Saturday, November 12, 2016

#2,248. The Nail Gun Massacre (1985)

Directed By: Bill Leslie, Terry Lofton

Starring: Rocky Patterson, Ron Queen, Beau Leland

Tag line: "A very penetrating story!"

Trivia: When the actress who was originally hired to play the store clerk didn't show up for the shoot, director Terry Lofton got his grandmother--the real clerk at the store where they were shooting--to take the role

The movie opens with a rape: a group of construction workers drag a poor woman behind the house they’re building and have their way with her (for those who are prudish, don’t worry: the girl’s clothes remain on throughout the attack). 

The film then cuts to a scene set sometime in the near future, in which one of the construction guys, Larry Johnson (Jerry Nelson), is getting ready for work while his wife (Sebrina Lawless) hangs the wash out to dry. Just then, a mysterious figure dressed in camouflage and wearing a biker’s helmet pops into view. The wife doesn’t notice as this strange individual sidesteps her and makes a beeline towards the house. Once inside, the figure, armed with a nail gun, opens fire on Larry, hitting him in (among other places) the forehead. As Larry lies dying on the floor, his killer says, mocking his pain, “Aren’t the worst headaches right between the eyes?

Cut to the credits, which play out not with a musical score behind them, but a creepy, echo-laced laugh, which we assume is the killer’s. These initial sequences are absolutely gripping, and get 1985’s The Nail Gun Massacre off to a great start.

Where it goes from that point on, though, is another matter.

Yes, an unknown killer, wielding a nail gun, is stalking the good citizens of a small Texas community, slaughtering constructions workers, their girlfriends, and even people just passing through. The local sheriff (Ron Queen) is baffled, as is the town’s doctor (Rocky Patterson). Together, the two try to determine who this masked psychopath might be, all the while collecting the bodies that continue to pile up. Can the killer be stopped, or will he finish off everyone in town before he’s through?

In the final scheme of things, The Nail Gun Massacre is not a good movie. There are a few things it gets right, like the killer (aside from his or her penchant for inappropriately witty one-liners, he or she is pretty damn menacing) and the weapon of choice (the nail gun does a number on each and every victim). I even liked how they had the killer drive around in a yellow hearse, and the kills themselves, though not incredibly graphic, are just gory enough. Also, the film’s low-budget feel matches the material perfectly, giving it a grainy, almost dirty look (which works to its advantage). Oh.. and there’s lots of nudity, including one very pretty girl who, during her entire scene, never stops to put her top back on.

Unfortunately, The Nail Gun Massacre has its share of problems as well, starting with the acting (which is bad all around) and extending out to the dialogue (While inspecting the remains of the latest victim, who had been nailed to the street, the sheriff talks with the truck driver that found him, who says that if isn’t a scene out of a horror movie, “it’s one hell of a biker’s revenge”. “We don’t have bikers in this county”, the sheriff replies, “only law-abiding citizens”. Never mind the fact he’s standing over the body of the 5th murder victim in two days!). 

In addition, The Nail Gun Massacre doesn’t even try to develop a cohesive story. Instead, it introduces one new character after another, then immediately turns its killer loose on them. And aside from the taut, well-paced opening, each and every scene runs on a bit too long (sometimes a moment or two, other times as much as a couple of minutes). Worst of all, though, is the sound quality, which is dreadful throughout (one particular sequence, set at a roadside restaurant, is barely audible thanks to all the traffic that’s speeding by).

If creative kills and some bare boobs are all you require from a low-budget ‘80s slasher film, then The Nail Gun Massacre will not disappoint. As for everyone else: you’ve been warned!

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