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. 

Film Directors That Get A Free Pass

     We all have them. The actors, writers or even directors who get a free pass from us as fans. The ones who do a piece of work so fucking good, that of they make a shitty movie, you give them a free pass and see the next one. Here is a not so definitive list of directors that deserve a free pass (keep in mind that there are so many more directors out there that get a free, this is just five of them).

1. Martin Scorsese

image

   Here’s an easy one to start with. I don’t care if Scorsese films Joe Pesci and De Niro just shouting mother fucker for 3 and a half hours or DiCaprio taking a shit for 2 hours, I’m seeing whatever this man does. Goodfellas is reason enough to see everything with his name on it.

2. Richard Linklater

image

     The first film I noticed from this director was Before Sunrise, a movie that somehow managed to make two people talking more interesting than the latest action blockbuster. It left such a profound impact that I didn’t talk to anyone about it for years. A bit like it was my little secret. Add onto it A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life, Daze and Confused, Boyhood, even the Bad News Bears remake, the man knows how to tell human stories without being a pretentious asshole about it.

3. Cameron Crowe

image

     This fucking guy tried my patience recently with the piece of shit that was Aloha, but he gets his free pass. Why do you ask? Say Anything… should be the only reason, but he also did Jerry Maguire, and the masterpiece that was Almost Famous. Crowe really pushed my theory of great artists getting a free pass, but also thanks to him it stuck.

4. Clint Eastwood

image

     I’m not kidding when I say that Clint Eastwood is one of the greatest American directors ever. With movies like A Perfect World, Mystic River, and especially Unforgiven, it isn’t hard to see that the man has got a firm grasp on his craft. Because of the past flicks I mentioned I saw Million Dollar Baby, and damn that shit was brutal emotionally.

5. Paul Feig

image

     It’s pretty safe to say that this is the director that people know the least, but he’s pretty fucking hated right now. Yep, this is the guy doing the Ghostbusters remake. And I’m going to go see it. All because the man created the show Freaks and Geeks. Yep. That’s it. That show, for me, was high school. It was way too real (and fucking hilarious) for me to handle. He other flicks like Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy I saw because of Freaks and Geeks, and I loved all of those movies.

     There are a shit ton of other directors that can go on this list, but these in particular I wanted to shed some light on. A lot of times paying attention to a director can save some cash, or destroy your soul (fucking Aloha). Most times you’ll find a gem, and it can make your day.

Quentin Tarantino’s Films From Worst to Best

     As a kid growing up in the 90s, Quentin Tarantino’s films were a fucking marvel to behold. Until then, there was nothing that was so old by film formula standards, yet it felt so fresh and new. The man has a rare distinction of having not just a unique voice, but also a visual style all his own. The lists presented here are categorized by pictures he’s directed The list is relative, and does not include The Hateful Eight yet.

Directed Features:

#7. Death Proof (Extended)

image

     It’s really easy to hate this movie. Boy, is it ever. As it’s own film with around 20 minutes of extra footage, the film does fare better than a part of Grindhouse, but it’s still pretty weak. There’s basically two stories here, and only one of them is good. The first half with Stuntman Mike is the stuff of terror, but the second half is a car chase movie with characters not interesting enough for me to care. The tonal shift is too jarring and noticeable to be a success.

#6. Django Unchained

image

     This film is by no means a failure. It’s rich with characters, verbal sparring, and a sweet love story at its center. In many ways, there’s too much story, too many interesting subplots that get discarded to be the absolute best. Even the last act goes on too long, especially knowing deep down how it’s going to end. That’s what holds the film back.

5. Reservoir Dogs

image

     Watching Reservoir Dogs again for this post, I was struck by how the movie still holds up. As a first feature it’s fucking impressive. The dialogue is still memorable, the mystery of who’s the rat is still intriguing, and the time jumps are focused and disciplined. It still has that kinetic energy that many filmmakers have tried to imitate, but can’t come close to succeeding.

4. Inglorious Basterds

image

     To be upfront, this was not the movie I expected to see when it was first released in 2009. It’s not so much about a group of soldiers, but an array of characters that are truly Basterds. Once I got over that, I took the movie at face value, I saw a story that was purely engaging. The way film plays a crucial role in the plot, the way film is discussed so seriously in the midst of war it’s something that has not been done in a historical war picture. And Christoph Waltz steals the whole movie from the first frame.

3. Kill Bill

image

     I have been very fortunate to have seen Kill Bill edited as one movie; the way that it was intended to be seen. It is fucking glorious. The movie is truly Tarantino’s epic in every measure. Seeing them as two half’s you notice the genre changes which can loosen the impact of what Tarantino is trying to do. The journey feels so much more rewarding, so complete, so different from anything else in modern times. If you ever get the opportunity to see it in its intended version (back to back on video isn’t the same), then you owe it to yourself to see it. The performances will pop out more, the collage of genres will give you a new appreciation of Tarantino as a filmmaker.

