The Toolbox Murders

there isn't a single thing wrong with this poster

The Toolbox Murders
aka Der Bohrmaschinenkiller
aka La masacre de toolbox
aka Lo squartatore di Los Angeles
Director:
Dennis Donnelly
Released: 1978
Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Pamelyn Ferdin, Wesley Eure, Tim Donnelly, Aneta Corsaut, Kelly Nichols (as Marianne Walter)
Running time: 93 minutes
Genre: exploitation, slasher, thriller, psychodrama, video nasty

“If I had a hammer…”: Toolbox Murders shows its giallo roots in an extended opening credit sequence of a black-gloved killer driving though darkened city streets. Only, instead of a pimptastic score by the likes of Riz Ortolani, we hear a more generic thriller/psychodrama piano score, overlaid with the sounds of a hellfire n’ brimstone preacher on the car radio. The vehicle cruises smoothly along, but then FREEZEFRAME! The sound of screeching tires! Illuminated by arc-sodium lights, a car has crashed on the side of the road. A young girl tumbles out of the passenger side door. A crowd gathers as paramedics place her on a stretcher. She’s young, blonde, with a bloodied face and staring eyes. Her hand falls limply off the stretcher as they cover her face. Something Significant has happened. Cruising resumes, and the Mercedes pulls up outside El Patio del Sequoia apartments, and a man with a toolbox gets out and enters the complex. Once inside, he cuts a gruesome swath through the apartment’s female residents, beginning with faded beauty and lush Mrs Andrews. Though surprised by the killer’s appearance, she clearly knows him … . Finishing her off with his powerdrill, our skimasked killer hums a little tune and contemplates his work.

the toolbox murders - killer

ineffective mask wearing 101

Meanwhile young divorcée Debbie arrives home and–in one of the least logical sequences in movie history–prepares to take a shower fully dressed, for the sole reason of creating a wet shirt effect and leading to a lengthy change of clothes. Fortunately, boobage redeems the scene. Debbie evidences poor decision-making skills when she pops into the apartment hallway in her underclothes to pick up some … debris left outside the door? Fortunately, our killer happens upon her and, popping her on the chin in a singularly goony moment, renders her unconscious and bears her off to the firestairs, where she is summarily dispatched with the claw end of a hammer. He then removes her corpse from the stairwell and carries it BACK to her apartment (and we thought only Debbie was crazy!), where he lays her out on the floor only to be interrupted by roommate Maria. Pissed at Debbie for leaving trash in the hallway, Maria is both shocked and saddened by her grisly discovery, then surprised by our killer. The shock renders the poor sap apparently speechless, and when the slayer slaughters her with a screwdriver, it’s all Maria can do to sum up a sorry little scream. (That was excessive, and I am sincerely sorry!) The killer then takes a moment to spy upon the neighboring Camelot Apartments, where a temptress gyrates in her underwear before a wide open window, while one floor below an innocent schoolgirl chats on the phone. His bloodlust not yet sated, the killer ventures back into the hallway, where he opens a door and glimpses a couple discussing the merits of drugstore wine. Discouraged by the presence of a man, the killer leaves and the killing stops … for the evening.

The next morning briefly introduces us to the Ballard family: Matriarch and alcoholic B-girl Joanne, perky teenager Laurie (Pamela Ferdin, also the voice of Charlotte’s Web‘s Fern Arable and Charles Schultz’s Lucy van Pelt!), and older brother Joe.

Evening falls again, and we meet Dee Ann (played by Penthouse Pet and future porn star Kelly Nichols!), the window siren from the previous night. As she all unknowing draws herself a bath, the Toolbox Murderer approaches the Camelot Apartments, eponymous toolbox in tow. What follows is surely one of the most gratuitous nude/masturbation scenes in all slasherdom as Dee Ann soaps up an lets Calgon take her away to her special place to the dulcet tones of George Deaton & Terry Stubbs’ “Pretty Lady.” After she achieves orgasm, Dee Ann comes out of her stupor to the sound of the killer’s humming. As suits her more sexually forthright character, when faced with his nailgun Dee Ann not only actively tries to evade him, but also fights back, scrambling around her apartment naked and wet as a frog and tossing vases. She feigns submission, offering him “anything,” but tries to run again, finally catching a nail to the abdomen. The killer props her up beneath a nude poster of herself, then nails her right through the head. End “Pretty Lady.”

get out of the way, mr bubble!

