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Film

Drive-in theater!

The finer points of "Nail Gun Massacre" and "Header"

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Published 4/14/2010

Nail Gun Massacre is the Holy Grail of bad-but-awesome slasher flicks. It's a masterpiece so profoundly inept that it defies comparison — even to 1978's The Toolbox Murders! Writer-director Terry Lofton most likely thought the same back in '85, because he made NGM with love, blind ambition and nary a lick of innate cinematic skill. What started as a winning idea of combining power-tools, blood and titties ended up, over time, a so-fetid-it's-great cinematic gem. Battlefield Earth and Glitter ain't got a thing on this baby.

With winks to I Spit on Your Grave, the plot of NGM involves a Texas woman raped by construction workers and a mysterious killer who seeks revenge with the old frightful nail gun. The rape revenge quickly fades as the film morphs into an occasionally dull but sometimes hilarious series of continuity errors, horrendous acting and stupefying subplots that lead nowhere. From the ridiculous villain — complete with a synthesized Darth Vader voice — to the nail gun that's obviously shooting blanks, this movie has it all ... done incredibly wrong, proof that cult films aren't made, they're born.

If power tools blow your skirt up, then Header just might just change the way you view The DIY Network. Set in the backwoods of West Virginia, this hillbilly-flavored yarn charts the paths of two dudes — an ATF agent and an ex-con. A sickly girlfriend and mounting prescription bills force Agent Cummings to traffic narcotics to make ends meet. He's also investigating a series of bizarre and violent murders, which entangles his life with ex-con Travis Clyde Tuckton. Travis is a sociopath recently freed from prison who skips parole and returns home to live with Grandpappy. Grandpappy is a snaggletoothed old coot who mentors Travis about country life, family feuds and a particular type of unspeakable revenge maneuver that's best saved for ultimate enemies, called a "header." And, oh, boy, is it a doozy.

So what's a header? Let's just say it's obvious first-time director Archibald Flancranstin knew that Header was going to be a wet dream for cult-film fans because it's perverse and revolting beyond belief. And, on paper, Header has all the cred it needs — low-budget, shot on high-def video, based on a story by horror author Edward Lee. So don't laugh when you should be recoiling and cringing. Luckily, there are plenty of cringe-worthy moments herein. —Paul Knoll

Nail Gun Massacre and Header play exclusively at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 15, at the Burton Theatre (3420 Cass Ave., Detroit, 313- 473-9238; burtontheatre.com) as part of its weekly 42nd Street Drive-In Theater series on Thursdays.

Paul Knoll is proud to be a B-movie critic. Send comments to pknoll@metrotimes.com.

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