The original Toolbox Murders is a monolith of exploitative weirdness, a virtual triple decker grinder of oozing cheese and sleaze and bright, red, shiny, hemoglobin. The movie begins with its feet firmly planted in giallo-land with a ski masked handy man listlessly killing 3 sultry female apartment attendants with tools while casually humming along with radio rock (Craftsman lifetime guarantee? More like DEATH-time guarantee harharharharharharhar). He then breaks the pattern and kidnaps another girl (Laurie) after an extended murder scene featuring a masturbating young nubile exhibitionist getting nailed (literally) in the forehead with a pneumatic nail gun. The exploitation warp drive reactor overloads at this point and the movie switches its grime gears down a peg.
The police begin their insensitive and odd investigation into the crime (they bring all the suspects to the crime scene with mutilated bodies in full view to gauge people’s reactions) and it is soon apparent that the owner of the Californian apartment complex, Vance, is behind the toolbox murder spree (his ill fitting ski-mask pretty much gives this story trinket away). The kidnapped girl’s brother Joey understandable believes the detectives behind the case show a disturbing (and quite characteristic slasher movie cop) disinterest in actually finding his sister, believing instead that she simply ran away(!?) and soon enough Joey is giving it his best Hardy Boys go to piece the clues together. He soon meets up with Vance’s slick southern nephew in the apartment complex and amid the bro-mance that follows Joey earns a job cleaning up crime scenes. I thought there were special people for that, but not in this 1970’s eye candy world (love the deco).
Subplots crop up that don’t seem to go anywhere and when the movie seems to hit a rut the exploitative weirdness rears its odd shaped melon, and the slummy b-film fun begins again. Vance treats the kidnapped girl Laurie to a sideshow of neurotic insanity, revealing that he only kills “sick dogs” because of some crazy funda-MENTAList reaction to his daughter’s untimely motor vehicle demise. A dead girl’s dildo glides gracefully through the air. We learn how to spell lollipop from a loon. Joey gets barbequed and soon it’s apparent that the entire Vance clan must be chock full of psycho-murderer genes and that Kathy’s death affected a wider scope of song singing nut jobs than just Vance.
Misogynistic, dirty, raw, gut churning, with a sprinkle of sharp cheese; the Toolbox Murders wear’s many different hats, all in en vogue for 70’s fashion, all worthy of a trash purveyor’s time. It even throws in gut churning rape for good measure; nihilistic and sure to offend those sensitive baby types, I’d recommend this any day of the week (especially Slasher Sunday) over the Tobe Hooper “revisioning”.