Monday, October 16, 2017


The Axe Murders of Villisca is a very high-school horror movie. Nothing makes sense, everyone is upset, people are themselves one minute and someone else the next, and the sex is all wrong.

A high school guy named Caleb and his gay friend Denny investigate paranormal locations and video blog about them. This is how they cope with their respective high school traumas. When a new girl named Jess arrives at their school, she is immediately drugged and raped by the popular kids and then joins the dorks in their investigation of spooky houses.

Meanwhile, back in time, a teen girl had an affair with her pastor. The pastor then killed her, her parents, and a bunch of kids with an axe at the Villisca Murder House, presumably under the influence of some evil spirit because he looks like this while he's doing it:

It's not as clear from that picture, but his eyes are 'possessed black' while he's axing everyone. It's a visual cue that will come into play later!

Our trio of investigative losers is joined in the house by the bad rapist kid and his bad friend, except the bad friend gets killed right away by accident.

So, you've got Caleb, Jess, Denny, and bad rapist guy.

And you've got pastor, mom, dad, and a bunch of kids.

You know the ghosts are there. You can practically feel their presence when Jess steals the candy from the doll's hand that has been placed to represent one of the slain children. You can feel their anger, but trust me, the ghost parents are secretly relieved. They'd probably painted themselves into the corner of "You can have it after you eat a good ghost dinner," but then you've got ghost kids eating candy right before bed. That's probably WHY the ghost kid had the candy in bed. Because the parents were like "Uh, you can have it when you get up!"

Anyway, the bad rapist kid gets possessed:

And you're like, okay we'll that makes sense. I mean, he just accidentally stabbed his bad friend to death and he wasn't even possessed. Except he isn't possessed by the crazy pastor, he's possessed by:

I think that's the daughter who had an affair with the pastor. But, it could be the mom. Anyway, it's not whom you would expect to possess the bad rapist guy. While you're trying to figure that out, Denny gets possessed!

And then Caleb gets possessed!

He's looking at a picture of the creepy pastor when that happens, so I think he's possessed by the axe murderer! PLOT TWIST CITY. Jess better watch out! They could all axe murder her!

But just when you're thinking that, Jess gets possessed too!

I know, she can't believe it either.

This is definitely the most surprising and least expected moment in the whole movie. But usually a plot twist is supposed to imbue the previous events with new meaning. This imbues them with no meaning. Apparently, getting possessed doesn't matter UNLESS you get possessed by axe-murderness. But at this point everyone seems to have been possessed by the mean daughter and she got axe MURDERED. The mind reels, and then...

Jess's possession frees Denny:

He goes down stairs and talks to Caleb, who is still presumably possessed by the ghost of the pastor. So, does Caleb say

a. "Where am I? Whose pants are these?"
b. "She told me she was 18!"
c. "Boo!"
d. "I know you're into me, bro, and I'm not into you so let's stop being friends."

The answer is D! Possessed Caleb truth bombs Denny with his own internal business. It's like he's possessed by himself! Which is an interesting way of looking at adolescence.

The rest of The Axe Murders of Villisca is equally confusing, and continues to be about a bunch of teenagers reflecting on and ultimately confronting their past traumas while being possessed by the ghost of an old timey family. The bad guy turns out to be the poltergeist generated by the promiscuous daughter's shame about being a fornicator. And not the adult pastor who had sex with her and also killed her family. 

Hey, it's time for questions for Paul.

1)      Did anyone in the present day actually get killed with an axe?

PH:  I don't think anyone did!  There was that one guy who gets the ol' thought-you-were-somebody-else-and-stuck-a-knife-in-you.  And then the other guy who gets the . . . wait, what happens to the other guy? . . . oh, huh.  He stabs himself in the stomach.

So two knife murders and zero axe murders in the present.  But in the past there were like six axe murders and zero knife murders.  At this rate, the sequel should be titled "The Knife Murders of Villisca" and feature one nail file murder.  And after that, "The Nail File Murder of Villisca" in which no one will die, but someone will get scratched by a protruding nail.  Next, in "The Protruding Nail Incident of Villisca" someone takes an iron pill and then gives birth.  And finally, in "The Iron Pill Baby Shower of Villisca," there will be no murders or scratches, but everyone will give birth and there will be toddlers wandering everywhere holding plastic toy axes while listening to Iron Maiden.

2)      What acts of violence as sexual metaphors might have been more inclusive?

PH:  Getting stabbed as a heterosexual metaphor has been around since at least that time when the prince in The Little Mermaid stabs the giant octopoidal vagina witch with his ship's mighty prow.  But jeez, Joe, you're not throwing me any softballs here--I dare you to come up with a non-heterosexual violence metaphor and put your name to it.  Timidly, I'll just submit that something involving a hat would probably work.  But I don't want to go any further than that.  Just a killer hat.

3)      How long would a minor go away for trespassing and arson? Like two years?

PH:  I don't know!  But the nice thing about prison is that there are no killer hats to worry him!

4)      How were drugs NOT involved?

PH:   You tried to trick me there!  There were drugs--the two guys with the not-yet-stabbed abdomens smoke up and make sex jokes that don't make sense.  "Are you sure this is pot" says one.  "Yeah, man, I got it from Shelley," says another one suggestively, "Cherry-flavored."  Now if this is a sexual metaphor, it's really difficult to follow.  Unless pot is supposed to be a vagina.  But pot isn't much like a vagina unless . . . oh man . . . it's A pot.  And even then, I still think a killer hat works better.

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