I recently caught ‘Prometheus’ on television whilst holidaying at Llandudno (don’t judge me!). It was fortuitous, considering ‘Alien Covenant’ was due out at the cinema. My experience watching it at the cinema was not a pleasant one. More than anything, the film was dull. Yes, it may have been inexplicable, unsuccessfully fusing horror with pseudo-philosophical questions about the beginning of human life. It may have been riddled with stupid characters making stupid decisions (but isn’t that the core of most horror films?). It may not have answered any questions it posed. But, most of all, I found myself bored throughout the entire film. Would a re-viewing change my mind about it? Continue reading →
President Donald Trump has been the most powerful man in the world for over a month. Yet the world is still in one piece. To prepare myself for disaster, I re-watched a film I hated at the cinema, ‘2012.’ I left the cinema less than impressed after ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ a smaller scale disaster film than Emmerich’s usual globe spanning adventures (read my review of that film here). Would ‘2012’ satisfy my appetite for destruction? No matter how many national monuments he digitally destroys, Emmerich finds it difficult to direct a decent film. Each of his disaster films are bloated, over-reliant on CGI, poorly scripted, illogically plotted, etc (just check out Independence Day: Resurgence for proof, and read my review here). And they are populated with good actors, giving them a veneer of respect. Continue reading →
Haven’t we all been asking that question, since the 2008 Credit Crunch? The banks lost all the money, yet are still stuffed to the brim with the stuff. Of course, that’s a simplistic version of events. ‘Hell or High Water’ works as a tense bank heister thriller and an angry response to the Credit Crunch (does it need capitalising or not?). We root for the two bank robbers because, in our mind, they are in the right. Why should we care about banks being robbed? They’ve robbed us for long enough. It’s raging against the machine of capitalism whilst presenting a story full of compelling characters, twists and turns. Continue reading →
Continuing my ‘Predator’ voyage, I decided to watch ‘Predators,’ the third film in the ‘Predator’ franchise. Well, technically it’s the fifth film, but I don’t count the Aliens vs Predator films. I’ve never watched them, and can’t bring myself to watch them! hy I force myself to see a film I know will be awful? I have a sixth sense for films. The accuracy is about 70%, but for sequels and remakes, the accuracy rises to at least 85%. Alarm bells rang for Predators, but I still went to see it. Adding an ‘s’ to the title worked for Aliens, a cracking sequel. However, it adds nothing to this film at all. While I felt differently about ‘Predator 2’ (read my review here) after a rewatch, my feelings remained the same about ‘Predators…’ Continue reading →
After watching the original ‘Predator,’ (click here for my review) I thought it prudent to watch the sequel, ‘Predator 2’. I had pretty terrible memories of it, having watched it a long time ago. I decided to reappraise ‘Predator 2’, which I’ve dismissed for so many years. Surprisingly, my opinion changed during my second watch! It isn’t a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is undeniably entertaining in a ridiculous way. Let me tell you why… Continue reading →
Can you believe that ‘Predator’ is 30 years old this year? 30! The plot is simple. Spaceship lands on earth, alien comes out of said spaceship, alien hunts and kills humans. A military task force headed by Dutch (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger come face to face with it…It’s not the plot that really matters here, but the visual language and what the audience interprets along the way. It’s a more thoughtful film than you’d think. Continue reading →
It’s Halloween today, and what better film to watch than one of the original horror films? Yes, the vampire sub-genre has been done to death lately. Think of ‘Twilight’, ‘True Blood’, ‘The Vampire Diaries’, ‘Being Human’, etc. But ‘Nosferatu’ came a very long time before those modern examples. Because everybody loves vampires! The vampire emerges every so often in popular culture, preying on adolescent sexual nature, and the fear and fascination of giving up the body to a stranger. But, let’s be honest here, nothing in the recent vampire boom can hold a candle to ‘Nosferatu’! Continue reading →
Halloween is approaching, so what better time than now to watch a horror film? Looking through my ever-expanding pile of unwatched DVDs, I found Eli Roth’s ‘The Green Inferno.’ How did it get there? I certainly don’t remember buying it, as I had heard/read terrible reviews about it. But you can’t validate a negative review unless you view the product yourself, I guess, so I sat down and watched ‘The Green Inferno.’ Unfortunately, the reviews were correct. Roth’s homage to films like ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ is derivative, boring, and even disappointing in the gore factor… Continue reading →
Last week, BBC Culture released a list of the Top 100 Films of the 21st Century, as voted for by movie critics (click here for the list). It may be a bit premature, as we are only fifteen years into the 21st Century. ‘Mulholland Drive’ topped the list, which included critic friendly films such as ‘Tree of Life,’ ‘The Assassin,’ ‘The Diving Bell and The Butterfly,’ etc. I was surprised to see ‘The Dark Knight’ on there, as it is superhero movie, after all! Continue reading →
“It’s all the more tragic in that they were very young”
I’ve reviewed the remake of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ on my blog (click here for my review), so to balance the scales of quality I thought I’d review the original. The remake was so terrible, and reviewing it. I felt sorry for myself for watching it. The original gave me all I wanted in a horror film: it’s rough, nasty, and leaves a lot to the imagination! The remake was interchangeable with any other silly horror remake that pollutes the cinema screen. Obviously, at the time, the original Chainsaw Massacre didn’t have any competition; yet today, it still stand out as a horrific experience.