2. Pulp Fiction

image

     I know many of you are surprised at its spot on the list, but I need to stick with it. There’s already a confidence in every aspect of the movie from the writing to the acting to the editing. Here’s a movie that did such a good fucking job at telling it’s story that most people don’t even realize it’s a fucking anthology film. I don’t think there has been one article I have seen on anthology films, that has ever included this one. It’s easy to take for granted nowadays, but it still feels as fresh as the day it was released.

1. Jackie Brown

image

     With only his third feature film, Tarantino already mastered his craft. The maturity he already possessed to let the characters be true to the source material (based on an Elmore Leonard novel), to let the characters breathe, and to not any bullshit to make it more “Tarantino-esque”. I keep coming back to the movie again and again, still enchanting me like the first time I saw it. It’s his best all around film, no question.

The Bond Films That No Fan Talks About

     After reading through my 23 Bond film review I bet you were wondering, “Wait, isn’t there another Sean Connery one?” Yes there is foolish person, and we don’t discuss that outside of the Bond fandom. Why? Because it fucking sucks and is an embarrassment. Because I’m in a Bondian spirit, let me briefly introduce to you these monstrosities so I can move on in my life.

Casino Royale (1967):

image

     Good god, where the fuck do I begin with this shit? This is a parody version of the novel of the same name. This happened because author Ian Fleming sold the rights to novel, which then changed hands to producer Charles Feldman and wanted to do a straight up adaptation. But he realized that the only way to compete with the EON Bond was to make a funny movie. Except it’s not. Fuck man, it’s not at all.
     Let me try to simplify it somehow: Sir James Bond (David Niven) is now retired, M (John Houston) is killed, and Bond is next. So he decides to have 7 people code named James Bond (the fucking fact that that fan theory started from this movie is something I can never ever forgive) in order to confuse SMERSH. The fact that legends like John Houston, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Orson Welles are in this poor excuse of a movie makes me sick. This thing had 5 directors on it. I’m not fucking around, 5 directors!!! I’m done talking about this, it’s not good, it’s not funny.

Never Say Never Again (1983):

image

     I’m going to go more in-depth in another post about the legal shit behind Thunderball, but basically this is just a remake of Thunderball. Connery came back to do this movie out of spite for Bond film producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, and it shows. In a way, I recommend seeing this movie because you’ll learn to appreciate the standard Bond film elements: The Pretitle sequence, the gun barrel sequence, the fucking James Bond theme, all that stuff.
     In reality all that could be forgiven if the movie wasn’t so fucking boring!!! Everyone gives a half assed performance, and no amount of checking out Kim Basinger (when that meant something) can save it. There is a fun (dated) video game duel that’s fun, but that’s it. I can understand fans skipping this movie, but I say watch it so you don’t take the iconic Bond elements fit granted.

     That’s it pretty much, the two movies that I’m ashamed to have watched, and owned, for many years. They work as curiosities, but trust me that’s it. The behind the scenes stories on both movies are more entertaining than the films themselves, and that’s just fucking sad.

Underrated Installments in Horror Film Franchises

     We all have our favorite horror monsters. The one horror series that we all go back to, time and time again. You know, like a fucked up comfort food. And like sports teams on the West Coast, they can’t all be winners. But some do deserve a second chance, a great hidden gem lurking in the shadows like our psychopathic friends.

A Nightmare on Elm Street:

image

     I really wanted to put Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, but that movie exists all on its own. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master stays within its established continuity. Everybody gives love to parts 1, 3, and 7, while this one gets just thrown in like an afterthought. But there’s so much fun, awesome imagery, and a strong protagonist with an actual fucking character arch. Trust me, if you want to jump in and see the premise go to new sights, see this one.

Friday the 13th:

image

     Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is like that one weird relative that no one talks about, and barely acknowledge at reunions. After Jason was killed in the previous installment, they decided that Tommy Jarvis would be the protagonist dealing with what seems like the return of Jason. With going this different route, the film goes back to the structure of the original film and plays like a mystery, and an ending that was ballsy enough to have it retconned in the next film. Believe me, it’s intriguing and a shit ton of fun.

Child’s Play:

image

     Yeah. This one. I never understood the sheer disdain for this movie. The most common thing I heard was, “Chucky wasn’t scary anymore”. Well, in the 7 years since part 3, Chucky really wasn’t scary anymore. Be honest, he became a joke way before Bride of Chucky. This one just fucking went with it, and basically did a retelling of Bride of Frankenstein. And I’m totally OK with that! It’s supposed to be funny. It has doll sex. Yes, I’m serious. You’re welcome.

Psycho:

image

     Hold on to your fucking cries of sacrilege, I’m saying this movie is awesome in its own right, a damn fine follow up. The movie is a character study on Norman Bates trying to adjust, and make amends to society. Admit it, that sounds fucking sweet. Anthony Perkins, he just makes the whole movie work. You’ll feel bad for him. Trust me.

