Monday, February 27, 2017

Leatherface (2017)








DIRECTORS:

Alexandre Bustillo
Julien Maury

WRITER: Seth M. Sherwood

CAST:


Stephen Dorff
Finn Jones
Lili Taylor
Nicole Andrews
Vanessa Grasse
Sam Strike
Sam Coleman
Jessica Madsen
James Bloor
Ian Fisher
Julian Kostov

PLOT:

When one of the Sawyer children ends up murdering the daughter of the local sheriff. He seeks revenge on their entire clan. That includes one of the sons who has escaped from a mental institution. He and several patients have taken a female nurse hostage and are travelling across the country leaving a pile of bodies in their wake. It's now up to the sheriff and his men to bring a stop to their murder spree.







I remember when it was announced way back in late 2014 that Alexandre Bustillo and Julian Maury had signed on and would be directing the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. I was excited, to say the least. The men had delivered one of the most shocking debuts that I can personally think of when it came to any horror filmmakers with their first film Inside. I would even go so far as to call it a masterpiece and one of the best films to come out of the French Extremity era of horror.

Hearing that they were going to give us their own take on Leatherface. I imagined all the endless possibilities. I also couldn't wait to see how far they would take it with the brutal violence and gore seeing as they don't usually shy away from it if we are going off any of their other movies. I was just hoping that the studio wouldn't interfere here with their vision as there seems to be a lot of that whenever foreign filmmakers come onboard to do American productions.

After watching Leatherface close to a week ago and watching it again this morning. I can't really say that I love this movie. I didn't hate it, yet I didn't love it. Slapping the movie with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre imagery is great, and all and I adore a good origin story, but this feels like the loosest Texas Chainsaw Massacre film to date when it comes to actually delivering on the whole Leatherface title. Being bookended by two scenes that involve a kid and teenager brandishing a chainsaw does not make this a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie.

What we have here with this origin story is actually a road trip movie gone awry. The film has a heap of brutal violence, gore and death. The film from the opening scene is steeped in grime, dirt, and blood. This is everything you have come to expect out of a horror movie. Sadly, it's just not what you expect out of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. On the one hand, it's a disappointment. On another, this is utterly original and so far removed from the original seven films that I can't hate on Bustillo and Maury for at least trying to deliver something completely different. I have to hand it to them for at least trying to set themselves apart from the other films.

Looking at the first trailer for the film, I expected a dark descent into madness with this film. The movie plays more like a series of violent and brutal confrontations. If you want mean-spirited, this is the movie for you. I had expected nothing less from the filmmakers. Their vision is dark. All of the violence here is exactly how it should be. It's without remorse. The movie also delivers some other pretty nasty stuff such as necrophilia, rape, and people are eaten alive by animals. The only thing I think left off the table is the cannibalism.

The scene inside the diner is a standout scene that is only ruined by the classic rock soundtrack that plays over it. A scene where mental patients start to brutal murder the patrons. In the trailer, this scene was horrific and played extremely intense. The scene itself while bloody is hindered by the choice in the soundtrack which kills the entire mood. We have a pretty intense car chase sequence, and the final showdown between Verna and Sheriff Hal Hartman is pretty suspenseful. The third act twist that is meant to come as a surprise as to who the identity of who Leatherface is falls flat as it's completely predictable and expected.

The acting in Leatherface is pretty solid. Lili Taylor is excellent as the matriarch of the Sawyer clan. I believe every single word and expression that she delivers. A talented and underrated actress. I thought that Stephen Dorff was fantastic as Hal Hartman the vengeful sheriff. Sam Strike as the young Leatherface is the most sympathetic version of the character. The entire film he spends it torn but the final moments with the mask are great and lastly Vanessa Grasse as our hostage and nurse is also great in the film. I thought her final moment was devastating and ended the movie on an extremely bleak note.

Lastly, will Leatherface scare horror fans? I doubt it. This is not a scary movie. This is all about the gore and brutal violence. I didn't notice one single attempt at any cheap jump scares or quick bursts of loud music to try and make me as an audience scared. I think having Alexandre Bustillo and Julian Maury on the production, they have gone more for mood and showing the Sawyer clan as outlaws who will kill anyone that tries to disrupt their way of life. This is all about revenge here. You can sense that the two filmmakers of this movie want to give you an experience and not just a run of the mill stalk and slash.
 







