The Toolbox Murders (1978)

Directed by: Dennis Donnelly

Written by: Neva Friedenn, Robert Easter & Ann Kindberg


Cameron Mitchell .... Vance Kingsley
Pamelyn Ferdin .... Laurie Ballard
Wesley Eure .... Kent Kingsley
Nicolas Beauvy .... Joey Ballard
Tim Donnelly .... Detective Jamison
Aneta Corsaut .... Joanne Ballard
Don Diamond .... Sgt. Cameron

Release Date: Theatrical: March, 1978


A maniac in a ski mask making out he's a carpenter at an apartment suite kills beautiful women one by one in which leads to the police wondering as to who is doing this and why.
Suddenly one of the residents named Laurie Ballard (Pamelyn Ferdin) is kidnapped by this killer and her older brother Joey (Nicolas Beauvy) and his friend Kent (Wesley Eure) tries to find out missing clues in order to search for her along with the aid of Detective Jamison (Tim Donnelly) but the clues lead to even more trouble.


The film starts off alot with the opening credits and a car driving which can look incredibly boring as this was overly done but yet there's a moment that will psych you out as the picture pauses and then a car crash happens with a corpse being put into an ambulance which seems to become the drawing card as to what will happen in the story later on.
Then there's a moment with a drunken looking resident and then a carpenter with a toolkit looking like that he will be fixing something in which we all know that he is up to something deadly on this resident but yet when we watch him trying to attack this woman it looked very lacking and not at all intense like this moment was meant to be. There's some nice funky 70's settings including a turntable in which looked totally groovy. Yes those were the good old days indeed.
Then the killer right away gets into another slaying as well as a resident suddenly spotting a dead body in which you'd think she's scream in horror but doesn't and stands there to take a good look at her not doing the wise thing by running out like most intelligent person would as the killer could still be inside the suite which is the total case here. Some great close ups with this murderer using a drill or a back of a hammer doing in his victims.
It looks fun when this killer spies on other windows on a balcony of a building on who he will kill next in which we spot some wearing almost nothing on which is another nice drawing card to the story figuring that he will do that one in next since the virgin looking residents won't be the one's done in as they rarely ever are.
Plus there's a long shot on a lustful woman masturbating in her bathtub which is a perfect target for this killer to do her in since this is a traditional drawing card for a killer to do someone in while doing something lustful like we always spot in a slasher flick. Of course it looks impressive when she tries to get away from this maniac naked as well as trying to talk him out of using a deadly tool device on her while she's trapped in which it makes you wonder if she will succeed or not.

The story also looked cheesily entertaining when the detectives do a search on the rooms where the slaughterings have taken place which was nicely set out on what they were trying to trigger off as to why these killings have happened in the first place.
Also nice questioning with Detective Jamison towards a teen like Joey Ballard about his resident asking if she was a loose type woman that would attract this maniac as this was nicely written into the story since we always wonder what neighbors know about others etc.
What is really creepy is when Joey and his friend start searching some of the rooms that are bloodied due to the murders and one of them says they shouldn't be there. Just saying that leaves a chill down your spine as you wonder if maybe the killer will come in to wreck havoc since things seem awfully quiet.
Then after most of this the killer is revealed which happens way too soon and it becomes a bit disappointing when this case happens and there's someone who is kidnapped and gagged in which the dialogue here is way too long in which is supposed to look disturbing while watching this and it gets there but because it is terribly trite we easily get bored with it hoping something better will happen in another scenario.
Other moments do happen which seems exciting including a dance bar with funky disco type music when Jamison questions the girl's Mother about her daughter's disappearance but then it becomes lacking once more in other areas too.
There's a nice moment with Joey discovering the killers deadly tools and then a door quickly opens and it's his friend Kent in which you wonder if he will attack or not. The story teases you a bit when he shows him some blood on the tools and at times he holds them towards him as if he will use it on him. This for sure keeps you watching for more as to what will happen next.
There's even a moment with a maniac attacking another maniac which teases you thinking that one of them is heroic but yet this doesn't seem acceptable at all as well as one of them untying this poor gal. Yet you know that he's untrustworthy knowing that he will do something to her.
Bottom line is that the film is a typical drive in type of story and it starts to become entertaining but ends up as a disappointment yet it became a cult classic along with a remake well over two decades later even if this one wasn't a mainstream flick. Plus I could almost convince you that the makers of the Slumber Party Massacre got their ideas from the first bit of this film apart from seeing Halloween and combining them both into their trashy 82 release.
The film also is loosely based on a true story if you can believe that and may very well be but overly written with lustful residents and cheesy writing too.

