This movie should have been awesome. It’s grainy, it’s early seventies, it’s inspired by Ed Gein, it’s got the word “meathook” in the title, and the last time I saw a meathook in a horror movie, it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, one of the best movies ever made, genre notwithstanding (come to think of it, TCM was grainy and early seventies too).
I first heard of this movie about five years ago when I was writing an article on Ed Gein and the films he inspired (if you don’t know who Gein is, look him up; I don’t have time to recount his whole case history). I didn’t watch it, but from the title and the movie poster alone, I imagined a highly psychological horror film about a Gein-like killer holding a girl (or girls) hostage and showing them the depths of human depravity.
That’s not what happens at all.
Three on a Meathook opens with a gaggle of college girls spending the weekend at a lake (actually it opens with two people screwing, but that doesn’t matter). As they’re frolicking topless in the water, a creeper passes by in a rowboat.
On their way back, the girls break down and who should come along in his old piece of shit truck but the creeper. His name is Billy and he’s a gangly, not entirely handsome good ole boy. Seems nice enough. He offers to let the girls stay the night with him and his pa on the family farm. When they arrive, Pa doesn’t seem too happy about the guests, telling Billy “You know what happens when you get around women.” Billy promises to sleep in the shed.
Even so, the girls are butchered in the night. Pa finds them and goes to Billy, who doesn’t remember the murders. Pa promises to “take care of everything” and sends Billy into town to see a movie. After stopping by his mother’s grave and asking for her guidance (saying that if he’s killing people, he should be put away), he hits a bar and meets a lovely waitress named Sherry. After a day of bonding with Billy, Sherry promises to come out to the farm on Sunday with a friend.
When Billy tells Pa, Pa gets upset, fearing more carnage. Even so, Sherry and her friend Becky arrive on Sunday. Pa, visibly drunk, treats the girls hostilely but serves them dinner; his famous meat (he has a special way of smoking it). That night, Pa slips into Becky’s room and murders her. I knew it! The next day, while looking for her friend, Sherry goes into a locked shed and finds a bunch of women hanging from meathooks. She runs inside and finds Pa chopping up a human limb. When asked what he’s doing, he replies, “Making supper,” and attacks her. Billy appears and struggles with Pa, who knocks him down. Just as Pa is about to bring a meat cleaver down on Billy’s head, a random old woman runs in and winds up getting hit instead.
The last scene is a psychological exposition ala Psycho where a head doctor explains to Billy that while Billy was away for a summer years ago, Ma got sick with cannibalism (didn’t know that was a disease) and Pa, being the loving husband that he is, buries an empty coffin and keeps Ma locked away, feeding her human parts. Pa’s a sensitive man. His mind snaps at what he’s doing, and he convinces himself that Billy’s the killer. Doesn’t make sense, I know.
Here are my complaints:
1) I don’t know if it was the quality of the upload (I watched it on Youtube) or what, but there were a couple times the picture started rocking back and forth. What, was this thing filmed on a boat?
2) Pa sends Billy into town and mops up the mess about twenty minutes in. For the next twenty to twenty five minutes, we see Billy in town, picking up some supplies for the farm, going to see The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman, and going to a bar where there’s this long and boring sequence of a band playing seventies music (and not the good kind). It got on my nerves. I wanted to see more about Billy, Pa, and the murders, not a bunch of assholes in sequin suits. It really bogged down the movie.
3) The twist was stupid. I mean, I didn’t see it coming, but that doesn’t make it a surprise, it makes it totally random and head-scratchingly lame. “The nature of your mother’s disease is cannibalistic.” What fucking disease? What disease turns people into cannibals? What, it’s a zombie movie now? I get they were trying to rip Psycho off, but damn. Funeral Home did it better. The twist wasn’t a twist to me because it didn’t blow my mind. It made me rub my eyes in disbelief. Maybe I’m being too hard on it, but that’s how I felt, rational or not.
I suggest seeing it because it’s there, but you can skip it and be ‘ight.