Meanwhile, Billy tries in vain to convince Paw to be civil. His efforts fail to sober Paw. The babes return for dinner and seat themselves at the dining room table. Paw arrives with the food, practically throwing the meal at the girls. Sherry tries to remain conversational. "Sure smells good, Mr. Townsend." Paw glares at the girls and then promptly ignores them. The group dines quietly. "Delicious meal, Mr. Townsend. I don't know if I've ever tasted meat like this before," comments Sherry. "It's veal," hisses Paw. Billy tries to use the compliment to soothe his father. "Paw has a special recipe."
Once dinner is over, Becky retires to her bedroom, leaving Billy and Sherry alone in the process. The two draw close and join in a long passionate kiss. They tumble onto the sofa while making-out furiously (and somewhat clumsily). The squirming couple dry-hump on the couch for what feels like an eternity. It's all so unsexy that as a viewer, you'd really prefer to give them their privacy.
Eventually we cut to a sleeping Becky nestled comfortably in the upstairs bedroom. Incidentally, Paw did an amazing job of mopping up the blood from two bullet-riddled bodies killed 72 hours or so before Becky arrived. Someone ominous enters the bedroom carrying a pickaxe. The axe is raised above Becky's unconscious body. Pain animates her body as the axe pierces through her mid-section. Blood spurts from her mouth. We see Paw smile as her body sinks into the bed. He frees the axe from Becky's corpse with an unforgettably slurpy "FfffWttt" sound.
Come sunrise, Sherry is up and about looking for her friend. Again, Paw's clean-up skills deserve special mention. She corners Paw downstairs and asks him if he has seen Becky. He tells her that Becky left a few hours earlier, but Sherry doesn't buy his story. She exits the house and starts scouring the surrounding farm.
After prowling through a veritable labyrinth of disheveled barns, Sherry finds Paw's smokehouse to be unlocked. She enters pensively. The three bloody female forms hanging from the ceiling by meathooks seize Sherry's attention. We see quick shots of what remains of Billy's other recent houseguests, and we get to view an impaled Becky for good measure. An additional severed head is propped up in a nearby loft. Sherry screams in terror and flees the gore-ridden site.
Panicked and near hysterical, she returns to the main house. She enters through the kitchen and walks in on Paw just as he hacks at a human leg with a razor-sharp meat cleaver (4). Her body grows rigid with fear. "W-What … are … you … doing?" she stutters. Blankly, Paw replies, "Fixin' dinner." He suddenly realizes what he just admitted aloud. His face twists with rage and he raises the cleaver. With a maniacal glint in his eyes, he slowly closes in on Sherry. She backs herself into a corner while mumbling, "No, Mr. Townsend."
Just as Paw lunges to carve up the frightened young nudist, Billy arrives to save the day. He heroically wrestles Paw for the cleaver. This could be construed as repayment for Sherry's pant-piss cleaning, but Billy fails to win the battle for Sherry's life. Paw knocks Billy to the floor during their struggle. He again turns his attention to slicing Sherry. Helpless, Billy cries out, "NO, PAW!" when the blood-thirsty man raises the weapon. As the cleaver descends, a grizzled old woman appears from nowhere (the basement?) and throws herself between Paw and Sherry. The woman receives the blade in her back. "Mawma?" Billy calls out. The cleaver falls from Paw's frozen hand, landing on the floor with a loud clink. Paw looks at Billy with despair in his eyes. "What have you done? What have you done?" he repeats to Billy. Sherry weeps softly as Billy cradles Maw's lifeless body.
Fastforward to sometime after Maw's death. We see Billy and Sherry seated in an office while engaged in a discussion with a professional shrink figure. He offers us an authoritative explanation of Three on a Meathook's plot. Honestly, the events described to Billy and Sherry are so convoluted they almost sound as if they occurred in an entirely different movie. There's a certain "tell, not show" quality to the proceeding dialogue that is very reminiscent of Glen or Glenda's inanity.
"Well, I hardly know where to begin," begins the shrink. "I do know we must not blame this man. Billy, your father was motivated by love for your mother. But your mother was ill. Terribly ill. And when he learned that the nature of her illness was cannibalistic -- well -- he should have had her institutionalized. Instead, he thought only of protecting her; of keeping everyone from knowing the nature of her illness. Especially you, Billy."
Billy cuts in. "That was always strange, doctor. Maw died while I was up in Ohio on my uncle's farm. I came back and she was gone. I wondered why Paw buried her so soon after she died. He said I was too young... and she'd been mutilated, so he buried her himself."(5) The doctor corrects Billy. "Your father buried an empty coffin. He put a marker up and he walked away from that grave knowing that to the world your mother was dead. And in a way she was dead. Because she'd ceased to exist as a rational woman. He hid her in the house and cared for her as he would a child. And it was successful. Until the demands of her cannibalistic nature needed to be satisfied. Then he became an executioner for her. Strangely … killing himself a little bit each time. Your father was a sensitive man .. basically good. And when what he was doing became intolerable, his mind snapped."
Billy asks, "Doctor, what about all those terrible things I remember doing as a boy?" The doctor assures him, "You didn't do those things, Billy. Your father simply kept telling you you did until you believed him. You see, he wasn't rational until after the act, then his mind closed out all memory of what he had done. You see, he had to believe you had done it, and then he had to protect you. If it's any consolation to you, your father's worries are over. He'll be committed and cared for the rest of his life … never knowing what he had done." Sherry offers Billy a supportive glance. Billy nods his head as an indication that he understands everything the doctor just explained.
The last thing we see is a close-up of Paw's forlorn face. His mouth is closed, but we hear the voice of Paw just as it rings in his own head. "She's gone, Billy. Your Maw's gone. I'm sorry you're so young, son. And you only had her such a little while. But we're gonna remember her. We're gonna be the kind of men she always wanted us to be. Aren't we son? You know … it's funny. I loved her so. And I never got to say goodbye."
The camera pulls back to reveal a silhouette of prison bars on the wall behind Paw.
(4) The severed leg that Charles Kissinger is dicing up was constructed by Joe Schulten. He was proud of that leg. With good reason.
(5) It's impossible for Paw to have buried Maw himself with a makeshift marker. We saw Billy visit Maw's grave earlier in the film, and it was in a public cemetery.