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The Toolbox Murders
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25 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Don't believe the hype! Lame "video nasty".

Author: INFOFREAKO from Perth, Australia
27 September 2001

"Banned since 1982" screams the video box. After sitting through an hour and a half of this crud you'll be lining up to have it banned for another twenty years. Not because it's controversial, too violent, or objectionable in any way (except perhaps aesthetically), but simply to save your fellow movie watchers from having to experience this incoherent, pointless mess. And it is a MESS. Badly written, directed and acted, with no redeeming features. And I LIKE horror folks.

The first 20 minutes or so features a series of murders of young women by various items from a toolbox - drill, hammer, nail gun,etc. (why a toolbox you ask? Good question...). The victims are all attractive and seem to share a taste for MOR country music. The killer wears a ski mask and sometimes hums to himself. (Maybe he's a country purist and is offended by their lack of Hank Williams?)

Anyway, after that the movie rapidly gets duller and duller, a girl gets kidnapped, some inept cops investigate the murders and are baffled, even though you'll pick the killer as soon as you see him. B-grade legend Cameron Mitchell hams it up sucking a lollipop and singing spirituals, and the faceless supporting cast are as bad as the stinker of a script. If you haven't seen 'The Toolbox Murders' well, you haven't missed anything much. Not even bad enough to be funny.

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Are you too much of a Gorehound to enjoy the slow segments?

8/10
Author: brokenlovesongs from United States
4 January 2005

The Toolbox Murders starts out with 20 minutes or so of grisly and very well done kill scenes, all of which involve tools. If you like violence, then you'll love the introduction of this film. I personally don't have a preference when it comes to nudity in horror films (since it's overdone and pointless 90% of the time), but if you're a sucker for that sort of thing, then you'll appreciate the introduction to this film for that as well. After the kills are complete, however, many people will be bored by the lack of action that takes place on screen until the final moments of the movie. The middle portion of this movie is a lot of talk with little or no gore. I didn't mind this, because I found the dialog between the killer and the kidnapped girl to be very interesting. "What's it like?" the killer asks, referring to dying. The girl responds that "everything is purple, like a lollipop, and you can't see God, and there are people flying around, and you can see all of their thoughts, and you know the answers to all of their questions, but you can't answer them because nobody can talk." I enjoyed listening to this conversation, and although I'm sure I didn't get it word for word, there is something creative and maybe even worthy in here. Lots of people complain that the acting in this movie is terrible. These people cannot be horror buffs, as I have seen countless other films in which the acting is much MUCH worse. I would go as far to say that the acting in this film is very decent. If you have the attention span to sit through 'slower' moments of this film, then you'll find something to enjoy in it. I give The Toolbox Murders an 8/10.

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16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Truly awful - yet strangely watchable.

2/10
Author: Martin Pollard from Caerphilly, Wales
30 May 2000

This was a film that my girlfriend and I rented because it said on the box that it had been "banned for 14 years", or somesuch sensationalist tag. We expected, rather naively, a powerful, shocking attack on society a la Texas Chain Saw Massacre. What we had was some bloke in an unfrightening woolly hat going around and, yep, you guessed it, killing people with a variety of tools. Of these, the initial murder with a drill is the most unpleasant. As the film goes on, however, it clutches at straws, ultimately having to resort to that oh-so-scary object of carpentry, the chisel.

Unfortunately, entirely pointless deaths only account for about half the film. Where it really goes wrong is when it begins to justify these with some bizarre "taking revenge on the evils of society" explanation delivered by the one character we were really certain WASN'T the killer, by virtue of his being such an obvious candidate.

But for all its faults (and there are many), The Toolbox Murders remains compulsively watchable. This is because its hack dialogue and direction are so unbelievably bad that the viewer is left wondering just what god-awful impersonation of dialogue or technique is going to crop up next. Whole chunks of background information go effectively unexplained, phrases are repeated by characters unnecessarily, and one scene goes on so damn long you can't help thinking it might be a deliberate Chain Saw Massacre-style experiment on the viewer's nerves. But no, it just goes on too long.

