Even though this movie wasn’t all that great, I have a good memory of my theatrical experience. I went to an afternoon showing of this movie with my friend Conor and we both had class together later that afternoon. What was that class? BUG CLASS! There were five of us friends taking this one class about bugs, and it was pretty awesome. Conor was one of the first people I had met in college that loved movies as much as I did and would be willing to see something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the middle of the week, and I was also excited because it meant I didn’t have to see this movie alone. It’s also possible that when I went to pick him up from his dorm that he ran from his dorm to my car, but I might just be imagining that. Once we got to the theater and the trailers started, the trailer for The Return of the King came on, which was the first time either of us had seen that trailer, so I grabbed Conor’s knee and squeezed it really, REALLY hard with excitement. Even though the movie itself was nothing to write home about, to this day, Conor never shuts up about how big of a boner he got when I touched his leg. Also, I bought this DVD at Wal-Mart. That’s a pretty good story too, right?
Well, at least they got the butt shot right?
Similar to the original movie, this version starts with a voiceover by John Larroquette talking about one of the worst crimes in the history of Texas, and the voiceover is accompanied with footage taken by the police department investigating a crime scene. The film then cuts to who we will be the victims of these crimes, which are a bunch of 20-somethings on their way back from Mexico and on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. They see a girl walking on the side of the road and decide to help her out with a ride. She’s a creepy weirdo, talking about some scary guy, and then she pulls a gun out of her vagina and shoots herself in the head. This is when things get REALLY weird. The gang pulls in at the next gas station they find and call the sheriff, when he says it’ll take a few hours to get there, some of the Skynyrd fans go exploring and find a house nearby. They try to get assistance there, but instead, one of the dude’s get a hammer to the back of the head courtesy of good old Leatherface. When the sheriff (played by R. Lee Ermey) does show up, he’s a real weirdo dickhead who treats the kids like they are criminals and doesn’t believe their story. Wait, do you guys actually care about the plot? I hope not, because it’s pretty dumb. There’s the family that offers Jessica Biel help who turn out to be members of Leatherface’s family so she gets captured again and there’s running and chasing and chainsaw sounds and eventually Jessica Biel runs to the slaughterhouse and distracts Leatherface with a pig in a locker and chops his arm off and she steals the family’s baby and their car and runs over R. Lee Ermey and that’s it. Then the movie goes back to the opening crime scene footage and we see the police officers getting killed by Leatherface and John Larroquette explains that this was the only proof that Leatherface existed. The end!
Oh good! We finally learned why Leatherface made leather faces! A skin disease! Phew, now we can rest easy.
Do I review this movie on its own merit or do I review it by comparing it to the source material? How about both? On its own, there’s really nothing all that terrible about the movie, and had it gone by any other name it would have just blended in with all other backwoods slasher type movies with nothing unique about them. Visually it wasn’t too bad, and the look of it was similar to but not as good as the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Comparing this visual style to the style of the original, this style was garbage. The reason why the original was so creepy was just how gritty and grimy everything looked, adding to the discomfort the audience felt with the original. This version of the film tried to make nods to the original with things like the shot of Jessica Biel walking up to the house the way that Marilyn Burns walked up to the house in 1974, or the first kill being a sledgehammer to the head, or the fact that at one point Leatherface drops his chainsaw on his leg the way he did at the end of the original. Despite having those tributes to the source material, this film fails in every way possible to capture how creepy the original movie was. For me, it was the lo-fi, low budget limitations that heighten my discomfort, with the strange noises and close-ups of character’s and cartoonish actors portraying this twisted family. The entire production value of this version is the antithesis of what Tobe Hooper did in 1974 and the whole film feels too polished to compare to the original. This especially sucks because the opening segment, including John Larroquette and the use of the same sound effects, was very promising with how it would recreate the original, and the segment of the girl pulling a gun from her crotch to blow her brains out was actually pretty cool, but then everything just got fucked up and terrible.
Would you believe that, in this outfit, the director used EVERY chance he could to douse her in water? SWEAT! FIRE SPRINKLERS! RAIN!
In the original version of the film, Leatherface always came across to me as a child who was stunted in his development by his family who warped his mind and turned him into this twisted killer. Not so much a person as much as a pet that the family forced into doing their bidding. This remake tried to add more depth to the family, and I understand why they did that, but it just really didn’t work out that well. Don’t get me wrong, R. Lee Ermey was great playing R. Lee Ermey, but he wasn’t nearly as much of a maniac as Jim Siedow was in the original. They added a few characters here and there to flesh out the family with weirdness but everything just kind of fell flat and seemed to be devices of the plot as opposed to characters who were meant to heighten the atmosphere of the whole thing. Sure, had this movie been titled something different, it wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much hate as it did, but if you’re going to remake something that’s considered a classic within the genre whose strengths tie into the independence and minimal budget of the production and get someone like Michael Bay to produce a bigger budget version of it, you’re fucked right from the beginning. Good thing they made that prequel though!
Wolfman Moon Scale