Directed by Tobe Hooper
Starring Angela Bettis
Juliet Landau Marco Rodriguez
The original "Toolbox Murders" was a pretty disappointing little movie, although it's evolved into a kind of sleaze classic from the late '70s. It's one of those "they don't make 'em this sleazy anymore" kind of movies. It was actually inspired by Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." So when it was learned that Hooper would be directing a direct-to-video remake of the 1978 sleazefest, some fans were actually excited. Apparently they hadn't seen some of Hooper's latter-day direct-to-video efforts, like "Crocodile."
The new "Toolbox Murders" plays chiefly as a mystery, with star Angela Bettis (excellent as the title character in "May") featured as a wife who becomes obsessed with some of the occult symbolism in the historic Hollywood apartment complex she's moved into -- and thinks it may have something to do with the screams she's heard around the building.
Meanwhile, a masked man is killing off young women residents on an apparently regular basis, using toolbox items like nailguns, etc. When Bettis calls police about the screams, she isn't believed because she once mistook two actors rehearsing their lines for abuse victims. So she's precluded from ever calling the cops again when she runs into problems.
"Toolbox" is a slick-looking direct-to-video effort. Its mystery is kinda OK, a little reminiscent of "Rosemary's Baby" actually -- with a paranoid woman researching the history of her apartment complex.
It's pretty slow-moving for the first two thirds, although you get a nice payback during the last half hour when the murderer's lair is discovered and Bettis and the secondary characters go all-out to get him. They probably should have set this film in 1978, however, because it's difficult to believe that no one would have a cell phone handy to call police with.
Ultimately the film is the best thing we've seen from Hooper in perhaps 20 years. But given "The Mangler," "Night Terrors" and some of the other stuff he's done in those 20 years, that may not be saying much.
Still, this is a decent, big-budget-for-direct-to-video production that is technically superior to the original, althugh not as memorable. Perhaps worth picking up if there's not much else at your Hollywood video or Blockbuster to watch. Watch for Sheri Moon Zombie in a small role as well.
-- Review by Lucius Gore
Posted by JK on April 13, 2008The original film was bloody crap to say the least! Overhyped and not that shocking at all (well mabye shocking in the sense of how lame it is!) Even for the time it is still really bad and not scary. The remake is watchable but don't get too excited. I hear another sequel is on the way. Joy!!!!! lol