The Toolbox Murders (1978)

DVD Cover (Blue Underground)
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Connections: The Toolbox Murders

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Cameron Mitchell
Cameron Mitchell
Pamelyn Ferdin
Pamelyn Ferdin
Wesley Eure
Wesley Eure
Nicolas Beauvy
Nicolas Beauvy
Tim Donnelly
Tim Donnelly
Review by Chad
Added: February 18, 2005
Starting up the movie, we witness a young girl dying in a car wreck. What relevance this has to the movie isn't apparent at first, but all is revealed later on. For now, however, we cut-scene on over to a masked man (Cameron Mitchell) carrying a tool box. He makes his way into an apartment, where he quickly kills off a lady with a power drill. After watching her bleed for a bit, he kills off three other ladies with various other tools from his toolbox, including a claw-hammer, a screwdriver, and a nail gun. After breaking into another apartment, he suffocates fifteen-year-old Laurie Ballard (Pamelyn Ferdin), not to the point of death, but just until she passes out. Later, her brother Joey (Nicolas Beauvy) and mother JoAnn (Aneta Corsaut) return home, only to find that Laurie has been kidnapped. When the police seem to be unconcerned with finding out what happened to Laurie, Joey decides to take it upon himself to find out where his little sister went, and visits the deceased women's apartments for some clues. As he enters the first ladies apartment, he meets up with Kent (Wesley Eure), the nephew of the apartment owner. Kent has been sent out to this apartment in order to clean up the blood so that someone else could move in, but Joey quickly finds out that Kent may know a bit more about what happened than he lets on.

The end credits of this movie claims that the events portrayed were based on a true story. Whether or not this is true or not is beyond me, but the movie itself was decent enough. The first fifteen minutes were by far the best... nothing occurs other than the killer going from apartment to apartment and murdering off the women in various gruesome ways. No storyline was needed for that, no dialog sequences were shown, just murder after murder. Unfortunately, things start to slow down after that fifteen minute slaughter-fest, and we're left with Joey trying to figure out what's going on, the police doing some investigating, and JoAnn working at her place of employment. The storyline pretty much grinds to a halt for the next thirty minutes or so, with nothing much in the way of important storyline or necessary plot-twists to be found. After that is done and over with, however, we catch up with the murderer, who has Laurie tied up and reveals to her more about why he did what he did, why he kidnapped her instead of murdering her, and what he intends to do with her. At that point, things really start to pick up again, and the movie quickly becomes entertaining once again. In other words, we have a movie that is half entertaining and half yawn-fest.

Why there was so much controversy surrounding this movie upon its initial release is really beyond me. There's the obvious blood and gore scenes, which while excellently done, were really nothing too over-the-top for the time. Really, the only thing I saw that would cause anyone to get their panties in a knot was a few seconds of female pubic hair, but even that would be stretching it. Anywho, I felt that there could have been a few more kills thrown in to keep things moving along better, but that was not to be. We get four murders in the first fifteen minutes, and each of those were great... lots of blood, painful to watch, and very nice effects. Skipping ahead to the last ten minutes of the movie, we witness two more murders. One was quite excellent, but the other was pretty tame compared to the rest of the film. The problem here was the fact that everything between the first fifteen minutes and the last ten minutes could have been shown on the Disney Channel... no blood, no gore, no nudity, not even a bit of profanity. The revelations by the killer, while interesting, tended to run for just a bit too long, and other than that, there was really nothing of interest to keep things entertaining.

Decent movie with a great start, but be prepared to be bored after the opener winds down. If you're a major gore-hound, those opening kills may be enough to warrant a rental, but otherwise, I'd advise a pass on this one. 5/10.
Stormy Sundae #1: Stormy Sundae - added 04/21/2015, 12:56 AM
I agree. I wish the intensity of the first ten minutes continued throughout the whole movie
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