Finished with the whores of the world–for now–the killer sneaks downstairs to the Ballard apartment, where Laurie is again demonstrating her virtue by refusing to sneak out (presumably with a boy). After all, she doesn’t want to end up like her mother said, “either divorced or with a bunch of kids and a crappy job like [hers].” Who knows how she’ll end up, however, since the killer kidnaps her. At least she isn’t dead yet! When Joe gets home late that night, he finds the security chain cut and Laurie missing. Jo Ann stumbles in moments later, and orders Joe to go looking for his sister–and that’s when we hear the shrieks from the discovery of Dee Ann.

Convinced that Laurie’s disappearance is related to the murders, Joe pleads for help from the police, who are content to dismiss her as a typical runaway teen. Total Dick in Charge of the case Sergeant Cameron scoffs at Joe’s concerns, mocking the poor guy, who departs in a huff, vowing to find his sister himself. Sgt Cameron is no Lt Fuller. Armed with earnestness, Joe goes to El Patio del Sequoia looking for clues, and meets up with the super’s nephew Kent. Kent enlists Joe’s help to clean up the bloodied apartments, and Joe in turn enlists Kent in the search for Laurie. With the murders largely over at thirty minutes in, and the murderer revealed to the audience at fifty minutes (for any halfwits who haven’t yet figured it out), The Toolbox Murders takes a sharp turn into psychodrama as the young men investigate Laurie’s disappearance, and scenes of their search alternate with Laurie’s plight as a captive, leading up to a truly bizarre dénouement.

fern shouldn't have tried to leave wilbur

Banned in the UK as a Video Nasty, The Toolbox Murders is preceded by a reputation for unmitigated sleaze–a reputation that’s not entirely undeserved. But the low budget, competing storylines, and pedestrian direction give it the feel of a made-for-TV movie.

Fisty: Holy shit. TTM exceeded my expectations in so many ways. It’s so very, very sleazy, and so very, very nasty, and so very, very bad. It’s a home run of fucking trashy-ass, exploitative cinema. It’s easy to see how it earned its spot on the Video Nasties list; the first thirty minutes is almost nothing but violent murder and nudity. But then after that bang up start the movie settles into a curious police procedural thriller format that, for all its smuttiness–and yes, it is still very sordid if you’ve got the eyes to see it–it very draggy and uninteresting but for the scenes of Cameron Mitchell’s (Blood and Back Lace) lunacy and Ferdin’s terror. Only in the final fifteen minutes does violence appear once more, and it’s of an entirely different breed. By then, many of even the most dedicated horror fans and gorehounds may have passed out from sheer boredom. It takes a certain amount of patience–and attention span–to appreciate TTM’s tacky charms.

sailing the good ship lollipop to crazyland

Speaking of tacky charms, I did love the look of the movie. I know it’s ugly in that special 70s Saturday Night Special Movie way, but it had a certain nostalgic charm for me. It looked like shitty movies I grew up watching in school (though I grew up in the 80s, it was in Hawai’i, where the 70s had a long reach–especially in the school system). The California setting was probably a big part of it: so sunny, so squalid, so semi-suburban. There are still tacky apartment open-air buildings like the Camelot and El Patio del Sequoia all over the West, and I’ve lived in a few of them.

