Garden Tool Massacre - Garden Tool Massacre(DVD) [SRS Cinema - 2021]
Now here is another rare/ largely unseen SOV gem mined up by the folks over at SRS Cinema. Garden Tool Massacre is a Brit 1990’s slasher that features some nicely tense POV stalking, effective moments of gore, and a young and likeable cast. Sure, it’s a little muddled in its structure, and somewhat of murky/ darkly shot in places- but hell this is SOV, and I’d go as far as to say this is one of the best low-budget 90’s slashers I’ve seen.
Made between the years 1997- 98 Garden Tool Massacre was the first (just about) feature-length film from UK writer/ director David Hinds- who has gone onto helm the likes of The House On Cukcoo Lane and Tainted Blood. Apparently, only a handful of copies of the film were sold by Hinds himself- and it's never appeared stateside.
The film kicks off in August 1990, when psychopath Charles Scavolini murders his adulterous wife. These opening scenes are carried out with impressive tension and mood, as the killer moves from a rain heavy night, into the house and up the stairs- before violently stabbing his sleep wife, this is a prolonged and brutal attack- really kicking off the whole thing in a nicely nasty manner. As we move into film, we find out he’s been sent to a mental institution, but seven years later escapes- returning to the house where he slaughtered his wife. Now living in the house is a late teen boy, who has decided to hold a party while his parents are away.
Garden Tool Massacre is clearly very heavily influenced by the first Halloween, with subtly hints of the early Friday 13th films. We have a rather wonky and drum machine take on Carpenters infamous Halloween theme, there are the ominous urban house shots, we have heavy breathing POV moments, and a few moments directly mimic both Halloween and F13- but these are largely done in a clever and knowing manner. The killer, when we finally see him in the films the last quarter, wears a boiler suit and a ragged looking clown mask- when he’s first filmed it's done in a decidedly grainy proto-snuff like manner, which is most effective. Roger Batty
Moving on to the gore ‘n’ atmospherics- and first up we get a good selection of kills, we have corkscrew kill( hello F13 The Final Chapter), garden sears in the guts, brutal head twists, kitchen knife stabbings, bread knife limb sawing, and most impressively a very brutal/ nasty garden trimmer attack- with limbs looped off. On the atmosphere side of things, Hinds is great at building tense and moody atmospherics, with eerier and chilling POV, creepy sound movement leading characters to go and investigate, and some great creepy what’s lurking nearby feel- these are all nicely enhanced by most effective dark ambient/ synth scaping score.
The cast which numbers around ten or so late teens, are largely competent/ likeable enough by SOV standards- and at points, we get some amusing enough lad-ish banter. There are also some rather nice examples of brit indie rock in the soundtrack too, which are well placed. The whole thing is mostly well-shot, at points almost pro- with a good selection of different angles/ type of shots- which are edited together in an effectively tense and taut manner. On the whole Garden Tool Massacre is a very impressive debut film- it runs at around the hour and ten mark, and largely one is kept both held/ amused. Around the midpoint, some of the structure of the film gets a little muddled/ confused- but this is no Biggy, and on the whole, this is a most impressive little slasher- with a nice edge of British charm/humour to it.
Moving onto this new region free DVD, and as one would expect the picture quality is fairly standard SOV- with tape lines and blips and the typical VHS issues. Moving onto the extras and we get a commentary track from writer/ director David Hinds- and this is a nice down-to-earth and interesting track- we find out he was just 15 when the film started, we find out the film is a blend of two longer short films and other bits and bobs. As we move on he discusses how the whole thing was filmed, locations, the cast( all of who were non-acting friends) and the films influences. It’s a well worth a play track. Lastly, we get a trailer for the film, and a trailer for Hinds more recent productions The House On Cukcoo Lane.
All in all, I was most impressed and taken by Garden Tool Massacre, and if you enjoy SOV slashers I think you will be too. So, yet another worth a purchase release from the folks over at SRS Cinema.