DEATH TOLL: 18

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A child saws into a man's leg.
- A man is hit in the head with a mallet.
- A patient has his head repeatedly stomped on.
- Men are shot in the head and face.
- A woman is decapitated with a chainsaw.
- A woman is shot in the head.
- A patient is thrown out of a window to his death.
- A woman has her head blown off with a shotgun.
- The sheriff is hit in the chest with a chainsaw.
- A doctor has his face repeatedly smashed into a sheet of glass.
- A man is repeatedly punched in the face.
- A woman has a live mouse shoved in her mouth.
- The sheriff has his hands chopped up with a chainsaw.
- A man is repeatedly stabbed and fed to pigs while alive.
- A police officer has his head repeatedly slammed in a car door.
- A nurse has her mouth cut into by a patient.
- A woman makes out with a corpse during sex.
- Two men are stabbed in the throats.
- A woman falls through the floor and has an engine dropped on her.
- A man is made to bite a rock, and his head is stomped on.
- A woman falls face first into a gooey corpse.
- A finger is shoved into a head wound.
- A woman is strangled to death in bed.
- Three people hide inside a dead cow carcass.







As a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, I think fans will be incredibly disappointed. As a blood-soaked road movie, horror fans may walk away from this impressed. I think what works here is the gore, violence, and mood. Bustillo and Maury have crafted a road trip from hell. It's just a pretty big shame that the rest of this movie isn't all that great. At times, the movie becomes dull and feels frantically all over the place. Sadly, not even the cast of decent performances can save this eighth entry in the franchise.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)








DIRECTOR: John Luessenhop

WRITERS:

Adam Marcus
Stephen Susco
Debra Sullivan
Kirsten McCallion

CAST:

Alexandra Daddario
Dan Yeager
Trey Songz
Scott Eastwood
Tania Raymonde
Shaun Sipos
Keram Malicki-Sanchez
James McDonald
Thom Barry
Richard Riehle
Marilyn Burns
Gunnar Hansen
Bill Moseley

PLOT:

A young woman receives notice that she has received an inheritance from a family she never knew existed. Her and three friends decide to come along as support so they can pick up the inheritance. When they arrive in Texas, they find that she has been left a giant, gated estate. Soon the group of friends will discover that this old estate comes with
 a chainsaw-wielding madman named Leatherface who resides in the bowels of the old mansion.







Back in 2012, I remember hearing all the talk of a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film being released. The word on the street after the movie was released wasn't good. The movie took a beating from critics and audiences alike. I remember watching it on DVD and wasn't a fan at the time. Four years later and reviewing the entire series now that we have had another Leatherface movie come out. Not much has changed on where I stand on the movie after watching it for the second time. This film really hasn't aged or improved over time, sadly.

Going into this latest entry. I had completely forgotten that this movie opens right after the events of the first film. So as the opening credits rolled and we see clips of the groundbreaking original, I was immediately hooked. Once the credits had finished rolling. We see a siege of the old Sawyer house where the local townspeople end up having a shootout with the infamous family and end up killing them all and burning down the house. This opening scene had me as giddy as a schoolgirl. I was onboard for where this was going to take me.

That is until we meet the new group of victims in the following scene. Here we have the final girl, the b-grade rapper boyfriend who has only been cast so he can bring in all five of his fans, the slutty best friend and her boyfriend who is the weird emotional emo hippy guy. As quick as we are introduced to these four people, we see that they are mostly terrible human beings. The slutty best friend and the final girl's boyfriend are sleeping together which renders them immediately unlikable and makes you not care for a single person here.

The movie also throws in a hitchhiker for good measure so it can stick to that Texas Chainsaw formula. He also turns out to be a terrible person because he is a thief. So as soon as this group of five get to Texas, we are happy to see three of the five die. The other two are only just bearable because they come across as unknowing as to what their partners are up to behind their backs. It's also weird because the emo guy and the slutty girl together seems like one of the oddest pairings in a horror movie in recent memory. There is utterly no chemistry between anyone in this movie.

The movie is riddled with problems. Once we realise that the boyfriend and the best friend are cheating on the final girl and her boyfriend. There is no resolution to it all. They are killed off, and while that is what they deserve, everyone else doesn't know about there indiscretions. So while they die horribly, their partners survive or go to the grave believing that they were innocent. It felt really odd to pass that little detail over. I think story and plot points are passed over just to keep this movie moving at breakneck speed. One thing that Texas Chainsaw 3D isn't is boring. I at least have to hand it that compliment.