Bill: It took me three tries to get through the whole movie.  Though, admittedly, I made the first two attempts when it was late and I was tired, so it probably had more to do with my condition than the drag in the middle of the flick.  I was even dozing a bit during the first thirty minutes and there is nothing sleep inducing in that bit of film.  Boner inducing, sure, but sleep? I think, maybe, I could’ve been lulled further into a restful state by that made-for-TV movie quality it has. Kind of like what happens when I watch Matlock, except Matlock is usually less bewildering.  There are whole segments in TTM that make no sense, like the coffee scene. The cop offers Laurie’s brother some coffee, the kid declines, then the cop goes to get some for himself, but the pot is empty, so he puts the glass down and that’s it. What the hell was the purpose of that? Then there’s the odd fruit-throwing bit that I suppose was meant to show the siblings as playfully close, but just seems awkward. And just why do the cops let all the neighbors stand around looking at all the naked corpses?

debbie's dead

Other parts are just painfully obvious and unnecessary. Like trying to establish the innocence of Laurie by having her do the exact opposite of gyrating DeeAnn? But I do appreciate the seminude dancing.

Fisty: Yeah, the director, Dennis Donnelly pretty much just did TV; this was his sole feature film–and it shows. Too much exposition, weird experimental editing, problems with pacing …

Bill: Who the fuck was in the car that wrecked?

Fisty: Oh my god, Bill. It was Cathy. Dude’s daughter/other dude’s lover.

Bill: But it seemed like she died way before then. Didn’t it seem like he started killing the women right after the girl in the car died? Like, the same night?

Fisty: How could there be flashback shots from her funeral interposed with shots of him entering the building to START the killing spree if she died that night?

Bill: I know the funeral shots were flashbacks, but there’s no break between driving and killing, it all looks the same. Donnelly could have made that a lot clearer. But my framerate was stuttering a bit at the start, so …

Fisty: And you’re abominably literal sometimes … but I suppose if one were drunk, it could be confusing. The editing is mostly shit.

Bill: Debbie’s shower scene is the most bizarre that I have ever seen.  She puts on a shower cap while fully dressed, turns on the water, sees her dress hanging in the shower, steps in still fully dressed, presumably to get her little black dress before it’s soaked, but then doesn’t even touch the dress, steps out and takes her shower cap off!  I am fully convinced that this was originally meant to be a normal, typical shower scene, but they rewrote it into absurdity, just for that wet shirt yumminess, after seeing how hott Debbie the braless wonder looked in her sheer white top.

Fisty: That’s one of my favorite parts–teeth-gnashingly aggravating (as I shriek, “Why? Why are you getting in the shower fully dressed? Why aren’t you even bathing and just putting on a succession of shirts and then removing your pants? WHY?!?” at the television screen) and unintentionally hilarious as it is. I also love the way she goes down like a ton of bricks from the most ineffectual right hook I’ve ever seen. Pretty much all the victims except Dee Ann are ineffective wimps.

not the best place to hide from someone with a drill

Purists will declare that TTM isn’t a slasher, and I’m with them on that. Like Don’t Go in the House, it’s a curious blend of genres, teetering as it does on the edge of sleazy 70s psycho-thrillers and gleefully self-aware by-the-numbers 80s slashers, and coming down straight in the exploitation zone. After the gialli-inspired opening and kills that seem to promise an endless parade of titties and blood, TTM downshifts into an amateur detective psychodrama, a confusing change for many viewers. Though one might argue that amateurs investigating crimes in the face of an inept police force is a clear marker of a giallo, it seems just as likely that Joey and Kent’s sleuthing owes as much to Donnelly’s directing credits in TV–including an episode of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. (And many episodes of Adam-12, Emergency!, Hart to Hart, Charlie’s Angels, The A-Team, Simon & Simon … is a pattern developing? To be fair, most of those were post-TTM, but I think it shows a decided slant.) Knocking any confusion about the killer’s identity out of the way lets the film settle in on the bewilderment of the bereaved on one side, and the suffering of the victim and the lunatic on the other.

