2014’s 13 Days of Horror: Days 03 and 04 of BoOctober
Tobe Hooper scared the pants off of me when I was little. I was a bit young to be watching The Poltergeist before puberty, but alas, that was my up-bringing. Let’s keep in mind that the movie about the house filled with spooky sectors was actually rated PG though, because God knows what the hell the MPAA was thinking. A few years before we got suburbia built on top of a graveyard, we had Hooper direct and write the “supposedly” true story of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Which is an odd title for the 1974 film that started off the slasher genre and ushered in the horror tropes we now know and love. A.) Because the story it is supposedly based on actually took place in Wisconsin and B.) not only did the real “Leatherface” not have the weapon of choice be a chainsaw, but our original film hardly uses a chainsaw! Anyways, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is in my personal bottom slot of the slasher genre’s top four killers: Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, and Freddy Krueger. The films have never really resonated at all with me, and the lack of enthusiasm that you read below is why. So sorry about my 10 comparisons and contrasts being short, and a bit lack-luster. But Hey! Day 05 and 06 will be on the Nightmare franchise, and I fucking love Freddy.
01.) The Opening – Something interesting about both the original and the remake is that not only do they use the exact same opening monologue, but they also had the same voice actor for it. Thank god they got rid of that ugly sounding camera snap though, that was terrible on all levels. Both films open up with some sort of crime scene photos and/or videos, which make the TCM’s unique in one manner, displaying the horrors of what had happened here to the public, before the story really begins.
02) Sex Sells – It always does, and al though their is flirting and lots of laughter and insinuation from the original, we get loads more sexual grinding n the new one. It leaves very little to the imagination.
03.) Dating of the Film – One of the many difficult things about 1974’s TCM is the shitty lighting we get throughout the whole film. Especially in the dark scenes that take place outside. I know it was a different time for filmmakers then, they had shittier cameras, lighting techniques, and lower quality film, but the low quality (even remastered) certainly stunts the movie and makes it difficult to enjoy by today’s audience. The 2003 remake had money to spare, and it helped make the movie tolerable, although the film does a good job of portraying the 70s. From the kids going to a Skynyrd concert, the costuming, and the soundtrack before we get the score.
04.) The Hitchhiker – Damn, well they both deliver the scares, but I have to give major props out to the suicidal survivor. I recall seeing her in the very first trailer for TCM 2003 and remember thinking…. “That’s going to be good.” It had gotten me pumped, I decided then at the age of 13 to watch the original beforehand. It then took me another three years to actually watch the remake, but that openin scene was updated perfectly for today’s audience. The pure shock value of the bloodied up girl speaking jibberish, pulling a gun out of her vagina, and blowing a huge hole through her skull and the back of the van. But why escape all that, to just blow your own brains out in the van of kindly strangers? …. To mark the fuckers, that’s why. It’s clever that the new writer and director were able to update the hitchhiker marking the future lambs to the slaughter in the new and innovative way. The change is a welcomed one.
05.) The Hewitt/Sawyer Family and Their Home – Meeting the rest of the family, including the old man, actually helps raise the anticipation sooner than the original. We also get our first kill way sooner in the remake, which is nice. The plantation is much scarier than the house was, and the sheriff is a nice addition because of how many brain cells the man is missing. Later in the 2003 TCM we meet more of them, and they successfully lure you into a false sense of small security. Eventually finding out that every character we meet outside of the van is a part of this hill-billy cannibalistic family, is much more satisfying than the ear-shattering dinner table scene in the original’s climax. The kids in 2003 also explore more of the car graveyard which extends the story further than the poor writing from 1974.
06.)Hello Chainsaw -In 2003, we get to see loads more chainsaw action, which makes the title much more satisfying. The meat hook get’s a nice reprisal (twice!!) with one of the boys getting forced on to it. Leatherface even tosses salt into the guys wound/leg stump.
07.) The Mask – The remake gives a full on take of what is under Leatherface’s mask which is well placed. It’s only revealed for a moment, when Leatherface is skinning the face off of his first victim Kemper, in front of his soon to be dead friend. It’s a moment of explanation that we never got from the original but only figured out with time through numerous sequels. It’s a nice additive which gives the new generation more story they may or may not have been aware of before.
08.) Pepper – I love Pepper’s character. She’s a smart girl, trying to convince everyone to leave before everyone starts dying. She also encourages Morgan to kill the sadistic Sheriff who was drunk with power. Pepper deserves to be the last woman standing and not portrayed to be dumb enough to trip over something right before the killer catches up.
09.) The Gate -Leatherface is much better with his entrances in the remake. He’s better at wielding the chainsaw, chasing his prey, and his evil intent is much more palpable than that loof from the first one. It’s too bad we missed out on the classic front porch scene though, seen to the left of here. It’s an iconic moment, and unfortunately, 2003’s remake doesn’t really have such a moment.
10.)An Intelligence Rise -I mentioned earlier how smart Pepper was in the remake, but i have to say that the girls in the remakes (all the remakes) are much smarter. Both Erin from TCM 2003 and Laurie from 2007 are smart enough to put their hands over their mouths to quiet their breathing. So kodos to the girls getting a bit smarter. But Erin kinda of goes and ruins it when she becomes hysterical in the semi truck, becoming full circle, as the girl in the opening of the film, before she blew her brains out.
Closing Remarks -This is one example of the remake actually being better than the original, but truth be told, TCM is my least favorite franchise in the slasher genre, as stated at the beginning of this entry. I’m not saying that the 2003 remake is any good, but it is better than the 1974 shoe-string budget original that never really resonated with me in any way, even though I am a huge Tobe Hooper fan from him doing The Poltergeist. I do have to give major props to 2013’s Texas Chainsaw. Now that addition to the franchise was well worth my time and their effort. If you want to watch a movie with a chainsaw wielding backtown hick, then check that one out. It is currently on Netflix and Prime.
See you all next time, I’m out!!!