The Saw is Family: My Twisted Journey Through the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Series

     After spending the beginning of the year dealing with a death in the family, I found myself thinking about what it means to have a family. Being the eccentric guy I am, I started watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. In horror, there is no family tighter than the Sawyers. Its been hard for me to articulate the path I’ve been on emotionally, so I turned to the one horror film franchise that was meant to bring out the raw emotions I’ve bottled up, but then I soon discovered that this series has destroyed then reaffirmed my faith in the horror genre. Just like one wonders why God gives us things only to take them away. Just like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series.

     I was probably about 12 years old when I first saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and its reputation scared the shit out of me. It was known as the most disgusting, horrifying film ever made; people throwing up in the aisles when it was first released. So after months of working up the courage to see it, I rented from the video store and had my little puke bucket (in case I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. Be prepared). I really couldn’t have grasped what I was in for. The movie wasn’t ecen close to being disgusting; it was just mind numbingly disturbing on almost every conceivable level.

     I mean Jesus Christ.

     There are very few films that change you as a person, and holy fuck, this movie is one of them. The sheer rawness of its documentary style approach is enough to make anyone lose their fucking mind. So, where in the living hell do you go from here?

     Apparently here. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is quite a bit… different. While this movie was made to be morbidly comedic in nature, and from the director of the original to boot, I fucking hated the fuck out of this installment. I mean, shit, one film is this grim, disturbing, documentary style film, to a comic book style gore fest.

     The fuck, dude?

      Now, going back to this, thinking that tasting the metallic barrel of a gun will release me from the massive shititude of this shittiness, I found myself enjoying the movie. I shit you not.

     What’s happened in the passing 20 years since I saw this movie? Simply put, the other Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. You could see the other movies as that bad, but I prefer to see them as that uninspired. Director Tobe Hooper has an apparent warped sense of humor, and wanted to make a sequel that enforces the humor that people missed in the original. Go ahead. Read that shit again. Apparently, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was supposed to have funny parts.

     Let that sink in.

     Here was the first of many installments to “fix” the series after the humorous part 2. And at the time I thought it was pretty good, but coming back for the purposes of this post, I found it quite bland to be honest.

     It’s crazy how films can change over time.

     There’s really nothing notable or memorable about the picture (except for a very young Viggo Mortensen). It plays out now like a formula, which I get since it worked the first time around and changing it fucked up the second one. I give them points for trying to recreate the terror of the first film, but it was never going to work and Tobe Hooper knew that.

     Now, there’s no terror, no fun to be had, and no one to give a fuck about (except for Leatherface the entire Sawyer clan has been pretty much replaced).

     It sucks pretty much that the movie is just that: underwhelming.

     Good lord, what a piece of shit. I saw this back when I was in junior high, when I still hadn’t developed any taste, and I still found this to be a colossal waste of time. I didn’t have anything to that day, and I still feel like a wasted it. Shit, I might’ve gotten laid that day! (Note: I wouldn’t).

     The only morbid curiosity that exists is the fact that Matthew McConaughey is hamming up the fucking screen, and it is a sight to behold. Even this early in his career the man had no inhibitions. The sad fact that he’s so much better than the movie deserves. 

     And I’d rather not discuss the shrieking Leatherface. No fan does. 

     This was the beginning of the end for me. I mean my childhood. Even though the Psycho remake came out in 1998, this was the start of the dark period in horror. All everyone ever spoke about was remake this, or reimagining that, instead of the movies themselves. 

     This remake shouldn’t exist. 

     There’s no joy to this. Not that the original was a romp in a field, but that movie felt like you just experienced something cathartic. This felt like someone telling you how awesome the original was, and then emphasizing the shit that wasn’t even in the movie in the first place. 

     Everything here felt generic; I can’t even tell you the names of the family members in this one, and that’s kind of a big deal. Just a smidge?

     So I started to lose faith in the genre of horror at this point, only a matter of time before I get pushed to the edge… Speaking of which…

     I had never in my life been more depressed at seeing a sorry excuse of a movie in my entire life. Just year after year of terrible horror films finally caused me to break. 

     When the final girl, played by Jordana Brewster, gets a chainsaw through the back I decided I’d had enough. I was thoroughly depressed at the lack of ingenuity, imagination, humor, thrills, basic craftsmanship of it all. 

     And for being a prequel the movie didn’t answer jackshit. The only thing I wanted answered was who the fuck thought this warranted being called a film?

     After nearly giving up on horror films because of this now tainted franchise, I was hanging out with the best friend and went and saw this. The good thing is I didn’t want to put a gun in my mouth after watching it. It’s all about life’s small victories. 

     As happy as I am that the remake timeline has been jettisoned, I do have one big gripe with this film: 

     How old is Alexandra Daddario’s character supposed to be? 

     The main hook of this entry is that it follows the events of the original film which was in 1973. This one takes place in 2012. Her character was found as a baby. Damn, she’s one hot 39 year old. Doesn’t look a day over 25. 

     Aside from that just being offensively annoying, I liked this one. Leatherface being more of an antihero is pretty cool, its nice and gory, and I can actually see what the fuck is happening in the frame thanks to proper lighting. 

     Or it could be the simple fact that I had fun watching this with my beat friend. Meh, to each their own. 

     Well, that brings me to the end of this journey. Its amazing how a series of films can shape you, and even chronicle your evolution as a human being. I started this franchise having nightmares about renting the damn thing; now I’m just, “They made another one?!”

Happy New Years everyone. Thanks for reading. 

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review 

     Right before I sat down to watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story it dawned on me what a risk this film is for Disney; even though this is quite possibly the biggest franchise in the history of movies, can audiences accept an installment that has no Jedi and principal characters that we have never even met before?

     The short of it is that, yes. Yes they sure can. 

     To help clear up any confusion for the casual fan, this story takes place 19 years after the fall of the Republic, and the rise of the Empire. The Rebellion is in full swing, and they’re on the verge of collapsing. With word being reached that the Empire has a weapon that can destroy entire planets, they recruit the daughter of the architect in charge, Jyn (Felicity Jones) to gather information on this station. 

     Jyn is partnered up with a whole squad including Cassian (Diego Luna), K2 (Alan Tudyk), Chirrut (Donnie Yen), Baze (Wen Jiang), and Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) to eventually steal the plans for the Death Star and bring hope to the rebellion. 

     What struck me the most about the movie was just how emotionally invested I was in the characters. Please bear in mind that almost every character is a creation for Rogue One never having appeared in any other sort of media. I had heard some gripes that first two acts slug along, but it was those two acts that made me care. I get that everyone wants to get to the good shit, i.e. the theft of the plans, but understand that the third act only works because we came to care about this team. 

     I apologize for being so vague on the details that made the story so emotionally engrossing, but I can’t in good conscious ruin the loving craftsmanship that went into the production. Yes there’s a whole lot of fan service, but the core story is about Jyn and her crew. 

      Its been a few days since I saw the movie, and I can’t shake it. Not even The Force Awakens left me thinking about its stories and characters this much. I was so terrified that Rogue One was going to be an insulting cash grab; instead what we got was an engrossing, heartfelt tale that left me wiping away tears, and an inspirational feeling that I haven’t felt in years. 

     This, this movie is why I love Star Wars. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review 

     I had to keep reminding myself that not everyone knows the Harry Potter series, much less the entire universe. Studios are always trying to keep a franchise alive long after the main series is long since over. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an interesting expansion on the history of the wizarding world, but you better know what you’re getting yourself into. 

     Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a collector and catalogues all magical creatures and his exploits have taken him to 1926 New York where he runs afoul of the secret magic community by accidentally involving a No-Maj (non-magic people) named Kowalski  (Dan Fogler). As they are being helped reluctantly by a former officer of the community named Tina (Katherine Waterston), they find themselves being chased by magic officer Graves (Colin Ferrell) who has an agenda of his own. 

     Let me get this out of the way first: if you’ve never seen or heard of a Harry Potter then this flick ain’t for you. I’m a casual Harry Potter fan, and I had a hard time figuring out the hell was going on half the time. You see, America has different wizardry rules than England, so half the time I’m wondering why certain regulations are in place. Before you go on about how I have to read this, that or the other, I call bullshit. There is a world of difference between reading something to enhance the experience, and just not properly setting anything up at all. Fan or not, we should all be on the same page. 

     Eddie Redmayne just further cements in my eyes that the man has no range as an actor. You see one movie with this guy, and you’ve seen him in everything. There is nothing unique or even joyful about Newt, and I didn’t give two shits about his journey. 

     But I can’t praise Dan Fogler enough for his performance as Kowalski. This character fundamentally exists as an audience surrogate; he is supposed to ask everything we as audience members would ask. Even then, Fogler has managed, unlike Redmayne, to create a character thaf stands on his own, great natural timing, and a heart and warmth that I surely never would have expected. 

     The film as a whole is fun and is a delight for the most hardcore fans of this universe, but as a jumping in point its pretty poor due to that horrific mess of a first act. But once you get past it, the film has fun and is engaging. If for no other reason, see it for Kowalski. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.