Two-out-of-ten stuff, then - but one way or another, you won't hit the stop button before the end.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

The Rodney Dangerfield of Horror films

7/10
Author: movieman_kev from United States
13 October 2005

The great Cameron Mitchell is a masked maniac who kills the inhabitants with nail guns, screwdrivers & hammers, before kidnapping Laurie Ballard, a typical yet innocent 15 year old (played by Pamelyn Ferdin who is such a vegetarian that apparently she didn't even accept meaty roles). I really don't understand the general disdain for this fine grind-house film, especial by horror aficionados. The first 30 minutes are classic bloody grind-house shenanigans, while the rest is fun in a hokey, unintentionally humorous dialog type of way. And there's no doubt that Cameron played great nut cases in his career. Better than Tope Hooper's drab and lifeless 2004 re-make (or re-imagining, rather)

Eye Candy: Marciee Drake gets topless; Kelly Nichols gets fully nude; and extra nudity in the DVD menus & Extras

My Grade: B-

Blue Underground DVD Extras: Commentary with producer Tony Didio, cinematographer Gary Graver and actress Pamelyn Ferdin; an interview with actress Marianne Walter (AKA Kelly Nichols); Poster & still gallery; movie poster reproduction; Cameron Mitchell biography; TV spot; 2 Radio spots; and Theatrical trailer

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Pretty good for misogynistic trash

Author: squeezebox from United States
5 November 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS is one of the nastier grindhouse horror movies to achieve commercial success and attain an enthusiastic cult following.

A series of bizarre murders begins taking place in a Hollywood apartment complex, and the victims are exclusively independent young women. Eventually (SPOILER ALERT), we come to realize that the murders are being committed by the hotel's manager (Cameron Mitchell), who is targeting "immoral" young women as his victims.

It seems that his daughter was killed in a car crash after having gotten involved in sex and drug related activities. He is now on a crusade to rid the world of women who have gone down a similar path. In a genuinely twisted subplot, he has become obsessed with a virginal girl in one of the apartments, whom he fantasizes as replacing his daughter. He kidnaps her and keeps her tied to his bed while he goes out and hammers and nail guns his victims.

It leads up to one of the most harrowing and unsettling finales I've ever seen in this type of movie. As you can tell, the plot itself is as sordid as one could have thought up. Although it isn't nearly as vile as, say CANNIBAL FEROX or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, TOOLBOX MURDERS is the kind of slasher movie that makes me reluctantly understand women's groups denouncing the entire subgenre. I don't agree with them, but I can see their point when I watch the movie.

While there's no question that the movie is sexist, it never crosses the line into rampant misogyny. Even the movie's now infamous highlight, in which a nude woman is chased throughout her apartment by the nail-gun wielding killer, the victim manages to keep her cool and even tries to reason with the killer (albeit unsuccessfully) despite being in a most vulnerable position.

There is enough style to make things interesting and it moves along at a decent pace, so it never gets boring. It's no Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but it delivers what it promises, something that too many horror movies fail to do.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Nailguns, Hammers, And Drills, Oh My!

6/10
Author: Robert_Lovelace from New York, NY, United States
29 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Toolbox Murders" is a cheap, gritty movie. It's nasty, gratuitous, and graphic, but it is an okay little horror film. I enjoyed the first half hour or so of "Toolbox". The film is about women in a Los Angeles apartment who are stalked and murdered by a ski-masked killer with various tools. The first thirty minutes of the movie is just basically a bunch of women in a Los Angeles, California apartment complex getting murdered with contents of a toolbox (hammers, drills, screwdrivers, nailguns), and it is pretty graphic. Some of the death scenes are clever (I liked the nailgun scene), but after the first forty minutes the film begins to kind of bore you a bit. After Laurie (Pamelyn Ferdin) is kidnapped by the killer, the film starts to go down hill.

