31 Days of Halloween Day 20 – TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (’74)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 20

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (directed by Tobe Hooper, 1974) If I could be part of any horror film in the history of cinema, I would choose Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I feel that TCM is the pinnacle of terror cinema. The film is non-stop, nerve-grinding screaming, yelling, and brutality. You can have all of the torture porn like Saw and Hostel you want. I will take the dirty, stinking Texas summer heat of this Tobe Hooper classic. Leatherface is a man who wears other people’s faces after he hangs them on a hook and butchers them. What is more terrifying than that? Five young adults are traveling through Texas to return to a childhood home. Along the way, they run into an assortment of characters that should have set off one hundred warning bells to get the hell out of there, but they carry on for lack of better judgement. They arrive at the destination, and splinter off into a couple groups. At various points, everyone one of them stumbles upon the Sawyer residence, a creepy farm house. It is here that they meet their premature demise. It turns out that the Sawyers are cannibalistic psychopaths. There are scenes in this film that still wear on my psyche, even though I know what is coming. Every time a victim is hung from a meat hook, I get a sick feeling. Marilyn Burns (Sally Hardesty) does an inspiring job as the terrified lone survivor. After reading trivia about TCM, it seems like the actual production of the movie was far more horrifying than the film itself. The filming was done over twenty some odd days during one of the hottest Texas summers in history. Sounds like guerrilla style film making at it’s finest. Edwin Neil, who starred as Hitchhiker, claimed that filming the movie was worse than his service in Vietnam. That sounds intense, but whatever happened during production aside, these actors were part of something special. Gunnar Hansen was menacing as Leatherface. The moment that metal door slides open, and he emerges, horror movie villains changed forever. Since that point, most mute killers are big and menacing, but no where near the presence of the original Leatherface. Also, you know he meat business, as evident by the tie that he wears under his butcher’s apron. At the risk of sounding like a fan boy, Texas Chainsaw Massacre almost perfect. The only thing I don’t like about the film is the character of Franklin. He is the most annoying asshole of a human being ever. I’m glad he was sawed in half. I feel good inside every time I see it. That aside, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is first class example of how fear should be transposed to the big screen. So, this Halloween, slow cook a roast, put on your favorite lady face, and enjoy a good dose of Leatherface.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

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31 Days of Halloween *Day 5* – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 5

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (directed by Marcus Nispel, 2003) After picking up a hitchhiker on a desolate road, a trip through Texas turns into a living nightmare for five young adults. A family of sadistic psychopaths terrorize the travelers, led by the menacing, but simple Leatherface. Sound familiar? That is because Tobe Hooper already made a film called Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974. Since Hollywood became obsessed with being unoriginal, there have been several attempts to cash in on remakes. Most are rather lame, but this update of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is actually really good. Michael Bay’s production company, Platinum Dunes, specializes in horror movies, and the first few years it was mostly remakes that they focused on. Amityville Horror (2005), Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street are the other franchises that Platinum Dunes have tried to revitalize. This is by far the most well produced and directed of all of the other films that have been released by this company. There are differences here and there between the new and classic stories, but the gritty and grisly terror that the 1974 Massacre is known for is quite prevalent in the reboot. The dirty, sweaty hot Texas atmosphere and backwoods sets are really well done. The portrayal of Leatherface by actor Andrew Bryniarski is menacing, and R. Lee Ermy (Sgt Hartman, Full Metal Jacket) is typically awesome as the ‘sheriff’. I actually find his character a bit more insane than that of Leatherface. Jessica Biel also stars as Erin, the lone survivor of the ordeal. Director Marcus Nispel, who also directed Friday the 13th (2009) and Conan (2011) had a tall task in recreating the infamous original, and does a commendable job. Out of all of the horror remakes in recent years, this is one of my favorites. If you are looking for a get-down-to-business, chainsaw thriller with a lot of running and screaming, this is your second best option, but we will talk about that a little closer to Halloween.

Cool Fact – Actor John Larroquette (TV’s Night Court), who lent his voice to the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre returned to narrate the 2003 remake as well.

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Kill of the Day 09/11/15 – Die Franklin, Die!

Die Franklin, Die – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (directed by Tobe Hooper, 1974) Usually in film, as in life, you cheer for a person who has a disability. Whether it is a physical, or mental handicap, you want the person to succeed. That is unless the person is hateful, whiny, and annoying. This describes the character of Franklin in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. For lack of a better term, Franklin is an asshole. From the start of the film, until his demise, I find him to be a constant distraction and a real nuisance. Four friends, including Franklin’s sister Sally (the heroine of the film), along with fifth wheel Franklin, set out in Texas to go to a childhood home. They find more than they bargain for when they run headlong into the Sawyer family. They have a severe hankerin’ for Texas Barbecue, but beef isn’t on the menu. You get the point. Regardless, Franklin meets his maker (Leatherface), and it couldn’t come sooner. It is just a shame that Leatherface did not have a chance to get to know Franklin better. He would have sawed him into smaller pieces.

I have included two videos. First to demonstrate what a cry baby Franklin was, and the second is the kill video.

