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Nail Gun Massacre (Terror Vision) UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Nail Gun Massacre (Terror Vision) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Terror Vision
    Released on: July 2nd, 2024.
    Director: Bill Leslie, Terry Lofton
    Cast: Rocky Patterson, Ron Queen, Beau Leland
    Year: 1985
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    Nail Gun Massacre – Movie Review:

    Co-directed by Bill Leslie and writer Terry Lofton, 1985’s Nail Gun Massacre, set in Texas, opens with a shock when a young woman named Linda (Michelle Meyer) is gang-raped by a work crew at a construction site. From here, someone in a camouflage jumper and a motorcycle helmet with black electrical tape, using a synthesizer of some sort to disguise their voice, starts running about the woods with a nail gun and a compressor tank on their back ventilating pretty much everyone that they come across. Also a guy named Adam can’t have sex with a girl who has the biggest hair that ever came out of 1980’s era Texas because he has to go to work. She’s sad, so he tells her to play with herself. Elsewhere, Linda works at a lumber yard with her weirdo brother Bubba (Beau Leland). Meanwhile, the killer shoots a guy in the dick.

    We see this first hand when one of the construction workers from the opening scene is complaining to his wife who is outside hanging up the laundry to dry while their infant child plays in a cardboard box. The assailant shows up and shoots a few nails at the guy – mission accomplished. As the ‘story’ progresses, a few more people get shot to death with a nail gun, prompting a Bocephus-esque Sheriff (Ron Queen) and his doctor pal, a cool Camaro driving guy named Rocky (Rocky Patterson, who kind of looks like Joe Piscopo), to start investigating. They find abandoned cars and dead bodies all over the place. The sheriff tells us this is the most violence the town has seen in over a decade!

    Meanwhile, two guys and a girl with curly hair move into a rundown house that someone we never meet named Old Mrs. Bailey is letting them live in on the condition that they fix it up. While they’re doing their thing, two biker couples show up and have a picnic on the lawn. Ritz crackers are consumed and one couple runs off to the woods where they have sex leaning against a tree. A few minutes of gratuitous man-ass later, they get nailed while he nails her – ha! The other couple also gets killed. The Sheriff and Doctor Rocky kind of suck at solving crimes but eventually they put two and two together and figure that maybe it’s Linda out for revenge… but is it?

    Shot for peanuts on 16mm stock, Nail Gun Massacre is primitive, repetitive and derivative but it’s also a lot of trashy, sleazy low budget fun. Populated mostly by characters that don’t matter much and that are basically nail gun fodder, it’s set to a distinctively rad synth score courtesy of Whitey Thomas (who also scored Mark Of The Witch in 1970!). The kill scenes mostly involve people putting their hands over their bodies, cutting to the killer shooting and spouting off a corny one-liner, then cutting back to the victim with very fake, rubbery nails stuck to them. It’s repetitive but when coupled with the synth score, the weird voice effects and the bad one-liners it becomes almost hypnotic.

    The movie also serves as a weird eighties time capsule of sorts. The hair, the fashions, the cars and the Dairy Queen drive-in scene all combine to give anyone who lived through the decades serious flashbacks. Not enough? We get some gratuitous nudity (female and male full frontal even!), cool eighties computer technology in action, a guy who has an inordinate amount of trouble trying to hump his lady friend in the front seat of his car and an appropriately wonky ending. Throw in a garish yellow hearse and way too many bad puns and Nail Gun Massacre stands the test of time, a gleefully stupid cult classic that can’t help but entertain.