Bill: I think the movie may’ve benefited from being more slasher-like.  As much as I’d hate to see a dilution of the concentrated sleaze at the start of the flick, it would’ve been nice to have some tits & murder interludes tossed in somewhere during the Hardy Boys episode in the middle.  That really is the weakest part of the movie.  I mean, you can only get so much entertainment from watching skeevy cops hit on the mother of a missing girl. He really was kind of sleazy. “Look, your daughter is missing and maybe we’ll find her but, in the meantime, can I give you another?”

Fisty: Damn it, I LOVE that singles bar scene! That fucking cop is a real piece of work. And the way Joanne shuts him down? Masterful!

dude, no

Speaking of which, Aneta Corsaut (The Blob) is magnificent as Joanne.  The rest of the casting is pretty spot-on, too: Ferdin evokes pathos as the victimized Laurie, Mitchell–though no longer the hottie of the How to Marry a Millionaire days–chews up the scenery like it’s Red Man.

Its greatest strength is its greatest weakness: The Toolbox Murders makes for a primo exploitation experience because that’s all it was ever meant to be. Tony DiDio reportedly saw a reissue of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre four years after its initial release and said to himself (and his team), “I want to cash in on that.” (My paraphrase.) Don’t go into it looking for subtext on the alienation of the American family in the juxtaposition of an affectionate but struggling family with a highly dysfunctional yet loving one. Don’t look beneath the sleaze for something less sleazy, because it’s sleaze all the way down.

Bill: I think there is one area where it under-sleazes:  The climax of the film.  There’s some real frying pan/fire jumping at the end, but, while you know Laurie goes through a wicked nasty ordeal, they don’t show any of it.  It’s a big change from the beginning of the movie, where everything was very in-your-face.  I guess Donnelly felt he had to be respectful when it comes to letting us know what happened to this sweet, virginal character, but the other victims were just dirty sluts, so their pain doesn’t matter.  Damn it, I want to see the nice girl’s pain and degradation, too!  Eh, it was a true story, according to the bit of text that flashes on the screen at the end, so maybe he was just trying to protect the real Laurie, in case she ever watched the movie.  (My eyes are rolling so hard that I just got dizzy.)

true story, fer sher

Fisty: Can we recommend The Toolbox Murders? Though it at times reminded me of bad 70s afterschool specials in which someone ruined their life by sniffing goofballs in a ditch, I’m going to go ahead and say yes. Though it doesn’t live up to its reputation of relentless blood n’ smut, it has some solid splatter moments, oodles of titties n’ bush, and pure insanity–and all in the first half hour. (Bill: And you really don’t want to be the only one of your friends to have missed seeing that beginning.) Plus, there are tons of familiar TV faces from shows like Emergency!, Land of the Lost, and The Andy Griffith Show–and fucking FERN from CHARLOTTE’S WEB!!! Even the dreck is worth sitting through for Mitchell’s scenery-gnawing performance and Ferdin’s understated terror, a few genuinely chilling moments, as well as an ending that will not only surprise the hell out of most viewers, but will also have them running for the shower. Just remember to take your clothes off before getting in the tub.

Did anyone else notice that the victims in the trailer in no way match up with those in the movie?

PROTIP: Order a pizza just before pressing play.  Your pie will arrive just as the movie slows down, giving you something extra to chew on while you sit through the downtime in the middle of the flick.

The Toolbox Murders is available to Watch Instantly on Netflix!

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Splice

worst poster yet

 Splice
aka Nouvelle espèce
Director:
Vincenzo Natali
Released: 2009
Starring: Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody, Delphine Chanéac
Running time: 104 minutes
Genre: horror, science-fiction, thriller

Neonatal-i stylee: Splice delivers, literally, as it opens and we experience birth from the perspective of a newborn critter being brought into life by the rockstar scientist couple of Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley).  The critter turns out to be one of two maple leaf-tongued (they’re Canadian!) chimeric horrors named Fred and Ginger, seemingly spliced together from the DNA of a loogie and that creepy limbless guy from Tod Browning’s Freaks. When introduced, the pair (male and female they created them) bond touchingly, and it seems that Clive and Elsa’s latest project is destined for success.

