‘Video Nasty’ is an umbrella term that exudes a definite notoriety that is very hard for many of these banned films to live up to, but what we fail to remember is that most of the movies are merely deemed controversial by a very small group of extremely conservative (and mostly joyless) individuals, which means that the average horror fan is going to be pretty much non plussed by most of the things portrayed in them, as the majority of us have suffered such over exposure to violence and depravity that we’re too jaded to register some of the paltry offerings of the exploitation flicks of yesteryear.
Lisa Lisa which also has been known under the names Axe and California Axe Massacre is a low budget grindhouse flick in the rural gothic ‘Last House on the Texas Hills Have Eyes’ theme, and has a terrible reputation among critics and fans alike, accused of a range of celluloid sins from mediocrity to being the slack jawed doppelganger of Last House on the Left, but is any of it warranted?
Two complete psychopaths and a wet behind the ears trainee hood go on a murderous spree before holing up in a remote farmhouse against the will of the lonely Lisa and her invalid grandfather while the heat dies down. As the tense atmosphere at the worst sleepover ever builds, the inevitable rape occurs and our fragile little country girl starts the payback.
Now as far as I’m concerned Wes Craven made a lot of great films but Last House wasn’t one of them, and when I hear a film compared to it, I’m put off at the thought of sitting through something like that again, though luckily Lisa Lisa is a lot more likable than the yard stick it’s unfairly being measured against.
Lomax and Steel as the sociopathic suits are streets ahead of Krug, Weasel and Sadie in terms of sheer lack of humanity, and Lisa’s ethereal detachment coupled with her underlying dark and crazy makes for a far more interesting dynamic. Though the film is far from perfect, what with the weird editing and the paint like substitute used for blood, it’s definitely an acquired taste, but one that I didn’t hate and actually made me want more from it.
I felt like there was a definite missed opportunity to delve deeper into the back story of Lisa’s lonely existence, particularly why her grandfather seemed almost afraid of her despite her care of him, although sometimes reasoning away abhorrent acts in these sort of films can sometimes detract from their shock value.
Messy, primitive and by no means the best of what trash cinema has to offer, but for sheer atmospherics and likability, Lisa Lisa had the potential to be The little Grind flick That Could.