Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2

"Leatherface you bitchhog you ruined my Sonny Bono Wig."

Tobe Hooper followed up his incredibly awesome Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with a whole lot of nothing. He made the damn near incompetent Eaten Alive, followed with gigs as a TV Movie Director, and hand puppet for Steven Spielberg. After a decade of this Hooper decided to return to his seminal franchise and made a movie that neither the studio, the fans, the critics, or most right thinking Americans ever expected to see. 

To be fair the original Texas Chain Saw  Massacre (that’s right two words, the excremental remake is the one that combined it) is truly a thing of beauty and is probably one of the five greatest horror movies ever made. With it’s mix of pure ferocious terror, existential horror, artful yet nearly documentary style, nothing quite like it has ever shambled into theaters. It’s less like watching a horror movie, than it is finding a disturbing home movie in your creepy uncle’s attic as you clean it out after he died. And if you haven’t seen it then you really, really need to stop reading this post right now, locate your nearest copy  and watch it immediately (Ed’s Note- He’s kidding please don’t stop reading this post). So when Hooper came out with something so utterly and completely different, well let’s just say people weren’t happy. Imagine if you will that the Coen’s made a sequel to No Country For Old Men, where Anton Chigurh spends all his time reading to sick children in the hospital and perhaps you’ll get the idea of the outrage that greeted this movie. 

But time has been kind to this film (Note: this is probably the only time that sentence has been used in conjunction with Tobe Hooper. Savor it.) And the change of tone now simply makes sense as the only choice Hooper could have made. Like I said the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is such a unique film that it looks like it was brought to life through a process closer to alchemy then standard low budget filmmaking (ala Evil Dead, or Blair Witch). Hooper was smart to not attempt to catch lightning in a bottle twice and what he came up with in it’s stead is pretty damn good.

 Hooper Transforms his pack of gibbering Red Neck Cannibals, into nightmare visions of Reagan’s America, turning the Sawyer clan into entrepreneurs and transforming cannibalism from the ultimate taboo  into an understandable way to make the best chili possible with the lowest overhead, bringing new meaning to the phrase “cutthroat capitalism”. It may be goofy but it’s also apt. 

Bill Mosely well known to Rob Zombie fans, and Dennis Hopper are welcome editions to the cast, and both bring on the crazy to the best of their considerable abilities to do so.  

And  if the film is more cartoonish then it’s predecessor, such as when the dead hitchhiker from the first one is used as a chainsaw wielding puppet, that doesn’t keep it from having some genuinely terrifying scenes, such as its infamous record vault sequence. Unlike the zombie like placidity of a Michael Myers or Jason, there’s a real sense that The Sawyer’s LIKE what they do, which can get beyond disturbing (another thing my boy Rob took from the movie). Yet oddly enough despite all the serial killer shenanigans, the movie fills one with the odd desire to visit Texas, something the original has never been accused of.  Much like Death Proof it’s a film as much about atmosphere as it is about psychos, and like Death Proof the atmosphere is portrays, one of Shiner Boch, cool record stores and radio stations, interesting architecture, and murals of Daniel Boone filled with human intenstines is an oddly appealing one. Like the movie itself it might not be for everyone, but it’s got a certain appeal.  

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