Retro Review – SLEDGEHAMMER (1983)

Come on, kiddos: let’s take a trip back to 1983. The home video market is up and rolling. Video stores are on the rise. Product is in high demand. So, leave it to writer/director David A. Prior to create the first shot-on-tape slasher flick for the home video market, Sledgehammer.

A woman and her lover are murdered by her son (maybe) – with a sledgehammer! Fast forward ten years later. A group of typical 80’s morons take a trip to the murder house for a vacation. But someone doesn’t want them there. Someone hulking and shape-shifting. Someone with an unquenchable bloodlust. Someone with a sledgehammer…

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Yup, we’re in slasher territory here, folks. So you’re expecting kills-a-plenty, idiotic characters doing idiotic things, and little plot and story, right? Check on all three. You certainly get the idiotic characters – who seem like the leftovers of a halted porn shoot – doing idiotic things. Thrilling. You also get kills! Yay. Unfortunately, aside from one that sees a dude get his head cracked open, they’re pretty lackluster. No one gets beaten to a bloody pulp and no heads are smashed to bits, sadly. So gorehounds need not stop.

The filmmakers apparently thought that plot and story would get in the way of their creation, so they largely do away with them. Basically, you can sum Sledgehammer up as “Killer with a sledgehammer kills idiots.” It doesn’t attempt to explain anything, though horror aficionados can try to fill in the blanks with their own theories.

For those of you who thought 300 didn’t have enough slow-motion scenes, Sledgehammer is ready to serve you. While the slow-motion sequences are supposed to induce tension, it’s more likely they were added to pad the runtime. Witness slo-mo reaching for a doorknob! Behold, a slo-mo couple walking through the grass! Hubba hubba, slo-mo bumping uglies – but at least we get a brief shot of breasts! You get the picture. However, there are moments when certain shots go on for longer than they should. At certain points, you’ll find yourself playing editor (because I’m guessing this flick didn’t have one) and saying, “That shot should have ended there!” Maybe you can devise a drinking game around it.

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That being said, the level of incompetence lends the movie an odd charm and I can’t bring myself to give this movie the shaft completely. While it’s not the top-tier choice for your next bad movie night, I’m certain you’ll find yourself chuckling at what’s going on on-screen, like when a supposedly locked door is flopping about as characters attempt to break it down  (someone’s probably just leaning against it to hold it at bay!). Or at the stupidity of the séance they hold. Or just about anything else that goes on here.

Final Thoughts:

Sledgehammer isn’t much to write home about, but it’s entertaining enough for those who like their movies crappy, incompetent and stupid with a side of Limburger cheese. Worth a watch after a night of drinking – or if you just need to laugh a bit – if you can find it for very cheap.

About Evan Romero

Evan Romero has been a horror fan since watching “Leprechaun” at the age of five. Aside from watching and writing about horror flicks, he delights in torturing friends with Z-grade movies. He’s also an unabashed Andy Milligan fan, God help him.

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