Friday, August 29, 2008

Ax 'Em: The Worst Movie To Ever Exist Ever

Back in high school, I started a website in which I would watch and review every single DVD at the local Family Video in alphabetical order. I got through all of the A's and ended on Ax 'Em, which was so unbelievably horrible that I ended the project right then and there. Some of my other reviews are pretty entertaining, and I'm sure I'll move my favorites over here in the near future, but this is by far - in my opinion - my best one, mostly because I'm filled with so much hatred for everyone involved in the production of this movie. So enjoy my extremely long teenage rant, in which I completely destroy Michael "Mfumay" Mfume's dreams.

Ax 'Em (2002)

Tagline: It Was Supposed To Be A Weekend Get-Away Until The Horror Began!

Directed by: Michael "Mfumay" Mfume

Written by: Michael "Mfumay" Mfume

Starring: Michael "Mfumay" Mfume

Whenever I write a review, I feel I'm bringing something to the internet. If I happen to review a movie that no one has done before, I feel confident knowing that if someone, somewhere, stumbles across the movie and thinks, "Am I alone in thinking this is the worst movie ever?" they may find my reviews and know they are not the only one in the universe. That being said, I feel like it's a crime to even acknowledge this movie's existence. I find it hard to believe that I will ever find a movie worse than this. I say that a lot, but this is ridiculous. Whenever I say I'm going to give you a "scene-by-scene" review, I'm lying to you. I usually cut out five or so scenes that I find boring and useless to the plot. But with this, I guarantee you will get the whole thing. Every single second of this movie has to be recorded to the annals of the internet, to spread the gospel of Ax 'Em. Bear with me, please, as we suffer through this together.

Here's how the movie starts out:

In case you cannot read that, or the pictures are not appearing, let me transcribe it for you:

On a cold winter night, in 1990, Mr. Mason, a mean and cruel Towns man, let 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 deaths.

That's the first fucking thing you see in this movie. As we find out later, Mr. Mason and his family were white, while "mentally Ill son" is really just a euphemism for "black son". This movie's breaking down racial barriers, ya'll.

The opening scene gives away a hell of a lot about the movie, other than the plot or what the fuck is going on. What it does reveal, however, is that the movie was shot with a hand-held camera from the 1970's, and not a single microphone was used, other than the one on the camera. Keep in mind this movie was released in 2002, so being forced to use such outdated equipment is not a valid excuse. What I can gather from this scene is a bunch of black people are at a party, and about fifteen of them agree to go to someone's cabin or house for the weekend. This turns out to be an actual plot point later on, so it destroys my theory that someone just turned on a camera and filmed a Christmas party they went to. The scene is constantly fading to black in the middle of sentences and fading back in to about fifteen minutes later, so there's no way to tell what is really going on - if you can hear through all the background noise, that is. Whatever. The scene ends, and the viewers are left cringing, wondering what the fuck could go wrong next.

We then see the house where we can safely assume all the murders mentioned in the error-free introduction occurred. A giant black man with an ax approaches the house, and since we're assuming a lot of things, we'll also assume this is the son whose return was foretold thirteen years ago. The kid certainly has aged in thirteen years. He went from about twelve years old to forty-five. Nonetheless, the camera switches to inside the house. All we see is an empty staircase, which we are left to stare at for about five minutes. Somewhere in the background, however, we can hear someone talking non-stop. Finally, the speaker enters the shot, and we see it is simply an elderly man, rambling incoherently to himself without taking a single breath. He sees his front door is open and manages to squeeze in a, "WHO THE HELL?!" so quickly that it takes the viewer about a minute to realize he shouted that, because he instantly reverts back to his ramblings in the same breath. He closes the door, and goes into the next room, where he loads a gun. Of course, he continues talking. As he is loading the gun, the killer stumbles up to him, and raises his ax. The old man says, "Awwww shit," before continuing to blab on, and he is killed. Or, more accurately, he is pushed into a closet, and the killer kind of taps him lightly with the ax. It's important to note that this is the only character killed with an ax, while the movie title promises at the very least two people will be slaughtered in this way.

