Hardware Holocaust!!!

This batch of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a fearsome foursome of hardcore hardware hack ’em ups. Cult clas-sicks that all feature plentiful scenes of power tools piercing flesh!

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978)

The late great Cameron Mitchell stars as Vance Kingsley, an apartment building super who slips into psychosis and becomes a homicidal maniac. Vance dons a ski mask, grabs his trusty toolbox, and begins taking the lives of the filthy females in his apartment building that do “unnatural” things to their bodies. His victims are a haggard assortment of naked skanks that include alcoholics, porn stars, and strippers. Bit by bit, the killer carves up a nightmare with a power drill, hammer, screwdriver, and nail gun.

The madman then sets his sights on a sweet virginal gal named Laurie. Instead of hacking her to pieces, he kidnaps the young girl and ties her up to his bed. Vance later explains to the terrified gal that she reminds him of his daughter, who was recently killed in a car accident. In his deranged mind Vance believes he is protecting Laurie from God, who wants to claim her pure soul the same way he claimed his daughter’s.

Despite the fact that all the murders take place within the same apartment complex, there’s no sign of forced entry, and the murders are all committed with tools, Vance is never seen as a suspect by authorities. The police are baffled by the sheer brutality of the crimes and can’t seem to find a single clue. Laurie’s brother Joey and his best pal Kent finally get fed up with the ineptitude of the police and decide to take the law into their own hands. Their investigation eventually turns up a dildo and a deadly secret. Will Laurie survive, and what will be left of her?

Director Dennis Donnelly’s “The Toolbox Murders” was one of the most controversial horror films of the pre-slasher era. It was even discussed at length on the Donahue show. Old Phil ranted and raved about how sick the film was and even showed the nail gun murder scene in it’s entirety, much to the shock and horror of the fat housewives in his studio audience! “The Toolbox Murders” was also banned in the UK for several years as a video nasty. It’s certainly lurid stuff, but it’s exceedingly well made and also works a character study. Cameron Mitchell does a fantastic job in the lead role and actually makes the character somewhat sympathetic. Miles beyond the usual mute masked killers, and a lot more interesting too.

A few years ago Bill Lustig’s Blue Underground released THE TOOLBOX MURDERS on dvd. As expected from Blue Underground, the dvd features a number of fantastic supplements including a commentary track with producer Tony Didio, DP Gary Graver, and star Pamelyn Ferdin, theatrical trailers and tv spots, and a still gallery. My favorite feature is “I Got Nailed In The Toolbox Murders” – an interview with actress Marianne Walter, better known to old school porno fans as Kelly Nichols. Hail Bill Lustig! You are truly a sleazy gorehound’s best friend!

 

 

DRILLER KILLER (1979)

A true piece of rock & roll cinema, “Driller Killer” begins with an on screen title card instructing viewers to play the film LOUD. Infamous director Abel Ferrara stars (under the name Jimmy Laine) as Reno Miller, an up and coming avant garde artist who struggles to keep a roof over his head and to hold on to the last shreds of his sanity. Reno is constantly tormented by the sleazy denizens of the mean streets of NYC, and his manhood is threatened by his girlfriend’s girlfriend. Things take a turn for the worse for Reno when a fucking horrible punk rock band called Tony Coca Cola & The Roosters move into the apartment above him and assault his eardrums with their non stop rehearsals.

The constant noise prevents Reno from finishing his latest masterpiece, a bizarre and bloody painting of a buffalo. After many long nights filled with frustration, inspiration finally hits Reno in a big way when he catches a TV ad for a nifty combination belt/battery pack that allows mobile use of power tools. Reno quickly runs to a hardware store to buy one, and then begins wandering the streets at night with a drill. Now completely unhinged and frequently hallucinating, Reno drills holes into any bum that makes the fatal mistake of bothering him. Reno has become one of those who kill violently!

Despite the rather lurid sounding premise and title, this is actually more of a cracked out character study than a traditional slasher film. “Driller Killer” owes a lot more to films like “Taxi Driver” than “The Toolbox Murders.” Horror fans looking for non stop bloodshed will be sorely disappointed, although the film is punctuated with some fairly graphic kills. The film’s gore centerpiece is the brutal scene where Reno plunges the drill into a hobo’s forehead. This incredible scene was used as cover art for the notorious UK vhs release, which was promptly banned and instrumental in helping to create the “Video Nasties” craze. As a result, “Driller Killer” was banned in the UK until 1999 and wasn’t released uncut until 2002.

“Driller Killer” perfectly captures the sleazy essence of the big apple in the 70’s. It was the directorial debut of Abel Ferrara, who would later go on to helm equally disturbing films with much bigger budgets including “Ms. 45” and “Bad Lieutenant.” “Driller Killer” is hardly a perfect film, but the positives outweigh the negatives by my estimation. The film takes a long time to get to the bloodshed so impatient horror fans might have to hit the fast forward button a few times to complete a viewing. There are numerous scenes of Reno arguing with people. Mostly his girlfriend, but also his landlord and his art dealer. Bickering and bad music largely comprise the first two thirds of the film. In the long run this actually works in the film’s favor, because it’s much easier to relate to Reno’s descent into madness when you suffer right along with him as you watch.

Cult Epics has released DRILLER KILLER on dvd a few different times. The best release is the two disc collectors edition which is presented in widescreen and includes a hilarious drugged out director’s commentary track, theatrical trailers, and three of Ferrera’s early short films. Essential exploitation.

 

 

THE MUTILATOR (1985)

This one starts out innocently enough with tender music and soft focused shots of a wife lovingly preparing a birthday cake for her husband, Big Ed. Little Ed Jr decides to give his Daddy a big birthday surprise by cleaning Daddy’s beloved gun collection. Ed Jr goes from being meticulous to matricidal when he accidentally gives his poor Mommy a back full of buckshot. Big Ed comes home to find his son cowering over his dead wife and becomes unhinged. He drags his wife’s bloody carcass into the living room and begins pounding booze to steady his nerves. He even pours some into the mouth of his dead wife for grins.

Then we flash forward several years and find Ed Jr all grown up, nursing a Budweiser and sporting some impressive chest hair. Ed Jr was enjoying an evening out at a bar with his frigid and horrible girlfriend Pam when he receives an unexpected phone call from his long estranged Father. Big Ed wants Ed Jr to close up his condo on the beach for the winter. Big Ed encourages his son to “take the responsibility and face it like it man.” Ed Jr is none too pleased at the idea of having to go to the isolated condo for the mundane tasks of turning off the electricity and water, but his bossy and manipulative girlfriend decides it would be the perfect chance for four days of rest and relaxation on the beach. Their annoying friends Ralph (a beer obsessed law student who wears a sweater on his shoulders), Sue (Ralph’s pretty puritanical love interest), Mike (a big blonde doofus), and Linda (Mike’s horny girlfriend) invite themselves along, and the next morning the six pals all load into Ed’s car for a fall break getaway.

When the gang arrives at the condo they are shocked to find the front door wide open. The place is trashed, full of garbage and empty bottles of booze. Ed Jr assures his friends that there is nothing unusual about this because his father is a drunk. He does get a bit worried when he notices that his pop’s prized battle axe is missing. What Ed Jr and his friends don’t know is that Big Ed is lurking inside the garage. There he silently wrestles his inner demons and is confronted with his violent memories. As he clutches his axe, he closes his eyes and dreams of the different ways he should have killed his young son.

Mike and Linda wander around the garage and eventually stumble across Big Ed’s trophy room. This allows Mike to make a crack about “Goose – the moon god” and grab Linda’s ass. Then they go back to the condo and have dinner with the others. Then they go for a moonlit walk on the beach. For some reason we watch all of this. This stretch of the flick is torturous to put it nicely. Things finally pick up when doofus and the slut go skinny dipping in the condo’s pool. This allows Big Ed the opportunity to drown Linda. Mike doesn’t notice of course, and then spends the next several minutes walking around looking for his missing clothes and girlfriend. Being an especially big retard, Mike doesn’t suspect anything is wrong and instead has fun playing a game of hide and seek with himself. This all ends rather violently when Mike utters his immortal line “I’m…coming…to get you!” and Big Ed shows up to rip his chest apart with a boat propeller!

As all this is going on the other four kids are taking a stroll on the beach. They run into a friendly police officer who warns them to be careful on the beach at night. The cop should have taken his own advice, as shortly thereafter he has a large piece of wood slammed into his face and is swiftly beheaded by Big Ed! The the kids play an extended game of “Blind Man’s Bluff,” which is yet another retarded variation of hide and seek. (a recurring theme here) This pads out the film nicely, as the kids and the killer stalk after each other in the dark for a while. Then the game ends without incident and the scene whimpers out like a dying rat.

Then as the kids decide to settle in for the evening, Ralph goes out on one last mission to track down Mike and Linda. Instead of finding his friends he finds Big Ed and gets the business end of a pitchfork in his throat. Sue becomes worried when Ralph doesn’t return and convinces Ed Jr and Pam to join her in the search. They make the infinitely wise decision to split up, which gives Big Ed the chance to get up close and personal with sweet little Sue. He drags her into the garage and in one of the most notorious moments in slasher history proceeds to slowly insert an oversized fishing gaff into her crotch!

Ed Jr. and Pam eventually find Sue’s mutilated body and the bodies of their other missing friends, which Big Ed had displayed as gruesome trophies. As they attempt to escape the hellish condo with their lives intact they have an unbelievable final confrontation with Big Ed that results in massive loss of life and limb. Their horrifying vacation was no longer just a day at the beach, it had become a nightmare.

