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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of, the one, the only, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974)

A timeless legend

Lets talk about one of the greatest classics in the slasher genre. This movie set a standard that raised the bar far beyond what other slashers in the genre were ever capable. There was a level of unhinged insanity captured in this movie and the effect really deserves more credit than it ever gets.

As I previously explained about Friday the 13th (F13), the acting was abysmal, the premise laughable, and the overall execution was generic, but it was still fantastic and became the standard for slashers as a genre. That’s because The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TTCM) was more than just some slasher. It predates both Halloween (1978) and F13 (1980), and basically blows both of the out of the water.

Let’s talk about why. Leatherface walked onto the scene and stunned with everything that he was. They didn’t save him for some big reveal, they put his ass right up front and center with the first kill of the movie. Jason Voorhees doesn’t make an appearance until the second F13, and doesn’t even get the iconic hockey mask until the third F13. Leatherface is also deeply developed. Hell, Michael Myers doesn’t even get an actual back story until the fourth movie. Leatherface never speaks, but he still emotes. He reacts in tangible ways that allow the audience to ponder his thought process. They make a very specific point of showing the eyes underneath the human skin mask he wears, darting back in forth in worry and confusion. The director wanted you to think about what Leatherface was thinking, wanted you to try and process that there is a consciousness behind each horrific acts. Leatherface wasn’t just some slash’o, killing the kids fucking in the woods, he’s a mass murderer with thought and drive. He has reason, warped and insane as that reason might be.

It’s fair to say the acting was on point. At least equal to the acting in Halloween. And it wasn’t just Leatherface, every member of the cast was solid, even the bit rolls. The setting was marvelous and the atmosphere meticulously constructed. You could smell the rot through the theater screen. It was gritty, grimy, dark; just absolutely caked with filth. The FX were bargain barrel but they were used perfectly. Camera filters, lighting, the occasional smattering of fake blood. Simple. And the story is powerful enough to be an urban legend. It is, after all, looooooosely based on a true story called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They even have the real radio report during the opening of the movie. Mind you, there was never any mass murderer, just a grave robber who stole and skinned corpses. But it was enough to send the imagination reeling.

TTCM is special. It wasn’t just some slasher. Perhaps that’s what it became over the years and perhaps that’s what was wrong with the latter 2003 adaptation, but originally it was beyond standards. This movie is absolute required viewing for Horror Heads.

SPOILERS!!!

Lets talk about what made this movie perfect. Absolute, unhinged, madness. By the end of the movie, the actual actress was pushed so hard by her involvement in the movie, she snapped. We get to witness one of the most honest moments in horror ever presented; a person actually losing their mind.

Everything in the movie is so insane, so violently warped, that the madness is real. The effect was real. I can only imagine that the unprepared minds of 1970’s audiences were simply incapable of processing it. The actress might have actually snapped, but nothing less could have been expected of the character she played. Anyone confronted with the same psychotic circumstances would have lost their wits as well.

Heck the last survivor doesn’t get away because she formulates a plan. She flails and claws like a trapped animal until one of the Sawyers makes a mistake and she pulls herself free. Her only escape, flinging herself through a window. That is just fucking brutal. You get the feeling that she just flung herself aimlessly through the nearest exit, no sense of the consequences. And at that point, the actress was so flustered, it’s hard to know if she was acting or out of her damn mind.

That’s what makes this movie so great. Real, tangible, madness. Again, this is required viewing for all Horror Heads.

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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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Boot or Reboot: Fan Opinions on the New Child’s Play

Like the remake of Pet Sematary, I’d been hearing a lot of complaints about the new Child’s Play reboot.  Curious as to where all the ire was coming from, I decided to investigate fan opinions and see what was turning them off.

First, I ran a survey to see just how many horror heads were really put off by the idea of a reboot.

I’d like readers to keep in mind that the sample from the following survey was taken from horror fans specifically and does have a level of fan bias.  Questionnaires of those surveyed were strictly from individuals who were NOT going to be seeing the movie.  It should also be noted that the sample size fell short of the acceptable 300 sample size minimum and could show a poor sample size bias.  Total Sample Size: 264

Continue reading Boot or Reboot: Fan Opinions on the New Child’s Play