Next up, my favorite scene: the opening credits! For some strange reason, Director/Writer/Producer/Star Michael "Mfumay" Mfume decided to put the opening credits over a step show, which - to my uninformed white eyes - appears to be just a lot of choreographed dancing without any music. I'd have no problem with this - in fact, the dances are pretty impressive, since every single person in this scene has more rhythm in their pubic hair than I will ever have in my entire body - except for two small things. One: they choose to make a five-year-old girl dance in a very provocative manner. Meaning she rubs her breasts and gyrates her hips, while her proud mother looks on and screams wildly. At least her family supports her. The second thing is after the credits are over, the scene continues on. For ten minutes. Ten minutes that have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MOVIE. After the dancing is over, the circle breaks out a series of "yo mamma" jokes. Finally, the scene ends. We learn later that this scene wasn't cut down because Michael Mfume skipped the editing process altogether.

The only possible reason I can think of including a scene such as this in your movie is to weed out the viewers that aren't serious about watching it. When you rent Ax 'Em, you aren't watching your everyday pansy popcorn flick. You have to fucking want to watch it. Luckily, I passed through my ordeal, and I am now a man.

We return to the previously scheduled movie. A group of young people - we'll have time later to possibly learn their names, or at least the names that are audible - are discussing, again, a vacation to someone's cabin. We can assume that these are the same people from the party in the beginning, but it could just be a coincidence. Throughout their conversation, a crew member circles the group. How do I know he's a crew member? Because he's fucking carrying one of those production slates that they clack in front of the camera! The evidence is here:

However, I am impressed by the fact that they actually used those in the making of the movie. But now I'm just depressed, knowing that someone actually spent a decent amount of money on this production. I'm sure I've passed by Michael Mfume on the streets of New York or Chicago and ignored his pleas for money. The group agrees to meet at 2:00 at one of their houses, and they split up to go... I don't know, dance some more.

Next up, we meet Rock and his girlfriend. Rock looks suspiciously like Malcolm X, but that's beside the point. Rock has obviously been cheating on her, because he keeps insisting, "This is the last time." His girlfriend, however, won't have any of that shit. "You say that every weekend, Rock. Every weekend!" she insists. But Rock brings her back to his side with, "Who bought you all this shit?" pointing at her fancy jewelry and denim clothes, so they hug. Ah, young love.

The rap music that will continue throughout the duration of the movie picks up, and the first audible line is, "This here nigga's goin' straight to the top." Anyway, the group meets at someone's house at 2:00 like they were told to do. Up until this point, we've only seen smaller groups of the people who are going on this trip, and it was impossible to tell if the different groups were really different groups or just the same group of people on different days, due to the shitty quality of the tape. So now, we finally get to see the entire cast of potential victims. There are about fifteen people going along on this trip, thereby erasing any possibilities of ever getting to know each character. I mean, when your main cast of actors has to take three cars to drive anywhere, you might have to work on saying no to your friends when they ask if they can be in your movie. Anyway, the young ruffians take off on a wild adventure.


The kids then arrive at the cabin, sparing us from having to sit and watch the entire three-hour drive. I wouldn't put it past Michael Mfume to include a scene like that in this movie. However, there are now only two cars, and when the surviving two pull in, the occupants of the third car simply step out from behind a bush. I don't know, maybe their car broke down and they ran really fast and beat everyone there. No one questions it, so you shouldn't, either. The men immediately start making fun of each other and detailing who should bring what in. "I'M HUNGRY!" shrieks one of the banshee women, so, to punish her for speaking when not spoken to, one of the men runs up, rips her wig off, and runs away. I'm glad they find cancer so amusing. The scene ends with that.

Next up: two of my favorite characters! Aside from the old man in the beginning and a second character that will be introduced later in the movie, these two are the best. This is their one and only scene in the movie, so they make the best of it. Stumbling out of a forest, immediately establishing that they are drunk, they manage to slur some of the only audible dialogue in the movie to the point where it is no longer coherent. If you want to know how high-quality the acting is in this scene, the bigger man is the crew member that was walking around in the background a few scenes ago. However, they manage to get across the point that they saw a "big mothah fuckah musta been ten feet tall" in the forest. The smaller drunk tells the bigger drunk to go kick his goddamn ass, and then they fight over a bottle of malt liquor. "You better back up, you big six-foot-nine mothah fuckah," says the little man. "He's coming," slurs the bigger man, and the two run right out of the movie. As the scene fades, we hear Michael Mfume, loud and clear, shout, "CUT!" Classy guy, that Michael Mfume. This scene's only purpose was to establish that there is a killer loose in the forest, and that he is large, both of which we already know. But it's good to be reminded once in a while.