Cool Fact – Although the film is called Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Franklin is the only character to actually be murdered with a chainsaw.

My Top Five favourite Horror Movie Re-makes, Re-Boots, and Re-Dos.

TOP FIVE FAVORITE HORROR REMAKES

When Hollywood officially ran out of ideas in the mid-2000, they started re-making, re-booting, re-imagining, re-vamping, re-(you get the idea). There is a large list of horror movie classics that have gotten the rejuvenation treatment over the last decade, and the ones that are good or even decent, are far and few between. Off the top of my head, I can name a few that fell far short or the original. A Nightmare on Elm Street (awful), Friday The 13th (bad), The Wicker Man (god-awful), Dawn of the Dead (watchable), and The Fog (should have stayed lost in the fog) come to mind. Like good scotch, the originals have all aged well. The remakes are like stinky old milk, two weeks past its expiry date. As horror movie fans, we can pray that a few classics are off-limits. The Shining, Jaws, and Exorcist are hopefully untouchable. Poltergeist should have been on that list, but it was butchered in this summer’s remake. A total hack job. Sam Rockwell could not even save it. Although most disappoint, I have waded through the muck, and chosen my top five “most watchable” horror movie re-boots. I’m not saying these are amazing cinematic masterpieces, but they are passable, and entertaining. In no particular order…

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Directed by Marcus Nispel, Platinum Dunes 2003) Being a big fan of the 1974 Tobe Hooper nerve-grinder, I was excited and worried for this updated version of TCM. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the Michael Bay produced version of this tale of a cannibalistic family who preys on weary travelers. The acting was decent, the suspense and violence was on course with the original, and R. Lee Ermy (Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket) makes any film a little better. Also, it seems that a lot of remakes get “Hollywoodized” with a sexy cast and crazy CGI effects, but this film did not get lost in that stuff (I’m not saying Jessica Biel is not attractive). The sequel, or prequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was not so great, but that aside, the 2003 TCM is definitely worth a watch.

Halloween (Directed by Rob Zombie, Dimension Films 2007) The original Halloween is the pinnacle of slasher movies as far as I’m concerned. John Carpenter took a minimal budget, used atmosphere, suspense and a soundtrack to create a timeless film. Rob Zombie took the premise and made it his own. The violence is over the top, the character interaction is gritty, and the acting is quite adequate. Zombie gives a little more back story on Michael as a boy, with some insight on why he might be a psychopath. Basically his family, minus his mother, are assholes. If you liked The Devil’s Rejects, chances are you will like Halloween. Same gritty feel a lot of the same actors, and a great 1970’s soundtrack. Different from the original, but good slasher fun none the less.

Evil Dead (Directed by Fede Alvarez, Ghost House Pictures 2013) Sam Raimi is the master of camp horror, and the 1981 original is a charming, creepy trip into the woods. Demon possession, a book of the dead, and Bruce Campbell all equate to a great time of a movie. A remake could never capture the tongue-in-cheek, campy fun of the original. However, they did manage to capture the gore, violence and terror of the original. This film is a blood bath, with 50,000 gallons of fake stuff being used throughout production. There are a few nods to the original Evil Dead, as well as Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. If you light some jump scares and violence, this film is recommended. The original team of Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell are all producers on the remake. These three are primarily responsible for the original Evil Dead, and it’s always a good sign if the re-boot is endorsed by the creators of the original film. Also, watch through the entire end credits for a special cameo.

The Fly (Directed by David Cronenberg, Twentieth Century Fox 1986) I recently watched the original 1958 version starring horror icon Vincent Price, and watched the updated version the following day. Both are very enjoyable. However, the Cronenberg film, in my opinion, tells the story better. The Fly is basically a beauty and the beast story. To me, it is a love story, but in a way that is suitable for a  Cronenberg movie. Jeff Goldblum is brilliant as scientist Seth Brundle, and in turn even better as the “Brundle Fly”. The special effects are excellent for their time, before CGI. The fly make-up and suit are seamless, and the experiment effects are vintage 80’s. I am quite surprised that someone has not tried to remake The Fly again, considering that at the heart of the story, it is just a woman unconditionally loving a man, even though that man has turned himself into an insect. Cronenberg has crafted some great films, and The Fly is right up there with Videodrome and A History of Violence as my favorites.

Bram Stroker’s Dracula (Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, American Zoetrope, 1992) I suppose it could be argued that this film isn’t really a remake of a film, but a re-telling of the Bram Stroker literary classic Dracula. To hell with it though, I am going to include it on my list. This is a lavish, artistic film with an all-star cast that includes Gary Oldman and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Oldman is brilliant, portraying the most famous Vampire of all time. Oldman’s Count is charming and vulnerable, as well as monstrous and savage. The original 1931 Universal film is a timeless icon, and Bela Lugosi IS Dracula, but in that era of film making, they were limited as to how far they could dive into the source book. The 1992 production is high quality, and is a very believable period piece. As with The Fly, Bram Stroker’s Dracula is also a love story at it’s core, but sometimes love is a violent, bloody thing. The cherry on top is the fact that the beautiful Tom Waits plays the slightly unhinged R.M. Renfield. A perfect match!

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