A FUNNY THING happened on the way to disaster for the TriStar Pictures release “So I Married an Axe Murderer.”

It got fixed.

At least that’s what a current overall approval rate of 88 with all audience groups and a 92 with women and men under the age of 21 seems to indicate. The sudden surge in test scores comes after several major newspapers and entertainment magazines doomed the movie by describing it as over budget and unfunny.

The San Francisco Film and Video Commission will be pleased by the turn in the pic’s fortunes since “Axe Murderer” will be featured at a screening to benefit the local film office on July 27 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater.

“Axe Murderer” was filmed on location in San Francisco, and makes a solid showpiece for the city.

In fact, “Axe Murderer” taps into the city’s bohemian feel in its opening scene, which is shot from the point of view of a coffee cup at Cafe Roads on Kerouac Street, where Anthony LaPaglia appears dressed as Huggy Bear from “Starsky & Hutch” and Mike Myers delivers the beatnik poetry number “Woman, Woe-man, WOA-MAN.”

Other significant S.F. locations are the Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Park, Edinburgh Castle, a North Beach butcher shop and Alcatraz Island, where Phil Hartman makes a deadpan cameo as a National Park Service tour guide.

The movie’s world premiere will be held at the Galaxy Theater in Hollywood on the July 28, with expected attendees including Myers, Nancy Travis (who sings a killer, three-language version of “Only You” in the pic), TriStar chairman Mike Medavoy, LaPaglia and producers Rob Fried and Cary Woods.

If you want more information on the “So I Married an Axe Murderer” benefit for the San Francisco Film Office, call (415) 554-6144.

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HILTON INTL.’S Master Shot program received an endorsement from “Last Action Hero” star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who screams in a press release that just crossed this desk: “It looks like you’ve covered all the angles!”

You’ll recall that the Master Shot program is a service package offered by Hilton to increase the number of movie and television productions using Hiltons for lodging and location services. Many hotel operators have been wooing Hollywood lately.

THE AMBASSADOR Hotel, located in Los Angeles’ Mid-Wilshire district, is currently being used for location filming of the New Line Cinema release “House Party III.”

In the movie, the historic hotel is the location used for a wild bachelor party that features the music of rap music groups Immature and TLC. But the cast and crew are a little shook up by what’s going on at the sprawling old hotel — unexplained happenings like misplaced or moved objects and strange noises that have a few folks talking about a poltergeist.

Not to worry, though. No one is ready yet to call in the Ghostbusters, and “House Party III” is set to wrap filming at the Ambassador on Saturday, on its way to an April release by New Line Cinema.

BURT LANCASTER starring in the 1955 United Artists release “The Kentuckian” aptly adorns the cover of the Kentucky Office of Film Promotion’s new production guide, which marks the first publication from the state’s movie office in a decade.

It’s 28 pages of good reading, too — even if the paper isn’t recycled. For example, I didn’t know that the Sean Connery-starrer “Goldfinger”– Bond, James Bond — and the Bill Murray comedy “Stripes” were both filmed at Fort Knox, or that the Western Kentucky swamplands substituted for Vietnam in director Norman Jewison’s “In Country,” which starred Bruce Willis and Emily Lloyd. For a copy of the book, telephone the film office in Frankfort — the state’s capital.

YOU BRING THE FILM, we’ll bring the dynamite. We just heard from some enterprising folks at the Palm Beach County Film Liaison office, who are fielding inquiries from Hollywood producers interested in filming the destruction of a six-story Holiday Inn building on the Intra-Coastal waterway in the downtown section of West Palm Beach. Call film commissioner Chuck Elderd at (407) 233-1000.

YOU’LL NEVER ADMIT you saw it, but 95% of “Weekend at Bernie’s II” was filmed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including New York interior scenes.

On the music side, the pic features the — get this name — Territorial Court Rising Star Youth Steel Orchestra, a group of 150 schoolchildren who perform a calypso version of the “Bernie” theme song on 55-gallon oil drums.

MASSACHUSETTS made much ado about the Columbia Pictures chopsocky pic “The Next Karate Kid,” which Film Office director Linda Peterson Warren said came to the state because of Governor William F. Weld’s recent “trade mission to Hollywood.”

As you’ll recall, Weld came to Los Angeles in March to try and drum up some business for such locations as Plymouth Rock, Cape Cod, Worcester, Waltham, Cambridge and Beantown.

What the studio schmoozefest lacked in substance it made up for in style. Gov. Weld came replete with a Hollywood publicity campaign and electronic media coverage, and his visit included stops with Fox Broadcasting chairman Lucie Salhany and Warner Bros. Pictures president Terry Semel.

As for the fourth “Karate Kid,” it’ll feature veteran Noriyuki (Pat) Morita. Producer of the movie is Jerry Weintraub, last seen as producer of the tepid George Strait-starrer “Pure Country.”

Also in Mass., Harvard U. wants to have a word with Sydney Pollack, and will do just that when the director of “The Firm” introduces his movie and moderates a discussion on Saturday night.

Part of the new Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts “Private Screening” program, the event will be hosted by Professor Richard Brown.

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OOPS. Seems we omitted a $ 500 registration fee in the price-tag to attend the Sundance Institute Independent Producers Conference, which will be held July 29 to Aug. 1 in Utah. With room, board and meals, the total price of the conference runs from $ 918 to $ 1,311. Sorry for any inconvenience this might have caused.

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