Oh man, this is brilliant. This has all the things that make me love this crazy piece of "WTF?!" celluloid. This was put together for a special screening. Regardless, it's seriously badass. Check it out.
Directed by: John Luessenhop
I for one have never been a fan of all these remakes in the last 10 years or so. I mean, it's gotten kind of ridiculous when you hear almost on a daily basis that almost every film you loved in horror as a kid in the 70's and 80's is being remade. It's almost to the point that you just expect anything you ever loved to get the "remake" or "reboot" treatment these days, which is just sad. I mean, right off the top of my head I honestly can't think of a single remake that I actually enjoyed, except for Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead and the Chainsaw films. Evil Dead will be another post, so I'll get into that one another time. But shockingly, I've always found something to like in all the Chainsaw sequels, reboots and remakes, except for Kim Henkel's horrible Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994).
So let me just go down the line with quick little blurbs on the series before I delve into this new installment.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Writer/Director Tobe Hooper knocks this one out of the park and created one of the most iconic, bleak, surreal and nightmarish horror films ever made. I think what works in it's favor is it's almost documentary feel, yet Hooper is able to pull of some truly inventive and downright brilliant and imaginative shots throughout. One of the best horror films ever made.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) Man, I'm just still not fully on board with this one. You really have to be in the right kind of mood and know what you're getting into to enjoy this one, at least for me. Even then, I find it tedious, boring and even annoying most of the time with it's odd vibe, Bill Moseley's over the top performance and constant yelling banter between the Sawyer family that unless you watch it with subtitles, you can hardly ever understand what the hell they're saying. Here Hooper decided to do something completely different "on purpose" and depending on your taste, it either works or it doesn't. For me, it doesn't. It just gives me a headache more than anything. It's got great effects by the one and only Tom Savini, and amazing set design and production value, but overall I just don't dig it. Hooper offers some nice camerawork though, and you can always count on Dennis Hopper to deliver the crazy.
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) I've always considered this particular entry one of my favorites. For me, this feels more like a true Chainsaw film in look and tone. I've always thought last minute replacement director Jeff Burr did a phenomenal job with the limited resources and support he had. Still one of my favorite horror films to this day.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) Not even gonna go there.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) Like with every other horror remake, I rolled my eyes at this one. Didn't even go to the theater to see it. But when it hit DVD, curiosity got the better of me and well, what the hell, I actually liked it. Never been a big fan of Marcus Nispel's kinetic hand held style of filmmaking, but here it seems to blend perfectly with the subject matter and all in all, he pulls of some impressive shots and camerawork. I also thought Andrew Bryniarski's hulking Leatherface was just badass. Some impressive gore and effects and cast sealed the deal for me on this one.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) This prequel to the remake 3 years before was another big surprise for me. Though I didn't really feel we needed to know where Leatherface came from or how he came to be; it sort of takes away a lot of the mystique for me, I just couldn't get over how much I enjoyed director Jonathan Liebesman's work on this one. Some truly haunting and visually striking imagery make this a standout for sure. We also get Bryniarski returning as Leatherface, which is always a plus.
Soooooo, here we are now again with this new entry. Except, instead of following along the storyline of the reboot, this film aims to be a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper's original film in 1974. In fact, the film begins immediately after the closing scene from that original film. Now, I don't know about you, but I think it takes a lot of balls to try, almost 40 years later, to make a film as a sequel to that iconic film. So you know, despite some massive plot holes, major inconsistencies and a truly fucked up and nonsensical timeline, I enjoyed this one quite a bit, which also surprised me because I honestly had no desire to see it for some reason.
What works? Overall, for me anyway, most of it. It reminded me of old school horror, circa the 80's and 90's. Too many times these horror films adhere to the new breed of horror filmmaking; the quick-edit/shaky-cam bullshit that I loathe. In this case, the film looked good, filmed with an even steady hand and no handheld camera bullshit. In the beginning of the film, we are also treated to a plethora of cameo's from the first 2 Chainsaw films. Why were they there and where the fuck did they come? Who knows?! Another one of this films many inconsistencies. But whatever. Cool to see Gunner Hansen, Marilyn Burns and Bill Mosely chewing up a few scenes. Despite some CGI work, though limited, the effects work in here was awesome. Glad to see they went old school for the most part.
What doesn't work? Where do I begin? The timeline is all screwed up and makes no sense if you really put thought into the events, the years and ages of the people. It's almost laughable in a few scenes. The 3D was just completely unnecessary. I saw maybe 3 or 4 shots, outside of the amazing opening sequence with footage from the original film that had been beautifully converted to 3D, that actually needed 3D. The other 98% of the film didn't need or utilize it at all. So it just felt like another gimmick to squeeze a few extra dollars out of the moviegoing public who wen to see this in the theater. The last 20 minutes. Oh dear lord. Ridiculous. Just plain ridiculous. So much so that it almost ruins the entire experience for me, but thankfully I felt the other 3 quarters of the film were strong enough to overcome the final act. But geez, it could have easily gone the other way and ended up making me hate this. That's how silly and ridiculous that final third act is. Buuuuuuut, overall it was enjoyable. Much more so than any of the other slasher remakes/reboots like Friday the 13th (which actually wasn't that bad), A Nightmare on Elm Street (unnecessary) and Rob Zombies Halloween films (unnecessary). I think had Zombie taken a different stylistic approach to his Halloween films, like say his vastly different and superior visual flare of Lords of Salem, we would have had much better Halloween films. But that's just me.
I suppose I felt the need to give this new Chainsaw film a few positive words, as most of what I have heard has been bad, or just about that ridiculous ending. So if you can stomach that last act, I think you'll find a solid old fashioned horror film with more to like than hate.
Directed by: Rob Zombie
I feel like I need to post something since it's been a few months since my last. Sorry everyone, just haven't been feelin' it lately. Been more in tune with watching tons of stuff, but hadn't had the need to sit down and write anything down.
But there have been a few recent releases that I feel need some some positive word of mouth, or some buzz since it seems they are not receiving their due diligence. So anyway, here's my first of a few.
The Lords of Salem:
I think there might be a misconception with this one. I think that if people knew right off the bat that this wasn't a straight up horror film, then maybe some people wouldn't have gotten so upset, especially when you take into consideration Zombie has been known to make films a certain kind of way, with a specific tone. Here he tries something drastically different, and you know what? It fuckin' works for me.
The Lords of Salem is a moody, atmospheric, dark, brooding and epic surrealistic film. This is not a horror film. Here Zombie makes a film of this type the way Roeg, Kubrick and Polanski would, just to name a few. And much like his earlier films and their particular influences, these visionary filmmakers footprints can be seen all over Lords of Salem. And I will say, for the most part, he succeeds. I was so impressed visually and tonally with this film that all my little issues with the films shortcomings took a backseat to my excitement of this experiment in surreal filmmaking. And I have to give props to Zombie for attempting to do something like this and for the most part, pulling it off. It takes a lot of balls and not a lot of directors would ever even try.
Now, even I knew as I was watching this that this will turn a lot of people off and would more than likely "not" be a hit. Especially if you're used to Zombie's particular brand of Grindhouse filmmaking with shaky handheld camerawork galore. With LoS, I was surprised, no shocked, at how amazing this looked. Not one single handheld shaky-cam shot in the entire film. Everything looks meticulously designed and executed and his use of widescreen in this film is just simply stunning. Stylistically, this is Rob Zombie's crowning achievement; his growth as a mature filmmaker and if nothing else, a respected one.
I've never been a fan of Sheri Moon Zombie. I don't know, she just kind of gets on my nerves. I know it's really the characters she plays in her husbands films, but she annoys me in all of them, but in the back of my mind I know it's the character, and not the actress. Maybe it's the annoying baby voice she uses? I don't know. I just cringe when I hear her talk in House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects. But anyway, here I was pleasantly surprised that Holy Hell, she can act! Yes, Sheri Moon Zombie can act. I still think this would have been a much stronger film had her lead role been cast with a seasoned pro, but she was not bad in the least and she certainly didn't "hurt" the film. But Jesus Christ, Mr. Zombie must you keep forcing us to stare at your wife's bare ass repeatedly?? It almost gets laughable, especially with the last scene of her bare ass in this film.......for no apparent reason whatsoever.......just to show her ass.
As in all his films, he litters this film with cult film icons. So much so that he ended up having to cut a good chunk of them out, and so if you've seen images of some of them online or in advertisements, there's a good chance you won't see them in the actual film. Like Zombie regular Sid Haig for one. His role was cut down so much that you only see him for about 2 seconds, but you won't even know it's him as you don't see his face. Bummer. And if you keep reading all things Lords of Salem, you'll find out about all the other cult film regulars that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Aside from those, the regulars here are just outstanding. One in particular just blew me away, because I had no idea it was her until I saw the credits at the end. Meg Foster. "The" Meg Foster was in here and I had absolutely no clue it was her. Wow!
Overall, a great surreal, dark and atmospheric film. I loved this one. So much so that I've been itching to go see it again. So much so that I will actually buy the DVD when it comes out in a further attempt to support this film, as I did when I actually bought a ticket to see it in the theater, which I just never do anymore because ticket prices are too outrageous for my taste. But I did it for this film and I'm glad I did. It was worth it.
The first half is pretty slow, but the tone and extreme eye candy of the second more than make up for it in the second half. It's a long one, but if you're invested, and know what type of film you're getting yourself into, then you'll surely not even care.