By James "Bo" Gorcesky
October 16, 2006
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What can I say about this film that hasn't been already? If you're looking for a quick fix for a horror film, then go see this. I was VERY adamant about seeing any of the newer Texas films. But I tell ya the truth, I went to Wal Mart the other night with my girlfriend and they have some great deals on horror films for around five bucks. I ended up buying the 2003 remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (i.e. the sequel to the film that I am currently writing about) and I also ended up picking up Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.
I ended up watching both films and I eventually got a lot more respect to these newer remakes. I first watched the 2003 film, and I'll be honest with you – I was terrified. As much as I wanted to be in denial that I can't be falling for these remakes – I really enjoyed it. I found the make up/masks were absolutely splendid, the acting of the crazy family got me so pissed off I wanted to kill them myself and I saw Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski) as this big burly tuff ass guy with a chainsaw. I began to think of the three or four previous Leatherfaces and their acting styles, but this new guy was bad ass. ESPECIALLY to the fact that Leatherface is now played by the same guy who played Zangief in Street Fighter the Movie starring the legendary Jean-Claude Van Damme.
As a direct follow up, I watched The Next Generation, which is really one of those films you end up sitting on the couch all day watching because you're too drunk and/or hung over to muster enough energy and courage to turn the damn thing off. To compare and contrast, Next Generation is the first remake within the saga. It is directed and co-written by Kim Henkel, who is the co-writer of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But even with the fine acting talents of Matthew McConaughey (as the lead psycho) and Renee Zelweger (the heroine) couldn't save this thing. Although the story does dig deep into the psychosis and allure of TCM, by providing a suggestion that there are plenty of Hewett-esque families and there is an organization higher than the government that is responsible for pure terror – this film can not be saved. I think its primary downfall is by seeing Leatherface in drag who constantly screams as if he has Down syndrome and needs attention. Hardcore TCM fans would appreciate it, especially if they know the true Ed Gein origin story, and how America's first serial killer would wear the flesh of women in his own fucked up little world.
Now, let us get onto the true film at hand. The origin film was pretty interesting for me because I'd never seen a prequel first and then seen the true film. I again was very adamant against watching a prequel to a remake, and just thought that Hollywood was running out of even more ideas. The story to me seemed a lot like the original, and it is just being done more and more throughout Hollywood (sorry House of a 1,000 Corpses, you know you were a remake of TCM also). In fact, after seeing the 2003 film, the prequel ended up doing a lot of remade shots from the original film that they could squeeze into the 2003 remake. The cinematography wasn't as good, mainly since Dan Pearl, who was hired from the original didn't come back for the prequel.
The acting was truly hit or miss; I really enjoyed R.Lee Emery as Sheriff Hoyt. There were times where he made me laugh and others where I just wanted to strangle the bastard and hope he got his just desserts (no cannibalism joke intended). What I didn't like, which was tied into the origin of the family; was his little speech that he gives about being a P.O.W. and he brings you up to the question, "You gonna eat, or are ya gonna be eaten'?" It gives you some thought to this family, and how Sheriff brought this philosophy home from Korea. But they keep on pushing to you that "We will never go hungry again," and "this house is the one thing they can not take away from us. Even though our town is dying – we will stay here." So, instead of just driving another town over, the family decides that they're just going to kill the original sheriff and eat him. From there, they get so hooked, they just continue on a killing spree and getting any unsuspecting tourists that happen to wander into their home or gas station.
Again, seeing Emery in the folds of being a bad ass, kicking the shit out of people, talking of his old war time stories and throwing in a few bad one liners here and there – will instantly get you to think of that bad ass Drill Sergeant from Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Supporting characters such as Monty, Luda Mae and Tommy seem to be controlled by this psychotic will-power that he holds over the Hewitt family. It seems that there is even a moment of uncertainty within the mind of Leatherface on whether or not he should cut up a victim; although he had viciously hacked up his boss because he called him an animal. Other points are when the family is being served flesh (what I think might be the first time) and Monty has this look on his face of ("Oh my God I'm about to eat a person") but then Luda Mae interrupts the scene and tells them that they got to say grace. Psychotic or not, even my willing suspension of disbelief was thrown out the window.
I would like to know more about the mentality of Leatherface, and his origin, aside from a little twenty minute intro. Then again, when you have a character that only mumbles and cuts up people, you need someone as charismatic as Emery to carry the scene load for everyone. But if I could have a crystal clear origin story for the family – I'd be much happier. It takes a lot more for people to turn to cannibalism just because their local meat factory has gone dry; or just because they have a crazy uncle who did it while he was in a Korean P.O.W. camp. I mean, I remember the first time I delved on the flesh of an infant – it didn't take a lot of convincing, but a lot of money was involved. Speaking of origins, I can only hope that director Jonathan Liebsman does a better job with his next project, Friday the 13th which will hopefully finally tie up the loose ends in the Friday saga for us fans – or end up ruining it like this one almost just teased me to not fall through.