★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Ah yes…Grindhouse, the greasy-grimy genealogy of yesteryear. Can’t beat it. Can’t replicate it. 1972’s Three on a Meathook certainly is the pure embodiment of grime, grease, gross-out, grody, and grim gore. The known number of copies and quality of said copies is fairly mysterious. This $20,000 production shows both its age and wear and tear in 2018. Thank god there’s streaming available and a couple swap meets out there to serve up your VHS-related Grindhouse needs.
Three on a Meathook is a fairly simple story involving a bucolic farm, farmer, and farmer’s son (Billy). The farmer’s wife has inexplicably passed away and is no longer on the scene. Billy, a strapping young lad, does what he can to help out his father, all the while grieving for his mother. After completing his chores and watching his father slip in to an alcoholic stupor, Billy heads in to the nearby town for a couple beers and some seriously tight rock-n-roll provided by the spectacular American Xpress (peep the groovy musical interlude below). As the schmaltzy sounds of Xpress are cranked up, Billy serendipitously encounters three ladies out for a weekend jaunt. After more beers and more Xpress, Billy convinces the ladies to head on back to his farmhouse and get an insider’s take on rural Kentucky. What’s so weird about that? Uh…nothing, right?
After some strange interaction with Billy’s farmer dad, the film starts to really get down. Chop-chop. Bad acting. Silly special effects. Lots of ketchup. Strange film angles. Other grainy peculiarities all take center stage as a low rent precursor to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Farmer dad convinces Billy that all these fine ladies – and others – died at the hand of…Billy himself. As the films begins to wind down, the strangest of all strange endings begins to rapidly evolve in a punch line-type fashion. Farmer dad falsely convinces Billy that, indeed, it wasn’t Billy that gave the ol’ chop-chop to the ladies, it was him! Further, in a rather disturbing climax, it’s discovered that Billy’s mom is very much alive and she sadly has a taste for human flesh – AKA the ladies that farmer dad hacked and slashed. Three on a Meathook is grindhouse to its very core.