A secluded house...a brutal legacy...a sledgehammer...
SledgeHammer is early 80’s shot on video slasher sludge; the first in an era where the introduction to the video camera and the marvel of VHS meant that dollar store nightmares could now be realized for the first time on cassette if you had the guts and grit to make it happen. Sledgehammer is someone’s digital dream made eternal; like a fly trapped in petrified amber for millennium. Come share in that dream. The 80’s had some of the best made for video action that meant home viewing satisfaction. It was a time where horror movies weren’t played out exercises in self awareness and in references. These films stood with their feet planted firmly in their own little depraved, illogical universes, and by golly, some of these productions seemed to have the attitude that they could hold their own against the big studios. There’s a certain fuck all quality to that, that makes it all the more endearing to a spook seeker.
Sledgehammer will pound your sense of taste into dust and your patience into paste. It’s an hour and a half of slow motion meltdown, people partying HARD, and mutilation by the pound, pound, POUND! The film opens with a woman locking her kid in the closet so she can get freaky. Here we are treated to our first taste of the fore mentioned slow motion meltdown. The camera focuses on the lock slowly closing, then the mother walking away from the door, and then it meanders in a static shot of the plain white door for another 30 seconds. This should impress upon thy view with a certain sense that the dramatic is happening, or rather, that the door is pretty damn important to the plot of this plucky video trash that could. Later we learn that the door is where the ghostly apparition of the kid emerges (and transforms into a frizzy haired adult with a translucent mask…wait a minute…is that Shelly from Friday the 13th part 3, or was Shelly inspired by this kooky spookster???) to delve out sledgehammer justice, but I can’t help but think the door is even more important than that. Sure the kid from the beginning is locked inside until he dies, but the fact that they carry through the same slow motion shot twice (once to show it happening in the present, once to show a flashback of the kid getting locked in), makes me think the door is actually more important than what the film lets on.
I think it’s a magic closet. I think that within its confines are some sort of supernatural crossroads, a video dead vortex leading into an 8th dimension, probably the same one Blood Lake lives in. It’s somewhere on the way to Friday the 13th part 3. It’s just before limbo, somewhere north of the Leviathan. How else does the pissed off poltergeist armed with a sledgehammer appear so shortly after the child is locked in the closet originally in the beginning of the film? What does it mean that the killer repeatedly comes out of the closet when one of the later party goers is questioning her boyfriend’s attraction to women?
After the mother and lover are massacred by a sledgehammer wielding assailant flash forward some years and its party time! A group of stocked and ready to rock party goers take up the same condo to spend a nice, quiet, secluded weekend of getting absolutely hammered, if not by some kind of ghostly, supernatural kill machine then by Mr. Jack Daniels and Sir Pabst Blue. There isn’t as much straight talking head dialogue as there is party chanting and pieces of side conversation the audience just happens to pick up. It actually works well to bring the audience into the scene; it’s like a party where everyone is having a blast except for you, people are way too wasted, and you can’t find one reasonable person to converse with. There’s a food fight, beer cans get ripped apart, a séance, and before you know it the sledgehammer killer is working his way through the ranks, meat pasting anybody dumb enough to leave the safety of the party for another area of the house (which seems to be just one long white hallway, a white bedroom, and a plain Jane all white living room…THX-1138 set designer?). The stalk scenes in the film are basically cat and mouse around a coffee table.
Against all logic and sensibility I loved the hell out of Sledgehammer. The worse offense any movie can have against it is being a snore, and despite the dangerous use of slow motion for grueling lengths of reel time I found myself interested in the movie from beginning to end. It never tries to be more than an entertaining cheap as dirt, stalk and vivisect video curiosity and it even had me laughing at a few scenes. Anybody who doesn’t giggle at the séance scene were the camera slowly pans around the group, each face frozen in shock and awe until passing the one guy with the speed freak crazy eyes and the shit gobbling grin, shouldn’t waste their time watching barf bag cinema. Read a book about the mating habits of prairie gofers or something instead. This movie had me floating happily in a warm sea of synthesizers. There’s enough hemoglobin splashed around to keep you crimson loving freaks on a leash (even the ghost bleeds!) and the translucent faced slasher is unique enough to separate from other creep show killers. Intervision done us good. Seek it out you sick suckfaced freaks, and become a full fledged SLEDGEHEAD like your uncle CRISPY!