Toolbox Murders (2004)

Angela BettisBrent RoamMarco RodríguezRance Howard
Tobe Hooper


Toolbox Murders (2004) is a English movie. Tobe Hooper has directed this movie. Angela Bettis,Brent Roam,Marco Rodríguez,Rance Howard are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2004. Toolbox Murders (2004) is considered one of the best Horror,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

In Hollywood, the young teacher Nell and her husband, the resident Steven Barrows, move to an old building called Lusman Arms. Some sixty years ago, the place was glamorous, but presently is completely decadent. Many dwellers have disappeared along the years. While her husband is working in the hospital, the lonely Nell hears some weird noises and becomes afraid of the place. While jogging, she is introduced to (and becomes close to) her neighbor Julia Cunningham, and they schedule a hike together on the next day. Julia never shows up, and Nell looks for her in the building, finding a hiding block behind the wall, where an evil being, which was born from death, lives with many dead bodies.

Toolbox Murders (2004) Reviews

  • Tobe Hooper's return to greatness...


    The original "Toolbox Murders" was a pretty shameful combination of "Halloween" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," lacking the atmosphere, suspense, and gritty charm of those films. At the time of its release (1978), the concept of gory death by hardware (regardless of how peripheral it was to the 'plot') allowed for at least one lasting shock (a nail-gun murder preceded by a very memorable bathtub scene), but otherwise, the film is dated and dull by modern standards. As is clear from the first frame onward, Tobe Hooper's stylish update of "Toolbox" is determined to take the material in a supernatural direction, and for the most part, is successful. Whereas many horror films of late have been drowned in unconvincing CGI gore and calculated orchestral booms designed to elicit cheap scares from the audience, Hooper's film retains the subtle implication of TCM (the villain remains masked/obscured throughout the film) crossed with a jigsaw-puzzle plot that becomes more engrossing as the movie progresses. As far as ambition is concerned, it definitely surpasses the original film's shopworn, "Psycho"-familiar story, and Hooper's assured direction helps greatly. Angela Bettis leads a cast of lesser-knowns who give fine performances (the more grating, clichéd characters are dispatched promptly) and make the premise believable. Similarly, the photography creates fine atmosphere when needed, with the picture often looking like a cross between the colorful sets of "May" combined with the slight grittiness of Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" remake. "Toolbox Murders" is a quirky, suspenseful, and sufficiently gory horror film. In the third act, Hooper re-affirms the genius of his seminal masterpiece by building the tension to an almost unbearable degree, whilst capping the film with a deliciously ambiguous ending. Definitely recommended.

  • Hollywood Occult


    This is such a great horror-film, and it has some original-twists to it too. The story centers-around the "Lusman Arms" (really the Ambassador Hotel, once THE place for the Hollywood elite and the site of the RFK assassination), a decaying-Hotel in a seedy part of Los Angeles. It seems after recent-renovations to the structure of the building there have been some strange-occurrences: a workman hurt in an unexplained-blast, and strange electrical-surges. There is a constant-sound of hammering, even when the workmen are gone. Tenants have gone-missing, and a strange aura of oppressiveness has descended-upon the building. It seems the place has a reputation that the building manager (a concierge) doesn't want known. It's just a great film, with a bunch of oddball-characters, unlike the log-jam of boring, PG-13 pseudo-horror. The characters in this film feel real, and I like them. Because I like them, I fear for them, and that is what horror is about. Enter Nell (Angela Bettis of "May") and Steven, two new tenants. We get to know them and some of their backstory, and the decaying-Lusman is literally filled with oddities. For those who have lived in a 1920s-era apartment building, a lot of the funny-parts about maintenance (or the lack-of) will be familiar! If you have ever lived in an old-building, you can attest to the impressions of the past within-the-walls. The ghosts of "old Hollywood" haunt this film, just like they do the films of David Lynch or Kenneth Anger. Let's face it, with the legend of the Black Dahlia (mentioned in the film), the constant-battle for the control of the water-supply (an engineer once controlled L.A. His name was William Mulholland, and designed the Owens Valley Acqueduct), the Manson Family, gangs, poverty, the desert air, all the Hollywood deaths and scandals, cults, Scientology, the Mexican Day of the Dead, Chinatown, drugs, the Ramparts scandals, decades of obscene-corruption--Los Angeles is creepy. Nell notices a lot of hammering and other strange-phenomena, and eventually begins to probe the mystery of the Lusman Arms. This descent-into-hell is what makes this not merely a slasher, but an Occult-horror piece. The Lusman has a strange, esoteric architecture and a storied-past. It also has mysterious symbols covering it's walls in key-locations. The logical-sequence of room numbers are missing some rooms. Some have commented that the symbols are "Masonic", even calling the film "Masonic-horror", which is false and misleading. The symbols are ancient, and have been around for thousands of years, and most should be familiar. I noticed absolutely nothing "Masonic" in the film whatsoever, which is odd. I guess they were reviews by Nazi-skinheads. The best-part of this story is that it connects the enigmatic-tale of Jack Parsons, an occultist Crowley-devotee who founded the Jet-Propulsion Lab, being an early rocketeer. It is said that Parsons claimed to have created an "homunculus", an artificial human-being, so there is a genuine-connection with L.A.'s strange-relationship with occultism here. Parsons blew-himself-up in an alchemical experiment in the late-1940s--exactly where the "Lusman-mythos" begins. Without Jack Parsons, there would be no Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard ripped-him-off in a business-deal and used the money to fund the publishing of "Dianetics". I think the occult-backstory of the killer was Tobe Hooper's idea, and it really draws-you-in. "Occult" comes from archaic-Greek, and merely denotes "hidden", nothing-more. There are many hidden-secrets at the Lusman. The murderer in the film is great, and one could consider it Parson's homunculus in-a-way, though the "coffin-birth" masks this element. I actually thought the "coffin-baby" backstory was interesting, and had the ring of occult-lore to it. Frankly, I would have to agree with some reviewers--if you aren't familiar with occultism, you aren't going to get a lot of the premise here. So, get-familiar kids, study the occult, hah-hah. Nonetheless, it's still a film you can watch superficially, enjoying the many mysteries that Hooper and his writers treat us to. Also, the murders-themselves are pretty original and thrilling, some even gruesome in a way that would do Argento proud! Go-figure, reality isn't what you thought it was! Without giving-away too much, this is a tale of the undead, kept-active by sacred-geometry in the structure of a building. It is a story of the darkness and mystery that surrounds-us, and a story of magic and curiosity. There are so-many incredible images of horror in this film, it is just excellent and intriguing. With a budget of less-than $1 million, Tobe Hooper has created a new classic horror that is likely to be imitated. It is surely "better" than the original film, and is simply his and his writers' take on the source (with major-revisions and additions). It is a re-imagining. The score by Joseph Conlan is very good, and atmospheric, hitting all the right marks. It makes the film feel larger. Toolbox Murders has a lot on-offer for such a little film, and is a great return-to-form for Mr. Hooper. Here's to more from him.

