The Toolbox Murders (1978) from Tuna

The Toolbox Murders is a slasher film starring Cameron Mitchell as the bad guy. His daughter dies in an accident after being hit by a drunk driver, after which he starts killing evil, immoral women, feeling that once he kills all the evil, only good will be left. He also kidnaps a young girl, ties her to a bed, and pretends she is his daughter. The title of the film derives from the fact that all of his murder weapons come from his handyman toolbox, including an electric drill, a nail gun, and a claw hammer.


see the main commentary
Producer Tony Didio noticed that Texas Chainsaw Massacre was in its second theatrical release, and called the distributor to see how that was possible. He was told that the splatter genre was a sure money-maker, so he assembled a skeleton crew, held a Chainsaw screening for them, and asked them to write a script to appeal to the same audience. They based the story very loosely on actual events.

DVD info from Amazon

Commentary by producer Tony DiDio, director of photography Gary Graver, and star Pamelyn Ferdin
Theatrical trailer(s)
"I Got Nailed in The Toolbox Murders": An interview with Star Marianne Walter
TV and radio spots
Poster and still gallery
Cameron Mitchell bio
Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.66:1

  • The first victim, Marciee Drake, showed breasts, first through a wet top, and then changing.
  • The second victim showed everything including full frontal, in a long scene that included masturbating in a bathtub, running from the murderer, trying to reason with him, getting shot with the nail gun, and finally lying dead in her apartment and at the morgue. She was credited as Marianne Walter, which is actually her birth name. She had been in LA doing modeling and some double work, mostly in commercials, when she was offered the part. She was thrilled that her face would finally be on camera, and that she got to do a death scene in her favorite genre. Although the director saved the masturbation part of the role as a surprise on the day they shot the bathtub scene, she took it in stride. After this film, she went on to become Pet of the month, and then the major porn star known as Kelly Nichols. He credits include several of my favorite adult films, the most notable being In Love. She is no longer performing in front of the camera, but is still in the business doing make-up in both mainstream and adult films.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: less than one star. 1/5, Stomp Tokyo 1/5

The People Vote ...


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film a C-. This is a typically bad slasher film. On the other hand, it is not much worse than is typical for the genre. They did reveal the identity of the killer early on, which ruined most of the suspense, but there were positives. The nudity is first rate, and the acting was better than the script deserved. (Scoop's note: I haven't seen the film, but the reviews indicate that the correct rating must be E by the definition above, because it is only rated by genre sites, and they universally hated it. Even drive-in critic Joe Bob Briggs gave this film two stars, for example, which is the only time I can recall him ever rating a film lower than three. He gave three stars to Attack of the 50 Foot Woman)

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