Back at the cabin, the kids are getting settled in. Mike, played by Michael Mfume himself, says something that I can't hear to one of the women - the largest woman in the place, who looks suspiciously like an ancient Aztec queen - that causes Mike to celebrate with Rock in a high five that will turn the world on its head. Let me try to explain it: it starts out as a normal high five, but instead of simply hitting the palms of the hands together and releasing, you must clasp your hands together and hold. You must then run your free hand through your hair, starting at your forehead and working your way up and over, all the way down to the back of your neck. While doing this, you must then hump the air as fast as possible. Then you are free to release your other hand. Both parties must be willing to partake in the hair-rubbing and pelvic thrusting, or it doesn't work. Apparently, the scene is dedicated to this one high-five, because it ends immediately after.

Mike and his girlfriend - we'll call her Nikki, because one of the characters is named Nikki, I just don't know which one - are taking a lovely stroll in the woods, when another girl - we'll call her Tonya for the same reason as Nikki - runs up and interrupts. Tonya pulls Nikki aside and tells her that she thinks her boyfriend, Rock, is cheating on her. Now, when we first met Rock, he was with another girlfriend, so it is quickly established that Rock is either a major player, or Michael Mfume just forgot what he wrote ten minutes ago. Nikki tells Tonya, "Girl, I could have told you that! Every time you got your back turned, he's sleepin' with somebody else!" They laugh it off, and Nikki also tells Tonya that Rock's second girlfriend's name is Yolanda. If you think this is the girl from earlier in the movie, you're wrong. So as far as we know, Rock has three girlfriends, all of whom know about the other two. He must have a massive penis. That's the only explanation. Naturally, the scene fades out in the middle of a sentence. This movie just doesn't want to give you closure!

And now for the first of many eating scenes. I won't mention it after this, because it'll get pretty redundant, but every time the group is eating at a table, they are eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes and drinking malt liquor. Not that they're perpetuating stereotypes or anything. I have no idea what happens during this dinner scene, and if I didn't already know Michael Mfume couldn't afford an editing machine, I would have been astonished that it was left in the final cut of the movie. There are about four copies of Ebony Magazine circulating around the table - again, not to perpetuate stereotypes - and after some guy named Sean calls Mike's girlfriend (she's the Aztec warrior queen, of course) ugly, Mike retorts by standing up and telling a five-minute joke. The punch line is simply the word "fuck". HILARIOUS! After the joke, the women get up and clear the dishes, telling the men not to worry about doing any work. The group decides to go for a late-night hike. Meanwhile, the girls continue their own conversation in the kitchen while doing the dishes. However, it's impossible to know what they are saying, because there is no audio whatsoever in this scene. They do find a gun in a drawer, but of course it's never mentioned again.

The group then moves outside around a fire. Mike is again telling a joke, but the rap music is turned up to such an atrocious volume that it's virtually impossible to make out a single word of the story. They laugh a lot, though, so the viewer just feels really left-out and lonely. And then something weird happens. The scene doesn't end, but it melds into a flashback (you can tell because it's black and white) of four kids playing. Two of the kids are black, and two are white. The white kids give the black kids something, and then they separate. Then we get to see the actual Mason murders. Mr. Mason takes a shotgun and shoots first his wife and his two kids. Although he aims straight down into their bodies, the blood seems to wait a few seconds before suddenly rebounding up onto the ceiling. The shotgun is remarkably loud, so it's incredible that no one wakes up while their siblings are being murdered in the next bed. Nonetheless, he kills all the family members, before turning the gun on himself. He sticks the barrel of the shotgun in his mouth, looks at the director off-camera, quickly removes the shotgun from his mouth and aims it at the ceiling, cues the shotgun sound effect, and then closes his eyes and lays slowly backwards. I don't know, but I think he's supposed to be dead. We see the police investigating the murders. "Investigating" means standing over the bodies and waving their guns around in the air, while constantly looking directly into the camera. If you can believe it, the flashback gets even weirder.

The black kid from before is walking by the fire pit with the old man who died in the beginning of the movie. The kid drops the thing he was given earlier, and bends to pick it up, while the old man continues on at an incredibly slow pace. When the kid stands up, he sees someone - I assume it's the mentally ill son who will return in 13 years - holding some other kid's body. The black kid holds up the object he just picked up, and then runs over to where the old man is standing. He points, but the mentally ill son and the body have disappeared. If the last two paragraphs made no sense, don't worry about it. I've spent three days agonizing over this scene, trying to unravel it's mysteries, but I've had no luck. Trust me, it's meaningless, drug-induced garbage. Don't waste your time.

Back to the real action! Tonya is standing perfectly straight in the corner of the kitchen, simply reading Ebony Magazine, which she is holding an inch from her eyes like any normal person would do. Rock runs in and asks flat-out if she wants to have sex. In short, she rejects him. Yolanda comes in, and Tonya says Yolanda can sleep with her, and Rock can sleep on the couch tonight. They leave the room, so Rock immediately gets on the phone and calls a woman named Monica, asking her to have sex. She says yes. Damn, Rock is GOOD.

Well, we don't have enough characters to keep track of, so Michael Mfume introduces three more. One of them, however, is my second favorite character in the movie. A car is driving down a road, when it suddenly stops. Three people get out - a white man, a white woman, and a black man - and they state that they are out of gas. I didn't know that once you ran out of gas, the car simply slammed on the brakes and shut off, but I'm not an auto mechanic. The white man, Brian, tells his girlfriend, Sarah, to stay by the car while he goes to find a phone. And he demands that his friend, Breakfast - yes, fucking Breakfast - comes with him. Breakfast throws a fit, but eventually gives in.

Back at the cabin, Tonya forgives Rock, and apparently Monica never shows up, because Tonya and Rock have wild sex in the bath tub. Suddenly, it's the next morning, and everyone gathers around the breakfast (the meal, not the character) table for another stereotyped meal. Everyone talks about whom they had sex with, and many people discover their significant other cheated on them. However, there can't be any fights while eating, so they just laugh it off. Everyone gets up to get ready for the day, leaving Sean at the table to finish by himself. The camera zooms ominously into his bicep, and fades out.

We go back to Brian and Breakfast, who are approaching some house. Brian wants to go in and look for a phone, and Breakfast just wants to get the hell out of there. He says, "What are you supposed to be, fuckin' Inspector Gadget?" and claims that the black man always dies first in a horror movie, so pretty much the only man safe right now out of this entire cast is Brian. They argue by kicking a fallen branch back and forth without speaking, and somehow that settles the matter. Brian goes into the house, and Breakfast runs away. "Screw these black guys," says Brian. "They don't know nothing." In a Michael Mfume movie, a line like that is like signing your own death warrant. Brian travels throughout the house, screaming every three steps, "CAN I USE YOUR PHONE?!" The house is obviously deserted, but he continues on, anyway. The screencaps I took aren't the best for this scene, because each room was color-coded for some reason, and the colors were so dark it covered up anything that was going on. However, from what I could see, the killer dials a phone, and then smacks Brian in the face with it, killing him instantly. Or, to be more accurate, he moves it in front of Brian's face, holds it there, and whispers, "Fall over." Also, I'm pretty sure the zombie dialed 1-800-KILL-YOU.

There's no way anyone could do makeup
THIS realistic. They had to have actually
killed someone with a phone for this scene.

Breakfast trips and stumbles his way through the woods, saying such lines as, "Homie don't play that goddamn game," to himself over and over. He stops, thinks about going back to save Brian, and then shouts, "Bet you won't catch my black ass!" as he runs off.

The girls at the cabin are sitting around, doing their nails, and reading Ebony Magazine, of course. They all discuss who is sleeping with whom, and what men are best in bed. I love that all of the actresses were willing to play such unashamed whores. When Tonya reveals that her sex was good, they all enjoy a celebratory high-five.