  • If I had a Hammer...and a Nail Gun...and a Drill


    While the name of Tobe Hooper does not carry the cachet it once did, he still deserves his place amongst the modern masters of horror with the likes of Romero, Argento, Craven, and Cronenberg. Hooper, having never been able to equal the raw energy and success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre...and never being able to do so in the future...definitely has regained his form with this version of The Toolbox Murders. On the surface I thought I was going to sit through some lame rehashing of an older horror film, but I found myself pleasantly surprised with this high energy, suspenseful, stylish, well-acted film. Evil lurks in the old and dilapidated Lusman Arms, an aging apartment building in severe disrepair with renovation abounding all over. The film opens with a rainy evening and a blonde woman getting the point of the film hammered into her skull. Next, we meet a young couple moving into the apartment building. Beautiful and talented Angela Bettis plays the protagonist of the film as a woman who realizes people are disappearing around her and that the Lusman Arms has some major secrets as well as a demented killer hidden in its walls. Much of the film involves her unraveling of the Arms's secrets, though no full explanation as to how the black arts is incorporated is ever explained. The film is tightly woven from beginning to end by the consummate work of Hooper who knows how to use the camera and gets the most from a largely unknown cast. The actors are peppered with some movie veterans such as Rance Howard giving one heck of a good performance as a man that has lived there virtually his whole life, Juliet Landau as a running girl "headed" for trouble, and the wonderful Greg Travis as the guy in charge of the apartments. Travis had me in stitches with his dialog about the charm of old places like this, etc... Hooper works with some interesting, inventive, and implausible storyline, but he makes the most of it. Here and there Hooper plays homage to others, like the scene where Bettis and husband find old teeth in the wall. An obvious salute to Roman Polanski's The Tenant. While not a great film, The Toolbox Murders delivers. It shows just enough blood without going overboard and has just enough humour in it to balance the unpleasantness of the plot. I was pleasantly surprised on all counts.

  • Tobe Hooper makes an excellent comeback...


    I saw this film in a room that's designed to play Horror films and that's all you can see there. This film was made with little money and Tobe hooper's skills show throughout the movie, his ability to play with us, to make our fear rise, our heart beat faster. I thought the atmosphere was great! Basically the story is: Every year thousands of people go to L.A. to pursue their dreams, some succeed...some not. Some end up in the Lusman Building.. The Lusman Building was once a luxurious building, with classy, rich residents. Today, it's an old, spooky and sinister building where you would not want to live and if you did live there, you would want to leave...but could you? It houses a supernatural evil. It's been subdued for decades - but when renovations start, a series of murders take place. This film becomes a mystery as our heroine Nell(Angela Bettis - see her in "May") tries to unravel the secret of the Lusman Building and its keeps us guessing cause almost everyone is a suspect and Hooper doesn't need big special effects to keep us interested, the story is fast paced and the killings are inventive and gruesome. It's not that kind of film that spends millions of dollars in special effects and scares us only with sharp and loud sounds and tricks like that, no! This film shows a great director, some good actors and a good sinister story that will really scare you in a way that only really good horror movies can...this is no cheap trick or horror movie for 16 year old boys with cheerleader type actresses that show off their assets...this movie is far more interesting and scary than most of the so called horror movies that go to theaters. Like I read in, " Toolbox is a strong film likely to boost Tobe Hooper back into the top rung of horror directors along with names like Craven, Carpenter, and Romero." Go see a master of horror doing his will not be disappointed!

  • Great re-imaging of a slasher classic...


    Throughout the seventies and early eighties, Tobe Hooper was widely considered as one of the greatest horror directors ever to grace the silver screen. If it wasn't for his 1974 video nasty The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then we may never have seen movies like Slumber Party Massacre or any of the other slasher 'massacre' titles. We may not have even witnessed classics like Halloween. Sometime after his career redefining joint venture with Steven Spielberg (Poltergeist), Hooper fell into an awful run of consistently poor form. Later years saw uninspired efforts like Crocodile, The Mangler and Night Terrors completely ruin his almost peerless resume. It was somewhat ironic then that he decided to direct a remake of the 1978 gruesome slasher (The Toolbox Murders) at exactly the same time that New Line Cinema were renewing his very own masterpiece (Chainsaw Massacre). The original Toolbox flick is a tough act to follow, let alone reproduce. What it lacked in style and quality, it more than made up for with brutality that has never been expressed in such a gratuitous fashion. Some of the gruesomely vicious scenes are almost impossible to forget and seeing a masked maniac use a nail gun to slaughter a naked teenager while he merrily hums away like he's changing a light bulb is a shock tactic has never been used as effectively since. I must admit I hoped for more of the same from Hooper and I knew that he had already proved that he had the quality to break the hex of extremely poor horror remakes. The Lusman Arms is a run down hotel in Hollywood, which has stood since the early twenties. In the opening scene we see a young woman get brutally murdered by a hammer-wielding black shrouded menace in one of the guest-rooms. Her body is dragged into the shadows and it seems that no one notices her disappearance. Next up we meet Nell and Steve Burrows (Angela Bettis and Brent Roam), a young married couple that have only just moved into the Lusman Arms. Steve is a doctor and spends most of his time out of the house, which leaves Nell suffering with her noisy neighbours through the wafer thin walls. Having already mistaken two rehearsing actors for someone being slaughtered, the Local Police are less than impressed with the housewife's overactive imagination. But after hearing the dieing screams of her neighbour, she begins to realise that the complex has more to its history than first meets the eye. Nell eventually heads out to solve the mystery of the disappearing residents, and what she discovers is more shocking than she could ever have expected… Toolbox Murders is something of an impressive return to form from Tobe Hooper. Slasher Movies are always easy templates to unleash some directorial flair and the veteran horror icon seems to lap up the chances to shine with relish. You can tell from the off that this is going to be something of a step up from the typical post-Scream lowbrow trash. Joseph Conlan's impressive score keeps the tension running on a knife-edge, and the set locations prove that the feature has been slickly produced. Hooper does a great job of making an ordinary everyday backdrop like an apartment complex feel as creepy as a haunted castle and the conclusion is as exciting as it is enjoyable. The two lead characters are fairly well acted, and kudos to the scriptwriter for giving the viewer the option to sympathise with the protagonist. There are enough mysterious suspects to partake in a reality TV cluedo marathon and each of them will give you a good enough reason to think that they could be the masked maniac. I especially enjoyed the stuttering manager, who describes a tin full of torn out human teeth that Nell found in her bedroom wall as, "Part of the building's charm and character!" At the time of writing, Toolbox Murders has not yet been released in either the US or the UK on DVD, which is somewhat inexplicable. I'm not sure what kind of business this took at the box offices, but I believe that it does certainly deserve a bigger status. There are a few flaws that perhaps undermine Hooper's experience. The use of stereotypes is beyond belief; and as soon as a creepy toolbox-clutching handyman popped up as a hackneyed red herring, the movie lost a touch of credibility. At times the characters behave with a knack of ineptness that was totally nonsensical and perhaps underlined a lack of effort from the screenwriters. Victims leave themselves open to the killer's murderous advances in such a fashion that makes you wonder if they were suicidal, and the director fails to add anything remotely different to the conclusion. Questions will be raised about the numerous plot holes that are scattered throughout the runtime, but personally I feel that they add an extra layer of mystery to the synopsis. Audiences don't always need to be hand-guided hand through a story. Gaps can be filled by a creative imagination and that is part of the beauty of cinema. Toolbox Murders is not so much a remake of its 1978 ancestor as it is a complete re-imaging. Yes there's a nail gun murder and a similar masked killer theme; but this time around we have an intriguing supernatural sheen, which makes the movie a tad more interesting. All in all this is well worth picking up. Gory (one guy gets his head sawed in half ala Intruder), suspenseful (the final stalking scenes are brilliant) and well watchable to boot, this is Hooper almost back to his best. Let's just hope that he can keep up the good work with his latest adventure - Mortuary (another remake?).

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