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 →
I watched ‘Arrival’ last Friday, but it’s taken me over a week to process my feelings about it. I’ve been waiting for ‘Arrival’ for a long time. With films like ‘Prisoners’ and ‘Enemy,’ Denis Villeneuve became one of my favourite modern directors (‘Sicario’ was a rare misfire for him in my eyes; click here for my review). His foray into science fiction had me biting at the champ. The rave reviews made me bite harder and probably left me a little deflated when the credits rolled after the film. However, that’s not to say ‘Arrival’ isn’t a great film. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year. It’s not without flaws, but it is a must see movie. Continue reading →
Fourteen movies in, the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows no signs of slowing down. The latest movie, ‘Doctor Strange,’ has just had an opening weekend in the US of $85 million. Not bad for a film about a superhero few people know about. As we all know, success is not a guarantor of quality. I watched ‘Doctor Strange’ when it opened here in olde England. It’s taken me a week or so to pin down my thoughts about it. Is it a quirky adventure that sets itself apart from the wider MCU? Or is it the generic MCU origin story with magic and eye-popping effects? Continue reading →
Not only did I see my first Woody Allen movie this year (‘Café Society’), but this week I saw my first ever Ken Loach film. And what a film to break my Loach virginity. ‘I, Daniel Blake’ should be essential viewing for every English citizen. It’s the story of a man (the eponymous 59 year old) who struggles through the modern day English benefits system after suffering from a heart attack. His doctor says that he isn’t fit to work, but the government (or, rather, a government-appointed company) deem him fit to work. What follows is a stomach-churning and depressing look at what happens to those struggling in modern day England. ‘Benefits Street’ may give some people lurid entertainment, but ‘I, Daniel Blake’ shows us the plight of the truly needy in Britain who are left out in the cold (usually, literally). Men and women are stripped of their humanity, and I felt empty and distraught after watching Loach’s latest political rage against the machine. 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 →
“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!
“I mean, it’s not ‘Gone With The Wind,’ but there’s probably a moral in it somewhere”
Was it a hoax? Was it a real documentary? Whatever it is, ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’ is compulsive viewing. I’ve been meaning to watch the movie about Banksy for a while now, but chanced to see it on Netflix before doing a spot of ironing (I have to watch something whilst ironing. Last week I started to watch ‘The Resurrection of Jake The Snake’, which was a deeply moving documentary about a wrestling legend). ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’ wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Yes, Banksy was in it, but it was more about the (fictional? Real?) pseudo-filmmaker, Thierry Guetta and the history of street art. I got more than what I bargained for, in a fantastic way. Continue reading →
Tokyo Gore Police…if you haven’t seen it, and you have the stomach for gore that makes Saw look like Bambi, then I heartily recommend it. Trust me; you’ll have the time of your life! It’s fun, over-the-top, ludicrous, yet with a compelling message that isn’t drowned by the gallons of blood that (sometimes literally) splash the screen. It’s perverse, obscene, ludicrous, laughable, and unlike anything you’ve seen before. Unless, of course, you’ve seen other films of this type… Continue reading →
I’m always suspicious if a film receives exaggerated critical acclaim or an exaggerated critical mauling. In either case, it seems to be a case of critics jumping on the bandwagon in a hurry to praise or bury a film. Of course, the only way to be sure of anything is to see it for yourself. ‘Batman v Superman,’ for example, was not the car crash of a film that it was made out to be. Maybe Rotten Tomatoes is broken and in need of fixing. When the negative reviews of ‘Suicide Squad’ were released, I hoped that Rotten Tomatoes would be wrong. Unfortunately, a broken clock is right twice a day. And ‘Suicide Squad’ was a poor film with very few redeeming features. Continue reading →