Review: Sledgehammer (DVD)

Intervision Picture Corp. unleashes David Prior's mind melting, shot-on video slasher Sledgehammer onto DVD!

  • Director: David Prior
  • Starring: Ted Prior, Linda McGill
  • Year: 1983
  • Runtime: 85 Minutes
  • Company: Intervision Picture Corp
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.33:1 - 4:3 - Fullscreen
  • Audio: English 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Region: All
  • Released: 5/10/2011

A sleazy mother looking to do the dirty with her man friend, locks up her son in the closet so he can't disturb them. Moments later an off screen maniac bloodies things up by murdering the couple with a, ahem, sledgehammer! Ten years later a group of 80's, feathered hair friends (I think, more on that later) come to the remote house to hang out and party the night away. After some boozing and a truly epic food fight, Chuck (Ted Prior, Deadly Prey) tells a scary story of the prologue to his seven friends. The party begins to die, literally, as a mask wearing brute begins picking off the party-goers one by one. Things begin to take a supernatural turn as the mystery of the bizarreness delves deeper into a grainy nightmare. Will they survive to find out the truth? Is there a truth? Will ex-Chippendale employee Chuck be able to find his shirt? Some will be answered, but most won't.
Confession time. I have watched Sledgehammer three times since receiving it. THREE TIMES. Twice in one night. Am I sick? Who wants to touch me? Kidding aside, I strangely adore this lucid video treat. I have never witnessed a film like it and dunno if I ever will. Sledgehammer is a strange mind fuck, apparent from the very start. The killer bait friends all act like total dicks to each other. They fight, call each other names and pour mustard into their girlfriends hair. Maybe they are best friends just giving each other tough love. Slow motion should have been giving a credit since it is in every fucking scene. Friends unpack their van. SLOW MOTION. Stroll around the house. SLOW MOTION. Supernatural killer kid bitch slaps Chuck (I swear to god, it's amazing). SLOW MOTION. If slow-mo king Zack Snyder made an 80's SOV horror film it would have been Sledgehammer.
Amongst all the weirdness, Sledgehammer is actually creepy and effective. Pop this disc in late at night with the lights off and you'll have a slight chill when you're not laughing. The mood lightning or lack of light mixed with the overall claustrophobic feel gives it a nightmare vibe. If it were not for listening/watching David Prior talk about Sledgehammer with no doubt I would have thought it was beamed down from another dimension. Logic, sense and reality are abandoned leaving Sledgehammer in a realm of it's own. For better or worse, this is why I love it so dear.
Sledgehammer kicked off a series of shot-on-video films for the video boom. Almost all SOV oddities are a treat and just as mind melting as the last. If you've had the pleasure of watching Sledgehammer or it's other video brethren, you know what I'm talking about. If not go to Amazon right now and buy this glorious, bonus feature packed release from the stellar folks at Intervision. You won't regret it.

  • Video
How does Sledgehammer look? Like a hazy, noise filled VHS...just how it should be. Sourced from the original tape it's presented in the best way possible. The entire charm of Sledgehammer is it's smeary shot-on-video look. To have it cleaned up or transferred in HD would rob it of it's intended, low budget roots. Tracking marks appear all over throughout reminding you of the forever superior VHS. I love the worn video retroness of Sledgehammer and wouldn't want to view it any other way.
  • Audio
Dolby Digital Surround 7.1...fuck that shit. We get glorious 2.0 Stereo to give us all our synth and brain bashing sound needs.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary - Director David Prior & Moderator Clint Kelly
A great informative commentary with Prior and Clint Kelly discussing the production of Sledgehammer. Clint is well versed in all things Sledgehammer and get's some great stories out of Prior. David Prior seems slightly dumbfounded by the love and attention of his film but is gracious nonetheless.
  • Audio Commentary - Bleeding Skull's Joesph Ziemba & Dan Budnik
Not one but two commentaries, most classics don't get such lavish treatment. Video hounds Ziemba & Budnik of Bleeding Skull deliver a fun, fan track that definitely warrants a listen. Plus it gives you another reason to watch Sledgehammer, which should be on loop in your house anyways.
  • Featurette - "Hammertime"
Alamo Drafthouse film programmer Zack Carlson talks about the radness that is Sledgehammer, in front of a glorious wall of VHS.
  • Featurette - "Sledgehammerland"
Another film programmer interview, this time from Cinefamily programmers Hadrian Belove And Tom Fitzgerald who also discuss the titular film.
  • Interview - Director David Prior
Prior talks about the film and his career briefly, once again seemingly surprised by it's love. Be sure to check out David Prior's other cinematic gold ventures Deadly Prey and Killer Workout.
  • Trailers
Things, The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer & A Night to Dismember trailers accompany the disc. All three films look equally bizarre and awesome. Things in particular. Mullets, drills and monsters. Count me in.