The movie also introduces us to a new Leatherface who is probably the least scary of any of the incarnations, and that includes the cross-dressing Leatherface in The Next Generation. The whole movie builds to them trying to turn Leatherface into the anti-hero, and it doesn't work. It kills any possible tension or suspense. It also lends the film some terribly cheesy moments when our final girl teams up with Leatherface to kill off the evil townspeople who killed their relatives thirty years prior. It becomes tonally uneven towards the third act and doesn't really recover.

I need to talk about the carnival scene. There is this odd scene towards the third act of the film where Leatherface who is brandishing a chainsaw chases our final girl into a populated carnival. The entire scene where we have our final girl hanging from the Ferris Wheel and Leatherface is throwing chainsaws at people. This entire sequence feels out of place. I believe this may be added to show the 3D in full force but for me, most of the 3D here is used minimally. Slapped with the 3D title, I'd have expected a lot more from this movie when it came to 3D but it's barely noticeable. Take that as however, you see fit.

When it comes to the gore and carnage. Texas Chainsaw 3D delivers. This is actually pretty gruesome. Gorehounds will enjoy themselves and get a real kick out of all the death on display here. We have a man minced up in a giant factory grinder. A man is sawn in half with a chainsaw. The entire moment is on camera and it's bloody. I really can't fault the gore here. The movie is over the top. With all that gore and bloodshed, the movie sadly tacks tension and suspense. Most seasoned horror fans won't find any of this frightening at all.

Lastly, we have the performances. Alexandra Daddario as our final girl is alright. I dug her in True Detective more than this film. Towards the end of the film, I couldn't take her seriously. The dialogue was laughable. I was actually cringing. With a name like Trey Songz, enough said. Scott Eastwood as the local police officer, I think he was the standout for me. He is far beyond the rest of the cast. It was nice to see cameos from original cast members Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen. We also get a nice cameo from Chop Top himself, Bill Moseley.







DEATH TOLL: 15

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Seven people are shot and burnt alive in a siege.
- A woman is killed, and her baby is taken away from her.
- A man falls into a giant grinder.
- A man is stabbed in the chest with a pitchfork.
- We see a man with his head sawn off.
- A man is hung on a hook and sawn in half with a chainsaw.
- An old ladies corpse is found rotting in a chair.
- Leatherface is seen cutting off a severed hands fingers.
- A woman is hit in the leg and chest with a chainsaw.
- A woman is shot in the head.
- A police officer is repeatedly hit in the shoulder and back with a tomahawk.
- A man's hands are sliced off with a chainsaw.
- A man has his Achilles heel slashed with a chainsaw.
- Leatherface is seen sewing a skin mask to his face.
- A man's face is cut and peeled off.
- A man is hit in the back with a metal hook.
- A hitchhiker has his head bashed in with a hammer.
- We see glimpses of a man's skinned face.







With the seventh entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. Here they have tried to offer us up a new Leatherface who teams up with our final girl. The blood is thicker than water and it seems this revenge tale and a Leatherface who plays the anti-hero doesn't sit that well with me. While the movie is gory and brutal and has an awesome opening scene that ties directly to the original. It sadly can't be saved with laughable dialogue, horribly unlikable characters and an uneven and cheesy tone. 



Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)








DIRECTOR: Jonathan Liebesman

WRITERS:

Sheldon Turner
David J. Schow

CAST:

Jordana Brewster
Matt Bomer
Taylor Handley
Diora Bird
R. Lee Ermey
Lee Tergesen
Andrew Bryniarski
Lew Temple

PLOT:

When brother's Eric and Dean take one last road trip with their girlfriends before they are drafted and sent to serve in Vietnam. They are heading through the backroads of Texas when a horrific jeep accident leaves them injured and stranded in the company of an evil sheriff. They will soon come into contact with the sheriff's cannibalistic clan and their chainsaw-wielding son Leatherface.







I had originally seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning in cinemas back in 2006. At the time, I remember liking it but not as much as the original or the remake. Rewatching it eleven years late, I think the movie still sits somewhere in the middle of this franchise. While nowhere near as iconic and groundbreaking as the original or as bonkers and left-field as the sequel. The movie also loses some of the freshness that the remake had generated when it burst onto the scene three years earlier. What The Beginning did right was that it kept things dark and brutal.