After that brief - and completely necessary - interlude, Breakfast reaches Sarah and the car. He tells her that Brian is still back at the house, and when she asks where Breakfast is going to go, he says, "I'm running back to Baltimore!" And run he does, right out of the movie. So long, Breakfast. I'm glad the giant 'tard didn't get you.

In the cabin, this guy named Tony finally gets his two minutes of fame in the movie. He goes to the bathroom, which we are forced to watch. And since they didn't use many special effects, including sounds, in the making of this movie, we can only assume he was really peeing. He pees for about a minute straight, before something outside catches his eye. He opens the window and sees the killer prowling around outside. "Fuck!" he shouts, and runs downstairs to tell Mike. Tony and Mike agree to go "fuck him up," and they run outside to do so.

Assuming everything is fine, Tonya and Rock slip outside by the fire pit to have some sweet sex. Rock wins Tonya's heart with lines like: "You phatter than a swamp possum with the mumps," and, "You so fine, I could kiss yo' daddy's ass." He seriously said those sentences to a woman, and she seriously swooned over them. Tonya says she only wants a man with money. Rock promises to buy her things, so they make love while a killer runs amok.

Everyone seems to have forgotten about the strange man, because they are suddenly all back enjoying a fine chicken dinner. They quickly realize that Tonya and Rock are gone, when a scream interrupts their meal. Everyone gets up, frantic, and runs to see what is happening. For some reason, Tony remains at the table, shakes his head, and begins to play his Gameboy. That Tony doesn't let anything phase him. They open the door, and Tonya runs in, screaming, "HELP!" Rock follows, and his arm has been cut! Everyone starts talking at once, and the door opens again, and in falls the body of Brian. They scream, and we see that when someone is killed by having a phone smashed against his face, what is left are the signs of a bear attack. The group panics and runs outside. They see the killer is doing something with their cars, so they shout, "Oh shit!" and that shot repeats itself, so we get two identical "oh shits," and they run back inside. They have him outnumbered 15 to 1, but they're still terrified. They all run past the camera, screaming - some noticeably laughing - and Tony, the goofball, stops and screams right into the lens.


The group comes up with a few brilliant plans. First, they elect Mike to go check out the cars and see if they are tampered with. So, rather than walking normally, he dances his way on over. Way to play it cool, Mike. At first, the dance is funny, but after about a minute of it, it gets a little awkward. Especially because this is one of the only scenes in the movie without music behind it. The car sparks, so Mike opens the hood and checks it out. All he really does is open it, look inside, and then close it again, saying, "Shit, shit shit," a lot. When he closes the hood, he sees that the killer is standing behind him with a machete! Mike elbows him in the stomach, which throws the killer onto the ground, and Mike manages to escape indoors. However, they forgot to lock the door behind them, so the zombie simply opens the door and stumbles in. Everyone screams, and the scene fades to black. Yes, it fucking fades to black in the most climactic scene in the entire movie!

Here's what we can assume happens off-screen: somehow, they all escaped the killer and decided to split up and run in small, ragtag groups throughout the forest. I don't see why not. Rock remembers he has a gun in his pants. It's understandable that he didn't think to use it against the lunatic killer. Rock's group gets in a fight, and they leave Rock behind. The killer jumps up from behind Rock and, in possibly the best moment in any movie ever, Rock screams and wiggles his glasses. Now that's comedy! Suddenly, Rock is dead (or IS he?) in the grass, and the killer trades in his baseball bat for Rock's gun. Back at the cabin, one of the girls walks up to the door to leave the house, and then thinks better of it, for some reason. She turns around, and there's the killer, with his machete again! He cuts through her entire fucking skull, causing her to laugh on camera.

Wow, Sarah's still alive! Remember her? The only white girl in the movie? For some reasons, she's walking through the forest, and literally tripping every couple of steps. In a thirty-second walking scene, she trips SIX TIMES. And she's just shuffling her feet; she's not even really walking! From out of the woods behind her comes the killer, grunting like Frankenstein's monster for some reason, and you know instantly Sarah is dead. There's no way she'll survive if she can't even walk through grass that hasn't been mowed in a week. She runs off camera.

