Toolbox Murders

The Toolbox Murders

3.5 2
Director: Tobe Hooper, Angela Bettis, Brent Roam, Juliet Landau

Cast: Tobe Hooper, Angela Bettis, Brent Roam, Juliet Landau

Tobe Hooper, who directed one of the truly iconic American horror films of the 1970s, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, offers his take on another well-remembered scare-fest of the era with this remake. Steve (Brent Roam) and Nell (Angela Bettis) are a young couple living in Los Angeles who are short on money -- she's just started work as a teacher, while he's a


Tobe Hooper, who directed one of the truly iconic American horror films of the 1970s, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, offers his take on another well-remembered scare-fest of the era with this remake. Steve (Brent Roam) and Nell (Angela Bettis) are a young couple living in Los Angeles who are short on money -- she's just started work as a teacher, while he's a medical student doing his internship. They rent a flat in the Lusman Arms, a once beautiful but now decaying (and therefore affordable) apartment building managed by the sleazy Byron McLieb (Greg Travis), who tries to pass off the ramshackle accommodations as "charming" and "historic." Watching over the Lusman Arms beside Byron is Ned (Adam Gierasch), a greasy simpleton who serves as the building's handyman. Steve and Nell haven't been living at the Lusman especially long when she notices that a growing number of young women living in the building have been meeting a violent death, and with some help from good-hearted part-time actor "Jazz" Rooker (Rance Howard), she begins looking into the murders and makes some disturbing discoveries about both the building management and her fellow tenants.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
Infusing elements of his career-defining masterpiece, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with the basic concept of the sleazy 1978 roughie from which this film shares its namesake (and very little more), director Tobe Hooper's The Toolbox Murders cautiously probes into "Three Mothers" territory (see Dario Argento's Suspiria and Inferno) as the 2004 update takes a wild departure from the original into potentially supernatural territory in a genuinely surprising final act. Though Hooper's Toolbox Murders may not be the "comeback" vehicle that salivating horror fans had been yearning for after the director weathered something of a dry spell in the 1990s, it does deliver by injecting some novel ideas into the tried-and-true slasher formula, while also keeping things tense with a series of solid shocks that really start to roll with the reveal of a macabre surprise "twist" that will no doubt have fans of the original scratching their heads. Assuming those fans can overcome the liberties taken by the screenplay for this Toolbox Murders as opposed to the much more "believable" original, they may still find their suspense disrupted by a series of remarkably implausible character and story flaws. As a director, Hooper still has a sure hand for distracting the viewer while simultaneously setting up a satisfying shock, but when a character reacts to being chased around her apartment by a psychotic killer by choosing to close the front door and lock herself in the apartment with said killer instead of making a hasty escape, all real tension is effectively negated. Thankfully, this is precisely where the gore factor steps in to pick up any slack. The kills in The Toolbox Murders are both creative and brutal -- even when they are wildly unrealistic -- and even if Hooper's unique vision fails to maintain the stark realism of the original, its flawed logic can make for an interesting ride for viewers with the ability to check their brains at the door and accept a film that departs from the original to exist solely on its own terms. It's often said that filmmakers should remake mediocre old films instead of ones that got it right the first time around; this seems to be what Hooper was aiming for in crafting his own, decidedly different Toolbox Murders -- and to a degree he has succeeded. If certain elements of this Toolbox Murders seem to be simply recycling the more horrific elements of the director's aforementioned masterpiece, it can be somewhat forgiven in light of its noble attempt to elevate a typical stalk-and-slash storyline into something decidedly more menacing. Sure, it may not make the most sense in the world, but if you're willing to suspend your disbelief, The Toolbox Murders can be a pretty fun but inconsequential horror-flavored diversion.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
[Full Frame, Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; 16:9 widescreen; 5.1 Dolby Digital audio; 2.0 Dolby stereo surround; Commentary with director Tobe Hooper and writers Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch; Commentary with producers; Theatrical trailer; Deleted scenes

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Angela Bettis Nell Barrows
Brent Roam Steven Barrows
Juliet Landau Julia Cunningham
Greg Travis Byron McLieb
Adam Gierasch Ned Lundy
Marco Rodriguez Luis Saucedo
Rance Howard Chas "Jazz" Rooker
Sheri Moon Zombie Actor

Technical Credits
Tobe Hooper Director
Yuda Acco Production Designer
Jace Anderson Screenwriter
Andrew Cohen Editor
Roland Carroll Executive Producer
Joseph Conlan Score Composer
Tony DiDio Producer
Adam Gierasch Screenwriter
Dean Jones Makeup Special Effects
Shon LeBlanc Costumes/Costume Designer
Steve R. Miller Art Director
George Nemzer Sound/Sound Designer
Terence S. Potter Producer
Jackie Quella Producer
Ryan Carroll Executive Producer
Rene Torres Executive Producer
Clancy Troutman Sound/Sound Designer
Straw Weisman Executive Producer
Steve Yedlin Cinematographer
Jonathan Giles Zimmerman Asst. Director

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles/Abandoned Toolbox [5:42]
2. Hammer Time [4:45]
3. Meeting the Neighbors [5:56]
4. A Bad End [5:28]
5. Rehearsing Death [2:57]
6. It Just Feels Wrong [7:16]
7. Getting Nailed [6:36]
8. Driller Killer [6:29]
9. The Walls Listen [5:35]
10. Charming Oddities [5:58]
11. Building Symbolism [6:07]
12. Caught on Tape [5:04]
13. Gruesome Discovery [5:56]
14. Lye Still [5:43]
15. Born of Death [6:28]
16. Crashing Symbols/End Credits [8:46]


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The Toolbox Murders 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i never heard of the original but i saw a trailer to this and it looked interesting. this is about a killer that stalks people in a hotel or motel whatever and a woman of course investigates and the ending i was like oh come on not one of those again type of ones you always see in horror movies basically...a cliffhanger. i thought the movie was okay but not something great or whatever. and angela bettis was okay but seriously skinny....horror movies suit her i guess. glad to see the actress that was drusilla in buffy and angel was in this movie. she really is pretty and does make a good tragic vampire. its good to see her in other stuff besides buffy and angel. shows she can play other characters besides vampires but so looks like one right?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago