“Lizzie Borden Took An Axe” Movie Recap: More Like Take A Nap, Amirite

There’s a slo-mo funeral procession. This entire movie feels like it takes place in slow motion.

Jaunty funeral hats!

Jaunty funeral hats!

Literally two seconds after the bodies are buried, the police (WHO HAVE BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME) tell the sisters that they need to exhume the bodies for research. This is what life must have been like before cell phones.

Why is this so expensive, you said it was the cheapest coffin!

Why is this so expensive, you said it was the cheapest coffin!

Emma writes up a reward poster for any leads to the killers. The mayor comes to their house to tell them that Lizzie will have to come to the police station for questioning. Emma is like shit we’re in trouble but Lizzie literally asks about the lunch situation.

They're accusing you of murder, Lizzie!

They’re accusing you of murder, Lizzie!

Sooo...am I brown bagging it for lunch or not?

Sooo… am I brown bagging it for lunch or not?

Lizzie is flattered by all the attention but Emma is like, you are way too blasé about this. That night, Emma gets ready for bed when Lizzie appears in the doorway like a creepster.

Just solidifying this image for your nightmares, kbai!

Just solidifying this image for your nightmares, kbai!

Once she leaves, Emma does the only smart thing in this entire movie by LOCKING HER FUCKING DOOR.

FINALLY I can masturbate in peace!

FINALLY I can masturbate in peace!

A cop patrolling the outside looks into the basement to see Lizzie burning some shit. Will this come back later at any point in the story? NOPE.
The next day, the sisters arrive at the police station, where they are hounded by press and onlookers.

90% of this movie's budget was spent on horses and carriages.

90% of this movie’s budget was spent on horses and carriages.

Lizzie is questioned by Nolton and she admits she and her stepmom weren’t BFF. When he asks her about the stain on her dress she says it was stew. He demands that she surrender the dress as evidence.

Fine, it was period blood on the dress, are you happy?

Fine, it was period blood on the dress, are you happy?

Next week, on Murder or Menses?

Next week, on Murder or Menses?

That night, in a totally innocent move, Lizzie burns the dress in a trash can fire. Emma is like, don’t you see how guilty you look, and Lizzie is like leave me the fuck alone.

I thought you wanted smores!

I thought you wanted smores!

Smores aren't vegan Lizzie, I wish you'd respect my dietary choices!

Smores aren’t vegan Lizzie, I wish you’d respect my dietary choices!

Alice watches them from the window. It’s all fun and games and roasted lamb until someone destroys the evidence. Bridget goes to the cops and tells them about the burned dress. The judge still doesn’t believe that anyone with breasts could axe murder someone, but Nolton is like, for real?

You're telling me women can do what men can do? Poppycock!

You’re telling me women can do what men can do? Poppycock!

Lizzie questions Bridget, who assures her she didn’t rat on her. Lizzie fires her, which is a great idea for someone who is defending you, dummy!

Thanks for all your help, now get the fuck out!

Thanks for all your help, now get the fuck out!

The doctor comes over and gives Lizzie some morphine to calm her nerves. The next few scenes are Lizzie high as fuck being interrogated. Will this film descend into a haze of drug addiction and murder? NO BECAUSE THAT WOULD INTERESTING TO WATCH.

Don't worry, it's nothing a little heroin won't fix!

Don’t worry, it’s nothing a little heroin won’t fix!

I know it may seem excessive, but these cramps really are a bitch

I know it may seem excessive, but these cramps really are a bitch

Living every gay girl's dream by napping in Clea Duvall's lap

Living every gay girl’s dream by napping in Clea Duvall’s lap

We then see the SAME IMAGES of the murder, just now through a druggy filter.

Is this a Matthew Barney film or just some garbage. IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

Is this a Matthew Barney film or just some garbage. IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

The morphine causes Lizzie to forget her alibi and slur her defense. The press keeps clamoring and the answers get sloppy.

