A Horror Classic Reborn

Oct 222003
Authors: Jeremy Anderson

Famed film critic Rex Reed called 1974’s “The Texas Chainsaw

Massacre,” “the most terrifying motion picture I have ever seen!”

Now, 30 years later, I am tempted to use that same statement to

refer to the remake.

While it may not achieve the same classic or cult status as the

influential original, the new version is definitely one of the most

horrifying films in recent memory. This is not one of those scary

movies that blends humor with scares. This is a down and dirty,

unapologetic horror film.

In case you haven’t seen the original, the story is basically

about a group of young people who tragically happen upon a clan of

cannibalistic maniacs, including the infamous Leatherface, living

in Texas. Leatherface is based on real-life serial murderer, Ed

Gein, who is also reported to have been the inspiration for such

films as “Psycho” and “The Silence of the Lambs.” Recent horror

movies like “Wrong Turn” and “House of 1000 Corpses” were also

influenced by “Massacre” as well.

A lot of the scariness of the original, and a lot of other

revered horror movies, comes from the film’s low budget, grainy

quality. And while that is absent in the remake, it is replaced by

some of the most beautifully filmed scenes of any horror movie

ever. It seems weird to use the word “beautiful” to describe this

movie, but its cinematography and sets are noticeably stylish and


If you are not someone who tends to enjoy darkly scary and

gruesome movies, you will likely be appalled by “Massacre.” I was

surprised to see only one person leave the theatre. Once the

carnage began, I expected to see more people start running for the

exits. Many people did verbally express their repulsion during the

movie, though.

The new “Massacre” is definitely the scariest movie since “The

Ring,” but it is also the only horror movie in recent history I can

think of that I found shocking. Due to decades of horror films and

an increasingly immune film-going public, for a film to be shocking

is a big accomplishment- an accomplishment that the 1974 original

no doubt achieved as well.

I mentioned the lack of humor in “Massacre,” but some comedy is

scattered here and there. However it is so disturbingly pitch black

in nature it is hard to classify it as humor. A lot of it comes

from the sadistic town sheriff, played by R. Lee Ermey (“Full Metal

Jacket”). Sheriff Hoyt is the definitive dirty old man, and he

effectively provides for some intensely unnerving scenes in the


As for the rest of the cast and crew, they deserve applause,

too. This film marks Marcus Nispel’s film directorial debut and he

shows an obvious talent. The cast is a mixture of teen stars and

relative new comers. The film’s main heroine, Erin, is played by

“7th Heaven’s” Jessica Biel. It is just wishful thinking, but Biel

deserves major critical praise for her utterly convincing

performance here. The audience truly feels her character’s fear as

she struggles to keep her life and sanity in the face of the

horrors unleashed upon her.

Critic Roger Ebert gave “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” a “zero

stars” rating and one of the most undeservedly negative reviews of

a film I have ever read. I can see how some viewers could get

disgusted or sickened by this movie, but given the subject matter

and genre, isn’t that the point?

This remake is similar to the original, while still managing to

be vastly different. The film comes at an excellent time, given the

approaching Halloween holiday, and for genuine scares, you couldn’t

hope for a better horror movie. Just don’t eat much before you go

see it though, you might regret it afterward.

3.5 out of 4 rams




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