High on pure scientific discovery with visions of human hybrids and miracle cures dancing in their heads, Clive and Elsa walk into a meeting with the financial and operational heads of Nucleic Exchange Research and Development (yes, N.E.R.D.,) who proceed to kill their buzz with a harsh dose of capitalist reality.  Playing God is très expensive, they’re in the private sector, and so they need to start bringing in the big bucks. So, from now on, discovery is put on the back burner until they can start synthesizing  the new proteins and compounds that Fred and Ginger make possible to make everyone rich and fund further research.  Besides, the bosses point out, at this early stage the outrage at using human DNA would be pretty extreme.

Too young, idealistic, and in love (and being such big know-it-alls) to postpone for anything silly like moral or financial reasons the couple plunge into human splicing in secret, just to see if they can do it. (Just the tip?) Of course, things go further than planned and before they’re anywhere near ready, they find themselves ankle deep in amniotic fluid and over their heads in parental drama.  Their creation, Dren, grows rapidly, forcing everything else in their lives into the background.  Previously an almost perfect couple, Clive and Elsa now find themselves at odds over how to deal with Dren, who is becoming more difficult, unpredictable, and deadly with each passing day.

fred, meet clive & elsa

Stylish and smart, Splice features Cronenbergian-levels of squick, as well as fascinating meditations on the meanings of marriage, pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, and parenting. Natali establishes tension early on in all aspects of the film, but it sadly peters out by the silly finale. Perhaps too varied for hardcore horror and sci-fi fans, and too intense for mainstream audiences, Splice was a box office stillbirth, but celebrated by most critics.

Fisty: A bit disingenuous, aren’t we, with that synopsis? Let’s be blunt: Elsa is the dynamo in this relationship–at least until Dren comes along–and the whole project rests largely on her shoulders. She’s the one who pressures Clive into experimenting with human DNA, and she’s the one who refuses at every opportunity to give the project up. Splice begins with the premise that while Clive wants to progress in their relationship and plans on children one day, Elsa doesn’t want kids–not outside of a laboratory. She frightened, in part because of her rocky past with a possibly crazy, abusive mother, and in part because, well, having kids is a pretty big and intimidating undertaking. At least, it ought to be. There’s a lot of awesome mystery involved in the organic process of pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention parenting forever after. And Splice nicely explores all of the terrors a modern, liberated woman might have about it.

sexting

Bill: I’d really like to stand up for Clive, but I can’t.  He’s a bit of a pushover. Only once in the movie does he really show any kind of initiative to act decisively on his own.  He basically lets Elsa run him, only ever offering fairly weak resistance to whatever she wants, which his younger brother calls him out on at one point.  He can’t get the work done at the lab, leaving Elsa to go save their jobs (though, she did have fresher tissue samples.)  He can’t even be the sexual aggressor.  He just strokes Elsa’s leg until she takes over.  And he isn’t just that way with Elsa either.  He can’t handle Dren.  He can’t handle her when she’s a baby.  He ends up holding his ears and letting Elsa take care of her.  He can’t handle her when she’s a child, instead forcing Elsa to be the disciplinarian.  He has a brief moment during what I would guess to be an early pubescent stage of Dren’s development, while teaching her to dance, that he uses this obviously adoring and uncertain tween-thing to be “The Man,” something he can’t do with Elsa, trying to explain to Dren that the man should always lead.  As soon as she gains some confidence and enters adolescence, however, he becomes a doormat for her, too.

