the toolbox murders (1977)

Have you seen this? Are you familiar? I wonder what the readers of this place expect when they come here other than a bunch of nonsense? I really don’t want to do big time studio movies although I do watch them for the most part. I take pride in myself for not ever watching those award winning things people go on and on about for one week at the start of new years – I don’t look at them because I don’t care and I would probably hate them. I REALLY like Mads Mikkelsen (yep I copied and pasted that) mainly because of Valhalla Rising and Hannibal and I saw some time in my past that he was in some movie that was up for an award and he played some dude who likes to drink and in every clip they showed him dancing. Not ballroom dancing or tango-ing but really getting into it and swinging his knees and breaking it down like the pimp motherfucker he is. I’m sure it’s all about the euphoria he gets from having that drink and how the sweet, sweet sugars get into his blood and make him feel alive like nothing else but that looks really stupid and I think I’d rather harm myself than sit through it. Note: that’s no knock on drinkers because, if you haven’t figured it out, I do like to fill myself up with the stuff.

So I’m likely to go about talking about shit like this movie instead of people dancing and then probably throw something like this in the mix for good measure:

Do you know where that came from? You might think it stemmed from the poster for this somewhat beautiful movie but that’s only partly right. You see, I’ve bene doing some beer drinking tonight and this movie in particular, reminded me of this old 70s porn that I never watched because I’ve never watched a porn. I honestly don’t remember the name of it but I do remember that (yes I read the liner notes) (I mean maybe) that that particular -uh – feature came out way before things we think of as slashers like Black Christmas and Halloween so it, by chronology, was actually the first slasher – but it was a porn so no one ever saw it and it involved some guy in a ski mask with the word “LOVE” (I think) stitched on it going around with a hunting knife doing unwanted sex with everyone out at some camp. Sound familiar? I may or may not have ever watched it but it wasn’t very good and the picture above this paragraph came when I searched this term: 70s slasher love on his ski mask.

So did this which, I think, might be actually close to the costume I remember from that video I mentioned but never watched:

Oh boy – is that how we got to where we are now? What’s not to like about this thing (Toolbox Murders – let’s focus)? I remember, back when HBO first came out, staying up late after The Creator went to bed and sneaking this movie in the VCR, turned down so low you couldn’t hear anything, hiding under blankets on the couch, scared out of my tighties, catching some naked women. BOOM! When does that tall ship leave port, sir?? Jesus did I just say that?

Here we are almost fifty fucking years later and it’s a testament to what was good about 70s film and culture (without murdering of course). 70’s B-movie acting, 70’s sets with record players! Shag toilet seat covers! Bell Bottoms!, 70’s country music, lots of blood, nakedness you can’t even show today without slapping an X on it and general doll loving madness. Sound good? Do you like ferns and macramé? Then this is for you – i don’t really know how you could not be entertained through the end. It starts off with a bang – well, with a drill – then a hammer, and then a screwdriver, and then a nail gun. We then have some generally odd 70’s exposition leading up to the sweaty, weird climax you didn’t see coming.  Go for it! You’re all set up! You’re doing great, too!

Our setting here is the El Patio del Sequoia apartments where only loose, drunk, lesbian, women who expose themselves live. Scratch that – so does the chaste, 15 year old virgin who lives upstairs with her mom and brother. It is no spoiler to tell you that the madman who gruesomely dispatches these characters is the owner of the complex, whose chaste, virginal daughter was killed in a car wreck – after she got into drugs and sex. Does anyone remember my post about how my creator thinks all of the evils in the world and the reason all people die are because of drinking and smoking even though she did the most drinking and smoking when I was growing up? Well, she must have seen this and bought into that dogma. Maybe.

My dad: Don’t disobey God or he’ll kill you. Also, don’t bother anyone or he’ll kill your whole family. Also, don’t fart in church again or you’ll get an ass whipping like you’ve never imagined.
My mom: If you drink and smoke you’ll die. Now go to your room and do your homework while I got out to the club and drink and smoke.
My dad: Don’t touch that carburetor or everyone in this house will die, including Peter Rabbit.
My mom: Do you want to go with me to the big football game? Well, you can’t, sorry. Don’t drink or smoke.

HMMPH. Soon, the owner then sets out to cleanse the complex of impure women by using the variety of tools at his disposal; and to kidnap the chaste young 15 year old upstairs to replace his dead daughter. After the kidnapping, her brother and his pal, the actor who played Will in Land of the Lost, decide to earn some gas money by cleaning up the crime scenes. The brother’s pal is the nephew of the complex owner – coincidentally – also the man who is currently in possession of his sister, nicely tied up with ribbons in the owner’s daughter’s room, which is coincidentally also filled with dolls and hairbrushes. I think they used to call that kitsch. After a visit by the befuddled detective and a trip somewhere that I forget, the brother begins to put two and two together and then – then – things start to get weird.


When sister’s brother alleges to owner’s nephew that owner is the killer, owner’s nephew douses his friend with gasoline, sings him a song and lights him on fire. He then enters the house, heads to the daughter’s room and confesses to the owner that he had been having frequent sex with his own cousin. I think they call that Arkansas. Or Newark. Owner, naturally, becomes sweaty and enraged discovering his previously pure and chaste his daughter had, indeed, been soiled. As every father would do, learning his unsoiled seed had become soiled, he grabs a doll and tells his nephew he’s going to kill him for fucking things up like he did. Fights ensue and figurines are beheaded – before – while I spoil this up – someone gets an attempted – uh – sex without their consent. I know that can be a trigger for some people – rightfully so – if this all sounds like butterflies on your shoulder so far, there’s that towards the end.

Additionally – if you’re super, super not familiar, this is the one where the girl jumps out of the tub and runs through her apartment stark naked for several minutes, trying to elude the man with the toolkit.

Now – the name of this apartment is El Patio del Sequoia which loosely translates to the “place in the trees” and I can easily tell this was made in the L.A. area. The L.A. and surrounding areas are pilfered with trees from the days before apartment complexes and freeways and Chevrons and Datsuns and I spent a lot of my time in a place near there called Thousand Oaks where, believe it or not, there a lot of oak trees – one nasty and aged one in the middle of my family’s back yard that dumped acorns by the ton in their pool and spa and made them generally uncomfortable to dip my body in whether to swim or float or soak. The point of my bullshit is that I lived in the L.A. area back in the late 70s with my aunt and uncle and nothing of this sort ever happened to me so don’t judge the movie or the 70s based on this thing, it’s actually kind of awesome if certain things don’t get to you.

I feel like we’ve covered a lot here today. That’s totally my fault because it’s me and this is a miasma of writing at its most foul. I remember there was a remake of this thing (I think) by Tobe Hooper and (I think) it wasn’t anything like this whatsoever and (I think) it had Annette O’Toole in it, I think. I know she was in Cat People (the porny one) but I think she was in this too. Well, because I’m so fucking sweet and try to do a good job, it wasn’t O’Toole after all, but Martin Landau’s daughter. Looking at images of her, I think she’s quite attractive but understand full well that this is the pic her publicist released after reading and being mentioned on Film Miasma.

I’m going file this one under SLASHER AND CHICKS because this doesn’t really fit into my other phyla but this one is pretty good – some things considered.

6 thoughts on “the toolbox murders (1977)

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