Up until watching Leatherface (2017) last night. I think The Beginning held the award for being the most brutal and mean-spirited of all the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Quite an honour when you consider that the series as a whole, deals with murder and cannibalism. Where the remake was dark and violent when compared to the original and the first three sequels. The Beginning takes it that one step further and goes for the jugular. The barrage of nastiness on display is glorious to behold, and that is what this prequel will be remembered for always.

What I think the movie does successfully is that it creates four leading characters who you actually care and root for and that you want to see make it out alive and survive their ordeal. Unlike the remake, where we have the annoying nerdy stoner who ruins more than one scene that he is in. Here, I actually liked both brother characters and their girlfriends. I also think the whole Vietnam drafting subplot played well in making them come across as likable guys even if one didn't want to go to war. It also served Sheriff Hoyt to be extra harsh and violent towards the brothers.

Again, the prequel like the remake is a gorgeously filmed horror movie. There are some beautiful wide open shots of the Texas landscape. Where the remake is darker, and we see a lot of fog-filled backwoods and grey skies. I found this prequel to be a lot more bright with golden brown hues. This prequel feels like it tries to match the look and feel of the original in terms of aesthetic. While this is much more polished than most of the sequels and the original. It still felt very similar in tone and feel. I think Lukas Ettlin has done a great job with the cinematography.

Where the prequel goes wrong is that the movie is pretty predictable. Going into this movie, you know exactly where this will end up heading. There is no way that any of these characters can survive and make it out of this alive because that would throw away everything that came after it. If someone survived this ordeal and went to the police, there would be no remake. So for an hour and a half. We know exactly where this story is heading. While a very dark ending for the film which I enjoyed, it's still extremely predictable as it could have only gone one way.

Another element of the story that I didn't like was the biker subplot. While the two biker characters serve up some decent gory fodder when it comes to being victims. They don't really serve much of a purpose other than adding to the death toll. Both are written pretty terribly as well. Both walk into their situations and are immediately killed. They offer no threat to Leatherface or Sheriff Hoyt. They simply enter the big creepy house or confront and are immediately killed off. They are around for all of a few minutes and are just disposable.

When it comes to being a suspenseful horror film. I think the movie has some solid scenes of tension. The jeep chase and crash with the cow are outstanding. I thought the entire scene was solid in building up the tension. Sheriff Hoyt taking three of the characters back to the rural farmhouse with the reveal of Leatherface is also great. I think the movie has enough tension that it gets a pass for me on that front. The gore is also outstanding. This is one of the most brutal slashers you'll see come out of a major Hollywood studio.

Lastly, the acting in the film is solid. Matt Bomer, Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, and Diora Bird are put through the wringer in this movie. Every single actor gives it their all as well. I think Jordana Brewster is a solid lead here. While I prefer Jessica Biel, I still think Jordana does well with her performance. I think Diora Bird for my first time seeing her in this film is also fantastic. Every single character is made to suffer. R. Lee Ermey is also excellent as Sheriff Hoyt. Just like the remake, he is a despicable human, and you love to hate him.







DEATH TOLL: 11

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman dies giving birth to a deformed baby.
- Leatherface is seen hanging up meat in a slaughterhouse.
- A man is repeatedly hit with a baton as he tries to do push-ups.
- A man is shot in the kneecap.
- A man is cut in half with a chainsaw.
- A biker has a chainsaw rammed through his stomach.
- Someone runs and steps in a bear trap.
- A police officer and civilian are hit by a speeding car.
- A woman has a chainsaw slammed through her back.
- A man's legs are sawn off.
- A woman is hit in the shoulder with a fisherman's hook.
- A man is beaten to death with a mallet.
- The sheriff of the town is shotgun blasted to the head.
- A cow explodes when hit by a speeding jeep.
- A woman is shotgun blasted in the chest.
- We see a man have his skin and face cut off.
- A woman's throat is sliced open.
- A man has a chainsaw slammed through his back.
- We see the corpse of a woman with no feet or hands.
- A woman is seen preparing a stew using human parts.
- A woman is shown to have had all her teeth pulled out.
- The Sheriff has his head repeatedly slammed against the porch.







The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning sits at number three in the franchise for me. It just edges out Tobe Hooper's sequel for me. While not as great as the original or remake, this is still a vicious and mean-spirited little film. While it doesn't add all that much to the mythology of the series or the Hewitt family and has a predictable ending. I still think this is so dark and gory that I can't help but enjoy the carnage on display here. Gorgeous cinematography and some solid performances raise this as an above average entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise.


