Fright Club: Toolbox Horror

Who’s idea was this? Because this was super fun. Horror filmmaker can get positively inspired by what they find in a tool box or garden shed.

But where to even start? Every Friday the 13th movie, every Sleepaway Camp – basically, every camping movie.

Plus, some films really give it away with their title: Driller Killer, Toolbox Murders (both), Saw (all of them), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (all of them).

It’s a good beginning. To narrow down the list of best horror scenes using tools, we started by categorizing. Here’s what we came up with.

5. Saws: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Saws are big in horror. Lots to choose from:

  • Pieces (1982) – a lot of chainsaw action here, but the girl in the bathroom is the best/worst
  • Tucker & Dale Versus Evil (2010) – bees and chainsaws! Hooray!
  • Evil Dead reboot (2013) – after Mia tears her own hand off, she tears into Evil Mia’s head with a chainsaw
  • Evil Dead 2 (1987) – Ash puts Linda’s head in a vice, then accidentally knocks a chainsaw into her re-animated body

Winner: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
– You hated Franklin, admit it. You should probably feel bad about that, but the point is that he is the only one who actually takes the chainsaw in TCM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTlDmehDmsQ

4. Drill: The Loved Ones (2009)

Again, a power drill is an excellent go-to for onscreen carnage. It’s like being at the dentist, only far bloodier. Several films made great use of it.

    • Driller Killer (1979) – basically every death scene
    • Body Double (1984) – our favorite scene here: Jake runs across to save the woman he’s been peeping on, and gets there in time to see the drill come through the ceiling above him, then all the blood

Winner: The Loved Ones (2009)

Bonus – also nails!

Lola (Robin McLeavy) and her dad make some effective use of several household items, but it’s the moving father/daughter bonding over the power drill that really makes an impression.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hakZ4o5FPA

3. Hammer and Nail Family: Misery (1990)

A lot to work with here! Crucifixions, genetical spiking, Home Alone style shenanigans.

  • Evil Dead (2013) – nail gun to the face!
  • Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) – a serious nightmare scenario
  • You’re Next (2011) – underestimated Erin knows how to make use of all kinds of household wares, including that jug of nails she finds in the basement

Winner: Misery (1990)
Yes, it’s a mallet, but that’s in the hammer family, and no scene made 1990 movie audiences more uncomfortable than this. Poor James Caan. You know he’ll badass his way out of this situation at some point – but homey ol’ Annie (the BRILLIANT Kathy Bates) will have her way for a while.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zzg3UP-x8k

2. Lawnmowers: Dead Alive (1992)

Fewer options here, and most of them goofy.

  • Dr. Shock’s Tales of Terror (2003) – Here’s an obscure one, and not a great film. But, in one of the shorts (Garden Tool Murders), someone’s buried to their neck has their head’s run over with a lawnmower.
  • Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood (1988) – Yes, it’s a weed whacker. Close enough.

Winner: Dead Alive (1992)
This is the scene that made us realize we needed this countdown. Not just because it is an utterly inspired piece of splatter gore, but because it’s really the turning point for poor, sweet, milquetoast-y Lional Cosgrove.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC1d7dw24Gg

1. Scissors/Shears: Antichrist (2009)

Toughest choices here. So many outstanding possibilities!

  • The Burning (1981) & Friday 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) use gardening shears, but it’s your ordinary house scissors that do the most inspired damage.
  • May (2002) – sweet May’s first kill is an impressive piece of action with her sewing scissors
  • Felt (2014) – that puppet making is all leading somewhere…
  • Oldboy (2003) – if you haven’t seen this, we don’t want to ruin it. Suffice it to say, Dae-su wants to make sure he never says.
  • Inside (2007) – Oh, what Beatrice Dalle can do with a pair of scissors. They’re used repeatedly and really well.

Winner: Antichrist (2009)
If you haven’t seen Lars von Trier’s one all out horror show or the scene in question, we’re not going to tell. We’re not going to show you, either. We want you to be as effected by the act as MaddWolf writer Christie Robb was. We lent her the screener and she watched it while she was on a treadmill. She fell off and did herself an injury.

Not as bad as the injury in the film though, thank God.

Day 19: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Not everyone considers The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a classic. Those people are wrong. Perhaps even stupid.

Tobe Hooper’s camera work, so home-movie like, worked with the “based on a true story” tag line like nothing before it, and the result seriously disturbed the folks of 1974. It has been ripped off and copied dozens of times since its release, but in the context of its time, it was so absolutely original it was terrifying.

Hooper sidestepped all the horror gimmicks audiences had grown accustomed to – a spooky score that let you know when to grow tense, shadowy interiors that predicted oncoming scares – and instead shot guerilla-style in broad daylight, outdoors, with no score at all. You just couldn’t predict what was coming.

Hooper also cast aside any concerns for dignity or fair play, a theme best personified by wheelchair-bound Franklin. Franklin is supremely unlikeable – whiney and selfish – ending horror’s long history of using personal vulnerability to make a character more sympathetic. Films such as Wait Until Dark, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and Rear Window (all excellent movies) ratcheted up tension through the sympathy they could generate toward the helpless character. These films’ anxiety and payoff both owe everything to watching the vulnerable protagonist in danger, and waiting for them to overcome the odds.

But Hooper is after an entirely different kind of tension. He dashes your expectations, making you uncomfortable, as if you have no idea what you could be in for. As if, in watching this film, you yourself are in more danger than you’d predicted.

But not more danger than Franklin is in, because Franklin is not in for a good time.

So, poor, unlikeable Franklin Hardesty, his pretty sister Sally, and a few other friends head out to Grampa Hardesty’s final resting place after hearing the news of some Texas cemeteries being grave-robbed. They just want to make sure Grampy’s still resting in peace – an adventure which eventually leads to most of them making a second trip to a cemetery. Well, what’s left of them.

Listen weekly to MaddWolf’s horror podcast FRIGHT CLUB. Do it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY4ldz615FA