As one of the most influential and divergent films of horror history, Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 has been a victim to cultural abuse. After two conventional sequels, there was a ‘Next Generation’ nineties prequel starring Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellwegger, then a straight-up remake in 2003, followed by a prequel to the remake in 2006. Just when us horror fans thought it was safe, the story is unleashed back onto the big screen, now in horrendous 3D.
New director John Luessenhop and his team of four (FOUR!) screenwriters know that you love the 1974 movie, so much that he opens Texas Chainsaw 3D with a crude highlights reel of the original. It’s a sneaky trick, reawakening horror buffs fondness for the original, only for it to be battered and bruised by a re-enactment of what could have happened after the original film’s final showdown. Picking up from where we left off, we now have extra characters, plot dimensions and motivations that were virtually non-existent in the original.
Following this bit of abuse, we’re transported 29 years later into present day America and things start shaping up like a stereotypical modern horror movie. Alexandra Daddario stars as Heather, an adopted supermarket clerk with a murky past. After she receives a letter claiming that a grandmother she never knew existed has died, she hops in a VW campervan and sets off on a journey westward to her native Texas to sign some bereavement papers. Accompanied by her adulterous boyfriend Ryan (played by rapper Trey Eyez), slutty best friend Nikki, token ‘rock-dude’ friend Kenny, and hunky hitchhiker Darryl, they arrive to discover that Heather has not only inherited a new, admittedly dead grandmother, but her large country mansion. It’s a double-edged sword saw, however, as she’s yet to discover the 6ft5” leather faced terror lurking in the basement below.
This is a pretty repugnant film. Virtually scare free, it’s deeply misogynistic to boot. Let’s face it, horror films have always relied on gross objectification of women, but Texas Chainsaw 3D really takes it to a despicable new level, meaning that we get several upskirt tracking shots and damsels in distress who are incapable of keeping their clothes buttoned up whilst trying to flee from the chainsaw wielding Leatherface.
After Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, I was starting to warm to the idea of 3D cinema. After seeing this, I’m confident that the technology will mostly be used for gimmick. It’s utterly pointless here, with spurts of blood wiped across the screen and chainsaws being hurtled at your face. It’s corny, and could have even been fun, if the film wasn’t taking itself so seriously.
What’s more distressing then the movie itself is how Tobe Hooper ever gave this his stamp of approval, announcing a few weeks ago that he saw the film and claimed it as “a perfect terrifying follow-up to the original”. Whilst this new film may have chickened out of using ‘massacre’ in the title, it’s certainly killed all my appreciation for the original movie. If you have some time to burn and cash to spend, do yourself a favour and do anything – I mean it – do anything other than see Texas Chainsaw 3D.
So, that’s it. 366 movies in 366 days. It’s over, I can rest. Disappointing that I ended the year on such a bum note, but it feels great to accomplish this thing. Thanks for reading and keep glued to here in 2013. Some exciting new writing opportunities are on the cards and this will become a brand new spot for film, music and cultural discussion (I hope).