The acting is at an average pace but not too badly done. Kind of lead actor Cameron Mitchell (Vance Killingsley) I never found to be a good actor with most of the stuff that I've seen him in but yet he pulls his weight not too shabby in this one drawing a nice seriousness to his behavior along with showing a great disturbed emotionless type of attitude too. Plus he shows a great gruffness to his speaking as well as knowing on how to act uplifting in a crazy way too making this look fairly convincing. A nice moment with him acting lighthearted as well as drawing in serious and aggressive emotions too. He was a nice drawing card to the story here so deserves a pat on the back here.
Pamelyn Ferdin (Laurie Ballard) seemed to do well with her outgoing and charming behavior for the first bit and shows a great emotional and scared energy the other times and does well with her sobbing fear too. Plus she also knew on how to show a hyped upsetting energy whenever she needed to do this too. She wasn't too bad by performing a character here. She definetely had the potentional to portray a virgin Jamie Lee Curtis type of scream queen within her acting career. A nice shocked and struggling reaction on her kicking and reacting wildly while her nose gets plugged in which she seemed to react naturally here. She does well with her crying emotions as well as having a great freaked out behavior too in her replies while she is being aggressively questioned. A nice energetic reaction on her acting relieved in which she brings this to a great pace when she thinks that she is rescued.
Wesley Eure (Kent Kingsley) showed a great outgoing and bubbly sarcastic type of personality within whatever he does in which he was convincing as one of those light headed guy next door type of appeal towards whatever he does and has the nice boy looks which was of course a plus here. He comes across perfectly well onto the camera here and really shows alot into what he does here. There's also a good taunting moment on him with his cold speaking and acting wicked towards his co-star showing great wide eyed expressions in which this looked very energetic. In fact I found him to be the best out of the cast here. He draws a perfect mysteriousness too which was another great plus here.
Nicolas Beauvy (Joey Ballard) seemed a tiny bit rough within his performance here as one of those hard headed typical teenagers but yet he shows nice energy while doing this nonetheless especially when he reacts aggressive as well as showing concerns and a good serious attitude with what he is saying in a certain spot of the film. He defientely had the right appeal to play this type of role for a slasher films since the looks do alot of the talking for a flick like this one. He wasn't terrible by any means but looks like that he is starting out in the acting industry and can improve alot more with more work.
Tim Donnelly (Detective Jamison) certainly drew another one who is hard headed and knew his stuff by having a no nonsense attitude with whatever he did here. He shows a perfect serious aggression into what he did here. I enjoyed with what he did here and spoke very clearly in his speaking which was a nice pointer for him as well as really studying this part nicely. He certainly had a nice key supporting role here.
Aneta Corsaut (Joanne Ballard) shows a nice stressed out personality in her part as a family woman along with having a good wrecked up attitude in her performance. I truly liked how she did all of this as well as having a good emotional behavior with the negativity surrounding her. She does well by breaking down and crying in which she was on the ball here. She was another fine supporting role in this film.
Don Diamond (Sgt. Cameron) was very powerful with his commandments and really got into what he did here showing a perfect seriousness. He seemed to live to play this part in the film even if he didn't have alot of scene's in this flick. Still I enjoyed what he did here and can be well remembered to anyone who saw this movie.
Kelly Nichols (Lee Ann) only had a small role in the film but thought I'd mention her here as she had a nice soothing reaction in her bath and acts very natural while doing this. Plus she shows a good shocked reaction while being attacked and was great with her blocking by springing into action while trying to run away as well as her screaming and frightened attitude at a good high pace here.

Someone takes off her shirt to change into another one with a breast shot.
Boobs are revealed with a woman in a bathtub and then full body shot on her trying to run away along with her vagina being revealed while caught near her bed.

Lots of blood and drilling into various bodies of victims
A bloody stabbing in the stomach
Corpses are revealed with bloodsheds

There's magificent piano playing in which alot of this was played alot from good peaceful sounds to sad soundings too which fit the scene's that were used for all of this. Also there's some nice violin weeping along with great suspenseful high pitched sounds for when the terror occurs too. Also a touch of screeching sound effects which was also nicely blended in too all done by George Deaton in which he also composed various country tunes as this sounded nicely done almost sounding like a Kenny Rogers style.

Joey Ballard: I'll be home for dinner. What are you fixin'?
Laurie Ballard: Ah! La specialty of the house; chicken à la TV dinners.