It isn’t just Clive.  Males, in general, in Splice are all either completely incompetent, weak-willed or both, as well as constantly out-classed by and subservient to their female superiors.  The only exceptions are the few times when being male instantly makes them violent, territorial murderers and rapists.

geek chic

Fisty: Odd, I seem to recall someone babbling that all males in Splice were depicted just as violent, murdering rapists. But here you’re saying they’re violent wimps? Interesting. I think you’re projecting again, Bill. This is not King of Queens or According to Jim.  (Bill: So I get a little annoyed with the PR war on masculinity.  Sue me. Fisty: NO SUCH THING.)  It’s a metaphor for starting a family. But if it makes you feel better, you could just as easily say that all the women in Splice (what few there were, even considering the small cast) were castrating bitches. And violent, murderous ones, too, who placed reproduction above the needs or concerns of their partners–or just about anyone, really. Unbunch your nuts already. And neither would I call Gavin or Barlow incompetent, weak-willed, or subservient. You’re grossly generalizing.

Bill: Oh, come on.  They are such buffoons.  Gavin is completely reliant on his brother for his job and can’t even tell the difference between a boy and a girl and Barlow is scared shitless of Chorot and is completely dismissed by Elsa.  “When the REAL scientists show up, ” she says to him.  But, you’re right that the women don’t fare any better, often shown behaving like selfish tyrants.  Perhaps, if the characters are a family, then the movie is a home, and it’s still the case in our society, at least at the moment, that the woman is the central figure in the home and the man has a lesser role (not to trivialize dudes.)  And, yeah, the chicks can be pretty violent in this, too.

oh, SHI–!

Fisty: It wouldn’t have bothered you AT ALL if Gavin’s role were female instead–and lest we forget, EVERYONE in the lab relies on Clive and Elsa keeping their shit together and the project going, or they are out of a job … and plush scienterrific jobs are probably not so easy to find–or if Clive had said that to Barlow. Like I said, you are totally projecting. Elsa IS a real scientist, so why shouldn’t she scorn a bureaucrat mucking about in her lab? I LIKE that Elsa is aggressive and sometimes unpleasant. It’s a relief that she isn’t relegated to just demonstrating maternal instincts, or being the great moralizer; too many women in horror and sci-fi are left to fulfill that Victorian notion that women are inherently moral–or at least, more moral than the men around. Instead, from the very start, Elsa chivvies Clive along persuading him into ever further transgressions, until she hasn’t a leg to stand on when she makes a volta face and accuses him of being the great transgressor. Just by continuing their experiments and creating Dren, Elsa takes them into a place without rules, where they’re left to create their own. Unfortunately, neither of them is really capable of doing so. Like a lot of adults lingering in a twilight world of post-adolescence, Elsa and Clive are … clueless.

Bill: They are and because they are, they both make some severe mistakes in how they deal with Dren.  They both crack up at various points.  They screw up.  Still, they aren’t bad people.  They aren’t unlikable.  They both care and they both show compassion.  These aren’t one-note characters.  Even when they’re at their most despicable, they aren’t evil, just angry, stressed or mixed up.

a mommy & me moment

Fisty: Elsa herself isn’t self-aware enough to realize what she is doing when she creates Dren. Though she categorically refuses to have children with Clive, she leaps into creating a human-animal hybrid using her own DNA, creating a surrogate child in the controlled environment of her lab. For someone who is supposed to be so smart, she sure is stupid about her motives for the experiment. Elsa, because of her past with a crazy mother, seeks control–and she cannot control pregnancy or childbirth and rearing unless it’s in the guise of an experiment, with a specimen. After all, then she can have a family and a career, but in one package instead of juggling the two! (One could even choose to interpret this as a danger of the scientific world in which Elsa and Clive live, that she/they fear anything outside of certain rigid parameters, but that just seems silly.)

