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on 1 April 2005
This is a gory, graphic, scary remake directed by Tobe Hooper. Although better on the second time watching, this film is only worth buying if you see it for less than a fiver. Great death sequences (hammer hits to the head, a head sawed in half, acid powder on the face, drill to the back of the head and a death by nailgun). A bit sick, but that's the way I like it.
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In the opinion of this certified horror fan, 2003's Toolbox Murders falls far short of greatness. I've never been a Tobe Hooper fan, and this supposed resurrection of his horror career does nothing to change my way of thinking. I always feel weird when I go against the opinion of some great horror fans, but I cannot understand the accolades heaped upon Angela Bettis for her performance here. I found her character incredibly annoying and, if anything, a negative influence on the film. I had problems with other characters, as well. In addition, I would have liked to have a little more information on the source of all the horror here. I haven't seen the Toolbox Murders film from 1978 (which apparently does differ significantly from Hooper's "reimagining" of it), but this new film itself seems mired in the 1970s, giving the fright scenes a predictability that renders them benign and, in a sense, boring.
The story takes place in the Lunsford Hotel, which is full of "history" and "character" (which means it's begging to be condemned by this point). Steve and Nell Barrows (Brent Roam and Angela Bettis) move into the place and quickly realize that signing the lease was a big mistake. Nothing works right, the whole place is supposedly being remodeled (which apparently means the crud is being shifted around against a backdrop of constant hammering), the landlord is a prissy jerk, the maintenance man is one step up from a Neanderthal, and the residents are weird and loud. Nell begins hearing things left and right, but everyone treats her like she's just paranoid. When she actually makes a friend, said friend quickly disappears, and Nell is convinced something happened to her. She explores the history of the building, finding out that the strange symbols all over the place actually represent some kind of spell. Like an idiot, she explores the mystery up-close and gets a lot of people killed by the inhuman murderer (whose identity I can guess but not confirm). The fright scenes might make some folks jump once or twice, but the "look out behind you" tactics of the 1970s just aren't that impressive here in the twenty-first century.
Alongside several holes in the plot, a lot of details bothered me. First and foremost, what husband is going to lease an apartment without talking to his wife first - that's a recipe for marital unhappiness in and of itself. Then you have Nell going down to wash clothes on the night the Barrows move in. Who, I ask you, brings along dirty clothes on a move and insists on washing them before unpacking has really even begun? And that incredibly weird maintenance man Ned - talk about your obvious suspect.
We're missing what's really important here, though. That would be the inclusion of Juliet Landau, the sexiest vampire to ever grace the screen (as Drusilla in the Buffyverse). She was certainly one of my main motivations for seeing this film. Much to my surprise, though, she has nothing of the Drusilla aura about her, looking quite pale and sickly early on (except when compared to the emaciated Angela Bettis). Still, she brings a presence to the film that no other character begins to match.
I don't have a problem with the gore - you can never have too much gore, in my opinion. It would have been nice if the lighting had actually allowed me to see more of it, but I appreciate it being there. Sadly, that's about all there is to this movie, though - gore and 70s-style scares. The Lunsford building doesn't even have a strong presence of evil (despite the fact that the actual location is the Ambassador Hotel where RFK was assassinated) - it's just too depressing to be scary. I'm glad that some other horror fans enjoyed this movie, but Toolbox Murders just didn't too all that much for me.
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on 27 November 2016
This movie is very gory. I'm not a fan of strong gory movies. This movie has a Texas Chainsaw feel to it. Hence Tobe Hooper being involved.

Not seen the original yet but this movie is fairly decent. Average acting. Way over the top murders but as I say decent.
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2005
When I rented this from Blockbuster Video, I was in mixed doubts about this movie, because I had heard nothing about it before hand, but I am kind of glad I did rent it. The story revolves around a young couple that move into a apartment building. Strange things start to occur, mysterious disappearances and noises alert the young women, and she ventures into the dark corridors and dank basement to try and discover the truth of the building. Sounds clichéd doesn't it?, well, it does have a few clichés, but not many thankfully. I would recommend this movie horror flick fans, and blood thirsty people who love a good slash movie.
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on 15 February 2006
I thought this film was terrible. I thought the acting was OK but I didn’t care much for the characters. Mostly my problem was with the story line – there wasn’t one. I know, I know, there are a lot of murder films out there which follow a senseless killer who kills for fun and has no tangible motive – but this film goes too far.
The main problem I had was that all these people went missing and no one missed them. The viewer is supposed to believe that apart from one old man no one thought it was strange that so many people had vanished in one hotel. My second problem with the film was the lack of suspense or fear – I really didn’t mind if the people got caught by the killer including the main characters Steve (Brent Roam) and Nell (Angela Bettis).
Also the setting up of Ned the maintenance man as the main suspect was poor – it was too obvious to be him and I certainly wasn’t fooled. And there was little explanation as to why the killer was actually murdering everyone with tools.
The film is very reminiscent of 1970 horror films but the ending feels like Halloween rehashed and we barely get to see the killer. The cover of the DVD makes him look terrifying but we barely get to experience how frightening he looks.
I recently read a review of this film where the reviewer claimed they would rather stick pins in their eyes then see this film again – I certainly wouldn’t go that far but I would suggest spending a few hours watching something else instead.
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on 4 February 2015
Tobe Hooper has made some great movies in his time like the Texas chainsaw massacre of course and the awesome 80's sci-fi LifeForce, I think this is certainly one of his greatest of the more modern ones in recent years, a good horror set in a creepy run down hotel, a new couple move in while in-between homes and start to discover the dark secrets that live behind the walls as people start going missing and the body count starts to rise, there are some cool kills in the movie, bloody and brutal, unfortunately these scenes are slightly trimmed but they are still good, (you can watch the extended gore in the deleted scenes on the features of the USA import DVD) great cast all round, the lead actress is good, the main killer once revealed has some hideous make-up effects which look cool, look out for a cameo death at the beginning from Sheri moon zombie, this is a good fun horror, well worth picking up, the movie is well directed by Hooper and has a very 80's vibe to it which is cool, the special edition is 2-discs and bundled with features!

DVD picture is good,
Features include commentaries, notes, bio's, trailer, and a good documentary,
Region 2, English, 91,mins, 2004.

(This Anchor bay UK DVD did come with a limited box sleeve and 6 nice collectable postcards originally)
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on 28 August 2005
This film was one of the worst horror films I have seen in ages. The characters were all very weak and ill presented.
The story did not flow and make any sense. The scary bits were not scary. Quite boring and disappointing and especially since I got some friends round one evening to watch it, thinking it looked half decent (from the cover).
The face on the cover of the dvd makes it look scary, but you hardly get to see the villian and when he does appear, he is covered up or in the shadows.
Don't even think of renting the dvd. You'll be wasting your money. Forget purchasing this altogether.
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on 28 April 2005
Hooper does his best with the material but it's a rubbish script with no grounded logic or plot. So even if we suspend disbelief and accept the boring "cursed building keeping madman alive" routine what on earth is his motive for all the killings? It's such a lazy premise I'm amazed anyone put up any money to turn it into a feature. C-movie junk from the washed-up Tobe Hooper once again.
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on 9 December 2012
I quite enjoyed this film :o

Acting was abit wooden..thought it was gory gruesome and jumpy..scared after it was over as i watched it in the dark, and was scared to put the light on incase someone was there :D
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on 12 January 2016
Excellent Horror remake, better than the original! Truly spooky and chilling, not packed with intense jumps scares or anything but the combination of the dark style and multiple characters in a great location works great. Nice gore and spine tingling visuals!
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