Written & directed by William Girdler, Three on a Meathook is a 1972 horror that is inspired by the infamous Ed Gein. Extremely low budget with some glaring issues, Three on a Meathook is a difficult but an enjoyable watch.
A group of girls are off on a weekend trip to a lake. On the way they run into car troubles & break down. Stranded they run into Billy Townsend (James Carroll Pickett) who offers to put them up for the night at the local farmhouse where he lives with his father, Pa (Charles Kissinger).
The girls agree to stay there even though they don’t get the warmest welcome from Pa who doesn’t want them to stay. His reasons are vague but he hints towards Billy that something bad will happen if they do stay. Unsurprisingly that night the girls all get attacked & murdered with an axe.
The next morning Pa confronts Billy & suggests that he had one of his ‘episodes’. He puts the blame on Billy who can’t remember anything but accepts responsibility. Devastated by what he has done Billy heads to town where he meets a cocktail waitress & the two fall in love.
Billy invites her to stay with him at the farm along with one of her friends but once again Pa is against it suggesting that Billy can’t control himself around women. Is Billy actually a murderer or something far more sinister going on at Townsend farm?
Looking incredibly dated now, Three on a Meathook is a decent slasher flick overall. Thanks in part to a small cast that are fairly well developed. Billy in particular is layered & by the end of the film really comes across sympathetic. One of the more surprising things is that the movie doesn’t play for laughs, instead taking a serious & bloody tone.
Admittedly it’s not as gory as the film title would suggest it is, which is disappointing, but when it does splash the blood about it is done quite gleefully. Although as with many exploitation films of the era, there’s plenty of nudity.
The film’s biggest flaw is its very slow middle, so slow in fact that we get a lengthy musical number by a band in the bar Billy is in. The pacing is all over the place with massive lulls in action. When we do reach the finale, things reach ludicrous levels of crazy but it’s the highlight of the entire movie.
As B-horror exploitation goes this is one of the better ones but likely to disappoint most who are going in expecting a ferocious bloodbath.
Three on a Meathook