TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACREAS GOOD AS THE ORIGINAL? | Oct 15, 2003
At first I was completely opposed to the idea of remaking the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The film was perfect. How could they make anything better than what they already had? But after a while I thought about my favorite remakes of all time. Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Leonard Nimoy, Willard with Crispin Glover, every damn Hammer film with Christopher Lee. If those films were better than the original, could the Chainsaw remake be as well? Well, I’m here to admit, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) is actually, hella good. They’ve upped the ante exponentially on everything from gore to scares to suspense. It may not be totally better, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will take its place as one of the few remakes that actually rivals the original.
The main storyline involves five kids on a road trip, coming back from Mexico with a whole shit-load of pot. These are a completely different set of kids than the original film.(ie: No Franklin this time.) Everything is going fine until they come across a catatonic girl shuffling down the middle of the road. They pick her up, the girl rants incoherently about something bad that has happened to her, and ultimately shoots herself in the head. The kids want to report the suicide; only the few pounds of pot in the back seat could get them in quite a bit of trouble with Johnny Law. They ditch the pot, report the girl, get redirected to an old abandoned mill and into the family’s trap. Well, you can probably figure out the rest of the story.
While the original film left the gore entirely to the imagination, this film shoves it right in your face. The people are treated just like cattle…only nicer. Limbs get hacked off, meat-hooks get shoved deep into struggling backs, Leatherface’s sledge goes smash, fingernails get ripped off, Harry Knowles decapitated head is displayed on a platter. It’s a real fun time at the movies. The whole family is far more disturbing than they ever were in the original. Leatherface is more frightening and believable, though R. Lee Ermy’s twisted cop steals the show as the most disturbing monster.
The shot compositions are amazing. Daniel Pearl, the cinematographer for the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, really shows off his gained expertise. 20 years of experience have done this man good. Every shot could be used as a promo for the film. He expertly plays with shafts of light, shadows, and the completely desaturated color scheme of his shots works wonderfully. And don’t go thinking he just shot all his old angles and left it at that. Old trademark shots are in there, only tweaked. You have the tracking ass shot, the tracking-running through the trees shot, and the shot of Leatherface “dancing” with his chainsaw at the end of the film, but they’ve all been updated and twisted just a bit.
As a bonus there are many pure cheesecake shots of Biels’ (real) breasts bouncing Baywatchlike for the fans out there. But don’t think she’s just eye-candy. She’s a real trooper. Biel has rats crawl over her, gets completely bathed in blood, has to hide in a carcass in a meat locker, gets groped by old parapalegics, and many, many other things Actresses these days would NOT put up with. She’s the absolute best horror heroine I’ve seen in years. Eat your heart out Dushku.
But the main stars of the film are the locations. Every single building, the farmhouse, the mill, the slaughterhouse, exists in Texas today. The director made sure to find actual creepy buildings instead of building ones specifically for the film. I’ve been down south in the past few months and I can tell you, just go out to the countryside and throw a rock. It’s bound to hit something abandoned. Set dressing wasn’t really needed in these locations, as they are so damn creepy.
So, in closing, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is definitely worth seeing. It’s far more intense than Wrong Turn, and skyrockets past the mess that was House of 1000 Corpses. I’d have to admit, I think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the closest we’ll get to old school horror all year. You can quote me on that.
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