Thursday, October 9, 2008


On the ninth day of Halloween, my boo love gave to me ... nine gift certificates to the Horror Home Depot!


B-movie king Cameron Mitchell, ubiquitous 70s TV sitcom child star whose name escapes me, a well-meaning but dumb-as-rocks brother, inept LAPD cops, 70s plaid prints and crazy haircuts, and a Mr. Fix-It with a truckload of female issues.

More details here.


A deranged handyman stalks the streets of Los Angeles and every corner he turns, he experiences unintelligible flashbacks to a young woman dying in a car accident. Also, everything looks all 70s and stuff, especially the apartment complex where he massacres young women in a fit of incomprehensible rage while ironic music plays in the background. The masked killer employs a plethora of items from the titular toolbox to do his dirty work including a drill, a screwdriver, and a nail gun. The pretty women all die horrible deaths as the grunting killer gets off Scot free. I felt especially bad for the hot redhead in the bathtub who was also trying to get off:

Ginger Grant?

The other residents are shocked at the murders despite keeping their doors unlocked, and the hapless police are baffled. We discover who’s the killer very shortly thereafter, and are introduced to a single mother and her two children who live in the complex. Laurie is the virginal teen and the heart of the family that includes over-worked mother Jo Ann and goofy brother Joey. Joey is somewhat irresponsible and dim while Jo Ann battles ennui, exhaustion, and sweet booze. One night Laurie is kidnapped by the toolbox killer and Joey takes the law into his own hands to find her when he’s failed by a useless detective with the hots for Mom. He befriends Kent, the nephew of the building’s owner and they form a Scooby-Doo duo of dumbasses to find the killer and get Laurie back. Meanwhile the killer has Laurie tied up to a bed in a little girl’s bedroom. He feeds her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and coos to her in uber-creepy baby talk. He then goes off on this 15-20 minute exposition monologue filled with his anguish, suffering, and histrionics that’ll make your skin crawl. We discover that the killer is racked with guilt and grief over the loss of his own daughter in a car accident, which explains the opening scene’s flashbacks. So the cheap alternative to therapy is a bloody misogynist rampage? Damn you, HMO’s! The slashing and stalking pretty much end thirty minutes into the film. Joey’s attempts to rescue his sister while the killer mentally tortures her while wallowing in his psychosis take up the second and third acts that conclude with an ultimately unsatisfying and tool-less climax.


I haven’t seen the Toby Hooper 2003 remake of Toolbox Murders, but this seminal exploitation film is brutal, ugly, and poorly constructed, falling short of its “classic” status. Even after the murdering is over in the first act and the story shifts to a more psychological tone, the film can’t escape its snuff film quality aesthetics, and most of the principals fall flat with emotionless disinterest, with the exception of actress playing Laurie and the immortal Mitchell who gifts us with yet another cringe-worthy performance. Whether or not the detached manners are intentional is probably irrelevant as there’s no consistency at an attempt to comment on obvious subject matter such as family, mourning, and death. But this is a Grindhouse classic, so what did I expect - Bergman? The killer lashes out at what he perceives is evil in the world, but the link between hot ladies in various stages of undress and his kid going through a windshield is never made clear. If anything is to be taken away from this film, it’s an overwhelming sense of loss, whether it is a loved one, innocence, or life itself. (Hey help me here, I’m trying!). Despite the attempt to construct a sympathetic slasher/killer and a mild twist ending, not even a long hot shower or rigorous sand-belting can wash away the repulsiveness and feel-bad qualities of this video nasty.

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