pale breasts.

Very pale now that I think about it. As in, are there any people of color in this whole film? Surely even small-town West Virginia isn’t quite that white.

For all the fake blood, this whole film comes across as bloodless and weak-spirited. Still, while boring, it looks like it was fun to make.


Runtime: 1 hr 17 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: