Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Toolbox Murders (1978)

Allegedly based upon true events, the ugly serial-killer flick The Toolbox Murders mixes three things the world didn’t need to see: overly detailed and lengthy murder scenes, tawdry sexual scenarios including a long vignette of a young woman masturbating before she’s slaughtered with a nail gun, and a showy performance by the familiar character actor Cameron Mitchell. Also featured are interminably long dialogue scenes, plus weak supporting performances by inconsequential actors. Part of a vile tradition of movies seemingly made about, by, and for men who savor the notion of brutalizing attractive women, The Toolbox Murders has undoubtedly curried some favor among horror fans because the gore is fairly extreme. However, uless you enjoy watching people get burned, drilled, hammered, and stabbed, you should give The Toolbox Murders a wide berth. Set in dreary sections of southern California, the picture opens with several ghastly murders, during which a mystery figure carrying a metal toolbox kills women with instruments from inside the toolbox. Director Dennis Donnelly lingers on homicide, savoring images of, say, a bloody drillbit bearing chunks of viscera. Yuck. Then the story proper, such as it is, begins. A dippy teenager named Laurie (Pamelyn Ferdin) reacts with fright to the news of murders in her neighborhood, only to realize she’s the next victim—sort of. Laurie gets abducted by a doughy landlord named Vance (Mitchell), who went crazy after his own daughter died. Vance binds and gags Laurie in his home, pretending she’s his dead daughter, even as clues suggest that someone other than Vance is the toolbox murderer. Meanwhile, Laurie’s brother, Joey (Nicholas Beauvy), searches for his sister because the police assigned to the case prove incompetent. Toward the late middle of the picture, Vance delivers several weepy monologues to his captive, and Mitchell is spectacularly bad in these scenes; watching him croon “Motherless Child” is cringe-worthy. Amateurish, dull, and gruesome, The Toolbox Murders somehow made enough of an impression to earn a remake directed by Tobe Hooper, Toolbox Murders (2004).

The Toolbox Murders: LAME


starofshonteff1 said...

This was a 'video nasty' in the U.K., liable for prosecution by the Department of Public Prosecutions between November 1983 and May 1985, even thought the version released on video was the same heavily cut version released to cinemas in 1979.

Unknown said...

Pamelyn Ferdin was once American TV's go-to actress for sweet little girls. I recall her telling Ray Milland "I hate being dead" in "Daughter of the Mind," or even in an episode of the terrible old show "Apple's Way," announcing a play decrying America as a police state. Her career was strange enough. And then this. Argh.