The Toolbox Murders

The Toolbox Murders

The Toolbox Murders (1978)

A crazed handyman terrorizes an apartment building, using an assortment of tools to punish women in this cult classic exploitation piece.

The terror begins almost immediately as the women of a quiet Los Angeles apartment building are murdered for their apparent immorality.  While the body count rises, a seemingly “good girl” from the neighborhood disappears.  With a potential new victim missing, the police and her brother frantically try to stop the killer from claiming another woman.  But as the evidence begins to point in one direction, outside forces conspire to shield the killer from justice and keep one last victim living in terror.

The pacing in the film is uneven, to say the least.  The film opens with a veritable bloodbath in the opening act and then meanders along for the next hour or so with a minimal body count, attempting to get by on poorly executed dramatic tension – this is a film that plays at being more than the tawdry exploitation fare it is.  Cameron Mitchell does what he always did best – creeping the audience out a bit despite his best efforts at being charming, making him the perfect man for this role.  The plot is thin but a twist here and there keep it from being stale – again, the film tries to be more than it is, but the attempt at an interesting plot makes it stand out.  The effects are good for their time and the acting is passable – which for a 70s exploitation film is pretty good.

More than 35 years after its release, this remains a classic example of the exploitation genre.  Gratuitous violence and nudity make the piece irredeemably dated, but still entertaining for its nostalgia if nothing else.

Stars: 2.5/5



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