Three on a Meathook opens with a pan of the Louisville skyline backed with sweet, sexy sax music. The camera zooms in on a motel room window. We see a young nude blond woman in bed with an older man (played by Hugh Smith of Zebra Killer fame). Debbie sits up and says to her lover, "I've got to get to class." The man replies, "Honey, you're already there!" Unimpressed, she begins to put her clothes back on. The man (presumably her teacher) asks when he'll see her again. She informs him that she made plans to visit a lake with a group of girlfriends. "You can do without me for a few days" she teases. The slightly miffed man mumbles, "That's true." She turns sour. "I don't like the way you said that." He rises from the bed and embraces Debbie. The lovers kiss.
Next, we see Debbie and her three gal pals preparing for their "girls only" day on the lake. The idle conversation reverts to the men in their lives. "I once knew a guy whose aftershave was so strong he'd turn himself on!" says one coy lass. Debbie replies, "Men. You know, they're all the same when you strip away the shoulder pads, jock straps, hair pieces, and corsets (!?!)." The ladies hop into a speedboat and head out to a secluded nook. They undress and dive naked into the lake. The girls swirl around in the water, their teenaged breasts bouncing and splashing in the lake. They swim and splish the afternoon away. Little do they know that nearby, a denim-clad Billy Townsend (James Pickett) leers at the merry skinny-dippers from his rowboat.
Twilight approaches. The girls gather their things and head for their car. Billy is seen with fishing rod in tow, still leering.
The film cuts to black. Chirping crickets signal that it is now nighttime. "Are we out of gas?" asks one of the babes. "Shit, what are we gonna do? " Debbie swears that they have plenty of fuel and proceeds to check under the hood. "Looks the same," she says as she peers at the engine. "How did you expect it to look?" asks another girl. "I don't know, I thought maybe it changed colors!"
The chickies congregate near their car. "We should start walking. We'll be fine if we stick together." Just as they motion to leave the car, a silent pickup truck approaches them (1). Billy steps out and offers his assistance. The ladies accept. He checks under the hood, but he seems just as baffled as Debbie had. He turns to them and says, "Well, I reckon you could stay with me and paw." The girls perk up. "Would your dad mind?" Billy assures them his dad will accept them as guests. "How about your mother?" the girls ask. Billy looks away. "She died a long time ago. We could come get the car first thing in the morning. Are you coming?"
The girls hesitate for a nanosecond, then proceed to jump into Billy's truck. They drive off quietly into the darkness. They soon arrive at an old farmhouse. "It looks spooky," comments one girl. Billy escorts the ladies into the house. They are greeted by his very grouchy father (Charles Kissinger, whom I will refer to as 'Paw'). "Billy, I want to talk to you," says the scowling Paw. Billy directs the young women into a nearby kitchen, then skulks away with his father. "I don't think the old man is too happy about us being here," says one lass. "Now THAT'S an understatement," answers Debbie.
Billy and Paw discuss the situation privately. "Get those girls out of here and get them out now!" barks Paw. "Those are the first women that have been in this house since your maw died. And I ain't having no trash in 'yer Maw's home." Billy cuts his father off. "They ain't trash, Paw!"
Paw is infuriated. "Oh, you know all about them, huh? You don't even know their names. Now 'gettem out of here!" Billy tries to remain even-tempered. "Look, Paw … why don't you just go on to bed or something. I promise to get them out of here first thing in the morning. I'm not taking 'em back out on that road this time of night." Paw remains stern, "Billy, I don't want to be unreasonable. But you know what happens to you when you get around women and it must never happen again!" Billy breathes in deeply. "It ain't gonna happen, Paw. I'm gonna go fix 'em something to eat, and then I'll show 'em to their rooms." Billy ends the discussion by leaving for the kitchen. Paw is fuming.
Billy rejoins the girls and cooks dinner for them. "I think you'll like this meat of Paw's" he assures them. "Is everything alright with your father?" asks one concerned chickadee. "Everything's fine," replies Billy, "so, uh, what are all your names?" Debbie pipes up, "I'm Debbie, this is Christine, Bobby, and Carla." (Note: this is actually the first time the viewer hears their names.) Billy smiles warmly, "I'm Billy. Billy Townsend."
The girls laugh, flirt, and have a grand ol' time with Billy in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Paw nurses a bottle of whiskey upstairs in his bed. He snarls at their audible giggles.
"We sure are lucky you stopped by tonight, Billy," remarks one babe, "and this food is really good." Billy nods in agreement. "Glad you like it. Paw has a special way of smokin' it. I hear it's the only meat like it in these parts." The ladies finish stuffing themselves with Paw's famous leftovers, and Billy takes them to their rooms. He informs them that he plans to sleep outside in the barn. He grabs a shirt from his closet and leaves. The girls prepare for bed. Debbie stares out the bedroom window with dread in her eyes. "There's something wrong with this house," she mutters aloud.
As the ladies curl up for a night's rest, Debbie decides to take a bath. (One can only imagine how pickled her skin would be by this point, considering she spent nearly the entire day submerged in water.) She sinks into the bathtub and closes her eyes.
We cut to a shot of someone's feet creeping up the stairs. Then we see Debbie lounging in her bathwater. We see the stairs again … then sudsy Debbie. More stairs. More naked wet Debbie. The feet arrive in the second-floor hallway; we get another shot of soggy Debbie. Something catches her attention and her body grows tense. Before she can react, a knife plunges into her waterlogged flesh. The bathwater turns pink.
The viewer is treated to another shot of someone creeping up the stairs. This time, we cut from maniacal feet to a scene of the sleeping girls. More stairs. More sleeping chicks. We again see someone's feet reach the hallway. Yet still the babes slumber peacefully. The bedroom door creaks open, and the attacker immediately shoots one of the sleeping gals. Another lass springs from her bed at the sound of gunfire. As she spots the attacker, she receives a shotgun blast to her stomach which sends her flying back onto her bed. The sole surviving girl screams when she sees the bloody body. She scrambles to her feet and rushes down the stairs via an alternate doorway.
The girl reaches the front door but finds it locked. She locates a telephone and begins to dial. She spots the killer nearby. She throws down the phone and flees to the safety of the basement. Everything goes quiet. She looks around nervously into the blackness. He body relaxes after several long seconds of tense silence. Suddenly, her eyes grow wide with fear. Her single cry is cut short. A small hatchet bears down on her neck, decapitating her with one swift blow. The headless body falls to the floor with a sickening thud.
(1) According to Lois Haynie, the truck used in the film broke down the night they shot the "rescue" scene. For continuity's sake, they couldn't use another truck. So Bill strapped spotlights to the front of the pickup to simulate headlights, then PUSHED the truck for the nighttime scenes.