The beginning scroll gives us a little taste of what to come: it promises the ‘mad and macabre.’ Is it based on a true story? That notion in itself causes a little queasiness. Then it begins for real: snapshots of fingers, corpses, coupled with gut-wrenching noises. The origin of the noise is left to the imagation: the first full-on visual is a decaying body, with another decaying head placed in its arms. Similar to the original ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ we receive most of the back story from the radio. Corpses have been disinterred, mutilated, and stolen. It does not bode well for the group of teenagers we are shortly introduced to…
“Saturn’s a bad influence”
The teenagers even disregard the knowledge of the Zodiac. And there are omens of the slaughter to come: the invalid, Franklin, talking about the slaughter of cows, the psychotic hitchhiker who shows them pictures of slaughtered cows and cuts himself. One very appropriate statement comes from Pam: “There are moments when we cannot believe that what is happening is really true. Pinch yourself and you may find out that it is.” This is a premonition, a prediction, and advice for what’s to follow…
The eventual murders are unglamorous, quick, and static. There’s no longing look at a throat being slit, or a teenager’s guts being pulled out. Leatherface simply strikes his first victim with a hammer (twice): we see this murder from far away. The camera doesn’t zoom in to see the brains being bashed in. What’s more horrific is the parallel exploration of the house by Helen; she sees furniture adorned with polished bones: a carpet of plucked feathers and broken bones. She is the victim of the infamous ‘meat hook’ murder scene, strung up as she watches her boyfriend being sawn to pieces. Again, the ‘meat’ of the scene is left to our imagination.
You… you damn fool! You ruined the door!
More than anything, it’s the non-murder scenes that sticks in the viewer’s mind: Leatherface licking his lips whilst chasing the ‘last girl’ (of course, the last teenager left is the sweet, innocent girl), close-up of Sally screaming (the closing of her pupils the main focus), ‘Grandpa’ sucking on Sally’s blood…the most visually grotesque scene is Leatherface dropping the chain saw on his own leg: the skin splits, the blood flows free. This sticks in the mind because it’s unlike anything else in the film. At the end, we are left with both ‘good’ (Sally) and evil (Leatherface) triumphing, something that one rarely sees nowadays. Sally escapes and Leatherface simply revels in the sunrise, swinging his chain saw around. This is freedom for him. He isn’t defeated, rather invigorated by the one who got away. Sally will be marked forever by this terrible night. For Leatherface, she’s just another victim.
It’s the ambiguous ending that stands out; the horror survives another days. And what will stay with you, the viewer, is haunting images of broken bones, the images of a panic-stricken Sally screaming for her life, and that scene of a revelling Leatherface. There’s no penises cut off, no Achilles ’ heel being sliced, no impromptu brain surgery being performed. What remains is the feeling of terror permeating through the film, rather than grotesque scenes meant to make the viewer squirm, rather than be frightened. It may look rough, grainy, and filmed on an ancient camera, but that adds to the feeling of uneasiness. The modern, boring, overly gruesome horror directors of today could learn a lot from this classic…
VERDICT: 9/10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original, is a true horror classic. It embodies everything that causes a horror to be horrific. It’s what you don’t see that terrifies you the most. The film may look rough and ready, but that is part of its enduring legacy.
Is ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974) a true horror classic? Leave your thoughts/comments below!