    Nail Gun Massacre – UHD/Blu-ray Review:

    Terror Vision brings Nail Gun Massacre to UHD framed at 1.37 in an HVEC encoded 2160p transfer with HDR10 “sourced from vaulted elements which were all scanned and restored in order to bring you the best release possible with a massive upgrade from the previous releases. Here at Terror Vision we worked for over 6 painstaking months in order to gather, clean, scan, restore, and do a new HDR color grade on this 80s slasher classic!” That might sound like a bit of hyperbole on the part of Terror Vision but the fact of the matter is that this really is a pretty massive upgrade over what we’ve had in the past. There’s some noticeable waviness to the picture here and there as well as some damage but there’s actually some impressive detail and texture on display here. The disc is well-authored, showing no compression issues or problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement, the transfer definitely retains the movie’s gritty 16mm vibe properly. Skin tones look good and the reds of the fake blood pop quite nicely. The picture quality is limited by the elements available but overall, Terror Vision’s efforts here are pretty impressive! Note that the included Blu-ray also offers up the ‘archival restoration’ version of the movie in a 1.78.1 widescreen option and in 1.37.1.

    Audio chores are handled by a 16-bit LPCM 1.0 English language track with optional subtitles provided in English only. This movie has always sounded like it was recorded in the bottom of a well but clarity is improved on this edition over past disc releases. The dialogue is generally pretty easy to understand and follow, with a few muffled lines here and there. The score has some genuine depth to it and the levels are properly balanced. Bonus points to whoever did the subtitles, they were clearly having some fun with it.

    There are two new commentary tracks on the UHD, the first by The Hysteria Continues that is a lot of fun. They go over what they call a "trash classic," detailing how they came to see the movie for the first time, the rundown locations used for much of the movie, how the movie was a video store staple back in the day, thoughts on the actors and their characters, some of the obvious plot holes in the movie, how the movie compares to other slasher films, the film's obvious low budget, the film's release history and the film's "very poetic" ending.

    The second new commentary is by Will Dodson and Ryan Verrill of Someone’s Favorite Productions where they dissect the film, covering the brutal opening gang rape and how this immediately sets the movie up as a rape/revenge film, parts of the movie you can laugh at and laugh with, how the movie has been received over the years, the use of sound and the film's score, thoughts on the performances, how the film is full of everyday life punctuated with bloody murders, the strange use of really long takes in the film, the location work featured in the movie, the outsider art quality of the film, the use of the hearse in the film and thoughts on the reveal of the killer in the film's finale.

    Also included here is a commentary by Loyd Cryer and his Sue Pinnock, the founders of Texas Frightmare Weekend and the copyright holders for the film. They talk about the opening rape scene, offer info on the background of the cast and crew that worked on the film, the film's original title, getting to know and work with Terry Lofton before he passed away, the films that inspired Lofton to make the movie, different screenings that they've held for the movies over the years, thoughts on the acting and the characters, some of the locations used for the shoot, how Lofton wanted to see the movie restored and released in high definition before he passed and more. There's a lot of dead air in this one.

    The included Blu-ray disc contains those same commentary tracks as well as a selection of new interviews, starting with an audio Interview with Actress Connie Speer running fifteen minutes in which she discusses how she came to play Trish the "biker babe" in the film, her thoughts on the exploitation elements of the film, having a good time making the movie, working with Terry Loften, her background and training, the film's cult status, how the movie captured the essence of the area of Texas in which the movie was shot and what she's been up to since making the movie.

    Actress Michelle Meyer is up next in a twenty-two minute talk that lets her go over how she came to play Linda in the movie, how much fun it was to make the movie, getting along with Terry Loften as well as the cast and crew members, Loften's penchant for asking his cast how they felt about specific scenes, memories of shooting her rape scene and how important it was to everyone that she be comfortable with it, how the killer was played by different actors throughout the course of the movie, shooting most of the movie with one or two takes, staying in touch with some of her co-stars, the film's cult status and popularity around the world and how making the movie was really a fun experience for her.

    The new interview with actor Rocky Patterson runs for nineteen minutes and in it he goes over how he was teaching film acting classes, how he met Lofton and helped him cast the film with some of his students, how he wound up being cast in the film himself while he was basically standing around watching, how the script was made up as Lofton and company went along and expanding his role in the process, the enduring popularity of the film, shooting the movie in one take, other film projects that he's worked on over the years, an amusing encounter with Tom Savini and befriending Lofton before he passed away.

