12 Oct 2013

[HORROR OF HALLOWEEN] 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' Franchise Review

Directors: Tobe Hooper, Jeff Burr, Kim Henkel, Marcus Nispel, Jonathan Liebesman, John Luessenhop

Writers: Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel, L.M. Kit Carson, David Schow, Scott Kosar, Sheldon Turner, Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) 
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) 
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)

Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was not only one of the most revolutionary horrors of it's time, but to date. Its documentary style added a chilling effect whilst it's brooding masked villain added the spine-shivering horror that made it so iconic, and those elements alone are reasons why this stands amongst great as the world's best Horror Classics. Back when in 1974 cinemas banned Chain Saw Massacre from hitting screens due to its disturbing nature, so it was due to it (very) late release were it got its glory, and although it hit a few wrong nerves with audiences, it managed to shock world-wide and is still doing it to this day.

Fantastic, brutal, inventive, frightening and truly horrifying, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a phenomenal scare-affair that despite having a few hidden tricks always wore its heart on its sleeve, delivering nothing but raw horror presented in the most realistic of fashions. It's horrific, in all the right ways, it's torture but it's fulfilling, it brash but nerve-shredding; You have never felt discomfort until you have watched Chain Saw Massacre, and that's a fact. Sit down folks, grab some food, some beers, it's Halloween-Eve so throw on Tobe Hooper's Horror Classic and let the horror take place.

Terrifying, Extremely Intense, Amazing - All but a few words to describe the superb Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

This is were the franchise takes a steep dip for the worst, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a forced, unoriginal clunky attempt at a horror-comedy that fails miserably on nearly every aspect. Possibly the worst sequel in horror history, it isn't even near as strong enough to hold that candle beneath the first, and stumbles in an attempt to try something different, and with the first being so horrific and ground-breaking it was inexplicably  dumb to ignore a formula that worked in replacement for that that didn't.

Perhaps I am being too cruel, and I'm sure there are many of you out there that adored this sequel, but to me it's an embarrassing follow-up to something substantial, and the whole mockery with Leatherface dilutes the lasting terror he designed back in '74, turning him from a nightmare-ish figure to a perverted joke. Something went extremely wrong here, and although Hooper might have though this was the right move to make for the franchise, it just didn't pay off near half as good as he imagined. Bold, yes, but very much flat; not even the gags are strong to save this from becoming a lost cause.

The franchise continues several years later to deliver yet another dull bladed chainsaw that barely scratches the surface of originality set out by the original film, and although part 3 is a slight (stress the word slight) improvement over the previous "laugh at it-not with it" sequel, it still proves that Leatherface wasn't able to grow his mojo back, even if he did cop-himself on and drop the comedy skit. Maybe that's why this one worked on a better level than the previous, the fact that it took Leatherface even half serious; mehh, either way, the film stunk more than the rotted flesh clinging from Leatherface's jaws.

Drab, ineffective and crass, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 proved that there was little life left within the worn-out franchise, and although it went on to do another, plus another, plus another, this still remains as one of the most lifeless of the franchise. Despite all of this negativity, watching this as a set would make for a good Halloween night in, so just because a certain film or two (or three, or all) doesn't come close to matching up to the original doesn't necessarily mean they won't make for a good watch; just make sure you have a few before going into this one.

The Next Generation -  or as many remember it 'The film were Leatherface goes full Transvestite'. This may just be more ridiculous than a killer Gingerbread Man, regardless of how unbelievably bad it is, it's still kinda fun, in a more piss-take kind of way. Plot wise, it's surely the worst of all the sequels, maybe the worst of any sequels, and it doesn't hold potential either, but there is something about watching a killer run around dressed like John Travolta in Hairspray swinging a chainsaw that all makes this worth  the watch; but it just isn't bad enough to be "good".

Campy, cheesy, shrill and exasperating, The Next Generation recycles Massacre 2's formula whilst adding extra glee, and although there is something mildly amusing about it all, it's still unbelievably awful - that's if taken seriously, but if you're here to have a laugh with friends then look no further  Next Generation has enough campy horror, rotten gags and familiar faces to get you laughing  pointing and most of all, it will make you love to hate it.

Remakes have a lot of negativity surrounding them, and despite most of them being failures, there are a good few out there that tickle my fancy, one of them being the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre starring the ever-so lovely Jessica Bale who remembered to put on that skimpy white top and not a bra, clearly she never got the memo to say it was going to rain down heavy that day...

There is nothing about this version that is special by any means, it's all pretty general run-of-the-mill stuff when it comes to horror, but Marcus Nispel's 2003 version captures the more vigorous side to the franchise and adapts to make a fast and furious slasher flick. None of the originality or intensity that made the first one so infamous is to be seen in this version, but it takes the film in a different direction, a direction that perhaps the sequels should have taken but opted for the she-devil root instead; it may be heavy and less narrative-driven, but it's also a lot of fun, and to me, that's enough to save a horror from becoming meaningless and completely forgettable. A brave and half-successful attempt, but still a good watch around the Halloween holidays.

A sequel to a remake? Bad idea. A prequel to a remake? An even worse idea! What were they thinking, like seriously?! TCM: The Beginning, a completely useless prequel that has as much purpose as I Spit On Your Grave 2. The whole idea of an origin story for Leatherface is actually a good one, but not for the 2003 version, I mean that is just silly; no one wanted to know what Leatherface's day job was before he chased after Jessica Bale, but to see what him and his family were at before going on the hunt for Sally is something every Chainsaw fan would have liked to see - but this, well this is just arrogant and just plain annoying.

To give it something, it did have a few effective scenes, but it all feels just feels forced and neglected to watch with any kind of appreciation. The Beginning fails to match up to the standard of the remake, never mind the original, and it just seems to use extended gore to hide the fact that it's haunted with plot holes and soaked with mediocrity. It's bombs big time and despite its effort, never manages to pick itself back up from the horrible way it started. 

Texas Chainsaw 3D, a slasher so drenched in stupidity that it's best watched with wit for maximum effect, a horror so unbelievably dumb that it could make Joey from Friends look like a professor, a gore-fest so crammed with cliche that you forget what it was like to watch something original; a movie so fun, that I could sit and watch it again this Halloween.

Sure, Texas Chainsaw 3D may be all those negative things I listed above, but it's also a lot of fun, sure, it may not be as self-aware as Scream or even You're Next, but its fun is sourced from the laughable moments that take place, and the strange situations the characters find themselves in. It's all a laugh really, and if you're watching this with a serious attitude then you're watching it wrong. The script is top notch, but it's the delivery that failed, and although this is just something that cannot be ignored, if you can find it in your heart to look past it then you'll have a good time. None of the comedic cliche elements may be intentional, but it works, and there isn't a better slasher flick to watch with friends, food and drink this Halloween holiday, and take that from someone who has done that before.


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