TRANSMISSIONS TO EARTH: THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1973)
By L.L. Soares
Poor Billy Townsend. He’s just a young guy who wants to find a girlfriend and have a normal life. But his Dad won’t let him.
There are low-budget films, but 1973’s THREE ON A MEATHOOK looks so low-budget at times that it looks like someone’s home movies. Despite this, it’s still able to tell a story (a quality not all horror movies today can boast) and I have to admit, it’s downright funny at times (although unintentionally so).
The movie begins like a hundred other horror movies from the 70s. Four girls go to an island for a fun weekend, and their car breaks down in the middle of the woods, and night is falling. A kid in a truck named Billy (James Pickett) happens by and tells them he can’t fix their car, but they’re welcome to come stay at his house overnight until the local garage opens up in the morning. A crack of thunder convinces the girls to take him up on his offer. Besides, he’s a cute young guy. What harm can there be in staying at his house?
When they get to Billy’s house, the boy’s father (Charles Kissinger) demands that he “get upstairs” where the man lectures his son about “You know what happens when you’re around girls!” And Billy denying it and saying it’s not true.
The girls settle into their rooms and Billy brings a blanket and a pillow out to the shed outside. And then, something awful happens. Someone kills all the girls! The sexy blonde, taking a bath, gets stabbed. The other three girls get blown away by a shotgun. The next morning, Pa yells at Billy about “Look what you done!” but Billy has no memory of doing anything. As far as he knows, he was out in the shed, sleeping peacefully. But he goes inside and sees the horrible ways the girls were murdered and he’s dumbfounded by it all.
“You go into town and get some supplies, go see a movie, and I’ll take care of things here,” Pa says, assuring poor Billy that everything is going to be all right.
Billy goes to town, where he sees THE GRADUATE (1967) and then goes to a bar where he sits alone and drinks a lot. Then we see over 10 minutes of a band called American Xpress playing cheesy 70s rock onstage with occasional quick flashes back to Billy drinking.
A waitress named Sherry (Sherry Steiner) takes pity on him and asks what’s bothering him. He won’t tell her, but it’s obvious he’s a troubled lad. When he drinks too much and almost gets hauled away to the drunk tank by the police, Sherry takes him back to her place instead. He wakes up naked and asks her if they “did it,” but she assures him they didn’t. They spend the rest of the day together, and Billy thinks he’s falling in love.
He tells her about his farm and Sherry asks if she can come visit him the following Sunday. “I’ve never been on a farm before.” Billy says yes and then goes back home.
Okay, here’s where the questions start. Billy just brought four girls home and they were killed horribly. And this girl he likes asks to come over a week later and he says “Yeah, okay!” What’s up with that? You’d think he would be terrified to bring any more girls home, especially ones he likes. Is this kid an idiot?
Pa Townshend isn’t too happy to hear there are more visitors coming, and he tries to talk Billy out of it, but Billy won’t hear of it. During the week, Billy does his chores, and sometimes Pa goes into a shed he has padlocked (Billy never goes in there). Pa also is a “good cook” according to Billy and makes some very tasty “veal” dish.
Sherry comes out to visit the following Sunday. She brings her friend Becky (Madelyn Buzzard) with her. The three of them play in the cornfield and when Sherry and Billy get some time alone, they really seem to be falling for each other. Of course, something horrible happens that night, and the “secret” of the Townsend farm is revealed.
Only someone with a single-digit I.Q. wouldn’t see where this one was going early on. It’s pretty clear who the killer is from the get-go. And his reason for killing is pretty goofy. The ending to this one will at least make you laugh out loud.
With really fake-looking gore effects and mostly bad acting (there are even a few instances where the screen just goes blank for no reason), THREE ON THE MEATHOOK has one of those great grindhouse titles that is better than the actual movie. This one was written and directed by William Girdler, who went on to make such camp classics as the demonic-possession flick, ABBY (1974), the JAWS-on-land horror rip-off GRIZZLY (1976) and the goofy movie version of Graham Masterton’s Native American spirit-possession story, THE MANITOU (1978), all of which are worthy of being reviewed for this column at some point. He even directed the great Pam Grier in 1975′s SHEBA, BABY!
THREE ON A MEATHOOK is one of those movies that is so bad, you’ll be glad you saw it. Now let’s have some of that meat Pa’s been cooking. I hear it’s very tasting stuff.
© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares