3 on a Meathook
If there is anyone that can be considered an inspiration to modern horror films, the Butcher of Plainfield, Ed Gein makes that claim. Trust me, I don’t say that out of admiration. However, it is true that his crimes inspired many horror stories. Film titles such as Psycho, Deranged and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre all owe major aspects of their plot to the events in Plainfield.
Traces of the story even permeate The Silence of the Lambs. But, there is another lesser know film that came out in 1972 called 3 on a Meathook, directed by William Girdler. It is yet another take on country-cannibal formula. Clearly, it is a great title, but is it a great film?
2 on a Meathook – Trailer
The Hunt for 3 on a Meathook
This film is not easy to find. After hunting multiple streaming services, unsuccessfully, I eventually tracked a copy on Amazon.com from a publisher called Desert Island Films. Upon arrival, a quick inspection suggested that this publisher operates from a garage. The disc had the purple dye of a freshly burnt DVD and the label looks as though it was printed by a consumer grade DVD printer.
Mentally, I prepared myself for a sub-par transfer. My low expectations were not betrayed. The film appeared to have been transferred from a old VHS copy of the film. Tracking lines run horizontally across the bottom of the title frame. The film is grainy and sound is horrible. In several sections, the audio track warbles as if stretched.
As an aside, I can’t explain how I not seen this film before. I clearly remember it beckoning me from the back of the local rental shop, when that was still a thing. Is it possible that I never rented a film titled 3 on a Meathook? Did I just get lucky?
Weekend at the Lake
The story begins with 4 girls taking off for a fun weekend on a lake. As they play, a creeper in sunglasses watches intently. As the ladies leave, the creeper follows. In a classic horror cliche, the ladies run out of gas as a thunder ominously rumbles in the distance. Unfortunately for them, the creeper Billy Townsend, pulls up in a busted old pickup and offers to help.
Inexplicably, four scantily clad women climb into the creeper’s truck and go home with him. Billy’s father, clearly upset about bringing ‘whores’ home, reminds Billy, “you know what happens to you when you get around women, and we can’t let it happen again”.
4 Girls, 4 Kills
As the girls prepare for bed, a dark figure stalks the house. The first victim is enjoying a warm bath when she is stabbed to death in the bathtub. The figure walks down the hall with a shotgun. The killer opens the door and blast two girls in the chest with a shotgun. The third woman runs for her life, but fails to escape.
Cornered, the killer decapitates her with a hand held hatchet. The special effects are terribly primitive. Demonstrated best, the decapitation scene comes off like an 8th grade film assignment. The victims head clearly extends through a hole in the wall as a fake body is dropped to the floor.
With care, this effect can technically be effective. The producers did not care.
The Anatomy of Boredom
Honestly, I am unsure what the director was trying to do with the next 45 minutes of film. If he tried his level best, I doubt that he could make more tedious interlude. In the morning, the Father confront Billy about the murders. Billy remembers nothing. The Father tells Billy to go to town while he cleans up the mess.
The movie then rolls out a montage of Billy’s activities in the city. The only problem is that this montage crawls at a snails pace. Billy goes to town. He takes in a movie. He goes to a bar. The second worst band in the world plays disco funk for 10 minutes. Billy meets a waitress. They fall in love. They share long walks in the park before parting with a good-bye kiss. I want to claw my eyeballs out at this point.
The purpose this boondoggle is simply to get Billy, his new girl friend Sherry and her friend Becky out to the farm for dinner.
Throughout this film, the director asks the question, who is responsible for the murders? It is set up to make the viewer believe it is Billy. Through the murder of Becky with a pickaxe, it is revealed that the Father is the murderer. Any self-respecting horror movie fan should have seen it coming from a mile away.
Sherry, concerned for her friend, goes on a hunt for her when she finds 3 women on meathooks in an old shed. Terrified, she runs back to the house and into the kitchen to find the father butchering a human leg. Surprise, Dad served human flesh for dinner. The real twist comes seconds later when the long dead Momma burst from a sidedoor in the kitchen.
The story is that she went mad with a taste for human flesh. Instead of having her institutionalized, her husband hid her away while he provided her food. The film ends with a laborious explanation of the events by a lawyer.
3 on a Meathook – The Verdict
Some low-budget masterpieces get by because talented directors must improvise to make something out of nothing. Consequently, they do this by finding diamonds in the rough. Those diamonds sometimes come in the form of unknown actors that just click. Sometimes it is a script that no one else would shoot. Sometimes a fantastic crew of motivated artists excite the audience.
Conversely, 3 on a Meathook has none of that. It is really just a low budget movie. No single performance deserves praise and each shot looks like a shoebox diorama.
In conclusion, as a lover of old school horror movies, this film left plenty to be desired. I typically watch a film 2-3 times when I do a review. This was a painful process. As far as Geiners go, this is not representative of greatness. I recommend that you check out Deranged or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre if you are looking for a top-tier experience. 3 on a Meathook is a curiosity at best.
3 on a Meathook (1972) - Great Title, Bad Movie - Malevolent Dark
Director: William Girdler
Date Created: 1972-01-01 00:00