Long ago, an adulterous couple was beaten to death by someone weilding a sledgehammer while one of the victm’s 8 year-old son watched. Ten years later, a bunch of stupid college kids decide that the farmhouse would be a great place to throw a party. Great idea! After a lot of filler, including a length foodfight, one of the partiers tells the story of the murder and then suggests holding a seance so that they can talk to “ghosts and goblins.” Everyone agrees. At first, it seems like the seance is just an extended practical joke but soon, a killer with a sledgehammer shows up.
Sledgehammer was an early direct-to-video slasher film. It was directed by David A. Prior, who later went on to become one of the buseist DTV directors of the 80s and 90s. Starring in the film was Ted Prior, brother of David. Ted plays Chuck, who is not sure whether or not he wants to marry his fiancee, Joni (Linda McGill). There’s a scene where Chuck and Joni walk through a fied in slow motion. It adds nothing to the plot but it did add to the running time, which I imagine was the intent. There are, in fact, several slow motion sequences in the film. There’s so much slow motion that it’s hard not to laugh whenever the frames start to slow down. It’s an 87 minute film but it feels like at least 20 minutes of that is due to the slow motion.
Sledgehammer is slow and dumb but it’s hard to really dislike it. The cast may be amateurish but they also appear to be having a good time and the decision to film almost the entire movie in what was then David Prior’s apartment is actually likable in a low-rent, anyone-can-make-a-movie way. The opening credits are written in generic 80s computer font and the movie ends with a lengthy “You have been watching” style montage of the cast. It’s like bad 80s synthesizer music, cheesy but impossible to hate. As for the killer, he’s stuck wearing a cheap mask but the sledgehammer is a good weapon and it actually makes him more threatening than many of his knife and axe wielding comrades.
Sledgehammer is not great. It’s not even the best thing from the 80s to be called Sledgehammer. (David Rasche rules!) But it’s better than many other direct-to-video slashers. What it lacks in creativity, it maes up for with ethusiasm.