The Merits of Sin: Sledgehammer (1983) (USA)

A topless Ted Prior gently strums a guitar with a beer by his side and his loving gal gazing in appreciation at the majesty that is Ted Prior. A topless Ted Prior takes a stroll with his lucky as all hell girlfriend and playfully places a can of beer on her head. It tumbles immediately and a good laugh is had. A shockingly clothed Ted Prior unshockingly squirts a bunch of mustard on his super lucky girlfriend’s head…a food fight erupts and all his friends join in on the fun and laughs. David A. Prior sure knows how to write for and direct his brother. There’s more going on but in between old topless Ted and the John Oates looking virgin, it’s kind of hard to figure out. Suffocating sound design and endless slow motion only reinforce the fever dream. This is Sledgehammer and it will not apologize.

In his element

The film begins with a young boy being locked in a closet by his awful mother. She does not want any distractions as she bones the man she loves. They have met up at a secluded cabin for a worry free fuck party. No spouses and no problems. Just as things are about to get sexy, a large masked man wielding a sledgehammer puts a damper on the icky bangin bonanza. We skip ahead ten years and a group of lovable and obnoxious idiots have come to drink beer and party. Sadly, they’ve picked the site of the decade old murder for their hootenanny. It does not end well.

Dear lord!

Licking leads to beer drinking, beer drinking leads to a food fight, food fighting leads to a seance and this seance riles up our sledgehammer carrying killer. Camcorder special effects, ghostly children becoming brutish adults and a general middle finger to any form of reality all smash together to produce some sort of brain damaged nightmare. Soft focus filming and a reliance on slow motion set up an alien atmosphere that works its way underneath your skin. As his friends fall to the business end of the mighty hammer, Ted Prior attempts to put a stop to the stupid and supernatural shenanigans. Will he succeed? I can’t say but I will tell you the odds of him taking his shirt off to accomplish his goal is about 99.9%

You make my dreams come…FUCK!

Beyond what you think you know of SOV horror, Sledgehammer rests comfortably. Ambition and insanity melt into a puddle of low budget weirdness that overstays it’s welcome but is immediately missed once it’s gone. Luckily, we have the memories and they will haunt us forever. You can’t unsee Sledgehammer but who the hell would want to? 8/10


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