THE CARPENTER (1988) Reviews and overview

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‘He’s turning their dream into a nightmare!’

The Carpenter is a 1988 Canadian horror feature film directed by David Wellington from a screenplay written by Doug Taylor. The Gold-Gems production stars Pierre Lenoir, Lynne Adams, Wings Hauser, Beverly Murray and Barbara Ann Jones.



After being released from the institution she was placed in after suffering a mental breakdown, housewife Alice Jarett relocates to the country with her husband Martin, a professor. The house the couple moves into was never finished, so Martin hires a cheap construction crew to complete it.

One night, Alice is awakened by hammering in the basement, caused by a carpenter she had not seen with the rest of the crew. Unlike the other workers, this one has a pleasant demeanour and good work ethic, and while Martin is away one night, he stops another carpenter from trying to carnally assault Alice by calmly cutting the man’s arms off with a circular saw, sending the dazed Alice back to bed, and cleaning up the mess afterwards…


Reviews [click links to read more]:

“It’s a unique flick that doesn’t easily fit into most of the 80’s cliche sub-genres. And for that reason, it simply isn’t going to appeal to everybody. But if you’re like me and zombie flicks have grown stale and slashers are damn near a bore then I recommend The Carpenter. It’s a film that isn’t easily pegged…” Brutal as Hell

The Carpenter‘s low budget “straight-to-video” atmosphere is present in almost every scene, including the awkward fade-outs and a major continuity error in introducing the sister. This is counterbalanced by the fresh approach that The Carpenter takes to the usual cat-mouse relationship in American horror films. How many slasher films have a polite, protective maniac who calls ladies “ma’am”?” Canuxploitation!


“David Wellington (Orphan Black)’s direction and Doug Taylor (Splice)’s script makes sure to keep the focus on Alice and Wings as much as possible; after the fantasy dust has been cleared it comes down to a strong woman trying to rid herself of toxic elements in her life – even those from beyond the grave. Wellington isn’t particularly artful, but he keeps things moving as Taylor keeps piling body upon incredulous body (to eventual comedic effect).” Daily Dead

“Those coming in expecting a balls to the wall slasher won’t be completely satisfied, but Ned does off his victims in gruesome ways (and takes out a few rats with his nail gun). Wings Hauser is fantastic in his role, playing a goofy psychotic spouting off one-liners when dealing with his foes, but being gentle and kind towards Alice.” The Gentlemen’s Guide to Midnite Cinema


“Even though it wasn’t a blood-filled slasher flick with a ton of wicked death scenes like I originally thought it was going to be I still dug The Carpenter. I thought that it was different and just a very good movie in general.” Horror News

” …part comedy, part Lynchian absurdist nightmare, part gorefest, part low-grade soap opera, The Carpenter confidently, and nearly seamlessly, blends genres left and right in an effort that some may call haphazard, but others will appreciate for its sheer bravado and for the consistently ethereal tone it maintains throughout these numerous changes.” Trash Film Guru

The Carpenter is a surprising, low key, but effective horror film.  I hesitate to call it a horror-comedy, but the humor in the film is really well done.  Wings, in particular, gets plenty of laughs with his off-kilter line readings. What makes his performance so great is that he could have went overboard with the role, chewing the scenery like he did in Vice Squad.  Instead, he goes the other way with it, deftly underplaying the menace of the character.” The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

  • Wings Hauser … Carpenter
  • Lynne Adams … Alice Jarett
  • Pierre Lenoir … Martin Jarett
  • Barbara Jones … Rachel (as Barbara Ann Jones)
  • Louise-Marie Mennier … Laura Bell
  • Johnny Cuthbert … Roland (as Jon Cuthbert)
  • Robert Austern … Barns
  • Anthony Ulc … Landis (as Tony Ulc)
  • Bob Pot … Farnsworth
  • Richard Jutras … Mr Mort
  • Ron Lea … Sheriff J.J. Johnston
  • Beverly Murray … Crazy Woman
  • Griffith Brewer … Doctor Flanders
  • Anne Farquhar … Nurse
  • David Gow … Larry

Filming locations:

Montréal, Saint-Hilaire and Ville de Léry, Québec, Canada

Technical details:

  • Fujicolor
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
  • Audio: Dolby


The Carpenter was released on DVD by Scorpion on November 11, 2011.

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