Friday, February 24, 2017

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)








DIRECTOR: Marcus Nispel

WRITER: Scott Kosar

CAST:

Jessica Biel
Jonathan Tucker
Erica Leerhsen
Eric Balfour
Mike Vogel
Andrew Bryniarski
R. Lee Ermey
David Dorfman
Lauren German

PLOT:

When a group of five friends who are travelling through the backwoods of Texas on their way to a concert decides to stop to pick up a young traumatised hitchhiker. The group is left shaken when she commits suicide in the back of their van. Stopping at a local gas station, they are told that they will need to meet the sheriff at the local mill. Soon their day goes from bad to worse when the group come upon an old farmhouse that is home to a family of evil cannibals and their chainsaw-wielding son Leatherface.







Being born in the late eighties, a child of the nineties and just entering my formative teenage years in the noughties. Most remakes of classic horror films are where I first discovered they had an original counterpart or were apart of an established franchise. I'd previously brought up in my review for the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre that I decided to bite the bullet and watch the original before seeing the remake because I wasn't always a huge horror fanatic. The cover for the original always terrified me. So when I watched the original in preparation for the remake, my life was changed.

Going into the remake, I wasn't a decade's long fan of the original. It was fresh in my mind at that time. The original is a movie that over the years and as I've matured has become a film that I hold in high regard and consider a masterpiece. I never had the hostility for remakes like a lot of the older horror fans have because I didn't grow up with the original films. The remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the best remakes that I think I've ever seen. With the hundreds that have been made and with varying degrees, that says a lot.

What the remake does right is that it compliments the original pretty well. It doesn't go shot for shot and only takes certain moments from the original that it needs to set up the events. We have the evil family, we have the hitchhiker and an old farmhouse. Everything else feels different enough to set this movie apart. Every moment that is used here in the remake basically subverts expectations. The hitchhiker scene being the first. A brutal and horrific scene where a traumatised hitchhiker pulls a gun from between her legs puts the barrel in her mouth and pulls the trigger. The tracking shot from the front of the van, through the back of her now missing skull and out through the blown out glass of the van, is just the first of many effective moments of horror.

The remake from the very first minute never stops. As our friends begin to wander off and locate the old Hewitt house and Leatherface begins firing on all cylinders. The shit hits the fan and never slows down again. You can disown or even hate on the remake all you want, but as a fast-paced, gruesome, and tension-filled house of horrors, this works. It took what made the original so fun and harrowing and tried to ramp up all the elements. Is the remake always successful? No, but as a film in the franchise. It comes in second place for me. It's the closest we've come to the original in terms of a quality Texas Chainsaw Massacre style horror.

Where the remake missteps for me is that it uses some pretty silly tropes to keep the group of friends stuck in their hellish environment. One being the horrible car starting and the wheel coming off. The moment happens without the audience ever seeing a possible cause as to how the wheel may have come loose in the first place. So in a moment of levity, the movie quickly throws out the old wheel falling off the van and it still inspires groans all these years on. The remake also contains a ton of goofs that are pretty noticeable throughout the film. A severed leg being massacred yet the next shot is a clean cut. The van having no one in it in the long shots. The dead hitchhiker changing hair colour from scene to scene. While distracting, I can look past them and not rip apart the movie too much.

The cinematography in the remake is outstanding. With the original cinematographer, Daniel Pearl returning to the remake was a pretty smart decision. The original having a lower budget and an almost gritty, exploitation feel to it and he returns to shoot the remake where he has a lot more to work with is great. It really shows here. We have a lot of gorgeous landscape shots. Backwoods filled with fog. The shots of the giant creepy house. Almost every shot in the film feels like a beautiful setup or angle. While a pretty gruesome film, I still found a lot of beauty in the way it was shot and looked.

I also thought the acting was solid in the remake. Jessica Biel is Erin, our final girl. I love her early noughties where she took on risky roles just to send a big fuck you to the producers of 7th Heaven who wouldn't let her out of her contract. Her role in the remake where she is put through the wringer was a standout leading role for her. She really got to show a lot of suffering here. Not to be upstaged, R. Lee Ermey plays our villain Sheriff Hoyt who basically outshines Leatherface. He's pretty sick and twisted and tortures our group of friends. A big of character actor thrown into the mix.

