Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Nail Gun Massacre (1985)

Everyday, millions of people pay good money to watch the bodies of their fellow human beings penetrated by bullets fired from guns; and do so, I might add, with a relaxed ease. Yet, if you enjoy watching the bodies of those very same human beings penetrated by, let's say, nails fired from a nail gun, you're a bed-wetting psychopath with a ten-inch taint. What's the difference, you ask? Both are pointy pieces of metal used to penetrate various objects. If you think about, what's more sick: A projectile that is specifically designed to disrupt the operational integrity of little Bobby and little Sally's vital organs, or a small metal spike that is primarily used to keep things together. I, for one, am more perturbed by the item that was made to hurt, maim and kill. However, what I think the majority of people find most disturbing about the whole tools being used in ways they weren't originally conceived phenomenon is that it's not natural. Tell someone you used a high-powered assault rifle to murder a bunch of people, they'll probably give you a medal. On the other hand, if word gets out that you used a nail gun to kill a bunch of  working class rapists, you could be looking at some serious jail time. You see, by utilizing a weapon that is considered unorthodox by a society that is obsessed with guns threatens the normalcy of violence. Kill with the right tool, and we will look the other way. Kill with the wrong tool, and it will be your partially decomposed body they'll be fishing out of the river come sundown. Holy crap! My initial reaction to watching The Nail Gun Massacre, a grisly tale of revenge, boobies, and improbable defensive wounds straight out of the wilds of Texas, was off the charts in terms of profundity. You could argue that I put more thought into the first three or four sentences of this review than any scene that takes place in this movie. But I'm not going to do that. Filmmakers Bill Leslie and Terry Lofton should be commended, not ridiculed, for what they managed to accomplish with just a black motorcycle helmet, a gold-coloured hearse, a vocoder, a nail gun and a shitload of sticktoitiveness.
Why anyone in the right mind would make a horror film where the killer at its centre didn't use a nail gun is beyond the reaches of my limited brand of comprehension. Think it about. Bullet wounds are so boring. They're just bloody holes. And get this, they're totally empty. Audiences the world over are being entertained by empty holes. How apropos.
The holes created by a nail gun are a different story all-together. And it's pretty simple to make a nail gun wound. All you have to do is get a bunch of nails (a trip to the local hardware store should suffice). Cut them in half using a saw (another trip to the local hardware store should suffice). Throw the pointy ends away, or donate them to charity. Glue the now pointless nail to the part of the body you want to imply was penetrated. Smear the effected area with a suitable blood substitute. And voilà, you have yourself a bloody wound that was created by a nail.
In order to justify the use of a nail gun as the weapon of choice for your revenge-laden massacre, something pretty terrible had better have occurred. And boy, does it ever in the opening scene of The Nail Gun Massacre. Even though the synthy synth flourish that accompanies the heinous act that kick starts this film was the synthiest slab of synthesizer-related goodness to ever synth its way into my synth-loving subconscious, the gang rape of Linda (Michelle Meyer), a lumberyard employee, by six construction workers on a mound of dirt still managed to shock and appall.
Pay close attention to the faces of the men doing the raping, as you'll be seeing them soon. Even the one's who appear to be only watching? What are you talking about? Only watching? They were the one's holding her down. Either way, they deserve what's coming to them. Yeah, okay. Fine. But what about all the people who are killed that had nothing to do with the gang rape? Good question. The seemingly random way the nail gun killer chose his or her victims was what made the film so compelling. And, yes, the gender of the nail gun avenger is a bit of a mystery. And not just because they're wearing a black motorcycle helmet with black tape over the visor. You see, the nail gun killer uses a synthesizer or "vocoder" to disguise their voice. And if that sounds awesome. You're absolutely right, it fucking is.
While we don't get any lingering shots of any of the rapists, I'm not having any trouble whatsoever believing that Leroy Johnson (Jerry Nelson) could be construed as a rapist, as he practically oozes rape. Okay, we get it, he's a rapist. Move on. Yeah, but I have this theory I want to share about the correlation between hairy shoulders and sexual violence. Save it for another day. At any rate, as far as killers go, you can't get any cooler than the sight of a man, or a woman, in a black motorcycle helmet, black combat boots, and a camouflage jumpsuit wielding a nail gun. The coolest aspect about their ensemble was the yellow air tank and matching chord that powered the nail gun, as the colour yellow gave the killer's look some much needed pizazz.
You''ll notice that most of the victims of nail gun avenger are killed via defensive wounds. Meaning, if you put your hand up in a veiled attempt to block the swirling mass of nails that are about to come your way, there's a good chance the nails will go through your hand and into the place you were originally trying to prevent the nail from going. For example, if I was going to put my hand up to shield my eyes from being riddled with nails, the nails would go through my hand and into, you guessed it, the very eyes I was trying to shield. Well, this happens to Leroy. Except, the fatal nail that enters his hand winded up going between his eyes. Which prompts the nail gun avenger to say something about the worst headaches being the one's that occur between the eyes.
You might not know it by looking at them, but the nail gun avenger is a master when it comes to dispensing puns squarely onto the nail-adorned laps of his victims. The quips uttered while standing over Leroy's nail-ridden body are just beginning the of the flurry of one-liners that are about to be hurled throughout this movie.
