Nail Gun Massacre

Director: Terry Loftin                
Rocky Patterson, Ron Queen, Michelle Meyer

In 1974, we had The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Eleven years later, another massacre using a handyman's appliance occurred in the same American state. That movie was Nail Gun Massacre, an entertaining little exploitation effort that's one of the few gems of the huge output of cheap and crude efforts from the Lone Star state. Unquestionably, it is a cheap and crude effort, and these attributes can be found in every frame. But it can't be denied that it is determined to deliver what you'd expect from a movie with such an unsubtle title.

This determination to deliver the goods starts from the very beginning, where at some construction site we see a group of construction workers drag a woman to a secluded spot and rape her. It's a little eerie watching this scene for several reasons; the cheap film stock and the music greatly reminded me of the notorious I Spit On Your Grave; and like that movie, the cheapness and crude filmmaking actually give the scene a kind of cinema-verite that makes the sequence feel more realistic. The scene soon ends, cutting immediately to the next one so the filmmakers can quickly deliver some violence, now that they've shown sex. Deep in the woods, a figure dressed in combat clothes and a black motorcycle helmet (looking very much like the title figure from The Exterminator) creeps up to a secluded house, stalking a man inside who was at the construction site. The stalker carries a nail gun, by the way, which is used to fire several nails at the construction worker. When one nail is fired into the construction worker's head, the stalker speaks in a Darth Vader-like electronically altered voice, yukking, "The worst headaches are the ones between the eyes!"

For those who may not have gotten the idea of the sophisticated humor and shocking suspense that this movie offers, I'll tell you more of what's to come. The killer, driving a gold-colored hearse (!), later follows two woodcutters (who are also construction workers on their day off, I guess) to another part of the woods. "Mark, you go ahead. I've got to take a leak," says one to his friend. I bet you can't guess what happens next. The stalker - get this - walks up behind the guy as he's taking a piss! In short order, the stalker utters, "Well, you just pissed me off!" and THUD THUD, nails are fired. "I bet this will stop that leak!" chortles the stalker, and THUD, the guy gets a nail in a nasty place. Next, the stalker then makes short work of the other guy, who's busy with his chain saw. Naturally, getting "nailed" will make you lose control of your chain saw and then you'll accidentally saw off one of your hands. In what I'm sure is an homage to the Michael Caine movie The Hand, we see a nice close-up of the severed and bloody hand. And the remaining part of the movie - centered around construction workers and their girlfriends vacationing at the house where their friend was slaughtered earlier - when they are not having sex in the woods - is, I'm sure, an homage (how dare you think "rip-off"!) of Friday The 13th.

Believe me, there's a lot to savor about Nail Gun Massacre, both in a genuine sense and unintentional. Well, there's a few faults, I guess, so I'll get them out of the way first. First, the movie's score consists of a few bars played over and over by what seems to be one of those cheesy Casio keyboards, in the "electronic piano" mode. When a character is speaking, sometimes a couple of notes will play after every sentence:

"What you have here is an apparent epidemic." DUM DUM!

"Seems we've been losing a lot of men at that construction site." DA DA!

And while we're talking about dialogue, the shortcomings of the script should be noted. The movie is supposed to have an underlace of black humor, so lines like the above aren't unexpected, and indeed they are usually spoken with the right amount of deadpan. Elsewhere, though, the writing frequently brings up situations that are hard to swallow; if you were a hitchhiker, and a guy looking like The Exterminator driving a hearse stopped, would you be so eager to jump in or talk to the driver? Or would you engage in horseplay with a friend by firing nail guns at each other?

Technically, the movie is watchable, but still suffers from shabbiness. The credits list three people playing the part of the masked stalker, and two of these happen to be female. This leads to the height and body shape of the stalker changing throughout the movie - none of which match the attributes of the real stalker when revealed. The "nails" that we see embedded in victims sometimes wiggle around - obviously, they were made with some kind of rubber material. And why does the D.J. on the radio play the smash hit "Foosball" twice in a row?

But if you like movies that really deliver on sex and gore, and like to see the funny side of shortcomings like the above, Nail Gun Massacre delivers. Boy, does it deliver. There's an average of one killing every six minutes - and in the first 20 minutes of the movie there are five bodies. Many of the killings are quite hilarious, and though the gore level doesn't really go above blood and that severed hand, there are quite a few gallons of blood poured out on those bodies. Loftin also adds some very gratuitous but entertaining sexual sleaze, with several women taking off their clothes and the camera focusing on their breasts. One of several sex scenes in the movie - the couple in their car at Lover's Lane - is a riot. I doubt you'll see Nail Gun Massacre on late-night TV, and when VHS becomes obsolete, I also doubt this very independent independent production will be released on any new format in the future, so head to your video store before it completely disappears from the face of the earth.

Also reviewed at: Cold Fusion Video

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See also: The Dentist 2, Destroyer, House Of Usher