While the slasher genre really starts in 1978 (or 1979, when Halloween really took off), there are movies before that are nascent starting points. This was William Girdler’s second film after Asylum of Satan, made with money from his trust fund. It’s based on Ed Gein, as are Psycho, Deranged, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and many, many, many more.
Filmed in and around Louisville, Kentucky, the home of the director (whose also wrote and performed much of this film’s score), this is the tale of Billy Townsend (James Carroll Pickett), who seems like such a nice boy. He helps four girls who have gone to the lake for vacation when their car breaks down. But Billy has secrets and a father (Charles Kissinger, who also appears in Girdler’s films Abby, Grizzly, The Manitou, Asylum of Satan and Sheba, Baby) who loves his son so much that he’ll help him get out of any trouble.
This has one of the best titles ever, as well as a great tagline — “WARNING: Not For The Bloody Mary For Lunch Bunch!” — and, as stated before, the notion of being an early slasher. It’s worth checking out to see where the form got its start. When I was a kid, this film’s cover freaked me out, as did the implications of its title. The actual film itself seems laid back and very 70’s, including an anti-Vietnam speech delivered directly to the camera.
You have to love a movie that is willing to totally forget any forward progress by having its antagonist decide to head downtown, watch some bands, see The Graduate and ponder life instead of continually killing people. You never see Michael Myers decide to take a break and grab a beer, you know?
A Tribute to Edward Dempley of American Xpress
The below video features three songs, “You Gotta Be Free,” “We’re All Insane,” and an untitled instrumental over the end credits that we’ll call the “Love Theme from Three on a Meathook.” Each were written and arranged by William Girdler and performed by his friend and Louisville, Kentucky, local Eddie “Eddie D” Dempley, with his band, the American Xpress. The band, also known as the Blues Express, also wrote music with and performed the music for Girdler’s debut film, Asylum of Satan.
Even though the band name changed from the Blues Express to American Xpress between the two films, it’s the same line up of Bill Longale, Mikk Mastin, Dave Goode, Waldo Weathers, Don Powell, Maury Bechtel, and Edward “Eddie D” Dempley.
Born on August 23, 1943, Dempley passed away on July 28, 2011, after a three-year cancer battle. Born in Oldham County, Kentucky, he excelled on the saxophone as a member of the Van Dells and Eddie D (Eddy Dee, Eddy D) and the Blues Express. (That’s Eddie, third from left holding the microphone.)
You can learn more about Eddie D’s career with our review for Asylum of Satan.