[[quoteright:349:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ToolboxMurders_4042.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:349:Beware TheBlank.]]

->''Bit by bit... by bit, he carved a nightmare!''
-->-- 1978 Tagline

->''If you lived here, you'd be dead by now.''
-->-- 2004 Tagline

'''''The Toolbox Murders''''' is a [[SlasherMovie slasher-esque]] film and VideoNasty released in 1978.

Set in California in 1967, the film follows Vance Kingsley, an apartment complex owner who, several months prior to the events of the film, lost his teenage daughter Kathy in a car wreck, a tragedy which sent him spiraling into seclusion and a deep depression, which eventually led to religious mania. Convinced that God took his daughter due to her purity, and that it is ultimately a CrapsackWorld, Vance dons a trenchcoat, leather gloves and a ski mask and embarks on a killing spree through his apartments, gruesomely murdering female tenants who he views as "unsavory" and deserving of punishment with the assorted nasty contents of a toolbox, such as a drill, hammer, screwdriver and nail gun.

Midway through his rampage, Vance becomes enamored with fifteen year-old Laurie Ballard, a reserved and studious girl who lives in an apartment with her mother Joanne, and older brother Joey. Soon enough, Vance abducts Laurie, and holds her captive in his daughter's old bedroom, which resembles a little girl's. As Vance grows increasingly psychotic, and comes to believe Laurie really is his dead daughter, Joey begins to search for his sister, after the police prove unreliable in both their investigation of the murders, and Laurie's disappearance. Helping Joey out is Vance's somewhat odd nephew, Kent, who has been hired by his uncle to help with all the repairs and clean up needed around the apartments in the aftermath of Vance's nightly forays.

The film had a remake, simply titled ''Toolbox Murders'' and directed by Creator/TobeHooper of ''Film/TheTexasChainSawMassacre1974'' fame, in 2004. Besides being set in an apartment complex and having an antagonist who kills with the contents of a toolbox, it was largely InNameOnly, and went as far as featuring supernatural elements. After simmering in DevelopmentHell for several years a sequel entitled ''Coffin Baby'' was released in 2013..

As a point of trivia, Creator/StephenKing has mentioned the original is one of his favorite horror films.

!! The original film provides examples of the following tropes:

* AfraidOfBlood: Vance claims to be when he first introduces himself to Detective Jamison.
* AlliterativeName: Kent and Kathy Kingsley, and Dee Ann [=DeVore=].
* AmateurSleuth: Joey.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Deborah.
* BabiesEverAfter: The epilogue mentions Laurie married, settled down in San Fernando Valley, and had one child in 1975.
* BadassLongcoat: Vance.
* TheBartender: Al.
* BasedOnAGreatBigLie: The film claims to be based on a true story, but probably isn't.
* BathKick: Done by Dee Ann.
* [[ShowerScene Bath Scene]]
* BerserkButton: Kent making Kathy out to be a slut drives Vance completely AxCrazy.
* BoomHeadshot: How Vance finishes Dee Ann off.
* BoundAndGagged: Laurie.
* BloodbathVillainOrigin: In the span of a few minutes, Vance commits a gory triple homicide.
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: The initial victims; Mrs. Andrews and Deborah are blond, Maria is brunette, and Dee Ann is the redhead.
* [[BloodSpatteredInnocents Blood Spattered Innocent]]: Maria getting covered in Deborah's blood, right before she's attacked.
* {{Bloody Handprint}}s: Mrs. Andrews leaves them all over the place after being drilled in the arm.
* BreakTheCutie: The epilogue states that due to the events of the film, Laurie spent at least three years in a mental institution.
* BuryYourGays: If Deborah actually was a lesbian.
* CatScare: Some dark clothing hanging in the shower, behind a translucent curtain, plus an actual cat yowling and hopping out as Joey and Kent stop by Vance's garage.
* CaughtWithYourPantsDown: In the film's most infamous sequence, Vance walks in on Dee Ann masturbating in the tub.
* ChaseScene: Vance going after the naked Dee Ann in her apartment.
* ChekhovsGun: Kent stabs Vance with the knife he had earlier used to make a sandwich, while Laurie kills Kent with the pair of scissors he used to cut her bonds.
* TheCoroner: He has the responsibility of plucking the nails deeply embedded in Dee Ann out.
* CreepyBasement: Garage, actually.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: Well, it is called ''The Toolbox Murders''.
* DaylightHorror: Joey and Vance's deaths.
* DeadlyDistantFinale: The epilogue mentions Joanne died in a car accident in 1974.
* DeadPersonImpersonation: Laurie tries to manipulate Vance by pretending to be Kathy, but it doesn't really do any good.
* DeathByFallingOver: The death of Vance's daughter, Kathy. She apparently crashed her car, but from what we're shown, it just looks like she fell out of a stationary one and cracked her head on the pavement.
* DeathBySex: If masturbation and rape count, Dee Ann and Kent.
* DramaticPause: Used in the tagline, for some reason.
* DropTheHammer: Deborah's death.
* [[AxeBeforeEntering Drill Before Entering]]
* EurekaMoment: Joey concludes Vance is the killer when he realizes he would know the area, the habits of the tenants, and would have no trouble getting inside their apartments.
* EvilVsEvil: By the end, Vance and Kent turn on each other. Kent wins, stabbing Vance in the gut.
* FanService: We see Deborah's breasts, and Dee Ann masturbating.
** FanDisservice: Dee Ann is still naked when Vance attacks her.
* FinalGirl: Laurie.
* FlashbackEcho: Used to show the ways Dee Ann's death mirrors Kathy's.
* FlashbackEffects: Flashbacks to Kathy's death are tinted piss yellow.
* FlowerInHerHair: Vance sticks one in Laurie's.
* FollowTheLeader: Producer Tony [=DiDio=] actually admitted the film was only made due to the success of ''The Texas Chain Saw Massacre''.
* FreudianExcuse: Kathy dying drove Vance to insanity and religious mania.
* {{Giallo}}: The film seems somewhat inspired by these, going as far as having Vance wear black leather gloves during his murders.
* {{Gorn}}
* GrievousBottleyHarm: Mrs. Andrews tries defending herself with a broken bottle, but Vance easily disarms her.
* GroinAttack: Vance gets a knee to the crotch, courtesy of Maria.
* GoryDiscretionShot
* HalfwayPlotSwitch: It starts off slasher-esque, then becomes a thriller and character study of sorts, showcasing Vance's mental decline while Joey searches for him.
* HopeSpot: Kent sneaks into Vance's yard, looks in the window of the room where Kathy is being held, but seemingly fails to spot her. It eventually turns out he knew what Vance was doing, anyway.
* ImprobableWeaponUser: Vance.
* ImprovisedWeapon: Laurie stabs Kent to death with a pair of scissors.
* {{Jerkass}}: Detective Jamison.
* KissingCousins: Kent and Kathy, who apparently had sex whenever the chance to arose.
* LadyDrunk: Mrs. Andrews, and probably Joanne.
* LargeHam: Vance.
* UsefulNotes/LosAngeles
* MalevolentMaskedMen
* ManOnFire: Joey's death.
* MenacingStroll
* MissingWhiteWomanSyndrome: Averted. The police don't initially suspect Laurie was kidnapped, or that her disappearance really had anything to do with the murders.
* MonsterMisogyny
* MotiveRant: Vance explains to Laurie that he views the women he murders as filthy degenerates who deserve punishment for their transgressions, also telling her that he is ultimately making the world a better place by killing them.
* MsFanservice: Dee Ann.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: While generic radio music plays over most of the murders, a creepy suspenseful score is used for several completely mundane scenes.
* NailEm: Dee Ann's death.
* NothingIsScarier: Laurie getting raped, and Kent being killed with the scissors.
* NotNowKiddo: Detective Jamison doesn't bother to listen to Joey's theories about the killer.
* PoliceAreUseless: They asks questions, act somewhat {{Jerkass}}y, and that's about it.
* PornStache: The coroner.
* PornStash: Deborah has a large number of pornographic magazines... which appear to only feature naked women.
* PsychopathicManchild: Vance.
* RapeAsDrama: After killing Vance, Kent rapes Laurie.
* ReactionShot
* ReallyGetsAround: Dee Ann, it's implied.
* ReplacementGoldfish: Vance abducts and holds Laurie captive because she reminds him of Kathy.
* TheReveal: Kent has seemingly known all along what Vance has been up to, and had an incestous relationship with Kathy.
* TheScourgeOfGod
* SerialKiller: Vance is the mission-oriented kind, as his above MotiveRant reveals.
* ShirtlessScene: Kent gets one, after raping Laurie.
* SinisterMinister: Vance listens to a ranty, fire, brimstone and damnation-type on his car radio in the opening.
* TheSixties: While the film was made in TheSeventies, the epilogue reveals it actually took place in 1967.
* SoundtrackDissonance: Used for the first four deaths.
* TapOnTheHead: Vance is quite adept at knocking people out with a single blow.
* ThisIsADrill: Mrs. Andrews's death.
* TokenMinority: Maria, and the elderly black couple who discover the bodies of the first three victims.
* TooDumbToLive: None of the victims really put up any kind of struggle, try to escape, or even scream too much.
* TrailersAlwaysLie: It mentions victims not actually featured in the film.
* VaderBreath
* VideoNasty: The film was probably labeled one due solely to the title and Dee Ann's death.
* VillainousBreakdown: As the film progresses, Vance grows increasingly unstable, eventually coming to believe Laurie really is his dead daughter.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: "When all the evil is gone, all that's left is good."
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: They set something up between Joanne and Detective Jamison, but it doesn't go anywhere.
* WhatTheHellIsThatAccent: Kent.
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: It shows what happened to Laurie and Joanne.

