Friday, July 17, 2009

The Toolbox Murders

The once-great Tobe Hooper remade this little 1977 psycho potboiler a few years ago and his interpretation sucked. I always thought the original looked cool. Guy in a ski-mask, power tools being not used for their intended purposes, a blurb from Stephen King on the cover, probably written back when he was awesome and had a major drinking problem. I like how King calls it "one of the 10 scariest movies on video cassette." You get the feeling that there were only 20 horror movies on VHS when he wrote that.

The film's opening is great. There is about a half hour straight of nearly non-stop carnage. Easy-listening music is used wonderfully as young ladies are power-drilled, screwdrived and nail-gunned. The direction is kind of weird and artsy, sort of Giallo- American style.

(Minor Spoilers Ahead):
If you couldn't figure out by looking at the back of the DVD case that Cameron Mitchell is the killer, guess what? Cameron Mitchell is the killer. He kidnaps a 15 year old girl and ties her up, making believe that she is his deceased daughter. There are many genuinely scary and disturbing moments where Mitchell sings to her, feeds her and asks her what it was like to die.

It turns out that Cameron Mitchell's nephew is in on the whole thing and he has to kill some people as well to cover his uncle's tracks. The film's strongest sequence is the first third, it slows down considerably in the middle, and the ending is just okay. Overall it is a fun little piece of 70s shlock slasher horror, with extra points for intense creepiness. It is also about 10,000 times more fun that the 2003 remake.

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