On top of zingers, the nail gun avenger's laugh is also quite memorable. Do you remember when the members of Skinny Puppy and à;GRUMH... teamed up to form A Chud Convention, a side project that produced one 12 inch single? It's okay if you don't. Anyway, the nail gun avenger's laugh reminded me of A Chud Convention. Now, the fact that the nail gun avenger's laugh caused me to think of an obscure Skinny Puppy/à;GRUMH... side project doesn't make me better than you, it just means that I'm hooked up differently.
Speaking of being hooked up differently, at this point, most people would say that the nail gun avenger's confrontation with Leroy in his kitchen was synonymous with every other scene that takes place in The Nail Gun Massacre. In other words, it would be foolhardy to continue writing about a film that can be easily summed up by looking over the words I just typed about the Nail Gun Avenger vs. Leroy the Rapist confrontation. However, I have chosen to soldier on, as the film is much more than a pathetic excuse to show topless women brushing their hair while their boyfriends go off to chop wood, it's a way of life.   
After instructing his top heavy girlfriend (Staci Gordon) to play doctor with herself, Mark (Mike Coady) heads out to the woods to cut wood with his buddy Brad (Randy Hayes). You can pretty much guess where this is going. As Brad is about to pull down Mike's pants and begin massaging his cock with the inside part of his manly mouth, the nail gun avenger...Just kidding. Mike and Brad are strictly there to cut wood, and to get murdered by a mysterious figure carrying a nail gun.
While a wide array people come and go in The Nail Gun Massacre universe, the Sheriff (Ron Queen) and Doc (Rocky Patterson) are, besides the nail gun gun avenger, the film's main characters. Which is kinda unfortunate, because they're not that interesting. In fact, the actor playing the Sheriff can't even stand still in a convincing manner. As the Sheriff and Doc are hovering over the nail-ridden bodies of the two totally not-gay wood cutters, we're introduced to John (John Price), Tom (Charlers Ledeate), and Maxine (Joann Hazelbarth) as they're buying groceries. Again, like the scene where the Sheriff and Doc stand around the nail-ridden bodies of Mark and Brad, this one doesn't seem to go anywhere.
Things seem to pick up in the next scene when we get our first glimpse of the nail gun avenger's golden hearse. Stopping to pick up a hitchhiker (Thom Meyers), the nail gun avenger proceeds to fill him full of nails. Why this guy deserved to be nailed to the road, I'll never know; I don't recall seeing him at the gang rape. But it does give the nail gun avenger the opportunity to unleash some pithy one-liners. My favourite being: "Hitchhikers are all alike, stuck on the road."
I must say, I like the pace in which the characters are killed off in this movie. I mean, just as I was getting tired of them, they're filled with nails and quickly replaced. However, the next group of nail gun victims do overstay their welcome somewhat. That being said, this group  does feature Connie Speer as the easily frazzled Trish, a Ritz cracker-loving biker chick. What's so great about her? Well, I tell you. She's the only person in this film who knows how to act.
Left alone in a clearing while her friend Ben (Michael Bendall) goes looking for their other friends, Hal (John Rudder) and Ann (Shelly York), who have yet to return from their tryst in the woods, Trish eagerly awaits their return with bated breath. Growing increasingly concerned about her own well-being, Trish proceeds to lose her shit gradually over time. The way the camera stays on her during the entirety of her meltdown created a real sense of dread. Sure, we know exactly what happened to Trish's friends, but she doesn't. And Connie Speer was able to sell this fact rather convincingly. If you need further proof of Connie Speer's talent. Oh, what's that? You don't need further proof. Oh, well, nonetheless, check out John Price's pathetic attempt to console Trish in her time of need, as it's clear which of them has any talent; let me give you a hint, it's not Mr. Price.
While the prize for acting in The Nail Gun Massacre universe definitely has to go to Connie Speer, the hottie award sees Kit Mitchell as "Lover on Car #2" and Taleesa Van-Tassel as "Waitress #1" battling it out during the film's drive-in/lover's lane sequence. Though, I have to say, Kim Mathis, who plays the daughter of one of the construction site gang rapists (he's nailed pool side, landing on top of a lit barbeque - ouch!), does look amazing in a bikini.
One of the construction site gang rapists, Lover on Car #1 (Roger Payne), decides to take his "date," Lover on Car #2 (Kit Mitchell), to get a grilled cheese sandwich and some fries at a local drive-in. Sounds innocent enough. Only problem is, Car on Lover #1's girlfriend works there. Actually, I'm not quite sure what the status of the relationship between Lover on Car #1 and Waitress #1 (Taleesa Van-Tassel) is exactly. But I do know this, Lover on Car #1 is having second thoughts about pulling into this particular drive-in.
The reason I'm having trouble deciding who wins The Nail Gun Massacre hottie award is because both Kit and Taleesa looked so good in white short-shorts. I guess if you like big breasts, Kit would be the obvious winner. But Taleesa looked so scrumptious in that red and white cowboy shirt. Damn. Talk about your tough decisions.
After nailing two ladies who were taking a stroll (the nail gun avenger has long since deviated from their original mission statement, which was: to kill rapists) and nailing a couple of morons who were having a nail gun fight at a construction site, the nail gun avenger finally runs out of nails. No, actually, they seem to have plenty of nails. In reality, I don't think there's anyone left for the nail gun avenger to kill. Which is not the case, either (they could still kill/nail the Sheriff and Doc). What I think I'm trying to say is, the film ends just about when it should end. Boasting plenty of nail gun kills and, oh, let's just say, some interesting acting choices, The Nail Gun Massacre is the low budget horror at its finest. 
Wait. No one is going to buy that. If you like films that feature genderless avengers in motorcycle helmets who wield unorthodox weaponry set to synthesizer music, you can't do better than The Nail Gun Massacre. How about this: I loved it so much, I bought a Nail Gun Massacre t-shirt at Fright-Rags the very next day. All right, now that's an endorsement.

