63 user 73 critic

The Toolbox Murders (1978)

A ski-masked maniac kills apartment complex tenants with the contents of a toolbox.


Dennis Donnelly


Neva Friedenn (screenplay), Robert Easter (screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Cameron Mitchell ... Vance Kingsley
Pamelyn Ferdin ... Laurie Ballard
Wesley Eure ... Kent Kingsley
Nicolas Beauvy Nicolas Beauvy ... Joey Ballard
Tim Donnelly ... Detective Jamison
Aneta Corsaut ... Joanne Ballard
Faith McSwain ... Mrs. Andrews
Marciee Drake ... Debbie
Evelyn Guerrero Evelyn Guerrero ... Maria
Victoria Perry Victoria Perry ... Woman in Apartment
Robert Bartlett Robert Bartlett ... Man in Apartment
Betty Cole Betty Cole ... Middle Aged Woman
John Hawker John Hawker ... Middle Aged Man
Don Diamond ... Sgt. Cameron
Alisa Powell Alisa Powell ... Girlfriend


A lunatic runs around an apartment complex, apparently home only to attractive flight attendants with a tendency towards exhibitionism. While there, the lunatic tries to kill all the tenants with the contents of a toolbox. Based (probably quite loosely) on a true story. Written by Chris Holland <stomptokyo@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What he does to your nerves is almost as frightening as what he does to his victims! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Only movie directed by Dennis Donnelly. See more »


When the killer dons a ski mask following the first murder, he puts it on crooked so he's looking out of only one of the two eye holes. See more »


Joey Ballard: I'll be home for dinner. What are you fixin'?
Laurie Ballard: Ah! La specialty of the house; chicken à la TV dinners.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version televised on the UK's Zone Horror channel in 2007 was complete and uncut. See more »


Referenced in The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) See more »


Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
Sung by Cameron Mitchell
See more »

User Reviews

Somewhat tedious and sickly (but not due to gore!!)
5 January 2002 | by dung_ratSee all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

3 March 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Toolbox Murders See more »


Box Office


$185,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cal-Am Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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