Traumafession:: Eric D. on Three on a Meathook

We all know the cliche of the old man giving the “back in my day” rant. I never thought I’d reach the stage where I would be giving one of those rants, but its sad to think that kids don’t really care about film anymore, it doesn’t seem to effect them, so here goes…

I take pride in my love of film-I probably shouldn’t, but I do and in this crumbling, decaying wreck of a world in which we live, film helps to at least partially alleviate the general sense of doom and meaninglessness. Now when I hear people say they love film, I say “yeah? have you suffered for film?”

What I mean is; have you experienced pain and/or humiliation in service of film and used it to strengthen this love?

I have.

I had a ritual which consisted of going to the video store and browsing the shelves, sometimes for hours on end. That was my favorite thing in life. The horror section was naturally my second home and went through the entire selection several times over. I was and am obsessed with film.

I got in trouble for watching Friday the 13th Part 3 when I was a kid, aged no more than 4 or 5. My father had rented it for me and when my mom found out, she got so pissed that she actually smashed the tape right in front of me. That was an embarrassing moment; being marched into the video store, shattered VHS in hand, having to stand there while my mom screamed and cursed at the clerks for having rented it to me and apologizing for having destroyed the tape. They never did replace the tape and every time I conducted my ritual after that and seeing all the other Friday the 13th‘s present and accounted for; I felt like a friend had died.

Another time I got in trouble was when I was caught with the Regal Video VHS clam shell box of Three on a Meathook; which is a little known early entry into the backwoods slasher genre. The cover is pretty hardcore; two (why not three?) scantily clad and bloodied women being menaced by a gloved hand gripping a chain connected to a bloody hook (the blood of woman number 3 perhaps?).

Three on a Meathook is a pretty bad film, but I still enjoy it. It’s also odd as hell; in some ways it’s very much Texas Chainsaw Massacre but pre-dates Texas Chainsaw Massacre by about two years and ratchets up the gore quite a bit from its better known backwoods brother but there are long stretches of frolicking courtship scenes and inane dialogue which are inexcusable and slow it down. These scenes make it perhaps one of the most padded movies ever made. I stuck with it and toughed it out though, because I’m not a quitter.

The plot is very simple, man-child can’t get girl(s) because of bad things which happen to said girl(s) when boy meets them, only boy mysteriously can’t remember what. Or so he is told…turns out, ‘ol dad is the naughty boy who can’t keep his hands off the ladies. Did I also mention that pa is in the “meat business”? seems someone takes eating pussy a little too literally…

The special effects are pretty well done considering the budget and are fairly effective. Given the right setting and mood, the movie can weave its own dream like spell and be quite enjoyable. It’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

As is clear, since I was a wee lad I have suffered through quasi-bad as well as outright bad movies, sometimes suffering real life trauma in the process, all in the name of film. But you know what, I wouldn’t change a thing. So, you say you love film- prove it, what’s your story?

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Dr. Future
6 years ago


I am sure you knew this, but Three on a Meathook (was there ever a better title? Huh?) was done by the incomparable, fellow Louisvillian William Girdler. He started out modestly with Asylum of Satan, then Meeathook, and before long he was producing Abby, the first (and only) blaxploitation Exorcist ripoff (and must see to be believed, filmed during the famous April 3 1974 tornados in Louisville while I was there in my basement as well!), the blaxploitation film Sheba Baby with Pam Grier, a few grindhouse flicks with Leslie Neilson, as well as Leslie crazily fighting a grizzly bear in Day of the Animals (speaking of which, he filmed Grizzly with Christopher George and Andrew Prine), and the Manitou with Tony Curtis! His co-star in Meathook, Charles Kissinger, played the dreaded “Fearmonger” on our local creature feature show “Fright Night” from 1971 to 1975 (and whose glowing face gave me sleepless nights; check out his face and creepy theme music on the Internet!). If Girdler had not died in a subsequent helicopter crash, scouting locations as he had just made it big, what else could he have done? Why has this man not received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar.? At my alma mater the University of Louisville, the JB Speed Art Museum is dedicated to world class works of art, but they have a special section dedicated to Girdler, the mastermind of “Three on a Meathook”.

Girdler belongs in the Kindertrauma Hall of Fame, in my view.

Dr. Future
6 years ago

Some links:
(check out the March 13, 2016 film screening)

Three on a Meathook – the best grindhouse movie trailer ever made (with Charles Kissinger voiceover):

The Fearmonger, in all his glory:

Spookiest show theme ever played (I think also used in Teenagers from Outer Space):

BTW – I think the modern cover you show for Meathook was not originally affiliated with this 1972 movie.

Dr. Future
6 years ago

A better link to the Fearmongers theme, “Spell of the Unknown” (which he terrorized me with every Saturday night when his face grew and appeared on my TV screen, and in my childhood nightmares):