Final Destination:

image

     Now this is underrated. Seriously, no one ever talks about this movie (when the series is brought up). The roller coaster death is just everyone’s real fears to life. And this one got more ridiculous with its deaths, so that is so worth it. And Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Case closed.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre:

image

     It’s pretty weird that the second movie in a franchise of soon to be eight films is the one that’s considered to be the most underrated. Well, this happened when I saw Texas Chainsaw 3D, which ignored all the sequels including this one. My thought was, “Aw, that sucks. I liked that one”. Yeah, it’s a weird fucking movie. The tone between films changed from: Terrifying to Dark Comedy. And I hated it at the time, but seeing all the others, at least this one tried to do something different. Dennis Hopper/Leatherface Chainsaw duel. ‘Nuff said.

Hellraiser:

image

Jesus wept, there’s a lot of shitty sequels in this franchise. Like, fuck! They even start to bleed together (hee hee). Inferno is just… Well… It put Pinhead in a role that I thought he should have always played: The Punisher of Hell. He will fuck with you, then rip your soul apart. It’s not a masterpiece, but it ain’t bad.

The “Dead” Films

image

     When your first two films are Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, the rest can be forgotten. Except this one. This one is fun, and you can tell it had an actual budget. That is just too weird, man. The acting is a good balance of seriousness and humor. Haha, this movie has the Mentalist.

image

     I have to confess: I fucking love this movie! This movie had the gall to fucking start preaching about the flaws in the Medical healthcare system. Wow, that just… Made it so unintentionally hilarious! It’s being sincere, while showing some horrific, needlessly complicated deaths. That juxtaposition alone makes it a masterpiece of the Saw series.

Halloween:

image

     It’s fitting on this Halloween holiday inspired post, that I end on the most underrated installment in a horror franchise: Halloween III: Season of the Witch. This movie is so fucking loathed because it doesn’t have Michael Myers. The idea was that after Halloween 2, the series would become an anthology, each film having a new story and characters. I’m so sad this didn’t continue. I love Michael Myers and all, but horror stories revolving around Halloween? That’s too cool. And this one actually goes into the history of Halloween. Because of this movie, I know how to properly pronounce Samhain. The jingle will get so stuck in your head. The ending is still harrowing to me after two decades since I saw it. 

Top 5 Free Horror Movies on YouTube

     Looking to Netflix and Chill this Halloween, but too broke for Netflix? Well, I got your back little homie with a selection for great horror films that will scare your crush into fucking you. Or your just looking for a good horror flick, I guess, on Halloween night. Trust me on this, these are top notch, and if you’ve never seen them, well you’re in for a fucking treat my friend. In no particular order:

1. Carnival of Souls (1962)

image

     OK, this is a personal favorite of mine, but man do I love it. The story is simple: A girl survives a horrible accident to discover a mysterious figure is appearing to her. That’s it. But trust me, the simplicity of it all is so fucking unnerving. It’s not flashy, just eerie visuals that will fucking haunt you. See this shit, I’m not even close to fucking around here.

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

image

     You don’t fuck with a classic. Do you like The Walking Dead? Well this is where the concept of the modern zombie started. Filled with social commentary, and pretty fucked up visuals, it all started here, and well deserved classic.

3. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

image

     Now, this one is just fun. If you don’t like Vincent Price, then fuck you. He classes up the joint. The set up is great, a group of strangers have to survive a night in a haunted house to win money. And I’ll admit to there being one scene that scared the shit out of me in broad daylight (if you’re a fan, you know which one I’m talking about).

4. Nosferatu (1922)

image

     Considered to be the first vampire movie ever made, and a total ripoff of Dracula, this shit will send shivers down your spine. A rat looking Dracula is fucked up to look at and the exaggerated visuals just add to the uneasiness. And this is a silent movie, so if you like dialogue, see something else, but you’ll regret it.

5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)

image

     If the year hasn’t tipped you off yet, this is another silent movie. Actually, this movie is considered by many film historians to be the first horror film ever made. Here is an example of German Expressionism at is finest, which is film talk for for crazy ass visuals that look fake but are supposed to. What better way to celebrate Halloween than with the first horror movie ever made?

Honorable Mention: Sleepaway Camp (1983)

image

     When I found out this movie was on YouTube for free, how could I not tell you about it? By no means what one would consider good by conventional standards, but it’s an 80s slasher, you got to see one of them on Halloween. Alright, what makes this movie memorable is the ending. Yeah, it’s fucked up, and the last image horrifying, but man you won’t ever forget it. This movie is the best kept secret among slasher fans, and now it’s out there for you to discover.

     Well, that’s it. Free shit for you to watch on YouTube. Some of the flicks aren’t even 90 minutes long, so it makes for some quick viewing. This is some quality fun, even if quality can be a lax term sometimes, but all are worth your time.