The supporting cast is also in fine form. Erica Leerhsen as Pepper while getting a pretty lame death scene is one of the best screamers ever in a horror movie. Eric Belfour plays the nice boyfriend of Erin and his final moments in the movie actually hit you in the feels. Mike Vogel is great as Andy. His character is the one who suffers the most. Jonathan Tucker is my least favourite here, and I think he is written pretty annoyingly. Lastly, we have Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface. He's probably the most towering and powerful of the incarnations. He's like an unstoppable force in this film.


Lastly, we come to the gore and violence. Owning the uncut version of the film. This is a pretty grisly remake. From the opening hitchhiker scene to people having their limbs sawn off with a chainsaw or hacked off with a meat cleaver. This movie doesn't ever really shy away. We get some pretty nasty violence, and gorehounds should eat this up. Jonathan Tucker being split up through the groin and up the middle with the chainsaw in the uncut version of the movie is the standout moment for me. For being the most annoying character, to see him go out like this was a cheer-worthy moment.







DEATH TOLL: 8

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A hitchhiker pulls a gun out of her vagina and blows her brains out.
- A guy is hit in the head with a sledgehammer.
- A woman is hit in the back with a chainsaw and then hit in the chest.
- Leatherface drops a chainsaw on his thigh cutting into the muscle.
- A man's fingernails break off when being carried downstairs.
- A man's arm is hacked off with a meat cleaver.
- We see a basement full of body parts.
- Skin and flesh are seen hanging on meat hooks.
- A man is shoved onto a meat hook.
- A guy is smacked in the face with a bottle, and several teeth fall out.
- A sheriff is repeatedly run over by his own car.
- Someone is stabbed in the chest to end their suffering.
- A man is sawn up the middle with a chainsaw, entrails fall out.
- A man's leg is sawn off with a chainsaw.
- Salt is rubbed into a bloody stump.








The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake has the honour of being one of my top ten fave horror movie remakes of all time. With beautiful cinematography, the pretty ominous soundtrack, solid performances, bucketloads of gore and some decent suspense. It's one remake that doesn't tarnish the original. The movie has a few missteps when it reverts to some typical horror tropes and a pretty silly bit of book-ending, but for the most part, this is a pretty excellent remake that most horror fans should enjoy.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)








DIRECTOR: Kim Henkel

WRITER: Kim Henkel

CAST:

Renee Zellweger
Matthew McConaughey
Robert Jacks
Tonie Perensky
Joe Stevens
Lisa Marie Newmyer
John Harrison
Tyler Shae Cone
James Gale
Vince Brock

PLOT:

When a group of four teenagers decides to leave their prom night early, get into a car accident in the backwoods of Texas. They soon realise that the accident is the least of their worries. When three of them try to find a house with a phone, they are targeted by a sadistic family of cannibals. As their group begins getting picked off one by one, they soon discover that there might be a much larger conspiracy to all these murders and disappearances that have plagued Texas.







Considered by many horror fanatics to be the worst of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Rewatching it for the first time in roughly sixteen years after previously owning it on VHS when I managed to swipe the screener from work. It hasn't changed much in my eyes. The film is still pretty terrible, to say the least. I know it has it's fans, but this movie really isn't a film that invigorates and gives life to the series once more. I think that would come back into play when the remake of the original blew up at the box office and we saw a resurgence.

With Kim Henkel writing and directing the fourth entry in the franchise. I was actually pretty excited to rewatch this film. Having the original co-writer directing and writing the film, it inspired some confidence. I'd hoped that time had been kinder on the film. I hoped that maybe seeing it as an adult, it may have opened my mind up to more of the themes presented here. While I didn't remember that much of the film except for the prom setting and unhinged Matthew McConaughey, I was still excited to watch it.

Firstly, what I enjoyed about the film was that being such a low-budget film and being set in 1995. The film felt like it was closest to the original in terms of aesthetic. This is low-budget filmmaking. It looked gritty, even more so than the original movie. I think while being set in the mid-nineties, the director has delivered a film that almost feels like it's set in the seventies with the entire look of the production. If you missed the opening timestamp, you could be mistaken for thinking the film is set either the late seventies or eighties. I thought that was a nice touch.

While the fourth film in the franchise doesn't deviate away from the basic plot of the farmhouse, the backwoods of Texas, the whole family of cannibals, and Leatherface. I thought that last reveal of the mysterious Illuminati organisation who are behind this whole thirty year Texas Murder-spree to be one of the most bonkers and batshit crazy reveals added to a horror movie franchise. Where Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers does the same sort of thing. I thought this 'cult' related addition was a bit more crazy in this franchise.

