The Carpenter (1988)

Posted on January 22, 2021 in 3 Oogies, Film Reviews, Genre: Horror & Monster

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The Carpenter (1988)
The Carpenter (1988)

Main cast: Wings Hauser (Edward Byrd), Lynne Adams (Alice Jarett), Pierre Lenoir (Martin Jarett), Barbara Ann Jones (Racheal), Louise-Marie Mennier (Laura Bell), and Ron Lea (Sheriff Jonah “JJ” Johnston)
Director: Daniel Wellington

The Carpenter is a bizarre horror movie that I happened to come across one fine evening while looking for shows to pass the time with. Despite every instinct of me telling me that this is a pretty bad film, there is still something about it that keeps me tuned in to the bitter end.

Basically, Alice Jarett is admitted to the hospital for a mental breakdown after her husband Martin comes home to find her having cut all his suits to pieces. I don’t believe I’m ever told why she did that, but later on, it is revealed that Martin is knocking boots with his student Laura Bell, so I have a good idea why she would do that. As in movies like this, the best way to get over an unfortunate incident in the family is to, of course, move to a new house. The house needs some renovation, so Martin hires a bunch of shifty construction workers to do the necessary work on the place.

Alice awakes one night by the sound of construction work, and upon investigating the source of the sound, discovers a rather charming fellow named Ed burning the midnight oil. She is like, okay, she’s sorry to disturb him like that, so she’s going back to sleep now. When one of the actual construction crew members decides that it’d be a good idea to sneak back in at night to rape Alice, Ed interrupts that fellow and gleefully uses a circular saw to cut off the wannabe-rapist’s arms. Thus, a romance is born.

No, really. Alice is drawn to Ed’s charming homicidal ways, probably because she’s clearly not all there in the head yet, despite what her shrink claimed. This lady spends the entire movie being in some kind of daze, barely reacting to even murder taking place in front of her, and giving me this impression that she’s probably taking twice the amount of pills stated in her prescription. Ed turns out to be a ghost—this is a horror movie, after all. He’s the ghost of the previous owner of this house, who had become so obsessed with renovating it to his exacting standards of perfection that he bankrupted himself in the process. When the repo men came to claim their dues, he happily murdered them and was sent to the death row as a result. Well, even when Alice knows of this, she’s like, whatever.

It is hard to care for a movie when the leading female character shows no believable emotion whatsoever. If anything. Alice isn’t a character as much as she is the evidence of the failure of the Canadian mental health service. Oh, sorry, this movie will like me to believe that it’s set in America, hence some of the most horrendous accents floating all around, especially from the lady that plays Alice. In fact, the movie betrays its Canadian nature by being oh-so ridiculously polite. Ed’s murderous spree is actually quite gory, but this movie doesn’t want to offend anyone, so there is no overt blood sprays or body bits even when our charming psychopath is dismembering his victim’s limbs.

However, Wings Hauser is absurdly watchable and even likable as Ed. He’s like Billy Zane—he is perfect playing charming yet insane characters that I can’t help adoring. Mr Hauser drops the old-school gentleman charm so well as his homicidal tendencies come off instead as the sweetest romantic gestures ever. Hence, while Alice isn’t emoting like a human being here, the character that is supposed to be the ghost brings on enough charisma and wicked charm to keep things interesting.

There are also absurd moments in this movie that seem almost intentional in nature. For example, Alice confesses that she had just come out of a psychiatric ward to the owner of a shop in which she hopes to find employment at. She also admits that she has zero experience whatsoever. Naturally, she gets hired, no questions asked, and I can only laugh. When the show pulls Alice’s sister abruptly out of its rear end, without even dropping any hints earlier that she even has a sister in the first place, I can only nod. At that point, the movie has become so absurd that I stop expecting anything like logic or continuity from it. I end up just watching to laugh at how ludicrous the movie is and to enjoy Mr Hauser’s performance as Ed. When Ed unzips his pants to show off a powered-up drill spinning wildly at a screaming Alice, I can only applaud because… come on, that’s the only right reaction to such a scene.

Is The Carpenter a good movie? Actually, no. But as a comedy with a most appealing leading man, it certainly nails things down in all the right spots, in all the right ways.