THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE (NGM) might be the most important film
of the 1980s. Seriously, it might represent the penultimate movie
of the times. The barometer of all things considered "Totally
Eighties!" There were better Horror films; many consider the 80's
ripe with the fruit which has spawned most of the fandom relating
to Slasher Films, the Zombie genre, and I believe the time period
will be looked upon for years and a pivotal moment in film making
as well, as film viewing. The Nail Gun Massacre may stand as the
best testament of the best and worst of a great time to have been
around the drive-in or Cineplexs catching the over abundance of
films that were trying to pacify the demand for "scary movie"
product that America was lining up for. Does that mean The Nail
Gun Massacre is a good film? No. Does that mean The Nail Gun Massacre
is interesting? Barely. Well then, does it mean I recommend it?
Yes, wholeheartedly, without reservation.
NGM, was a one-off. Written, Produced, Directed, by Terry Lofton,
whose film making career involved nothing else, at least as Terry
Lofton. Now, if you follow genre pictures at all you know that
the business is full of pseudonyms when it comes to directors
and writers. It could be the case here but I do not think it is.
The actors are also less than experienced and only Rocky Patterson
has any other credits to his name. Those being for a few of Bret
McCormick masterpieces like "The Repligator" which starred "Leatherface"
himself, Gunnar Hansen and "Macon County War" which supplied Dan
Haggerty with just enough cash for an 8 ball and tried its damnedest
to tarnish the acclaimed "Macon County Line" just by using the
closely resembling moniker. Why do I find this singularity so
interesting? Sure, there were other single, shitty horror films
which were splattered over the screens, then disappeared to the
video stores to become minor hits and that is part of the point
here. NGM didn't father 4 or 5 sequels, hell not even one, yet
it is discussed and highly sought after by folks because, they
probably rented it when they were teens, watched it, rolled their
eyes, smirked and forgot it. Now they want to see it again.
The plot is loosely a Rape/Revenge story. The film opens with
a lackluster rape scene. I say lackluster because if rape is a
central theme of a story, then one expects it to be portrayed
one of two ways.
Rape Scenario One: What I'll refer to as "old school" where the
girl is raped, but
not violently or aggressively, but more to coax her into an act
that she is at first opposed to but comes to enjoy. Case in point,
most classic sexploitation pictures from the late 60s and early
70s. A guy will grab a girls wrists force himself on her, kissing,
groping and the girl will struggle, giggle and ultimately "learn
to love it." "Hot Summer
in Barefoot County" is a fine example. Not a very politically
correct version of the crime of rape but nonetheless, one that
was shown countless times as Drive-In fodder.
Rape Scenario Two: The gut wrenching, hard-to-watch variety ala'
"I Spit On Your Grave," "Last House On The Left" and the Academy
Award nominated "The Accused." You know what I am talking about.
The rape scene, that
if you have the misfortune of viewing with a female in attendance,
lessens your chances of "getting any" on that night. It usually
involves the camera position of behind the guy's white ass as
it humps bumps and grinds, edited with grimaces from the gal and
grins from the low-life performing the act. "Rape
Squad" threw in the rapist demanding "Jingle Bells" being
sung as he popped his nut. This scenario brings home the terror
and violence of rape
which might cause someone to seek revenge, to hunt down the perpetrator
and "fuck" him in a much different way. Well, sorry NGM delivers
on neither of these scenarios effectively in the opening scene
and although the filmmakers avoid the ass crack shot we get full-on
facial expressions from our victim, which are supposed to deliver
us to her "disgusting place." I didn't quite get there. There
were a group of construction types there though but you better
pay attention because it is one of those movie moments where something
happens, but the viewer is the last one to know what and the characters
all tend to become a cinematic Dinty Moore stew, all mixing together
in a odiferous, confusing concoction. But thus THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE
is born, anyway.
Within seconds due to the power of editing, we are whisked ahead
to a fantastic looking setting which reeks of Red necked authenticity.
An infant in a cardboard box with a bottle, a rotund, bushy-headed
wench hanging up clothes to dry and a lard-assed man in a dilapidated
shack are our 3 participants at this point and I swear to you
the cinematography, the feel and the characters in the scene paint
an incredible picture of a rural, backwater locale. But the scene
is smashed to smithereens with the entrance of the Nail Gun Massacrer.