Are those monkey on the ceiling? Sorry, I'm stoned

Are those monkey on the ceiling? Sorry, I’m stoned

OMG did someone bring Cheetos?

OMG did someone bring Cheetos?

Lizzie is officially charged with murder and arrested. The case is headline news and Lizzie is a celebrity.

Now kiss

Now kiss

Instead of worrying about being hanged, Lizzie is pissed that her newpaper photo is shitty. Girl’s got priorities.

Can we print a retraction that says I'm hotter IRL?

Can we print a retraction that says I’m hotter IRL?

It’s the first day of the trial and the courthouse is packed. Everyone is abuzz with what will happen to Lizzzie. Will she get sent to SHU? Will she join a gang?

Head of the vicious prison gang, the Scandalamities

Head of the vicious prison gang, the Scandalamities

I would totally throw my pie for you

I would totally throw my pie for you

Meanwhile, congrats Howard Groopman! You’ve won the Lizzie Borden sweepstakes! Enjoy your stay at the Borden bed and breakfast, where you definitely won’t not get murdered!

The prize axe! We're bashing your head in with winnings!

The prize axe! We’re bashing your head in with winnings!

Enjoy your imminent death and continental breakfast!

Enjoy your imminent death and continental breakfast!

So Jennings gives his opening statement where he’s like, she teaches Sunday school and she’s a rich white lady, she is obvs innocent.

Gentlemen of the jury, my client has a vagina. I rest my case.

Gentlemen of the jury, my client has a vagina. I rest my case.

Is this a real thing? Like, next time I get a parking ticket can I just plead the lady defense? In an unrelated story, please donate to my Kickstarter for bail money.

And then Patrick Bateman chased a hooker down the hallway with a chainsaw...can you say chainsaw?

And then Patrick Bateman chased a hooker down the hallway with a chainsaw…can you say chainsaw?

While Nolton goes over the crime, we suddenly see new images of the murder. Namely, we see Lizzie’s naked back. Wait, did she murder in the nude?

Best Burning Man ever!

Best Burning Man ever!

Meanwhile, some woman in the next town over gets axe murdered. The defense pleads for a dismissal, but the case continues. Bridget takes the stand and says that the Bordens were cold as ice and never gave each other gifts.

Not even one of those coupons for a free back rub?

Not even one of those coupons for a free back rub?

She offered him some pigeon shit, but she does that with everyone

She offered him some pigeon shit, but she does that with everyone

Alice takes the stand and says she saw the dress burn too.

Also, can the record please show that they dropped me during Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board?

Also, can the record please show that they dropped me during Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board?

Then the pharmacist shows up to tell us that Lizzie was shopping for rat poison… but didn’t buy it. THANKS FOR THE USELESS INFORMATION, PHARMACIST.

Is this heroin brand or generic?

Is this heroin brand or generic?

UGH, this movie is so boring, no wonder they keep intercutting with bloody axes! Or is it inter-axing?

murder orgasm face

Murder orgasm face

No, I give up. Oh wait, something interesting is happening. Nolton busts out the Borden’s skulls as evidence and Lizzie faints.

And now, for the world's most macabre puppet show!

And now, for the world’s most macabre puppet show!

Emma takes the witness stand. Nolton asks her if Lizzie has ever shown violent or irrational tendencies. Emma flashes back to Lizzie breaking shit around the house and acting like a nutball, and then lies on the stand and says she’s a good girl.

Look, she may be a murderer but she's a really good kid, okay?

Look, she may be a murderer but she’s a really good kid, okay?

Emma also tells the jury that burning the dress was her idea, because bad memories and stuff. Stop incriminating yourself, Emma!

This movie is really dragging. Let’s just jump to the verdict: she’s found innocent! Yay Lizzie! Boo justice?

Just realized she has to live with her murdering sister

Just realized she has to live with her murdering sister

The sisters move into their new home and everything is back to normal! JK the town spurns them and people leave when they come to church.