trailer uploaded by happytreethousand147


  1. I think that you are to Skinny Puppy references as I am to W.A.S.P. references.

    I have a couple of A Grumh records but I didn't know they did a record with Skinny Puppy. Sometimes you learn something interesting and important, and this is one of those times.

    Of course, you are the bomb for linking to my review and video.

    I have it on the VHS format, with that cover at the beginning of your review. That box is the shit.

  2. You have a couple of a;GRUMH... records?!? How is that possible? I thought I was the only one who had a;GRUMH... records (I must have around five).

    You're either messing with me or are way cooler than I thought. ;)

    No to brag, but I own the Skinny Puppy/a;GRUMH... 12 inch single. Which apparently is going for ridiculous amounts of money on discogs.

    That Nail Gun Massacre VHS cover is the shit times infinity.

  3. "The Chud Convention" is one of the few side projects I've never been able to get a hold of. Always way too expensive. I'm ok with downloading live shows (its like tape trading), but always buy official SKINNY PUPPY releases. I've just never been able to get that one.

    I've amassed several shows from the 1986 European tour over the years, including the famous collaborative improve set they did at Limit in Munich, Germany on 11/4/86 with members of a;GRUMH..., Severed Heads, and Snowy Red. Its this amorphous, shapeless half-hour of sound sculptures. Very unsettling.

    SKINNY PUPPY is an important part of day to day functioning.

    [this movie doesn't look very good.]

  4. I remember buying my copy of A Chud Convention at Records on Wheels (which is now a nail salon) on Yonge St. in Toronto when it came out. Good times. :D

    I love Snowy Red, New beat, and Belgium in general.

    Looks are deceiving; this movie rules. ;)

  5. New Skinny Puppy record out soon... while we're on the subject.

  6. Sorry, when I say "record", I mean a recording. You know, like "Journey-Frontiers" is a great record, regardless of the format. I have a Skinny Puppy LP, but the A Grumh stuff I have are Vinyl rips that my brother gave me, and I don't know where he got them.


    I do have Lydia Lunch - Queen of Siam on vinyl.


    I also have Tiffany-Tiffany on vinyl.

  7. Well, your personal evaluation of aesthetics (outside of Pia Zadora) is excellent. So this movie must be cool. :D

    Oh, and Snowy Red. Bad ass. Should have checked them out before.

  8. @Kev D.: Weapon drops on May 28! (Eww, I can't believe I just used the word "drops.")

    Tommy D: You know who a;GRUMH are and that's all that matters.

    Queen of Siam, eh? Vinyl cred restored. ;)

    I was all like, is Tiffany-Tiffany some obscure indie band? Then I realized you probably meant Tiffany by Tiffany; I'm more a Deborah Gibson fan.

    @ido d: *throws flag onto the field* Unnecessary Pia Zadora slam, five yard penalty. ;)

    "Let's get naked and smoke."

    The video for Snowy Red's "The Long Run" is pretty rad.