With a flat black painted motorcycle helmet, new camouflage jumper
and gaffer tape covered face shield, the effectiveness of the
locale dissipates quickly. The Massacrer takes no prisoners and
our fat boy meets his come-uppance with shots from an air-powered
nail gun, complete with air tank, and curly bright yellow air
hose. Why did he die? One can only guess he was one of the rapists
from the earlier scene because as mentioned before I couldn't
pick the damn victim out of line-up, I sure as hell couldn't tell
you the perps, but that's what our Massacrer is for, right …plot
This open to the killings to come is, by far, more interesting
to look at visually than anything else in the picture, it sets
a downbeat tone that unfortunately degrades beyond downbeat and
into plodding, convoluted and too cheeky for most purists but
still somehow effective. Along with each appearance of the killer,
you are privy to absolutely horrendous one-liners spoken to the
victims before and yes, even after their deaths. This trend we
were introduced to briefly in the groundbreaking "Nightmare on
Elm Street" which was released the previous year. As we know,
6 sequels and a failed TV series later, we would rue the fucking
day we met a horror villain with a sense of humor. The Nail Gun
Massacrer goes a long way to cement that feeling with great lines
like "This is going to hurt you more than it hurts me!" and tons
of references to being "nailed." Each bad pun is spoken in a robotic
Casio tone, special effect overdub, which is reminiscent of one
of those kid's "Voice Changer" megaphones. Scary, hardly, but
part of confusing us, the viewers, about who the killer is. Why
not make the killer silent, menacing, mysterious…? Because it's
the 80s and robot sounds are cool. Remember Midnight Starr's "Freakazoid?"
"Freakazoids, Robots, please report to the dance floor." A hit
because the opening line and chorus had a Goddamned robot voice.
Sci-fi does it again! This is a prime reason NGM earns its spot
as an important marker in the 1980s time capsule.
With any film we must have a conflict, NGM is no exception, we
need a hero, in this case 2 of them or maybe 5, I am not quite
sure. First the Sheriff arrives after a fresh kill of a couple
of locals, the Sheriff bears an incredible resemblance to Bocephus
and the aforementioned coke-addled Dan Haggerty. It is not a stretch
to ask more than one peace officer arrive at a gruesome murder
scene but here in Nail Gun Town he is it, well he and the Doc,
the "Quincy" kind, without the lab coat or scrubs, he has opted
for a more loose Bryan Adams-type wardrobe. Levi jacket, white
t-shirt, you know like most physicians. But he is well-groomed
and is also sporting a great "Super-cuts cut" that kind that screams
"you keep on looking like you were looking when you left" the
"hairdressers" (another 80s comment on culturally changes in grooming,
when guys no longer went to the "barbershop" but opted for a "style.")
After the 2 of them "investigate," walking around, surveying,
disturbing the crime scene, they are off to continue the investigation
elsewhere, away from the evidence and the bodies. I am pretty
sure in a scene left on the cutting room floor, they phone the
morgue or local funeral home. Are these 2 are our heroes, possibly,
Like 2 Beastie Boys and a girl, we are introduced to a group
of kids that will possibly play an integral part in our plot.
They are shopping at a local "general store" stocking up on groceries
because they have agreed to live up at Old Lady Bailey's place
"Free" in return for fixing it up. Who is Old Lady Bailey? Were
you not paying attention? That was the lard-assed guys great rural
locale from open of the film. You should have known that without
me telling you, since I should have known that without the filmmakers
telling me. Now, every great movie has at least one great scene
or shot, one that just puckers you ass with glee with its realism
or drama or plot thickening devices. Well if NGM has one this
is the closest one I can find. In an obvious coo for the filmmakers,
an obvious bonafide local shopkeeper agreed to play the part of
shopkeeper. Completely adlibbed we hear "'member when you could
sit outside and not have to worry about skeeters and killers?"
Wow. Mosquitos and helmeted serial killers keeping the town from
enjoying their porches. What a shithole that town had become!
If our Mr. Lofton scripted that, he is a genius, you just don't
shit out dialogue like that.
