A historic Hollywood hotel houses a supernatural evil. It's been subdued for decades, but when renovations start, a series of murders take place.A historic Hollywood hotel houses a supernatural evil. It's been subdued for decades, but when renovations start, a series of murders take place.A historic Hollywood hotel houses a supernatural evil. It's been subdued for decades, but when renovations start, a series of murders take place.
When I first heard Hooper was remaking TOOLBOX MURDERS, I thought he had hit a new low. The director of THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE is making a remake of a movie that was in many ways a rip-off of CHAINSAW? I didn't think I'd bother.
Then I started hearing some internet buzz that the movie was actually pretty good, so I picked up the DVD at a horror convention. I was pleasantly surprised. It's a throwback to Hooper's earlier movies like CHAINSAW, EATEN ALIVE and THE FUNHOUSE, with a similar atmosphere of dementia and claustrophobic terror. The performances are excellent and the screenplay is very good (written by the same team that wrote Hooper's previous film, CROCODILE). Also top notch are the expressionistic cinematography and editing.
Hooper's previous movies reeked of TV movie blandness (possibly due to his having slowly moved into that realm over the years), but TOOLBOX MURDERS has a healthy dose of grindhouse grit to go with the slick, professional quality of his hired hand work. The result is a movie that is as technically well-made as SCREAM or WRONG TURN, but with the guts of a 70s drive-in shocker.
While the killer finds some creative ways to kill people with various hardware items, and the action takes place in a single apartment building, this movie has little to do with the original TOOLBOX MURDERS. It's actually more similar in plot to Lucio Fulci's HOUSE BY THE Cemetery. However, despite its remake status and its borrowing plot points from a few previous movies, it has a surprisingly fresh and original feeling to it.
I'll go out on a limb and say Tobe Hooper's TOOLBOX MURDERS is one of the better horror movies I've seen in quite some time. It leaves the CHAINSAW remake in the dust. It's better than most so-called horror movies I've seen in the last few years.
I highly recommend this to horror fans, but especially to admirers of Hooper who thought he would never crawl out of his rut. Well, he's back, and with a vengeance!
- Nov 2, 2004