Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Toolbox Murders


Is the hotel haunted?  Cursed?  Is Hooper up to his old tricks again?  You bet your ass turd nugget.

Leatherface reborn it ain’t, but it is still more fun than a barrel full of the decrepit remains of a mummified midget, or scrabble, monopoly, tiddle winks, and battleship family fun night.  Actually, that’s only the last half an hour of the flick, where this pup starts to really warm up, but never reaches anything close to the boiling hot horror of TCM (that’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, maggot meal).  Fer shame.  Boo hoo, cry me a river….it’s still got some nifty kills, and by garn, it’s Hooper playing with power tools yet again.  WEEEEEE! 

All the old stalk, slash, and scare tricks don’t work on modern audiences, at least not like they used to.  That’s what Tobe Hooper seems to be saying with his film “revision” of the old slasher classic of the Toolbox Murders; a film set in an old Hollywood hotel with mysterious cult connections where movie wash out and asssss-piring actor alike find themselves getting eviscerated by the  menacing “Coffin Birth” (my nickname for him, he was born after his mother died and was retrieved from her coffin, freakin cool), a killer that lives in the walls of the odd building.  Negative space perception is not something the tenants seem to have. 

There’s some hocus pocus, voodoo Aliester Crowley-esque vibe going on with Coffin Birth that is never really explained in the story..  The killing and slashing is pretty straight forward.  Nothing to write back to moon base one about., just enough pizzazz to keep the viewer from slumping over in absolute boredom as the main character tries to unravel the mystery of the missing people in the old hotel where hammering is heard constantly through the night.   Hooper regurgitates the old “look, I found some teeth” act from Texas Chainsaw Massacre; he must have a thing about the pearly whites.  Who knows, maybe Hooper’s real passion in life was to be a tooth fairy.   

The Toolbox Murders is a movie that doesn’t break any new hollowed ground, but it does make for an entertaining, old school-esque, slasher, so check it out if you get a chance.


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”.