Sorry, no murderers/relatives allowed!

Sorry, no murderers/relatives allowed!

The sisters throw lavish parties, but while Lizzie delights in the company, Emma is getting drunk and bitter. Also, Nance shows up…is there something going on with Lizzie and Nance? That would make this movie 10 million times more interesting.

Wherein Emma Borden mimics my behavior at every party

Wherein Emma Borden mimics my behavior at every party

Really excited for our Alex and Piper roleplay sesh tonight!

Really excited for our Alex and Piper roleplay sesh tonight!

Emma has had enough of this cavalier/publicly shunned lifestyle. She says that people only pretend to visit Lizzie because she’s notorious.

And not the good kind with funnel cakes!

And not the good kind with funnel cakes!

Lizzie decides to sit her down and tell her what really happened. This was the only legitimately creepy part of the film: Lizzie whispers what happened in Emma’s ear while Emma cries.

This murder confession will be a lot better if I whisper it like a lover

This murder confession will be a lot better if I whisper it like a lover

Basically, Lizzie got naked, axe murdered her stepmother, has some tea, and kills their father. Naked. It’s a naked murder party. Gross.

And that's for cutting off my dress allowance!

And that’s for cutting off my dress allowance!

Not a situation where you can kiss it all better

Not a situation where you can kiss it all better

Emma is hysterical and leaves the house. She packs her bags and moves the fuck away. Good choice, Emma.

Packing my bags and moving to Park Slope

Packing my bags and moving to Park Slope

Lizzie sits on her balcony and watches children singing the Lizzie Borden rhyme creepily. They are jumping rope outside her house! Where are these kids’ parents?!

These kids are so axe murdered

These kids are so axe murdered

Closing titles tells us that the sisters never saw each other again and no one was ever convicted of the murders. Except for this movie, which is guilty of killing my will to live.

Wednesday Addams all grown up

Wednesday Addams all grown up

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Chelsea

Chelsea Steiner was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, where she works as a screenwriter/blogger/sex educator. She's the writer/director of Thank You Come Again, a queer sex positive web series based on her experiences working the Pleasure Chest, which you can follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She’s obsessed with dachshunds, Buffy, 90's dance parties, and roller derby. She loves the word "Jewess" and wishes more people used it to describe her. Follow her ramblings on Twitter and her cute puppy pics on Instagram.

Chelsea has written 1 article for us.

18 Comments

  1. thank you for acknowledging the weird-ass black keys soundtrack.

    so like, the lizzie borden house is now a bed and breakfast and i’ve been there! weird right? my avatar is actually a picture of me in the friggin lizzie borden house, allegedly the hat i’m wearing was the father’s hat! the pigeon thing is TOTALLY TRUE, according to our creepy tour guide… also there is a theory that the dad was molesting her and emma all the time, which is why she killed them. the house is really weird, like there are no hallways, one room opens into another room into another room, which they tell you probably added to how stifled lizzie felt in that house.

    also girl, she didn’t look anything like christina ricci, nice job with the sexy naked slow motion axe murder scenes, guys.

    what a good lifetime movie. better than liz & dick, not as good as the anna nicole story.

  2. Oh no. Large portions of this movie were filmed in my hometown (Lunenburg, Nova Scotia), which means I’m condemned to watch it no matter how bad it is, just so I can experience the fleeting superficial joy of representation. We do this a lot in Nova Scotia. It’s called the Haven Effect.

  3. Chelsea, getting to read (and understand the references in) this recap made my completely consensual real-time viewing of this movie entirely worth it. At last!

    Also if I recall correctly the Samantha Stephens/Mona Robinson* version also had Lizzie getting nekkid to off Papa Borden. Ostensibly to prevent staining her duds, but both films also heavily suggested some rather untoward incesty implications as well.

