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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Gasoline – A Texas Chainsaw Massacre Fan Film’ (2019)

Fan boners on display (somewhat literally)…

Yeah, this was a pretty fun fan film. The biggest things I like about this one is that it goes off the tangent universe of the second Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM), but it still tries to keep the feel of the first. The difference between TCM and TCM2 is that TCM tried, in all of its efforts, to be a serious horror movie, while the second was more of the typical 80s-90s ‘So bad it’s good’ slapstick. However, TMC2, while hardly serious horror, added a layer of almost alien weirdness to the Sawyer family. In the first movie, they were nothing more than backwards, inbred knuckle-draggers. In the second one, there was almost this paradoxical ethos, a ritual of a sorts. The first movie was just a simple attempt to exploit cultured society’s fear of hillbilly yokels, while the second tried to expand on the concept and just went balls out weird.

This fan film marries those two concepts. That is, expanding on the tangent universe of TCM2 as it doesn’t have to be weird if it’s properly tied back to the first. You could almost see this fan film being a bridge between the first and the second. A sort of stepping stone to explain how a straight forward slasher became a story about a strange family’s murderous rituals. The second is only balls out weird, because there’s no progression to explain how that Sawyer family got from TCM to TCM2.

I also really appreciate the adaptation of Bill Moseley’s famous character “DOG WILL HUNT!” Chop-Top Sawyer. I also have to say their choice for Bubba ‘Leatherface’ Sawyer was also a pretty good pick. While he doesn’t have the iconic Leatherface pig grunt quite right, I not sure anyone could as I believe the original was synthesized. It’s just a hard nut to crack.

But the feel was dead on and for a fan film, that’s all that matters. This isn’t about bringing something new to the table, this is about taking TCM canon and giving it your all, with what little you have. And for what little this indie producer had, they did a great job.

Please give that video above a little click. Any fans of the TCM franchise will appreciate this and hardcore Horror Heads should give these people the respect they deserve.

SPOILERS!!!

Are there really spoilers in a TCM short that’s only 35 minutes long? Travelers stop to buy gas. Admiral Akbar “Its a Trap” meme. Cue Leatherface. There’s only two victims, and only one or neither can survive.

And, of course, since we’re following TCM canon, we know it’s likely going to be the lead actress who survives to the end. And of course it’s because Leatherface has a thing for her and tries to maker it a play date.

I fucking love the head nod to the torture scene from Reservoir Dogs. Brilliant use of another movie’s graphic violence on top a franchise known for it’s graphic violence. They just went hand in hand beautifully.

And of course there’s got to be the famous defacing scene followed by ‘Pretty Leatherface’ and dinner with the Sawyers. But I gotta give them this. Their sense of setting, atmosphere, and practical FX are fucking spot on here. Indies tend to really ignore the power of simple camera filters and lighting. And being able to dress up a set on a budget but make it feel like the decrepit Sawyer House is not an easy feat and, surprisingly, really easy to fuck up. Their attention to detail deserves credit. While this is very clearly not the Sawyer House, you could easily believe Leatherface and Chop-Top are chilling in a flop pad they took over together as brothers.

One thing they should’ve used more of was the body cam. The body cam added a nice effect to the inevitable chase scene, but for some reason, they only used it once, and only for a couple seconds, then scrapped it for the rest of the filming. It could have been equipment malfunction or something, but still, I wish they had more of it.

Not going to spoil the twist at the ending, but you’ll likely get a tickle out of it. I know I did.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Toad Road’ (2012)

You can’t trust your memories…

Toad Road invokes an urban legend about a place where the seven gates of hell can be visited right here on earth, a place right in your own home town. It’s the sort of stories you hear about the trail that use to be a utility road for an insane asylum, or a sewer tunnel with labyrinthine ducts like the one in New Jersey. We had one in my home town in CT, the Norwich asylum. It’s the sort of place you hear about when you’re in high school; not coincidentally the place you likely went to do drugs. Or maybe that was just me and my friends. It starts with the sense you’re being watched, then touched, then assaulted metaphysically, and so on. And here we find ourselves, of all the idiotic ideas, engaging in drug culture for a cheep thrill and a little sense of adventure. If you identify with that, you will love this movie. Even if you’re just a ghost hunter who digs urban legends, you will love this movie.

I think the most important part of this story is the bridge between the pursuit of a higher state of consciousness and just being a wastoid druggy. What is getting fucked up? What are we after when we chase that high? So many lost down the rabbit hole in the pursuit of that perfect beautiful moment. So many after that high who only find the lowest low achievable.

The main character is clearly a wastoid who’s just trying to drag his girlfriend into the abyss, using the excuse of pursuing a higher state of consciousness. God alone know why anyone would want to do that while trying to find a gateway to hell. Seriously though, I can relate and that connected me to the movie’s plot.

And for a shoe-string independent movie with zero budget, the acting was actually okay. Not good, but okay. Good enough for horror at least and that’s acceptable.

Now, the movie was basically shot on a standard digital camera, so it almost feels like shaky camera, but that only helps the feel of the movie. I mean, if we’re going for ‘Urban Legend’ the feeling of almost a ‘found footage hybrid’ really fits.

I’m not sure who this movie would appeal to outside of ghost hunters, drug users, and urban legend enthusiasts, but I highly recommend giving it a chance.

SPOILER!!!

At some point these two lovers -the druggy and his girlfriend- walk down that haunted road. But the druggy doesn’t actually believe there is something on the other end of that rabbit hole. He’s just out to get high, to fill this void in his life. His girlfriend is just beginning her journey. So, there they find themselves on Toad Road. On a head full of acid. Not the brightest idea. However, from the audience’s perspective, the female lead actually begins a journey to see that moment of higher consciousness, and on the other end does find a final gate. To where? Lord knows. We’re seeing things from the perspective of two people on acid. The druggy, after all, has never found a bottom to that rabbit hole, and only sees tragic years wasted.

Suddenly, the girl is just gone. The druggy wakes up and his girlfriend has vanished. This is where the plot really kicks in. Did she find the other side? Was there actually a portal to another dimension? Or did she just get lost in the forest, high on acid? That’s a reasonable explanation, after all. The druggy doesn’t come off as the most responsible person who would actually know how to take care of someone doing acid for the first time. Believe me, you do need to babysit them closely sometimes. There’s also the possibility that the druggy killed her or got her killed. That’s pretty much what the town thinks. That only strengthens the urban legend of Toad Road. The idea that some drugged out lunatic murdered his drugged up girlfriend trying to open a portal to hell.

But for him there is nothing. He can’t remember what happened and none of it seems real. For all he knows, he did murder his girlfriend, or at the very least got her killed. And you as the audience don’t get to know. All three things are perfectly possible in a horror movie. The only thing he finds is rock bottom. In the end, for him, is a dark decay, his own personal trip through the seven gates of his own private hell.

God it was soul crushing, and amazing. Watch this!

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