Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

I'll get this out of the way: I HATE Michael Bay. I think he represents some of the worst cinema ever created. I love dumb action flicks just as much as the next guy, but "Pearl Harbor," "Bad Boys," and "Armageddon" are so devoid of redeeming qualities that it makes me nauseous. What would you think if, 50 years from now, some Hollywood bigshot decided to make a 9/11 movie and created an overblown opus in the vein of Bay's "Pearl Harbor?"


/Michael Bay rant.

I love the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. No modern pop-culture slasher horror character would exist today if it wasn't for Leatherface. This is the movie that signaled the era of new horror flicks. So when it was announced that Michael Bay, who represents all that is wrong with action movies, was producing a remake of a horror classic... Well, let's just say I wasn't getting my hopes up.

But hey, it turns out the damn thing isn't half bad!

The story here is a departure, but it feels the same. Last time, 5 kids were checking out reports of a grave robbing. This time, they're on their way to a Skynyrd concert. A series of events leads them to Leatherface's lair, and the mayhem ensues.

The best thing about the movie was the lead in to Leatherface's reveal. Rather than having him bust out at you from the opening credits (as I'd assumed Bay would have done), the film sets up a feeling of impending doom. The dread grows to a point where Leatherface's grand entrance is well suited, feels cool, and manages to frighten you all at the same time.

The story takes the route of a psychological thriller in a lot of situations, such as a fantastic scene where R. Lee Ermey (as the town sheriff) forces one of the poor unsuspecting victims to put a gun in his mouth. No big scare, no surprise "boo," just a scene that fucks with your head. To me, that's A LOT scarier than someone jumping from the shadows.

That's not to say the film doesn't stick to its bloody roots. There's plenty of gore, maiming, and disturbing torture scenes. This film isn't for the weak of heart or stomach.

Leatherface just looks cool, too. He still steals people's faces and wears them with pride, and the shots of him running with smoke billowing out of his chainsaw are great. Leatherface is accompanied by his family and also a group of townspeople who are on his side, taking a page out of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre III"'s plotline.

The movie isn't perfect, and it will never compare to the genre-defining original, but you could do a lot worse at the theater. It's a good scare, an appropriate Halloween movie, and most of all, it's a pleasantly gory surprise.

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2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes