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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
Matt: Before 'Friday The 13th', before 'Halloween', and before 'A Nightmare On Elm Street', there was 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. This film was single handedly responsible for the veritable launch of the slasher film and the horror genre as we know it today. Not since 'Psycho' had there been a film that caused so much uproar and controversy in the mainstream media. This is one of the scariest movies of all-time, and thanks to the Blu-Ray release, it holds up surprisingly well. The plot was simple and effective, and the actors, while relatively inexperienced, delivered on all fronts. Through their performances and the misery they truly went through making the film, you really get the aesthetic feel of just how how it was in Texas that summer. There are many memorable scenes that scare the crap out of you each and every time, but my favorite is where Sally and Franklin are searching for their friends in the dark, and out pops Leatherface! The scariest scene of all-time, in my opinion. And that family is just downright creepy. This film is without a doubt, a turn off the lights, curl up on the couch type film. All I can say is, get your popcorn ready. It's a hell of a ride, no matter how many times you watch it. 10 out of 10.
A.J.: What can I say? 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is the definition of a classic, must-own horror movie. One of the few horror movies that will legitimately scare the sh*t out of you no matter how many times you watch it. The scariest part about this movie is that it is based off of real-life events and Leatherface could not only exist in your nightmares, but next door as well. There is nothing bad I can say about this film, as it receives a very rare 10 out of 10 from me.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2 (1986)
Matt: Thirteen years after the release of the original groundbreaking classic, Tobe Hooper returned to helm the sequel, which directors do not typically do. This time, however, he set out to make an entirely different film. And my, how different it was! Gone was the gritty, raw, emotionally-charged horror classic. And in its place was a big budget, campy fiasco that would have passed for a comedy if it wasn't for all the gore. The highlights of the film are the return of Jim Siedow as The Cook, Caroline Williams as lead heroine Stretch, and Bill Moseley, who provided the comic relief of Chop-Top. Beyond that, Tom Savini's special effects were all that saved this movie. It just wasn't that scary at all, and some of the deaths were cheered for, particularly in the early stages of the movie. Another huge drawback was the casting of Bill Johnson as Leatherface. He did the best he could with what he was given, but there was no way Bill, or anyone else, was going to replace the incomparable Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface. They pretty much ruined the intimidating scare factor of Leatherface by giving him a love affair with Stretch. Since when did Leatherface care about anything or anyone besides taking care of the meat for the family? I still don't quite get that one. And what was up with the Sawyers' underground labyrinth? It looked like a bad combination of a cheesy funhouse and tourist attraction. Come to think of it, Tobe was also involved in a film called 'Fun House', so maybe the set leftovers were used or something, but it definitely took away from the overall effectiveness of the film. And, oh yeah, Dennis Hopper cashed a paycheck on this film as well, which is about all I can say for his effort. But he wasn't the only one. It looks like Hooper did the same thing. 5 out of 10.
A.J.: To start off, this was one of the hardest movies I've ever had to review. On one hand, I can appreciate the new angle that they were trying to take with the movie and to give it a fresh start after such a long hiatus. But on the other hand, this movie was just plain awful. The thing that jumped out the most to me was that aside from the family, there were only two main characters, and one was an old man. This simply does not jive with the horror movie mantra of a group of teens who get slaughtered. The acting was plain, and the music score was horrible and did not add anything to the movie. Bill Moseley played a good part as Chop-Top, but who the hell is Chop-Top and where did he come from? It's never explained in the movie. The only good thing to come from this movie (other than basically being an outline for Rob Zombie's 'House Of 1,000 Corpses') was that Leatherface was finally referred to by his iconic name. This film gets a very generous 5 out of 10 from me.
LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III (1990)
Matt: As always, once New Line gets ahold of a horror property, they screw it up ('Jason Goes To Hell', 'Freddy's Dead', 'Scream 4', to name a few). I am on director Jeff Burr's side on this one-- they wouldn't let him do ANYTHING with this movie! First off, they filmed in California, the script was terrible and he was the 10th choice to direct, a recipe for disaster if you ask me. On top of that, there was ZERO continuity and too many questions left unanswered. Where did the new family come from? Why did Leatherface have a brace on his leg? What happened since the end of Part 2? This was simply a mess from the word go, and the fact that New Line executives had their hands all over every aspect of the film ruined it. The most controversial film ever made??? Hardly. The acting was mostly horrible, although performances by Ken Foree and a young Viggo Mortensen at least lent it a little bit of credibility. Add to that the impressive work of KNB Effects and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder, and it at least gave me some hope. However, it just didn't work. Kate Hodge (Michelle) was easily forgettable, as was R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface), who was even more of a disaster than Bill Johnson in Part 2. The film started out promising, with Leatherface working with flesh and making masks, but that was the high point for him. I did get my hopes up when the new shiny chainsaw was introduced, but that quickly fell apart when no one was killed with it! The blood and gore that SHOULD have been in the film were very well done, and would have raised my rating considerably, but thanks to the MPAA, it never happened. The musical score of Jam Manzie was creepy but cliche, and the heavy metal soundtrack was not used properly and didn't fit. The 11 visits to the MPAA really killed this film (no pun intended). Hey New Line, why not take a page from Part 2 and release it unrated? You ever think of that? Apparently not, because a lot of the original negatives were destroyed and cannot be recovered. I feel bad for Jeff Burr and all the others who worked so hard to shine up this piece of crap. The whole film was destined to fail, and in the end, it did. 3 out of 10.
A.J.: Call me crazy, but I actually enjoyed this movie. Yeah, itís not great, but for a Part 3 and following a horrendous Part 2, itís really not that bad. The acting was improved (which isnít saying much) but the scares and the atmosphere were definitely better. Leatherface hunting people in the woods was a nice touch and it actually felt like I was watching a horror movie. The family was disappointing, but then again, the entire family aspect of these movies is a part that I am not a big fan of anyway. There were plenty of ďwhat the hell is going onĒ moments in the film, such as when the shiny chainsaw is in the swamp waving back and forth on its own. However, this is a film that I could watch again and is at least worthy of the 'TexasChainsaw Massacre' title. Not the best in the series, but a half-decent third installment nonetheless. A solid 6.5 rating from me.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION (1994)
Matt: Right off the top, I must say this was one of the worst films I've ever seen. Notice I said films, and not just horror films. It's no wonder Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey want nothing to do with this film, even though they were both relatively unknowns at the time. There should have been a warning light that went off the minute New Line dumped the film rights, because if New Line dumps a franchise, you know it's destined for destruction. There is absolutely nothing positive I can say about this picture except that they were trying to re-imagine the original film and bring it to the '90s setting (which wasn't necessarily the best idea, given the state of horror at the time). Kim Henkel was clearly just milking every last cent out of the series that went to hell in a handbasket very quickly. Tobe Hooper wouldn't even get involved, even after New Line sold the rights and got out of it. The acting was just plain awful at times, even for Zellweger and McConaughey. Robert Jacks (R.I.P.) really brought out the feminine side of Leatherface that we saw glimpses of from Gunnar Hansen, but that's about all I can say for him. It looked like he was trying to play Gunnar Hansen playing Leatherface, and not just taking on the iconic role of one of the greatest cinematic slashers of all-time. He was good with the chainsaw, but he wasn't scary and did way too much yelping. Add to that the fact that he took a backseat to Vilmer when it was time to do the killing, and the whole thing really came crashing down. And what the hell was Darla doing the whole time? She was the worst of them all, and clearly did not belong. Also, the music used in the film was simply deplorable. The score itself was creepy from Wayne Bell (who worked with Hooper on the original), but they didn't use it enough, and like Part 3, they relied too heavily on a horrible rock soundtrack to carry the way, failing miserably. If that wasn't enough, the fact that Rothman gets involved and reveals that it is all an elaborate set-up to incite terror in the hearts of America's youth, really destroyed the mere essence of what the 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is and in effect, killed the original run of the franchise. If it wasn't for Platinum Dunes breathing new life into the series, who knows, there may not have ever been a 'Lair of Leatherface' today. A very rare 1 out of 10.
A.J.: This film is easily one of, if not the worst, horror films I have ever seen! I would rather go to the dentist and get a root canal without novocaine than to have to sit through this movie again. Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey did well, but should be ashamed to have been a part of such an atrocity. Parts of this film were simply unwatchable, did not make any sense, and I simply could not stomach to see Leatherface dressed as a woman throughout the majority of the film and screaming and moaning like a bitch. The New York Post described this movie as a hilarious, bone-chilling remake of a horror classic. There is nothing bone-chilling about this movie, but it is hilarious that I would not watch it again if someone paid me. 'The Next Generation' gets a very rare, but well deserved 0 out of 10 for me.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003)
Matt: Very rarely does a sequel or remake come along that lives up to the original. But in the case of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', not only did it live up to the original, it raised the bar and set the standard of how remakes should be made. This film was almost a complete re-imagining, except with the classic elements of the original film still intact. The family element was changed drastically, but it works well. The acting is top-notch, particularly with R. Lee Ermey as Sheriff Hoyt and Jessica Biel in her breakout role as Erin. Andrew Bryniarski brought Leatherface to the new generation like no one has ever done before, with menace and mayhem not seen since the immortal Gunnar Hansen pioneered the role in 1974. While it's true that the original cast members are not very fond of this film, it delivers on almost all fronts-- the blood and gore frequently splatter the screen, the kills are intensely gruesome at times, and the story is almost as believable as the original film. The only drawback to this movie was the high-grade film they used (they should have used 16mm or something more grainy to give it the raw feel of the original). Oh yeah, and the heavy metal soundtrack they released that wasn't even used didn't make sense, either. That might be a good thing, though, because Steve Jablonsky's score more than makes up for the lack of a real soundtrack. Check out the music section and see if you agree. Overall, this is the film that really put Platinum Dunes and Michael Bay on the horror map, and fast-tracked several other remakes that didn't quite deliver- including our beloved classics: 'Halloween' (2007), 'Friday The 13th' (2009), and 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' (2010). Despite that, along with 'Dawn Of The Dead' (2004), this film will forever remain in exclusive territory, high atop my list of remakes that actually worked. 8 out of 10.
A.J.: Now this is what a remake should be like! At the time, it was one of the first of the classic slasher films to be remade and Michael Bay hit the nail on the head with this one. This is good, old-fashioned Leatherface doing what he does best-- sawing and scaring! The plot was brilliant. It gave the franchise the reboot that remakes are meant to do, but also stayed true to the feel of the original while maintaining its own identity as well. The acting was great from every character, the musical score fit well, the atmosphere was damn near perfect, and the scares were there throughout the entire movie. This is actually one of the very few movies that legitimately scares me when I watch it. 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' remake is a must-watch and gets a well-deserved 9 out of 10 for me.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING (2006)
Matt: After the success of the 2003 remake, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller did not want to do another film. But after being constantly questioned by fans about the Hewitts' past (and meeting with Michael Bay), they became convinced there was more of a story to tell. And they were right. This film goes way back to the beginning, to the very birth of Leatherface, explaining how Thomas Hewitt came to be and why he did the things that he, and his family, did. It was like the returning cast never left Texas, including principals Marietta Marich as Luda Mae and R. Lee Ermey as Uncle Charlie/Sheriff Hoyt, who delivered strong encore performances. While the teens were mostly carbon-copies of their counterparts in the 2003 movie, they did have an interesting sideplot with the Eric and Dean/Vietnam angle. That added some drama to what would have otherwise been a tired re-telling of the "teens driving across Texas" story that had been told in literally every 'Texas Chainsaw' movie. Andrew Bryniarski returned as Leatherface, and did an equally-good job as he did when he took the reigns in 2003. Steve Jablonsky also came back to score the music, which almost sounded the same as the previous film, delivering a continuity rarely seen in horror franchises. The kills were among the best of the series, including Eric being skinned alive, which still makes me cringe. What took away from this film was the fact that they never answered the questions surrounding the hitchhiker from the 2003 film, and that the film itself, like its predecessor, was not the grainy, raw 16mm film, but a higher quality, which took away from the setting. It was also hard to believe this was the late 1960s, despite the crew's best efforts. Still, at its worst, this film is a much better outing than most horror films these days. It was a worthy prequel, which I almost never say about a franchise. 7 out of 10.
A.J.: Every time a film gets a prequel, I am always a little bit worried, but I have to admit that with 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning', I was not disappointed. It was not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it really wasnít half bad considering not only was it a prequel, but a prequel of a remake. They kept the main cast together, which really helped out a lot, and for once in the Chainsaw series, the family aspect had my attention. Leatherface once again delivered a great performance, and had some really unique kills. Also, the ending of this movie, in my opinion, was really good and not the type of ending you would expect. The only thing I did not like about this movie was that it was a prequel to the remake, but yet there is still a gap of time from where this movie ends to where the remake picks up, which doesn't make any sense to me. This film gets a very fair 7.5 rating from me.
TEXAS CHAINSAW (2013)
Matt: Heading into this one, I didn't really know what to expect. I know they were coming off two highly successful remakes by Platinum Dunes, but the fact they gave up the rights to the series really worried me. Add to that, the little or no publicity this film received prior to release, and it sounded like a recipe for disaster. But what we got was something I don't think any of us expected-- a decent horror movie. The main positive to this film is the fact that the producers took such care in reproducing 1973 in the opening sequences. It really felt like it took place after Sally escaped in the original. The opening shootout was very much like the Devil's Rejects-- and it was disappointing to see the family-- which included Bill Moseley and Gunnar Hansen-- killed off so quickly. Fast forward to present day, and that's when the problems begin. The young cast (besides the beautiful Alexandra Daddario) just couldn't hold weight with me-- and made it very difficult to invest in each character. By the time the principals were killed off, their deaths were almost cheered for. And the whole modern-day Hatfields and McCoys storyline fell flat, in my opinion. All it did was take the Sawyers away from being what they are supposed to be-- a psychotic family of cannibals-- and portrayed them as sympathetic victims. True, it was unique and never done before, but really, who wants to root for the Sawyers? We just want more of that BBQ! Dan Yeager did an admirable job as Leatherface, considering what he was given to work with. It was the best portrayal of the character since Gunnar Hansen, and really helped establish himself as the new face of the franchise. All in all, a better first half of the film than a second half, and while it may not equal the recent films, it certainly did itself justice and earned its place in the franchise. 5 out of 10.
Matt: If you are a fan of Texas Chainsaw 3D, you will like this one too. It's essentially a prequel to that film which was supposedly the true sequel to the original classic. It is a blood soaked, gruesome origin tale that basically ignores every other film in the franchise. Lili Taylor and Stephen Dorff were very good in their roles but not overbearing. Hell, even the Iron Fist was tolerable. It really adds depth to the Hartman vs. Sawyer rivalry that takes center stage in 3D and sets up what is to come in that film. The body count was high and the kills were inventive yet true to the franchise. Despite that, the story was sketchy at best, and less believable than the origin story of 2006. It takes Leatherface an awfully long time to evolve and appear, which for a film bearing his name, was a really big letdown. They also went with a much more tame ending compared to the one that was cut. If they had kept the original ending, I might have scored it higher, but as it is, I give it a 4.5 out of 10.
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