Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Sledgehammer (1983)

Dir: David A. Prior (Deadly Prey/Night Trap/Mankillers)

Sledgehammer has been noted as the first shot on video horror film although this is not technically true. Boardinghouse takes that claim, however Sledgehammer is the first SOV slasher flick. For those who do not know shot on video films were about as low budget as you could get back in the early 80's and through the years it has become a bit of a sub genre with somewhat of a cult following with companies like Retro 80's video putting allot of these stinkers on DVD. Films like Boardinghouse, Woodchiper Massacre, and Cannibal Campout among others all are notorious for being some of the worst of the worst. So where does Sledgehammer stand among these infamous titles? Honestly it stacks up quite well for what ever that's worth.
           The film begins with a woman is scolding her son and locks him in a closet in order to get him out of the way so she can carry on an affair. While the woman hooks up with her lover on the side, The sneaky couple is smashed to death with a sledgehammer. Flash forward 10 years later and a group of college kids arrive at the house for a bit of partying and relaxation. We get to know the gang for awhile and honestly this part of the film is rather slow. The gang parties getting drunk and having a blast until Chuck the leader of the pack decides to perform a seance and he goes on about the couple that was killed in the house 10 years prior, While his buddy Joey plays a prank with a rigged stereo pretending to be the voices from the grave. During their game the ritual seems to wake up the killer from years ago, and joey gets offed.

After the prank the party continues and Jimmy who appears to be a bit of a prude and his girlfriend tries to finally get him to put out. As they make way to a private room to finally get intimate we see the killer lurking and watching them go at it. Meanwhile Chuck finds blood on Joey's stereo and goes to tell the rest of the gang he thinks something bad has happened. The gang feels it is a joke when Joanie finds Jimmy and his girl dead. At this point the gang try to figure out what to do and decide to stick together in the living room until morning and head out. While the girlfriends and Chuck fall asleep, John decides to do some looking around after hearing some noise. He stumbles upon a small child and then is transferred into a room where the victims are being stored. The Killer and John fight while the rest of the gang hear the brawl and try to help out. When they finally find John he has been stabbed in the back.

Chuck finds the small child and after a strange scuffle showing that the killer has supernatural powers, Chuck is injured by the full grown killer. Joanie ends up taking a bat to the killer nearly finishing him off until, The killer begins to get the upper hand with one blow of the sledgehammer. Chuck luckily comes to the rescue,and takes the sledgehammer to the killer after a big brawl. As Chuck and Joanie leave the house we see the child standing in the attic window holding his hammer.

So as far as SOV or Shot on Shitteo films are concerned although Sledgehammer is one of the first it is certainly one of the best there is in a genre of real stinkers , this one stands out. The gore is not the greatest,the acting is awful, and the supernatural aspects are a bit cheesy but, one thing that really makes this one stand out is the fact that with such little makeup or effort the killer really does appear truly intimidating. Even if it is just a clear mask the guys size and stature along with the creepy mask make the guy frightening for sure. Sledgehammer does not do to much to stray away from the typical slasher but for it's time it works. One thing that does hurt this film tremendously though is the over usage of slow motion, Which brings the film to a crawl at times. As far as slasher flicks are concerned this is not great but as far as SOV is concerned this is about as good as you are gonna get. I would definitley recommend this one for fans of the genre and especially fans of the Retro 80's series of SOV films that have come out in the last few years.Worth a watch for the killer alone.

Fun Factor:5
Overall: 4 out of 10

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