    Kit Connally (who is credited in the movie was Kit Mitchell) is interviewed for eight minutes about her small part in the film as the girl who goes to the Dairy Queen drive-in before getting killed on the hood of the car. She talks about working as a stripper at the time and getting cast in the film based on the size of her breasts, memories of shooting her scenes, what it was like on the set, memories of working with Lofton and how he wanted "more skin," having trouble finding a copy of the movie for a while and how she feels about it overall as well as how she became an English teacher after making the movie.

    Loyd Cryer talks for twenty-four minutes about how he runs Texas Frightmare Weekend and used to run an online DVD store in the early days of the format. This lead to his meeting Lofton who was concerned about his selling a bootleg of the movie on the site, befriending Lofton from this point on, buying the movie from him when he started having health problems, the different releases that have come out for the movie, touring some of the locations with Lofton, getting Lofton and some cast members out to one of his conventions and more.

    What Is Too Much? is a new visual essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas that runs twelve minutes and covers the rape/revenge aspect of the movie, discussing whether this aspect of the story goes too far in terms of the reckless abandon shown on the screen. The piece also notes that we don't usually think about this type of thing while watching rape/revenge movies while they're playing in front of his, how people take just into their own hands, the structure of the film, the use of sex in the movie and if the film has feminist elements or not.

    Rewind Zone with Yasmina Ketita - Courtesy of Rue Morgue TV is a seven minute featurette where Executive Editor Andrea Subissati promotes an H.P. Lovecraft bobblehead before Ketita shows up and why she enjoys Nail Gun Massacre as much as she does, her thoughts on both the slasher movie elements and the rape/revenge elements, her appreciation for low budget cinema, thoughts on the characters and some of the more memorable kill scenes.

    The Alamo Drafthouse Screening w/ Q&A featurette, recorded in 2015, is an eight minute piece where audience members express their appreciation for the film before Michelle Meyer and Rocky Patterson get on stage and talk about how they got involved in the production, working with Terry Lofton, memories from the shoot, what it was like on set, who wore the suit and more.

    Carried over from the old Synapse DVD is an archival featurette titled Nailed in which Lofton spends twenty-four minutes talking about the history of the movie, going over some pretty serious changes that were made to the script as the production ensued, how he came to make the movie in the first place, casting, locations, what it was like on set and more. Carried over from the Code Blu-ray Blu-ray release is a seventeen minute Nail Gun Q&A Hosted by Joe Bob Briggs where the cast members field questions from the audience of a screening held at a Texas Frightmare Weekend screening from 2006.

    There are also a few archival interviews here, again from the Code Red Blu-ray, starting with a sixteen minute piece with writer, director and stuntman Terry Lofton where he talks about what it was like on set, how the story changed as the movie progressed, details on casting the film and what it was like on set. An archival interview with composer Whitey Thomas runs twelve minutes and lets him speak about how he came to work on the project, his thoughts on how the movie turned out, having to finish his work on the picture with a miniscule budget and more. Also carried over from that disc is a four minute location tour, hosted by Loften, which shows us what the locations used for the movie look like in the modern day.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a two minute promotional trailer for the feature, eight minutes of bloopers and outtakes with commentary from Lofton (there’s no audio for this footage), menus and chapter selection options.

    Nail Gun Massacre - The Final Word:

    If Nail Gun Massacre sometimes feels like it’s from another planet, that just adds to the film’s entertaining weirdness. It doesn’t always make sense and its narrative is derivative, but it’s got enough of its own screwy charm to make it entertaining and, in its own strange way, even charming. The new two-disc UHD/Blu-ray special edition from Terror Vision gives the film an impressive 4k facelift and throws in a fantastic selection of extra features both old and new. Highly recommended!

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