The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

chainsaw massacre posterSo I rent The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, version 2003. I watch it with my roommate. He didn’t see the original, but we are stunned. We’re stunned at how bad this movie is.

I am shocked and appalled. Not by the graphic violence, no. If anything, the violence is boring. I’m disgusted by the fact that someone (Michael Bay) thought it was a good idea to remake a touchstone. I’m mad that redos of this sort are a common lot in Hollywood. And I’m mad that the film has no sense of humor.

Tobe Hooper’s film is a brisk eighty-three minutes. The remake is fifteen minutes longer — and it takes a day for it to run its course. As expected, the cutting is rapid-fast, and the gore slaps you in the face. But it doesn’t fly. It doesn’t want to build suspense. (That would require creative thinking.) The sight of guts and gore is enough to compensate.


The movie has characters and events that aren’t in the original. We see one contrivance after another, the kind you get in a “We’re trapped in a horror flick and we can’t get out” type of film. And the production design is perfect — too perfect. It really does look like they took this thing seriously. It’s so real, it’s fake; and the tint — wow. So many yellows and browns.

It looks like someone took a s*** on this movie — an expensive crap.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is scary. Things happen with the ease of real-time lightness. We aren’t clued to death. The remake starts stretching the shadows and casting the ominous backlight long before the massacre takes place. In light of what comes afterward, this runs counter to feeling and fun. And the “skin-peel” on Leatherface? Overdesigned.

I never thought I’d rue the lack of pretension in horror, but TCM03 uses the wrong method in trying to scare us. Sure, it doesn’t poke fun at itself like the Scream team. But that doesn’t make it any nobler, or more preferable. By throwing all humor aside, it flubs the potential for scariness. In the first film, surreal touches made the elements of shock all the more jarring and effective (e.g., the granddad). Without a sense of humor, the merely ridiculous is downright annoying.

My roommate’s ranting and raving made the film a lot more interesting than it deserved to be. Nowadays, he says, most horror films piss him off because they’re full of “stupid white people.” This might be a derogatory remark, but I think he’s onto something. He described the rut these films are in. Made by idiots for idiots, they’re about idiots. We’re so keen for even the slightly good horror film that we find ourselves going to see dread remakes.

We are the problem. We can’t forget how good the good films are. We air it, and this is what we get.

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