From there on it's basically detectives trying to find information on the killer, and the killer has Laurie tied up and is taunting her (this scene has a lot of useless dialog). If the filmmakers had spread the deaths out a bit, rather than having one after another in the first half hour, then the movie might have been a little less boring, because every death scene occurs within the first 30 minutes. But hey, at least they tried something new, not many horror films get the deaths over with so quickly and focus more on the solving of the crime and the killer's captive.

I saw this film on DVD, so it included some cut footage that I guess had been banned (I'm assuming it was the bathtub scene and maybe some extra gory shots of the murders - it was a pretty violent slasher film). When I heard Pamelyn Ferdin's voice in the movie, I knew I'd heard it somewhere, and then I discovered that it was from "Charlotte's Web", where she had provided the voice of Fern, so that was a bit of a surprise to me. The rest of the cast wasn't bad either, not great but they were good. Cameron Mitchell played the villain, and was fairly decent. I also read on the cover that Stephen King enjoyed this movie, which was another little surprise.

Overall, "Toolbox" is a bit unsettling and disturbing at moments. It's major downfall is the ending half of it though, because the film becomes a bit tedious and boring for the audience. It's no "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (which I think it tried to be), but all things considered, it's an okay little slasher flick. 6/10.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

a criminally underrated sleazy classic

8/10
Author: Scott-from-Modesto (andrea_yates_clogged_drain@comcast.net) from United States
8 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It bothers me that many people don't even realize that Tobe Hooper's version of this grindhouse cult classic is a remake. I think that one's okay for a chuckle or two, but this one's the real deal. For some reason, it just makes me nostalgic for an epic period in exploitation film-making that took place in the decade before I was even born. And Cameron Mitchell's involvement in this quirky and uneven flick reminds me of seeing him in tons of old movies on Saturday afternoon TV that was filled with so many commercials that I probably missed all the good stuff.

I think possibly Toolbox Murders may have had something to do with precipitating the "gimmick weapon" slasher film craze of later in the 70s and on through the 80s, exemplified by Don't Go In The House, Driller Killer, and Nail Gun Massacre among many others. Sure, Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre started it and even Pete Walker's Frightmare had a drill killer, but I like to just think that Toolboz=x is a historically important film so please don't burst my bubble.

Regardless of my sentiments on it, though, Toolbox Murders starts off strong with a handful of stalk and slash sequences highlighted by a sleazy female bathtub masturbation scene that leads to a chase and a nail gun demise. The sleaze and violence levels taper off considerably after that, but that's okay because that's where the predictably "shocking" psychodrama and backstory comes into play--yesssss! Toolbox Murders is one of my favorites, and it's too often overlooked. Give it a look over the mediocre remake if you see it on your video store shelf. 8/10.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A splendidly scuzzy 70's slasher sleaze classic

9/10
Author: Woodyanders (Woodyanders@aol.com) from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
29 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cameron "I'll act in any piece of junk for the money" Mitchell's already patchy schlock picture career hits its wonderfully lurid and repugnant all-time skankiest gutter-crawling nadir here with his joltingly frantic, bug-eyed portrayal of a crazed, puritanical superintendent who gruesomely dispatches several "sinful" promiscuous harlot young women residing in a grimy Los Angeles apartment complex. This shockingly gross and disgusting scuzzball 70's grindhouse slasher gem reaches its sensationally sleazy apex in a protracted sequence showing gorgeous porn starlet Kelly Nichols joyfully masturbating in her bathtub prior to Cameron brutally butchering her with a nail gun! Tireless ace exploitation photographer Gary Graver did the sharp, polished photography. The incredible down and out cast greatly intensifies the film's singularly discomfiting slimy edge: onetime child actress Pamelyn Ferdin (most famous for doing the voice of Lucy in a few Charlie Brown cartoon TV specials), "Land of the Lost" 's Wesley Eure as Cam's equally demented nephew (!), and the original "The Blob" heroine Aneta Corseaut. To top it all off, we even got a pertinent and provocative subtext about the fragility of innocence (as represented by Ferdin's sweet, "pure" character), the impossibility of preserving said innocence on a permanent basis (Cam abducts Pam so she can serve as a surrogate for the daughter he lost in a car crash), and how innocence is inevitably corrupted and/or destroyed by the evil outside world (as personified by the "impure" women Mitchell on his self-appointed murderous moral crusade deems worthy of punishment through savage and untimely death). This vile, gritty, resolutely ugly and sordid classic wholly deserves its killer trash legend reputation.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Come for the grisly deaths, Stay for the deranged psychology!