Hey, but don't get to attached to these fuckers, because after
settling in to the Old Bailey house they wolf down a bowl of Spaghetti-Os
then "poof!" theys gone! That is right, they disappear, no not
in the movie, from the movie. Were they too pricey for the lean
budget? Did they discover The Lord during the making of THE NAIL
GUN MASSACRE? Are there missing scenes in the Bavarian print?
Who knows? After they are unlucky enough to end up in the woods
with some victims and their screen time is over. They are not
the heroes I suspected they might be, Lofton may have been smarter
than I am giving him credit for, maybe I missed something with
these characters. Okay, I am wrong, I didn't miss a damned thing.
They just ended, period.
As NGM plods along the body count grows ever higher, the Sheriff,
misses one clue after another (at one point we actually walks
around the gold metallic hearse that the killer drives as it is
parked on the side of deserted road and there is massacring going
on just on the other side of some trees, he gets back into is
car and leaves, "nothing suspicious about that, I guess"). Our
forensic expert has come up with scratch and the townsfolk seem
to not mind to much as it is business as usual as one nailed victim
after another is found did in some very gruesome predicaments.
Let's just say if any of that shit was happening in my neighborhood,
it might be cause for me to GET THE FUCK OUT!
As NGM builds to a dramatic end, you realize that the plot twist
really isn't much of a twist, the victims all deserved it and
in order for you to get any actual enjoyment in the 80 or so odd
minutes you've invested something good has to happen. Well it
kind of does, another local shows up as a body lays quivering
with rubber nails protruding from here nekkid flesh. The old man,
asks, "What do you think caused them holes, SEX?" Then as the
Sheriff peels off leaving the corpse he screams, "what are you
gonna do with this stiff? All you do is drive around in that car
you fukin' asshole!" Finally a soothsayer, a prophet and character
that is not afraid to add perspective to all these investigative
shenanigans. Lofton once again captures magic with the local "unknown"
talent of the townies, did he write the material? I would like
to think, yes.
Foozballin', Foozballin' I need that damn MP3. Oh, it is this
incredibly catchy tune in NAILGUN MASSACRE. They play a few times
on one of those FM radio "blocks" that are so popular with goddamned
FM radio. I mean a block, like 20 times over, Foozballin'! No
kidding, like every time there is a car interior scene, we get
it. Where is the soundtrack? Another great point with films in
the 80s. They all featured horrible music but HGM goes a step
beyond that, when we aren't "jamming" to Foozballin' that damn
"bbbwwwwwwwoooooooowwwww!" keyboard sound is bellowing. That synthesizery,
liquidy-sounding horseshit soundtrack, that offers little or nothing
and overpowers most scenes that it is supposed add suspense to.
My grandmother's friend Rosetta, had a nervous colon, made the
same sound, all the time.
NGM wraps up with a dynamite car chase that ends up in a rock
quarry (always a sign of a low budget) and the golden hearse kind
of peters out without an explosion or anything. But hey, you can't
just go around exploding cars and shit just because you are making
a movie so, fuck it, the Nail Gun Massacrer gets caught and it
is the rape girl's Dad, who is getting his revenge, not on the
rapists per se, but on people who buy lumber at the Lowe's Home
Improvement where he works, cuz' those rapist dudes make him have
to load 2X4's and shit. We all have been there, Brother, I am
with you, working hard or hardly working? This actual "Bubba"
is about as UNdynamic an 80s character that I have ever seen,
upon rewatching I picked up that he is so uninteresting that you
unconsciously miss him early in film giving away the mystery.
Weird. Between the power which is the Sheriff and the mind-numbing
killer it really is apparent that there is no winner here, especially
not the viewer.
So all my shit about this being a perfect "moment" in the 80s
is still true although NGM isn't a slasher movie at all. This
is a Proletariat fucking battle cry...WORKERS UNITE, KILL YOUR
CUSTOMERS, with a Nail Gun even. FUCK THE MAN unless YOU ARE MANAGEMENT,
then going to work is cool 'cuz you get to fuck with people. Your
daughter getting raped, that sucks, but not as much as rude contractors
with their ordering of wood and your loading of their trucks.
An important statement of the times or anytime; WORK SUCKS. REAGAN
SUCKS. KILL. KILL.
NAIL GUN MASSACRE, see it, then take matters into your own hands,
God, the 80s ruled. To read a more in-depth informatative review
check out Cold
Fusion. You won't be sorry.
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