• Kelly M. Hudson

I'll Be Your Sledgehammer!


A woman, her boyfriend, and her young son, all travel to a house out in the middle of nowhere, far from any towns, to spend a getaway weekend. The mother locks her son in his room so she can have sexy time with the boyfriend. While they’re getting it on, someone picks up a sledgehammer and goes to work on them, ending sexy time forever. Several years later, a group of friends rent the house for their own weekend getaway and probable sexy time. They’re all in their mid-twenties and most of the guys appear to be body builders of some sort. They hoot and holler and act like fools before deciding later that night to have a séance to summon the spirit of the killer. It’s all faked by a couple of the guys but of course something happens, because soon a killer is on the loose, using not only a sledgehammer, but whatever tools are at his disposal. As the night slowly drags by, bodies start to drop, until there is only one couple left, and they must fight the evil that wields the sledgehammer!

There’s a lot to dislike about this movie. First off, it’s shot on video in the early 80s, apparently one of the first films to pull off this feat. The image quality is shabby and yeah, the audio sucks, too. It looks like a group of friends got together and decided to make a scary movie. The plot feels about like that, too. Inexplicable things happen. Do they summon the ghost of the boy from the beginning? Why does he transform into a full-grown man? Why the mask? And really, just what the hell is going on? So it’s at this point you have to decide, is this movie going to anger you with its bargain-basement antics, or is it going to charm you? It dazzled my eyes. Be assured, this is nothing to brag about, but the movie is damned weird, and fun, and there’s a naturalness to it that gives the horror some authenticity. Yeah, most of the acting is bad, but they feel and act like real people. That goes a long way towards selling this movie. And you have to admire the heart poured into this. They really did try and they really did care. Yeah, it’s pretty terrible, but on the other hand, it’s wildly entertaining. There’s plenty of (amateur) blood, the synth score is kinda dope, and everything carries this weird sheen of the surreal. Oh, and kudos to all the slow-motion moments that seem to be there for nothing other than to stretch out the running time. They seem incongruous at first, but I would argue they add to the unreality of what’s going on, creating a perfect, nightmarish feel. Or maybe I’m just trying too hard.

Sledgehammer is a true curio from the 80s. You’re going to get mostly awful acting, some appalling dialogue, clunky action, and more mullets than you can shake a Daniel Boone hat at. But somewhere buried deep inside of all this is a genuinely creeping undertone, a feeling that you’re watching some lost artifact, a kind of Blair Witch thing. I might be looking at this and cheering on the amateur qualities a little too much, but that’s the feeling I got watching it. This was a slightly unsettling, totally entertaining slasher. Check it out if you can find it. This one is perfect for a group of pals, some beer, and lots of buttery popcorn. It’s streaming on Night Flight Plus.

★★★☆



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