Director: Terry Lofton
Synapse Films

Previously issued on a limited run 500-piece numbered and signed edition disc from director Terry Lofton himself, NAIL GUN MASSACRE seems an odd choice for Synapse to revisit. Lofton’s edition would suit most people just fine, with a nice presentation of the film and a great helping of extras provided by the director, but for fans looking for a better-looking version of this trash classic, look no further than this DVD.

Following the rape of a young woman by a gang of construction workers in a backwoods Texas town, a mystery killer in camouflage sporting an automatic nail gun pack begins picking off any unfortunate local who crosses his path. What is the connection between the killer and the rape victim, and will his identity be uncovered before more bodies pile up?

Packed with grisly violence, inane dialogue, stupid Freddy Kreuger-inspired wisecracks from the killer, dumb-as-a-brick characters, unprofessional actors with thick accents, and a wonderful Southern-fried charm which is hard to duplicate, NAIL GUN MASSACRE is actually a little less enjoyable than it sounds. The often sluggish pacing and ridiculous writing won’t hold everyone’s interest for long. But fans of silly 80s slasher films should find plenty to cheer about. Shot in the Lone Star State by a director eager to produce a horror flick for the budding home video market, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore. The unoriginal plot is merely a clothesline on which to hang one kill scene after another, introducing every new character merely to have them butchered. Several nasty gore scenes including a nail gun shot to the groin in unflinching close-up, multiple victims with their hands nailed to their heads, a guy who accidentally saws his hand off with a chainsaw, two nude lovers in the woods in the ultimate coitis interruptus, a lover’s lane encounter reminiscent of The Zodiac Killer’s exploits, and the killer emerging from a pool to kill a man who falls onto a hot grill. In addition to the surprisingly well-done special effects, there are also three memorable nudity and sex scenes. A breasty gal with a semi-mullet shows off her pronounced tan lines and spends her entire time on-screen topless, showing off her incredible jugs; an outdoor sex scene is so graphic it looks like an excerpt from Svetlana’s hardcore film BAD GIRLS, with equal opportunity male nudity; and a makeout session with another top-heavy blonde on the roof of a car. The outdoor rape scene opening the film features a fully clothed woman, fog appears out of nowhere at the most inopportune times, an old woman (played by the director’s grandmother) running a local convenience store rambles to herself as her customers ignore her, the local law leaves bodies laying around while investigating the next victim, and construction workers have a live nail gun fight on-site! If Fred Olen Ray had directed a slasher opus in Texas, NAIL GUN MASSACRE would have been the result. If watching such a film sounds as much fun as jabbing a letter opener under your fingernails, then avoid this one like the plague. Everyone else, dig in!

Remastered in Hi-Def and presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, NAIL GUN MASSACRE does look a good sight better than Lofton’s edition, which was in fullscreen. The film will never look like a million bucks, because even in Hi-Def, the grain on this one is pretty consistent throughout. Skin tones are well rendered, and the image is generally cleaner, brighter, and less muddy than Lofton’s DVD. Colors, especially blacks and reds, are more solid, and detail is reasonably sharp considering the painfully low quality of the 35mm elements used to film this thing. The aspect ratio seems questionable; when compared to the previous fullframe DVD, there’s information missing from the bottom of the 1.78:1 frame that can be seen in fullscreen. Strangely the top of the frame doesn’t seem to be affected. The mono audio sounds fine, but is a little quieter compared to the Lofton disc.

“Nailed”, a featurette interviewing writer/producer/director Terry Lofton, is a slightly re-edited version of Lofton’s previous interview from his DVD. Lofton discusses how he came up with the concept for the film, tossing out most of the script during shooting, the added sex scenes for market value, his cameo in the film, the special effects, the killer’s wisecracks, and basically every other aspect of the production. Also included is footage of the real-life convenience store used in the film. A promotional trailer was produced for potential video companies to buy the film and gives away all the juicy, gory bits of the film. An outtake reel offers a peek at shooting the film, with lots of clapboard shots, alternate takes, and deleted pieces of sex and nudity. Where the outtake reel was originally silent and only 5 ½ minutes, Synapse presents an 8 ½ minute reel with additional comments by Lofton from the video interview segment. He discusses how he learnt his filmmaking skills, working behind-the-scenes on “The Dukes of Hazzard”, his experiences with distributors and producers, working with actress Connie Speer, his ideas for a sequel, and his grandmother’s response to the film’s sex scenes. Most fascinating are his memories of S.F. Brownrigg, the Texan genius behind DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT and SCUM OF THE EARTH! One wonders why he doesn’t talk about co-director and cinematographer Bill Leslie, though… Michael Felsher contributes an amusing set of liner notes, listing “Twenty Things I Learned from Watching NAIL GUN MASSACRE”. (Casey Scott )