Director: Dennis Donnelly
Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Pamelyn Ferdin, Wesley Eure, Nicolas Beauvy, Tim Donnelly
Bit by bit… by bit he carved a nightmare!
A killer runs loose on an apartment complex in Southern California. The women of that resides there gets killed off one by one in gruesome ways. The body of one of the girls doesn’t show up and the police tries to find out if it’s related to the murders and if they can find her body… or what’s left of it!
The Toolbox Murders is a serial killer movie that was influenced by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and has a reputation of being very violent and brutal. It is one of the Video Nasties movies and it has also been banned in my very own Norway and refused classification in Australia.
The first thirty minutes of the movie shows the killer brutally slaying several young girls with nearly no dialogue or any character development going on. The murders are done well and the nail gun murder is especially memorable. After this the movie switches tone and focus completely and goes from being a slasher movie to becoming a psychological thriller instead.
It reminded me a little of When a Stranger Calls, another movie that completely switches tone after about 20 minutes. I don’t think this switch works very well here and would prefer that they either kept up with the slasher idea or just went with the psychological aspect instead. If they continued with the brutality of the first twenty minutes for the entire film then this surely would have even more notoriety now than what it already has.
Cameron Mitchell plays the killer and he looks great with his ski mask and toolbox. He does a good job of portraying the killer who is out to punish bad girls in the complex that he works as a handyman. He hasn’t quite been the same after his teenage daughter died in a car accident and since Laurie, played by Pamelyn Ferdin, resembles his lost daughter he kidnaps her instead of just killing her off. Dennis Donnely has done a lot of work in TV and this is his first and only movie as a director. He does a decent job, but probably did the smart move by sticking with TV series after this as the film looks and feels (after the initial slaughters) a bit like something shot for television.
The Toolbox Murders has a title that reeks violence and gore. It doesn’t deliver that much in the gore department, but the killings are great because of the tone of the scenes and they also look good. I prefer the first thirty minutes of it and I also like Mitchell in it, but it doesn’t qute match up with the best from this genre and period. That being said it is absolutely a film worth seeing, especially for the opening twenty minutes.