    *I guess I mean the Elizabeth Montgomery/Katherine Helmond version, but I really don’t.

  4. the cheetos caption made me laugh out loud.

    also, thank you for this recap. i tried so hard to watch this movie because it actually seemed like it would be interesting, but i made it about 3/4 of the way through and i just couldn’t anymore. even though i probably should have just pushed through because by that point i was basically at the end.

  5. Lizzie did have an affair with Nance O’Neill, a few years after the murders (and pretty openly, too), but didn’t know her while her parents were still alive, so I don’t understand the partying with Nance before the big night thing. I’ve visited that house, too, and it is so dark and close–ugh. I really believe the “Emma did it” theory. It makes so much more sense, esp. because she was privy to the details of the wills and knew that the only way the girls would inherit was if Abby was killed first (otherwise the estate would pass from their father to Abby, and thence to her family). Lizzie supposedly did not have access to that information (though I suppose Emma could have told her). It’s amazing that such a fascinating case could be made so boring; this is why I don’t bother with cable. But very funny recap!

    • Emma certainly had more motive and more to gain than Lizzie, but the known facts of her movements on the day of the murders mean that, although not impossible, it is highly improbable that she was the murderer. We know that Emma was staying with friends in Fairhaven where she received the telegram regarding the murders. I don’t recall the time of day that the telegram was received, but we do know that she was on a train that left New Bedford at 3:40 pm. To get to the station at New Bedford, a journey of roughly 25 miles, would have taken at least an hour. The train journey to Fall River is reported to have taken an hour and 20 minutes. Factor in transit time to the Borden home from the station and you’ve got a total journey time of 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Given that the murder of Andrew Borden was reported shortly after 11 am and that Emma would have had to have either had some way to have protected herself from or cleaned up the gore on her person, and given the journey time involved, it seems very far-fetched to me that Emma would have come back to Fall River for the purpose of murder that morning.

      As for the ‘Abby died first’ thing, I’ve always had an issue with that. The examiner on scene, who was a family doctor, not a coroner or medical examiner, used what are now considered to be inaccurate methods to determine the death order; a feeling of coolness to Abby’s skin and her blood seemingly being more congealed (ewwww) than Andrew’s. So, since Grissom wasn’t around, the time of death was ultimately determined on stomach contents, assuming that both Bordens had last eaten the same quantity at the same time. This is an extremely imprecise method as well, since no conclusive testimony exists on whether either Borden had any other food intake, and since both were suffering the GI effects of eating week old unrefrigerated mutton stew (double ewww), their rates of digestion would not necessarily conform to normal rates.

      So, though it has been a traditionally accepted fact that Abby died 60-90 minutes before Andrew, there is actually very little conclusive evidence to support it, and if she didn’t die 60-90 minutes before him, then she likely died either right before him or right after him, in which case things make slightly more sense as a crime of passion. Which may or may not lend support to Lizzie’s innocence. On the one hand, a crime of passion could just as well have been committed by someone Andrew pissed off (and he apparently pissed off a lot of people), but then why kill Abby, particularly when she was just minding her own business, making the bed upstairs, yo. On the other hand, if Lizzie did have a Dexter moment, and killed her father, then it would make sense for her to then kill Abby so as to get at the fortune.

      Why yes, I am moderately obsessed with the case, thanks for asking. Currently living in the UK, so did not get an opportunity to see what was apparently an all-time low, even for Lifetime; but I too, enjoyed the recap.

      I also have stayed at the LBB&B, where I assure you, I was not murdered. But the continental breakfast was to die for.

  6. This was hilarious. I do recall reading a book suggesting that the daughters committed the crime together – Emma knew about the will and approached Lizzie with the idea, and Lizzie did it, while Emma was conveniently not there.

    “The Legend of Lizzie Borden” was and is one of my favorite TV films. It shocked the shit out of me when I saw it at 10 or 11. I think it’s on youtube still.

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