Three on a Meathook (1973)

This is a gritty, low-budget exploitation movie with a 70’s feel. You will notice similarities to Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and supposedly it is inspired by the same true-life serial killer. It has some gore and nudity, and quite a bit of slow-moving filler. If you are bothering to track this movie down, you probably already have seen several like it and know what to expect.

The plot involves an isolated farm boy who lives with his father. When the movie begins, four young ladies are traveling to his neck of the woods for a girls-only camping trip. Their car breaks down and he invites them to stay at his place, where he lives with his dad. Twenty minutes into the movie, and all four girls are dead.

I really had to keep watching to see what else the director would do for the rest of this full-length movie after accomplishing what most movies would take their entire running time to do. Instead of following the formula, this one switches things up and has the boy head into town to drink away his troubles. It seems he murdered the girls without realizing what he was doing, and apparently this was not the first time something like this happened. The shot of the young killer walking down the neon-light street with his hands in his pockets seems to suggest Peter Parker more than a pick-ax murderer. Luckily, he gets drunk and an attractive bartender takes him home, because that’s what girls did in the seventies, isn’t it? They end up getting along, and he invites her to stay at his farm. She accepts, and it looks like the horror will occur all over again.

I usually never even try to figure how movies are going to end, but I saw where this one was going VERY early on. It contains most of the elements of trashy 70’s horror, such as a weird, repetitive “score,” poor acting, ridiculous dialog, a grainy yet naturalistic look, and retro fashions. In the middle of the movie, there is a band playing in the bar where the main character goes to drink, and we watch them play two entire songs as if they were the musical guests on an episode of SNL. The movie is unintentionally funny, and I had to find something else to do during long stretches where very little was happening. However, as a fan of these sorts of curiosities, I enjoyed the experience overall, at least upon my first viewing. I don’t think I could sit through it again.

I also want to say that I have seen the last movie this director made, titled Manitou. It is actually pretty impressive to see the progress he made in the time between these two movies. I was saddened to learn that he died at a young age after only six years of writing and directing horror movies. He seems like he was on track to becoming a very prolific filmmaker.