The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (7/10 Rating)
Released October 17, 2003
For rent/purchase on all major platforms.
Genre: Drama, History, Sport
R: Strong horror violence/gore, language and drug content
It’s the haunting season, so this month’s selection was easy. The original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre released in 1974 is one of the most disturbing films I have seen. Tobe Hooper’s classic was based partially on real life serial killer Ed Gein, “The Butcher of Plainfield,” and it opens more like a documentary giving viewers the idea that everything in the movie actually happened. This reboot released 30 years after the original uses the same technique and it works well, even if most people are more aware of the gimmick these days. The use of “archival footage” bookends the movie and certainly leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling. Just a few months before this movie came out, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees were battling it out on the big screen, so it was an exciting time for horror fans. Unfortunately, Freddy vs. Jason is a pretty terrible film, even within the genre and franchises. However, this reboot stands out as the best in my opinion when compared to Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween. It’s dirty, gritty, gory, and downright creepy. The acting is quite good, and the pacing is done well. There is a shot…both camera and gun…that stands out early in the movie that really separates this one from the original, but otherwise, they maintain the things that make the original great and add just enough tweaks to surprise those familiar with Hooper’s version. Jessica Biel is the “final girl” and Ronald Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) is the perfect despicable Sheriff. The thing that stands out most is the believable reactions from many of the characters. They seem genuinely surprised, disgusted, terrified, etc. Unfortunately, that is rare in horror movies. Even most of their decisions are better than most victims in slasher films. Here they just cannot win…they get beaten, cut up, cut open, bludgeoned, hung, dragged, and tormented and there is not much they can do. It leaves you feeling helpless and uneasy every time you travel a back road and see an aged, neglected home far from any neighbors. You should know from the title if this one’s for you. So, pull out the old sewing kit, invite your friends over, and put on your face.
Also released in October of 2003: Concert for George, Out of Time, School of Rock, The Station Agent, Wonderland, Mystic River, Intolerable Cruelty, Kill Bill: Volume 1, Runaway Jury, Brother Bear Radio, Scary Movie 3, The Singing Detective (follow @jlucia85 for these reviews and more)