Film Reviews: Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Nail Gun Massacre
Starring Rocky Patterson, Ron Quen, Beau Leland, and Michelle Meyer. Written by Terry Lofton. Directed by Terry Lofton and Bill Leslie. Not rated.
Texas Tool Time

From the depths of obscurity comes what stands to be a schlock classic.


At the beginning of Nail Gun Massacre, as a cheesy, discordant synthesizer whines on the score, we see a half-dozen redneck goons at a secluded construction site pinning down a helpless woman. We’re left to believe they rape her.

The movie then cuts to a woman in camouflage, wearing a full motorcycle helmet that conceals her identity. She breaks into a house that’s occupied by one of the assailants. Wielding a nail gun like a firearm, the intruder shoots a few spikes through the man’s hands and forehead and then bolts out the door and into a gold 1967 Cadillac hearse.

Then the opening credits roll.

Nail Gun Massacre was filmed 20 years ago in the tiny Texas towns of Seagoville and Combine by Texas-based filmmaker Terry Lofton. Since 1985, a lot of locally made D-movies have come and gone. Many have been funnier, many have been campier, many have been grosser — but none are as funny, campy, and gross as this kitschy cult classic that is celebrating its 20th birthday this month with a nationwide DVD release.

The movie gets a lot of its charm from what passes for character developments and plot progressions, sure, but it also wins you over with its downright bohemian, DIY vibe. Though made on a rather decent-sized budget of $50,000, Nail Gun Massacre has a heartwarming, 8mm. home movie quality: The sound of the camera rolling is audible during indoor scenes, the nudity is gratuitous and everywhere, and the dialogue is regularly botched, even when the script sits right in front of cast members’ eyes. One particularly great scene takes place inside a general store, where the clerk, played by Lofton’s now long-deceased grandmother, can be clearly seen reading lines from a small sheet of paper on the counter to another character: “I bet. You ain’t. Never seen. Butterfly,” she says unconvincingly before gathering herself and continuing. “Wild butterflies. In these. Parts.”

The DVD contains several extras, and some are as entertaining as the film. One is an account of how one actor’s wife filed for divorce after watching a randy sex scene between her husband and a female actress. Another good tidbit is that, while shooting a scene in the woods, the film crew was actually under fire from deer hunters nearby. The best little piece of knowledge may be that the theme song, “Foosball!,” has absolutely nothing to do with the movie.

Combine native Lofton never intended Nail Gun Massacre to be self-parody — he actually thought he was going to ride the coattails of that other Texas-based schlockfest, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, into cinema lore. But, he says, the video production company he had hired to make the film look professional screwed him, leaving him with the current tattered, accidental beauty.

Hope for a wider audience is not lost, however. Synapse Films, based in Michigan, wants to distribute a sequel (though Lofton has not been offered any up-front funding yet). A Nail Gun Massacre cast reunion is in the works for February at a horror convention in Grapevine. In the meatime, the DVD of the original is available at all major retail outlets.

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