!! The remake provides examples of the following tropes:

* AbandonedArea: Segments of the building.
* AlienGeometries: Possibly. According to Johnny, the building's design (at least the in regards to the secret portion of it) is somewhat impossible, or just really {{Mind Screw}}y.
* AllThereInTheManual: According to a DeletedScene, Chas is a spirit of some kind. [[VoodooShark Even more questions]].
* AmateurSleuth: Nell.
* AmbiguouslyJewish: The Sterlings.
* AwesomeMcCoolName: Daisy Rain.
* BadassLongcoat: Coffin Baby.
* BandagedFace: Coffin Baby.
* BastardBoyfriend: Hans.
* [[BitchInSheepsClothing Bastard In Sheep's Clothing]]: Byron.
* BlackMagic
* BlindingBangs: Ned.
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: The first three victims (Daisy, Saffron and Julia).
* [[ChainsawGood Buzzsaw Good]]: Ned's death.
* CassandraTruth: Nell, due to several 911 calls that turned out to be nothing early on.
* CatScare: Innumerable.
* CaughtWithYourPantsDown: Close call with Austin.
* TheCavalry: After discovering Coffin Baby is not dead, Officers Stone and Clark track him down and burst into Nell's apartment JustInTime to shoot him out the window.
* ChaseScene: The last third or so is just one long one.
* ChekhovsGun: The runes Nell draws on her arms.
* ChewingTheScenery: Byron, when Coffin Baby stabs him in the back with a pair of bolt cutters.
* TheChosenOne: Nell, at least according to Chas.
* ClusterFBomb
* CreatorCameo: Writer Adam Gierasch plays Ned.
* CreepyBasement
* CrustyCaretaker: Ned.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath
* {{Cult}}: The Talman Lunar Cult, which building founder Jack Lusman was associated with.
* CurtainCamouflage: Right before Julia's death.
* CutPhoneLines: Coffin Baby possibly unintentionally severs them while attacking Ned.
* DangerousWindows: Coffin Baby somehow comes crashing through a multi-story one.
* DeathByCameo: Sheri Moon Zombie's character Daisy.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters
* DivorcedInstallment: The follow-up ''TBK: The Toolbox Murders 2'' morphed into one titled ''Coffin Baby''.
* DramaticThunder: At the very beginning.
* DramaticUnmask: Coffin Baby pulls off his ski mask, revealing his fucked up, [[Franchise/{{Hellraiser}} Cenobite]]-like mug.
* DropTheHammer: Daisy's death.
* DutchAngle
* EnemyRisingBehind: Right before Saffron's death. So subtle you probably won't notice it at first.
* {{Expy}}: Coffin Baby kinda looks like a live-action version of the [[Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles Rat King]].
* EveryoneIsASuspect: Ned being the most obvious RedHerring.
* EvilElevator: It's kind of a piece of crap, and crushes Hudson's body when Nell heads to the top floor after Coffin Baby drags him through the maintenance hatch.
* [[EvilPhone Evil Telecom]][=/=][[HarassingPhoneCall Harassing Telecom Call]]: On random occasions, they make weird noises.
* EyesOpen: Despite being pumped full of nails, Saffron turns out to be somehow still alive... for a little while, at least.
* FacialHorror: Luis getting his face melted off with lye.
* FanServiceWithASmile: Daisy, presumably.
* FetusTerrible: Coffin Baby's origin.
* FinalGirl: Nell.
* FingerlessGloves: Coffin Baby.
* {{Fingore}}, ImpaledPalm: Coffin Baby ''really'' went to work on Saffron with that nail gun. Later, Luis gets a much bigger nail through the hand.
* {{Flashback}}: Nell has one to her father's funeral.
* FormerlyFat: Julia.
* GenkiGirl: Saffron.
* {{Giallo}}: Like the original, the film seems to take some inspiration from them.
* GirlyRun: Nell in one scene, where she's going down a hall.
* GirlishPigtails: Julia sports them twice.
* GirlOnGirlIsHot: Oddly averted. Austin is {{squick}}ed when Nell asks to see his secret recordings of Julia.
--> "No fucking way! That's just freaky!"
* GirlsLoveStuffedAnimals: Julia has a little seal.
* {{Gorn}}