It’s not so unusual to fear pregnancy and childbirth, and to have to cope with the idea of certain things being out of your control–they will happen regardless. MY GOD, Dren’s birth scene is an absolute nightmare of hospital birth trauma. Now, Eli and I are planning on reproducing sometime soon, and I am frankly terrified, so I get the idea. It is normal and rational to be anxious and afraid of reproduction, but Elsa’s reaction is pathological. Not to mention that she drags Clive into it in a neat reversal of the usual “tricked into pregnancy” coup de grace administered when one partner (*cough*THE MAN*cough*) is reluctant to breed. That was pretty funny.

shoulda gone for hypnobabies at the birthing center

Bill: I want to talk about Dren.  First, a few props to Delphine Chanéac for making her more than just a standard movie monster, giving us a creature with personality and pathos.  That’s essential to a good Frankenstein story.  Also…  OMG, so cute!  I want one!  She’s like a little fleshy mouser from TMNT.  NO!  She’s Mew.  She’s an adorable little live action Mew.  Then, when she grows up…  total genetic lolita hotness.  She’s like Mewtwo if Mewtwo were a porn starlet.  Kind of alien looking, sure, and slightly androgynous, yes, but she has a tail.  Man, I dig chicks with tails.  She’s the sexiest only vaguely human character in a movie since Helena Bonham Carter in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes.   When she grabs that rail with her foot and does that thing with her hips…  OMG!  I want one!  Then, when those wing things pop out, kind of like Shuna Sassi’s quills in Nightbreed…  Fuck yeah!

Fisty:

She kind of grossed me out, actually, and I like aye-ayes and naked mole rats. She’s got an uncanny valley kind of thing going on, but um, alive. At least in the face. For me, she was cutest when she was newborn–and least human (and more like a bunny head).

the train goes in the tunnel

Speaking of gross, Natali went all out with the squick. Suitably for a movie taking place in a lab with human hybrids and featuring a crazy reproductive psychosexual subtext, there’s a lot of … fluids. And goo. Fred and Ginger are basically goo balls that sprout tentacles. Dren’s “birth” scene, the delivery from the host uterus tank thing, is especially nasty. There’s broken glass and amniotic fluid EVERYWHERE, and meconium and placenta, and just nasty nasty nasty. With all the screaming and trauma, it’s a perfect commentary on the nightmare of a hospital birth gone awry.

Bill: Don’t forget the splatterthon in front of a live studio audience.  Those poor people should’ve had a Gallagher tarp.  Maybe that scene was meant to be like going to your kid’s school play and watching him walk out with his shoe untied, trip, then vomit on stage.  I have to wonder if Fred and Ging were acting out because Mommy and Daddy were giving all of their attention to the baby.  One good thing about Splice, while the main themes and metaphors are obvious, maybe even obnoxiously so, there’s a lot of room to play with various interpretations of everything else in the movie.  It’s a movie that deals with themes that beg to be OVER-analyzed.  It’s fun think about and discuss.

That starts to break down, though, towards the end, when things get a little too Freudian.  If you ain’t down with Freud, the last act won’t really work for you.  It didn’t for me.

cam2cam ne1?

Fisty: Neither I. And I think that may be what upset so many of the fan people, they were unwilling to deal with the masses of Freudian associations thrown at them by Natali: transference, incest, Oedipus, Elektra, the genital stage, phallocentrism, etc. Especially at the end, when the nice, tense thriller devolves into a silly, clichéd action chase, culminating in an ultimate transference. And of course that’s when Dren mutates–like how Fred and Ginger switched sex because of … well, why? Stress? A coping mechanism? Did they ever really explain that?

Bill: Not that I saw.  The sudden biological and behavioral changes just happen with no real cause other than it being the end of the movie and an excuse for some action.  It was said previously in the film that Dren’s accelerated life would be very short anyway.  We didn’t need a big confrontation or a sudden body count.  Natali has said that his films always end implying that there may be another story.  I think he might of rushed to get to that point with Splice and lost what could’ve been a much more emotional ending that would’ve been more in line with the rest of the movie.

Fisty: Yeah. The crap climax–combined with already touchy subject matter–took a thoughtful and genuinely creepy sci-fi thriller cum horror into a Hollywood-typical action chase sequence, and ultimately alienated well, pretty much everyone. Except critics. For the most part. I hope that Natali keeps it up though, because horror needs more intelligent voices.

totally adorable!

Eli: Shouldn’t have had sex with her after midnight, dude.