Review: 'The Toolbox Murders' in 4K Offers Depravity & Horror in Abundance

by Sam Cohen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday January 19, 2022

Review: 'The Toolbox Murders' in 4K Offers Depravity & Horror in Abundance

Of all the American slasher films that have stood out in pop culture, films like "The Toolbox Murders" and "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" stand above the crop partially because of their disturbing murder scenes that feel real, and are guided by directors that understand the bone-chilling terror that strikes when you're trapped with no way out. Hell, the first act of "The Toolbox Murders" is nearly wordless and plotless, as it charts the murders of three women in an apartment complex in Los Angeles by a ski mask-wearing psycho armed with chisels, drills, and other power tools. But that's just the first thirty minutes, with a sick roughie of a movie to follow.

Blue Underground improves upon their 2010 Blu-ray release of "The Toolbox Murders" beautifully, with a 4K Ultra HD upgrade that includes new special features, multiple audio options, and Dolby Vision HDR for the main feature. According to Blue Underground, the uncut original negative has been newly scanned in 4K for this new edition, and that becomes abundantly clear the moment the film starts. For such a low-budget feature, it's absolutely incredible to see how Dolby Vision HDR adds remarkable depth to the dark colors and lighting throughout the film. You'd think the low-budget nature might not look terrific in high definition, but the HDR highlights the bareness of the film, and that only makes it more unsettling.

In a quiet apartment complex in Los Angeles, a ski mask-wearing psycho with a toolbox goes on a killing spree. After brutally murdering four women, the killer abducts a teenager who lives in the apartment building. Now starts a manhunt led by Lieutenant Mark Jamison (Tim Donnelly) to find the killer before the teenager becomes yet another victim.

The opening act in "The Toolbox Murders" is a masterclass in low-budget horror filmmaking, carefully charting out where to, and where not to, cut away during violent sequences. Watching something this nasty be blocked and shot like a normal film only adds to the queasiness of the murders. If a feeling of destitution was the goal, then the filmmakers succeeded tenfold.

There's a wealth of special features in this new 4K Ultra HD edition from Blue Underground, including a fun-as-hell interview with actress Kelly Nichols. She was the woman who starred in the most infamous scene in the film, and it's so shocking to see someone so comfortable with being sexually denigrated and chased around by a madman. But it becomes abundantly clear why Nichols was game for the role when she starts talking, as she's a strong woman who understands the appeal of transgression.

Blue Underground has once again hit it out of the park with this 4K release of "The Toolbox Murders," and I personally can't wait to see what they tackle next in 4K.

Other special features include:

• Audio commentary with producer Tony DiDio, director of photography Gary Graver and star Pamelyn Ferdin

• Audio commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson

• "Drill Sergeant" — Interview with Director Dennis Donnelly

• "Tools of the Trade" — An interview with star Wesley Eure

• "Slashback Memories" — Star David Del Valle remembers Cameron Mitchell

• "They Know I Have Been Sad" — Video essay by film historian Amanda Reyes and filmmaker Chris O'Neill

• Theatrical Ttailer

• TV spot

• Radio spots

• Poster & still gallery

"The Toolbox Murders" is now available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray from Blue Underground.