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The Films of Frederick R. Friedel: Axe/Kidnapped Coed (1974 -1976) - Blu-ray Review

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Axe/Kidnapped Coed - Blu-ray Review

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5 beersWhen we get to the films of director Frederick R. Friedel let it be known that we are in very special B-movie territory. Inspired equally by the eye of Orson Welles and the taste of Roger Corman, Friedel and his gang of film conspirators combined their talents and put North Carolina on the map with a series of low-budget yet disturbing drive-in flicks. We might only be talking about three films BUT, once seen, you will GET why they are unshakeable and deserve a healthy reconsideration.

Axe and Kidnapped Coed are long-forgotten classics of the exploitation era of filmmaking. They are full of uneven aspects (as most low-budget flicks are) but, buried within each of the two narratives is a naturalistic style concerning the effects of violence that is guaranteed to leave audiences shaken. There is no reason for these two films to be ignored any longer. Of special note; however, is the inclusion of Bloody Brothers – a combination of both films to get copyright control and tighten them up – as Friedel tried to wrangle free the two movies after falling victim to Harry Novak's Boxoffice International distribution rights and the creative bookkeeping that kept Friedel and his producer from seeing how much money the films were actually making.

As is the case with a lot of drive-in offerings, the films - due to sketchy production agreements and unexpected tragedies – were long thought lost to the ravishes of time and the neglect associated with relatively "cheap" entertainment. The purveyors of good moral taste were probably happier with them being "lost" but, thanks to the efforts of Severin Films, Friedel's mid-70s flicks have been found, restored from their original negatives. and released for mass-consumption on blu-ray.

The results are pretty impressive (with the right non-professional perspective) for their $25000 budgets and just might lead to some histories to be re-written for future low-budget textbooks in the study of cinema. I mean, seriously. While there are an abundance of scenes that drag a bit, Friedel – in both films – manages to create a foreboding tone with his shots and it pays off well. It is retooling of both, with the release of Bloody Brothers, that seals the deal here. Trim and tight, Bloody Brothers weaves both movies together into a shocking web that truly satisfies as it actually does make both movies better.

Beginning with Axe (originally released in the drive-in as Lisa, Lisa), the set starts off strong as three killers (Jack Canon, Ray Green, and Friedel himself) on the run from the police flee to the country and take refuge in an old house. It is not abandoned however. Believing they are more cunning than Lisa (Leslie Lee) and her catatonic grandfather (Douglas Powers) – the residents – they never think twice about their abusing and humiliating their hostages – especially the young lady, which, ultimately, leads to their own undoing.

Kidnapped Coed is another mobster-type movie gone awry. This time, though, Jack Canon's mob persona is matched against the talent of Leslie Rivers as the unexpected happen when a kidnapping is executed. Once some of the grindhouse expectations are checked off the list, the film settles into a road movie that draws viewers in with a hypnotic swagger that proves to be effective and unsettling.

It is easy to see why this release from Severin is already on so many critics Best-Of releases from 2015. Pick up your copy now and relive a time when movies – even the little ones – were damn effective.

Axe/Kidnapped Coed - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 15, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 CD)
Region Encoding: A

The 1080p transfer from Severin Films is easily one of the best exploitation rescues of cinema yet. Severin doesn't disappoint with the jump from what was previously available on DVD. Both are properly framed and feature strong colors and details. Sure, the blood is simply red paint but the colors on each film pop like never before. There's very little scrubbing and while there are some spots of dirt and debris, neither film has ever looked this great before. A front-loaded English 2.0 track provides the audio for each film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are three glorious commentaries for folks to sink their teeth into, one for each movie. Axe features Writer/Director Frederick R. Friedel, Production Manager Philip Smoot, Makeup Artist Worth Keeter & PA Richard W. Helms in its commentary. For Kidnapped Coed, there is a commentary by Writer/Director Frederick R. Friedel, Production Manager Philip Smoot & Makeup Artist Worth Keeter. Finally, Bloody Brothers gets one with "Nightmare USA" Author Stephen Thrower.

Special Features:

Severin Films admitted that this is the best and most comprehensive blu- ray they have ever released with OVER 2 HOURS of Special Features directly related to the films. All three feature a new 2k transfer of the films from the original negatives. If that wasn't reason enough to pick this one up, Severin has provided multiple looks at the making of each movie. For the low budget fan, this is fascinating stuff. The Special Limited 2 Disc Edition also comes with an Audio CD of the first ever release of Axe & Kidnapped Coed Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, plus bonus tracks by composers George Newman Shaw & John Willhelm.

  • Bloody Brothers (90 min)
  • At Last... Total Terror! – The Incredible True Story of AXE & KIDNAPPED COED (61 min)
  • Moose Magic – The George Newman Shaw & John Willhelm Story (38 min)
  • Stephen Thrower on AXE & KIDNAPPED COED (10 mins)
  • Trailers, TV Spots & Radio Spots

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