* [[HalfTheManHeUsedToBe Half The Woman She Used To Be]]: A female corpse that is completely split in half is found in Coffin Baby's lair.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Literally. Coffin Baby falls from a window after being shot and is seen hanging from the cord he tried to strangle Nell with. [[spoiler: And then it's implied that he survived]].
* HollywoodAcid: Used to melt Luis's face off.
* HooksAndCrooks: Throughout Coffin Baby's lair.
* HorrorHunger: Coffin Baby possibly needs blood to survive.
* ImplacableMan: Coffin Baby.
* ImprobableAimingSkills: Unlike in the original, Coffin Baby doesn't have the excuse of using that nail gun at close range.
* ImprobableWeaponUser
* ImprovisedWeapon: Daisy tries to fight Coffin Baby off with a pair of scissors, but he easily knocks them from her grasp.
* IWasQuiteTheLooker: Chas.
* KarmaHoudini: Saffron's BastardBoyfriend Hans survives.
* LargeHam: Johnny.
* LingerieScene
* UsefulNotes/LosAngeles
* {{Magitek}}: The leader of the Talman Lunar Cult experimented with it.
* MalevolentMaskedMen: Outside of it being a MythologyGag, Coffin Baby has discernable reason for wearing that ski mask.
* TheManTheyCouldntHang: Coffin Baby is shot out a window, and is hung by a lamp cord that got wrapped around his neck while struggling with Nell. He proceeds to nonchalantly free himself.
* {{Meganekko}}: Whenever Nell wears her glasses, it's ''[[{{Moe}} very]]'' cute.
* MindScrew: More and more questions are raised as the film progresses.
* MirrorScare: It looks like they're setting this up, only for Coffin Baby to come crashing through a window instead.
* [[MissingFloor Missing Rooms]]: All apartments ending with the number four.
* MrExposition: Chas and Johnny.
* MythologyGag
* NailEm: Saffron gets attacked with a nail gun, and is even nailed to the ceiling with it.
* NeckLift: Done to Steve.
* NeckSnap: Hudson's death.
* NewAgeRetroHippie: Saffron.
* NiceGuy: Luis.
* OffscreenTeleportation
* OffTheShelfFX: Most of the tools belonged to Creator/TobeHooper.
* OffWithHisHead: Ned's death, partially.
* OnlyAFleshWound: Steve getting stabbed with a chisel.
* PeekABooCorpse: Coffin Baby's lair is overflowing with bodies.
* PunnyName: It ''might'' just be a coincidence that Ned Lundy sounds like [[SerialKiller Ted Bundy]].
* ReactionShot
* RedEyesTakeWarning: Coffin Baby.
* TheRemake
* RightThroughTheWall: "Jesus, these walls are cardboard."
* RoomFullOfCrazy: One of Coffin Baby's secret rooms is plastered with old newspapers, and even includes false windows showcasing images of Hollywood circa the 1930's.
* SaltAndPepper: Officers Stone and Jacobs.
* SavedFromDevelopmentHell: The sequel, which was in it for several years.
* SequelHook: Along with Coffin Baby escaping, a lot is left frustratingly vague and unexplained.
* [[SinisterScrapingSound Sinister Hammering Sound]]
* SlashedThroat: With a claw hammer, no less.
* SnuffFilm: Turns out Austin unknowingly recorded Julia's death via her hacked webcam.
* StrappedToAnOperatingTable: Happens to Nell.
* ThisIsADrill: Julia's death.
* ThousandYardStare: Ned.
* TongueTrauma: Along with taking her teeth, it looks like Coffin Baby also removed Saffron's tongue.
* TortureCellar: Coffin Baby has a pretty creepy one.
* {{Trapdoor}}: Turns out an entrance to Coffin Baby's lair is one on the roof.
* TurnOfTheMillennium
* TheUnintelligible: Coffin Baby, who only lets out pained-sounding moans and yells.
* TheUndead: According to Chas, Coffin Baby was literally born dead, clawing his way out of his buried (hence the name) mother's womb.
* VomitIndiscretionShot: Byron, when some of Coffin Baby's old victims are found.
* WeWereRehearsingAPlay: They actually were.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Daisy is never brought up after her death, which occurs in the opening.
* WrenchWhack: Attempted by Coffin Baby, but he's warded off by the runes Nell had drawn on her arms, to remember what they looked like.
* YouHaveGotToBeKiddingMe: Said by Hudson, when the elevator goes crazy with him inside.

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