Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The real Texas Chain Saw Massacre

I've seen the attempt to remake and can now say, only Tobe Hooper's utterly chilling The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is worth any time, effort or thought.

I just wound up in one of those fruitless debates over whether or not the original film is a "slasher movie". Now, to most people "slasher movie" is simply a pejorative they use to dismiss violent movies about serial killers or pseudo-serial killing monsters. Unfortunately, their use is so intellectually bankrupt that when asked how the movies they dismiss are different in a storytelling sense from Hitchcock classics like Psycho or Frenzy, they merely stammer and insist there is a difference, but, well...

For the record, the difference between a real horrific thriller and a "slasher movie" is that a "slasher movie" puts up cardboard characters just to kill them off in various creative ways. Despite it's being used in some ways as a template by "slasher" filmmakers, this is not even close to what Tobe Hooper does here. He develops some relatively complicated characters and inter-character relationships, then kills all but one in very short order, as a means to ratchet the psychological torture he brings on Marilyn Burns' Sally, and that psychological torture is the point.

If that offends you or doesn't strike you as entertaining or worthwhile, well, that's fair enough. That doesn't mean it's a "slasher movie".

The remake? Unfortunately, that's just a slasher movie. It doesn't even try to be more. It also tries to shock with that bullet into the body shot you can see any week on CSI.

Yeah, nice try.

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