Quick: name the second VHS-recorded, straight-to-video movie filmed and issued during the 1980s. No idea? Well, that’s unsurprising; the runner-up of those low-rent features is likely long-forgotten by now, and for good reason. However, the first shot-on-tape, direct-to-video feature has recently been resurrected and issued on DVD with a wealth of supplemental bonuses. Sledgehammer, a 1983 slasher film with the ignoble title of being the first one of those cheapo-films, includes a few commentaries and some short interviews. Whether those add-ons are entertaining or not is totally dependent upon the viewer. But considering the folks to whom no-budget serial killer flicks are marketed, there’re surely some film-geeks jazzed at the prospect.
As with just about any other slasher flick from the early 1980s, Sledgehammer begins with the murderer’s origin tale, a quick sequence detailing a slutty mom locking her kid in a closet so she can go downstairs and get railed by some trashy looking dude. How the elementary school aged boy gets out of the closet and manages to kill to adults – with… yes, a sledgehammer – isn’t delved into. It just happens in this nether-reality.
The other troublesome inhabitants of this white-trash wonder-world are a few beefy looking dudes who may as well have been trying out for a spot in the WWF. Regardless of their day-gigs, the guys and accompanying poodle-haired hussies rent out a vacation home to get loaded on Budweisers and engage in some meaningless sex. Unknowingly, the vacation home – where the lot’s dropped off by some mechanic promising to fix their van – is the locale of the opening scene’s grisly murder.
A few interpersonal scenarios are set up, couples go off to get naked but get dead instead. Blow jobs all clearly lead to being bludgeoned. Inexplicably, though, the little kid murderer, who now dons a translucent Jason-mask, occasionally appears as an enormous lumberjack looking fellow. Since there’s not too much of a plot, viewers won’t get lost but they might be bored a bit by much of the film’s 83-minute run time being dedicated to slow motion pans as opposed to dialogue or character development. Just as well, since there’s not a real actor within ten feet of Sledgehammer’s cast.
The four preceding paragraphs here probably make the flick seem worse than it is, but the shaky VHS tremble and blown out colors make Sledgehammer an interesting piece of trash to wade through. If only for its historical value alone within the paracinema category, it is a welcome addition to the DVD market. And if viewers drink as much Budweiser as the actors do on-screen, it’s a guaranteed good time.Visit: David A. Prior | Intervision Picture Corp.