The entire third act with the arrival of the mysterious Mr Rothman basically throws everything out the window. The whole organisation serves no real purpose or makes all that much sense. What I got out of it was sheer joy in knowing that in fourteen years, we would see the French masterpiece Martyrs deliver the same basic twist of a cult who are trying to bring people to the brink of death or horror in this case so they can be enlightened or see what's on the other side. It's nowhere near as successful in the execution of that movie, but I liked that it sort of felt similar.

When it comes to the performances, I think there is enough to enjoy here from two of the future Oscar winners. Here we have Renee Zellweger as our final girl and Matthew McConaughey as the villain. Renee is a pretty solid final girl. I can't deny it. She does the most with what she's got. Matthew is probably at his most unhinged. He is easily the craziest of all the family members across all four films. He is chewing the scenery here, and I loved every single second of it. The shining light for me though was Tonie Perensky as the girlfriend of Matthew's character. She's unhinged one second then sane the next. I also loved how open she was about her sexuality.

Speaking of Tonie Perensky. The highlight of the movie for me was her scene at the drive-thru. She has Renee Zellweger in her boot who is screaming. A cop car behind her and a crowded parking lot and she gets out to tell her to be quiet while not even batting an eyelid. She even requests the guy at the window to check the boot with her and toys with the cops. It's the first time that I think a family member has been so risky and unphased by the possibility of being caught. I thought this scene was actually one of the most enjoyable in the entire series to date.

Lastly, we come to the suspense and gore. This feels like another instance where the movie was also heavily interfered with by the studio. It feels edited to the point where there is almost not an ounce of blood. Another Texas Chainsaw Massacre film with no gore. As for the suspense, while I think the performances are all great and give the story some tension. The fourth entry in the series is even less scary or suspenseful than the previous film which is saying a lot. They try to go even further with this film, but it falls flat and feels even more comedic.







DEATH TOLL: 7

BLOOD AND GORE:

- We see a dead animal carcass.
- A man is injured in a car crash.
- A man is repeatedly run over by a tow truck.
- A woman's back is set on fire.
- A man is hit in the head by a low-flying plane.
- Someone has their neck snapped.
- A woman is thrown onto a meat hook.
- A woman is bitten on the nose.
- A woman has her throat stood on.
- A man repeatedly slices his chest and arms.
- A woman is repeatedly hit and shocked with a cattle prod.
- We see a table full of dead corpses.
- A guy is hit in the head with a sledgehammer.
- A woman's head is crushed.







The fourth entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is just slightly more enjoyable than the third film. With a return to a more low-budget and gritty aesthetic and some decent performances from our two leads. They sadly can't save this movie. The film while following the basic formula of this series turns into a complete WTF madhouse with a third act twist. The twist feels completely convoluted and makes no sense, but I can't hate on them for at least trying. They also try to tie this movie to the original in the final few seconds which was a neat little touch. Still, this was a step in the wrong direction for the series.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)








DIRECTOR: Jeff Burr

WRITER: David J. Schow

CAST:

Kate Hodge
Ken Foree
Viggo Mortensen
R.A. Mihailoff
William Butler
Joe Unger
Tom Everett
Miriam Byrd-Nethery
Jennifer Banko
Toni Hudson
David Cloud

PLOT:

A couple from California who are driving through Texas take a wrong turn when they are advised of a quicker route by a wandering hitchhiker. Left shaken after an incident with a perverted gas station attendant. Things only go from bad to worse as they are run off the road by a chainsaw-wielding madman and his family of cannibals who live in the backwoods of Texas. They will need to fight to survive or perish like the many others who have fallen victim to this evil clan.







As I began to watch the third instalment of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. I realised that I had never actually seen the movie. I was however excited to see where the third film would go after the brilliant original and its bat-shit crazy sequel. So now with the man who was responsible for the original as well as the sequel gone from the iconic series. I had to wonder where this latest film would take the mythology. I think Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is where the decline starts for this series.

Looking at the poster for this third entry. It's best not to believe the huge statement that's plastered across the poster. The most controversial movie ever made is about as misleading as the 'true story' thrown on the original or inspired by 'true events' on the remake. While a great marketing ploy for the movie, this is nowhere near being a controversial movie. The film may be controversial solely based on the fact that this is one huge disaster of a film. Getting it to the screen was no easy feat.