Meanwhile, Tony and the Aztec find Sarah, Brian and Breakfast's car. They get in a fight, and the Aztec woman slaps Tony across the face, prompting a series of, "Oh, you did not just slap me in these woods! You did not just slap me in these woods! I can't believe you just slapped me in these woods! What is wrong with you? I can't believe you just slapped me in these woods!" God, this script is perfect.

Sarah jumps over the camera and runs off screen. The second she disappears into the woods, the scene repeats itself. Michael Mfume, did you even try anymore when you got near the end of the movie? Meanwhile, Mike is sneaking into the house where the old man was killed in the beginning. He holds his fingers like they are a gun; either he's pretending to have one to try to trick the killer, or he was supposed to have one and they lost the gun prop while filming. Either way, he sneaks into the house, and finds the closet with the dead old man in it, revealing that it was his grandfather! You think Mike would have said something earlier, like, "Hey, guys, my grandfather lives next door. Let's go to his house to call for help."

What the hell? What's Rock doing alive? Turns out he survived the deadly blow, and he's back in the multicolored house, only it is no longer multicolored. Rock throws himself on a chair and, always the genius, tosses a bedsheet over himself to hide. Perfect! Nikki also enters the house, and she is fooled by Rock's clever, clever trick.

Two other people - it's too dark to see who they are - enter another house. Apparently this cottage was in the middle of a rather well-populated area. Why didn't they just go to one of their neighbors earlier for help? The two sneak upstairs, and when they see the killer is inside, the man pushes the woman into the killer and runs out the front door. Naturally, the woman dies. Or, at least, the zombie swings his machete five feet in front of her face and then she's laying on the floor covered in blood. Second-guessing himself, for some reason, the man turns around, runs back inside, pushes the killer out of the way, and runs back upstairs. What? Why?! You sacrificed your girlfriend and then decided to stick around? Of course, the killer takes out his gun and shoots the man in the back. Good riddance.

There's a quick shot of the camera man dropping the camera while walking through a forest (further evidence that the editing process was skipped), and then it quickly cuts to the killer entering the formerly-multicolored house. He sees Rock's clever sheet disguise and is also fooled by it. Nikki is upstairs in a closet, praying. The killer strolls around the room and then leaves. But a skeleton drops its hand on Nikki's shoulder, and she screams, giving away her position. She tries to shut the door on the killer, but he manages to give her quite a nasty cut to her arm. As in, the blade goes four entire inches through her rubber-like bones. Nikki falls back, gripping her severely damaged wrist, and the zombie taps the door, making it fall right over. He jumps at Nikki, but Rock throws off his tricky disguise, pushes the killer to the floor, and runs away with Nikki. Surely he's dead now!

Meanwhile, Mike hears some noises, so he shoots at a door, somehow managing to make the bullets make noise before he even raises his gun. The killer bursts through the door, and of course we cut to another scene immediately. There are some more running-through-the-woods shots that are far too dark to see, and hundreds of sound effects of the killer grunting and groaning like an asthmatic hag running a mile. Four of them meet up at the car, and they stand around yelling about something - I'm not sure what, but it gives the killer enough time to catch up with them. Then there are even more shots of them running through the woods. THRILLING.

They manage to find an old, abandoned warehouse (in the middle of a forest), and they seek refuge there. The killer, of course, shows up instantly, so they all back into a corner. They take a few shots at him, but nothing but yellow goo shoots out, and he continues to walk towards them. Will he never die?! He picks something up, and the Aztec shoves a pitchfork straight into his chest! Convinced that they've finally killed him, they all kick him on their way out, and Mike takes some time to gather up some random coupons from the floor of the warehouse. Classic Mike!

We see their car drive down the road, and the killer following them. I smell a sequel!

The ending credits are sure to thank God, Spike Lee, and all those who supported him, and those who did not. I'm assuming that was meant to be a little "fuck you"" to everyone who said the movie sucked, because Michael Mfume knew it would become huge and an instant classic. Now, though, the irony is just depressing.

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