9/10
Author: leathermusic from United States
13 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Toolbox Murders is one of the top 3 American Horror films of the 1970's (along with The Hills Have Eyes, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) IMHO. Like the other films I just mentioned, 'toolbox' has a gritty low budget realism that helps the general atmosphere of the picture to no end. All of these movies deal with ordinary people besieged unexpectedly by deranged psychopaths, whose motives only become apparent as the stories unfold.

What makes 'toolbox' special is an absolutely masterful performance by Cameron Mitchell. Although the highly original death scenes are shocking and horrific, it is Cameron's portrayal of a crazed madman that is really unsettling. He really gets behind his motivation to create a flawed man living in an imperfect world. Without giving too much away, I should also note that the plot is very clever, with all kinds of unexpected turns toward the end. Sure, there are some bad scenes here and there, a lame disco lounge, plot holes, and unnecessary characters, but these are all pre requisites of low budget 70's cinema. The Toolbox Murders is recommended for anyone who likes great gore, or even fans of psychological drama.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Somewhat tedious and sickly (but not due to gore!!)

4/10
Author: Lucas Noseworth from Kent, England
5 January 2002

I heard about this film at the start of last year and instantly became deeply intrigued by it. I was overjoyed to see it finally released on the 'VIPCO' video label (here in the UK) but, alas, this all seemed to be in vain. I guess overall it was somewhat of a bathos and failed to rouse any serious interest in me whatsoever. The acting was, at the best of times, marginal and the plot...let's say it wasn't exactly ground-breaking: At the same time though I doubt that director Dennis Donnelly (who has also worked on episodes of 'Dallas' and 'Airwolf'...if I recall from my childhood) was attempting to change the world with the tale of a deranged Ski-mask wearing killer wielding, amongst other items, nail guns and chisels. The killings portrayed are rather nasty and bloody but, as I am now aware, are slightly cut here in the UK. I doubt (sincerely) that if they were shown in their entirety it would have made any valuable difference.

Perhaps what I found most disturbing about the film itself was the general visual aspect ( - vague I find you asking yourselves). The film looks very much dated now, which for some may not be a problem but it tended to make me feel decidedly 'sickly'. By this I mean that it just reminds me far too much of photos from my childhood *shudders*...with its ghastly floral interiors and fashion sense. I guess this is just a reflection of my own personal dislike towards nostalgia and is no serious reason to comment negatively on the film.

To conclude, 'The Toolbox Murders' is a tedious and poor (sorry to be harsh) horror flick at best. At times it appears to imitate Tobe Hoopers classic 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' in the sense that the film was, allegedly, based on 'real' events. It also follows a fairly congruous and typical narrative: a series of murders followed by an abduction and, inevitably, torture...only to have the attractive protagonist narrowly escape death. The fact that 'The Toolbox Murders' focuses on the notion of the 'family-gone-wrong', a la 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', or Pete Walkers 'Frightmare', for example, only seems to strengthen this argument more. The main problem: it falls flat on its face in trying to do so. I consider myself to be a die-hard horror film aficionado but this was just unfulfilling; certainly not to be mistaken as a 'cult classic'.

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