I’m a huge fan of this infamous slasher shocker from writer/producer/director Buddy Cooper that so proudly pushes the boundaries of good taste. This film starts off with a brutal scene of accidental matricide, and then degenerates into a series of increasingly perverse and lurid murders. There is no doubt that the single most effective and memorable element of the film is the graphic gore. The death scenes in “The Mutilator” are about as over the top as they come. The scenes with the juicy fishing gaff and boat propeller murders are the stuff of legend for gorehounds. In terms of splatter, “The Mutilator” ranks right up there with other brutal 80’s slasher flicks such as “Maniac” and “Nightmare.”

The pacing and acting on the other hand are abysmal. All of the actors are uniformly wooden and awful, with the exceptions of Jack Chatham as the silent but deadly killer and the one and only Morey Lampley – who steals the show as the rather dimwitted Mike. Morey’s performance in “The Mutilator” is not good by any means, but it is one of a kind to say the least. He comes across as a guy who never quite learned his multiplication tables, and the film never fully recovers after his quirky character is quickly dispatched.

No review of “The Mutilator” would be complete without mentioning the incredible toe tapping theme song – “Fall Break,” which was performed by Peter Yellen & The Breakers. The film was originally going to be titled “Fall Break,” and obviously Buddy decided not to bother replacing the theme song after changing the title to the more graphic sounding “The Mutilator.” Not every slasher flick features a theme song with lyrics like this:

When the leaves of summer turn red and gold, and the football games bring a hint of the cold, time to get away. We’ll pack the car with escape in mind, forgettin’ our classes leavin’ books behind, time to get away. We’re goin’ on a fall break! (Fall break!) Running in the sand, feelin’ all right. And when you fall into my arms I’ll break into your heart…”

THE MUTILATOR  is one of the all time great slasher flicks, and it is a crime against humanity that this film is still not officially available on dvd. I treasure my unrated Vestron vhs, and can only hope that one day this clas-sick will get the kind of special edition upgrade it so richly deserves.

 

 

NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985)

After a brutal gang rape occurs on a construction site in a small Texas town, a masked killer with a bad case of Darth Vader-itis and a penchant for horrible Freddy Krueger wisecracks goes on a killing spree seeking revenge against… well pretty much everyone. Dressed in camouflage, driving a hearse, and armed with a pneumatic nail gun, the deranged killer makes swiss cheese out of any redneck that crosses his deadly path.

The unfortunate victims are repeatedly nailed in the head, the groin, to trees, to the highway, and sometimes to each other. The dimwitted country bumpkin sheriff with a badge that likes to switch sides on his chest at random teams up with an always denim clad county medical examiner who looks like the bass player from Journey to investigate the murders. As these two geniuses wander around aimlessly looking for clues the nail ridden dead bodies begin stacking up like cord wood.

I’m a huge fan of this hilariously inept 80’s slasher flick with a huge body count. This flick delivers like fifteen bloody murders and some nice titties within its 90 minute running time. Hard to argue with that! “Nail Gun Massacre” is a special film for many reasons, but my favorite part has to be the odd, inexplicable appearance of a toothless old geezer who randomly shows up in a scene and proceeds to steal the whole fucking movie by asking the immortal question “Hey, what put all them holes in her body? Sex?” That’s followed closely by the dead body that starts to tip over and is thoughtful enough to prop himself back up so he doesn’t fuck up the shot. You don’t see that in every flick, folks.

Fans of gratuitous nudity will enjoy a steaming eyeful thanks to a big haired blonde who proudly displays her enormous rack, complete with tan lines and a set of nipples roughly the size of a midget’s thumbs! There’s also a fairly sleazy scene with a really ugly couple bumping uglies against a tree, and an unbelievable moment where a hick talks his bimbo date into having sex on the hood of his car “so they can really fly!” The latter sex scene is set to the tune of a toe tapping number entitled “Foozeball” that is played in it’s entirety not once, but twice in a row. It’s guaranteed to get stuck in your head. What I really appreciate about the chicks in this flick is the fact that they are all 100% authentic trailer trash. No pesky silicone or cosmetic surgery to ruin the fun, they all look like chicks you could pick up at a county fair.

Writer, producer, and co-director Terry Lofton was the brains and the bucks behind this incredibly cheesy homemade horror flick More than a few critics have slammed “Nail Gun Massacre,” but I think it more than delivers the goods for horror fans with a hunger for bloody mayhem and cheap, sometimes unintentional laughs. Terry has stated that he didn’t want to make a “real blood & guts type horror movie” but instead wanted to make a fun, low key horror flick. Hats off to Terry for a job well done!

Synapse Films released a fantastic looking dvd of NAIL GUN MASSACRE that was fully restored in high definition and is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The special features include outtakes, a promotional trailer, and an interview with Terry Lofton. There’s also some very funny liner notes from Michael Felsher that point out some of the film’s many shortcomings.  If you attempt to take this seriously, you’ll probably hate it. But if you watch this flick with sense of humor you’ll love it. This is a perfect movie to watch on a Saturday night with a few beers and buds.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: