Monday, January 14, 2013

Chainsaw See-Saw

I fought a brief war with myself over whether or not to see Texas Chainsaw 3D. I had a glimmer of interest in it after the poster was released but that was quickly squelched by the first trailer, which looked absymal. So I was very much on the "don't bother" side of the fence. I thought it might be nice for a change to have the first horror movie I saw in 2013 to be something decent - or at least something with a chance of being decent. After all, with Mama due on the 18th I wouldn't have long to wait for a better prospect than Texas Chainsaw to come along.

So for the opening weekend, I sat Chainsaw out. And, as expected, the reports back on it only confirmed my sensible stance. So of course that meant I had to break down and watch it. Call me weak and foolish if you will but I reasoned that, in the end, it might prove to be a wise strategic move. After all, if it was as bad as people were saying, the rest of 2013 couldn't help but look better in comparison.

So was it really that bad? Oh yes, it was. In fact, it was kind of flabbergasting in its idiocy. Having said that, as a connoisseur of slasher cinema, I'm glad that I took the time to check it out. It was awful but it sure wasn't the worst of the Chainsaw series and as schlock goes, I found it giddily entertaining for the most part.

Tobe Hooper's brilliant original certainly deserves better films to carry on its legacy but, clearly, that's not going to happen. The only worthwhile successor to TCM to date remains Hooper's own sequel (a cracked masterpiece in its own right). Everything else has strived for mediocrity and mostly failed to even hit that mark. Of all the major horror franchises, TCM runs neck and neck with The Exorcist in terms of the biggest fail rate. I don't have the time to enumerate all the cataclysmic lapses in logic perpetrated by TC3D but as I watched the movie unfold I found myself helplessly laughing at much of it. But at least laughter means that I dervied some entertainment out of it - even if it's not exactly the kind that the makers were presumably shooting for. But hey, there are a lot of awful films that I slog through without even the slightest chuckle to show for it so I'm giving TC3D due credit for accomplishing something. And I'm sure that as the year goes on, lines like "You came from shit-apes!" (as said by an adoptive father to his twentysomething daughter, who was secretly snatched from the Sawyer clan when she was a baby), "What a fruitcake!" (the professional observation of a cop as he surveys Leatherface's secret lair), and "Do your thing, cuz!" (the context of which I won't reveal) will remain some of my favorite lines of 2013.

Also in the plus column for TC3D is the post-converted footage from the original, which looks pretty stunning in 3D. If not for the fact that there's no way I'd stomach seeing TCM with a modern audience of dipshits under any circumstances, I'd love to see a 3D release of the original. I also liked the assertion this movie makes that the worst thing about Texas isn't a cannibalistic clan of serial killers but rather corrupt redneck politicians. That's a message I can get behind.

This movie has, and will continue to get, a shitload of flack from horror fans who feel that it's nothing less than a desecration of the TCM name (to be fair, it literally is as it doesn't even include the 'M'!) but I guarantee you that had this come out back in the '80s, it would be every bit as fondly recalled as any of the other slasher sequels of that era. I don't mean that it's good, mind you, just that it would be judged by a very different standard. For myself, I'll be judging it by that other yardstick - the same one that lets me enjoy Jason Takes Manhattan. When you're a slasher fan, you have to take your fun where you can get it. And, despite what the tagline to Pieces says, sometimes you do have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre.


knobgobbler said...

Well, thanks for taking the bullet on that one and reporting back. Not that I was even mildly tempted to have a peek.
I continue to think that the original was lightning in a bottle that won't ever be caught again.

Jeff Allard said...

It's true. Not even Hooper himself could capture it again in quite the same way.

Mummbles said...

Sometimes we just have to see a movie because we want to see something good and well it doesn't always work out. Thanks for the review

Jeff Allard said...

My pleasure, Mummbles!