Reading trivia for the third film, you get a sense that this wasn't an easy task for the director and herein lies the problem. The original script called for and was said to be extremely gory and brutal. The producers of the film objected to a lot of the violence in the film. The movie then had to be submitted to the MPAA eleven times before they would release it into theatres. Watching this sequel, you get a sense that this movie has been cut to ribbons. Just watching it, you can feel that the movie is two different visions and we've been given the clean version.

When the movie opens with a human face that's been carved off, and you witness the Leatherface hacking at it with scissors while the credits roll, you get a sense that this is going to be a brutal experience. The movie opens on a rather grisly note. So when every single death scene in the movie feels edited to the point that there is no blood. You sense that Jeff Burr and New Line didn't see eye to eye. You give this director a chance to make a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, and you decide it be bloodless, you have made a grave mistake.

After writing six paragraphs of my review. I discovered that I had watched a highly edited version of this movie. Rewatching the longer uncut version with all the gore in the film doesn't change the movie all that much. While we get some more bloodshed and a child committing murder. It's still pretty tame for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. The extra gore doesn't add all that much to the film because it just isn't a great story. It just doesn't feel like it adds much of anything to the franchise. It's something we've seen before.

The third Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn't just have problems with the vision for the final film. We also have an entire cast of characters who come across as completely unlikeable. Our heroine feels like a bargain bin version of Sally or Stretch. While she has fight in her, it feels entirely forced. This may be because this was Kate Hodge's first film role. The family is a mismatch of characters but what they do right here is make Leatherface the main threat. He isn't the scared, handicapped villain this time around. He's made to be more clever which feels like a step in the right direction for a sequel where we've seen him as the side-piece.

The addition of a survivalist played by Ken Foree, it didn't make the movie any more enjoyable for me. In fact, I thought it took away from our couple characters. Halfway through, we switch gears and suddenly start following him, and it goes back and forth between the two. I think Ken Foree was added to give Leatherface a foe or a threat, it ultimately didn't work for me. He's not Dennis Hopper, and he's certainly not the big action star of someone like Arnold or Jean-Claude who I think would've suited the role better. It would've probably made it camper, but anything is better than what we had with this sequel. I think they hired Ken Foree for his Horror Icon status.

When it comes to being a suspenseful horror film. I think it fails in part with trying to deliver the scares. Unlike the sequel taking a completely different route and adding a heavy dose of comedy. They've decided to take this sequel back to its roots and give us something dark and scary. It's just a shame that it doesn't successfully pull off the scares or suspense. The best moment in the movie comes towards the end when we have a fight in the swamp with a chainsaw swinging back and forth. It's probably the most suspenseful scene in the film.

Lastly, we come to the acting. While the movie has some well-known actors in early performances such as the great Viggo Mortensen who is the standout as the sinister hitchhiker is a lot of fun. It's nice to see him take on a villainous role. Ken Foree isn't such a bad actor, but his performance here feels like he was only added to be a foe and the cut and uncut versions of the film played very differently for his character. I actually enjoyed his character more in the uncut probably because he ends up dying. Kate Hodge is alright in her first lead role, but when compared to Marilyn Burns and Caroline Williams, she falls short of leading a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.







DEATH TOLL: 6

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman is hit in the head with a hammer.
- Someone's face is carved off and prepared to be a mask.
- A man's hand is put into a gas oven fire.
- A man is hit in the face with an automatic weapon.
- A woman has a chainsaw slammed into her stomach.
- An armadillo is run over by a car.
- A man is set on fire.
- A man is hung upside down and bled like a pig.
- A man is shot in the chest with a shotgun.
- Lots of body parts are found in a mass grave.
- A dead coyote is thrown at a car.
- A man's foot is caught in a bear trap.
- A man is attacked with a chainsaw.
- A woman is shot in the chest.
- Someone's severed head is thrown into a swamp.
- A little girl stabs a woman in the hand with a piece of bone.
- A man's head is pushed onto a chainsaw.
- Someone has their leg cut with a surgical saw.
- A woman's hands are nailed to a chair.







Much like Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. My review will appear a little erratic and uneven. I had almost finished my review yesterday and spent quite a bit of it explaining my distaste for the mostly bloodless Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. It turns out, I got my hands on an edited version of this movie. Watching the uncut and unedited version, the extra blood and gore don't add much to an already terrible film. A fun performance from Viggo Mortensen can't save a movie that you can even feel had a lot of studio interference, MPAA problems and just a hard time getting to the screen. A missed opportunity and the first nail in the coffin for this franchise.