Monday, January 14, 2013

Movie Review – Texas Chainsaw 3D

*WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS ALL UP IN THIS*

I was so stoked about seeing this movie. I love the Texas Chainsaw franchise. I mean, I’ve got Leatherface tattooed on my arm: 

No, I didn’t really consider the actual gruesomeness of a girl suspended from a meathook when I got it. I’m a child of violent 80’s movies and video games; I don’t have any empathy or a moral compass.

Anyway, I’ve been following along with the marketing for this one since I first heard about it and have been getting more excited with each and every new trailer, poster, and internet ad. It is a direct sequel to the original 1975 movie and completely disregards all of the previous sequels and remakes. While I love each and every one of those movies, I don’t mind this approach. It said to me that the people making this movie had a very specific idea and vision in mind and weren’t just throwing this together to cash in on the well-known property. Well, it suggested that, anyway.


Plus it was in 3D and now that I can actually perceive filmed 3D I want to see as much of it as I can. I’m still furious with myself for missing Silent Hill 3D and wasn’t going to make the same mistake with Texas Chainsaw. So I made plans with the missus for a date to the all-new Studio Movie Grill (see Friday’s review of that establishment) for a good, old-fashioned dinner-and-a-movie. The dinner was underwhelming, but how was the movie?


Texas Chainsaw 3D opens with a montage of scenes from the original. I thought this move was bold as fuck, because right from the beginning the creators of this new film were reminding us of just what kind of powerful movie they were attempting to follow. It made me want to watch the original again (which I haven’t done in a while due to too many viewings in too short a time a few years ago) and if their movie was sub-par that feeling would just get stronger. So right from the start I was at least impressed with the filmmakers’ moxie.

Once the basic story of the original is told, the new movie picks up the next day after the surviving girl has been discovered by the authorities. A police officer shows up at the Sawyer house (where the crazy took place) and demands the family turn Jedediah Sawyer (Leatherface) over. Inside the house we see that this is a huge family with lots of old dudes and wimmin and chilluns. Bill Moseley plays the patriarch, and has a rifle in hand as he’s shouting back to the officer that Jed is family and they won’t turn him in. It’s revealed that the rest of the family is armed and waiting for all hell to break loose. This is very reminiscent of the opening scene from The Devil’s Rejects, and not just because of the welcome presence of Moseley.

Several members of the Sawyer clan suggest that Jed should be turned over because he’s mentally disabled and not worth the trouble. Granted, they didn’t phrase it quite so nicely. Moseley’s character is unwilling at first, but finally gives in. Just as he shouts out to the cop that they’re sending Jed out, a bunch of shitkickers show up in their jeeps and pickup trucks. Obviously things are about to go downhill. Badly.

The cop does what he can to keep things under control, but once a redneck has driven somewhere to blow shit up, he’s damn well gonna blow shit up. One of the trailer dwellers throws a Molotov at the house and it all falls apart. The Sawyers start shooting, the rednecks start shooting, more Molotovs are thrown. It’s a bad scene. This is where all resemblance to The Devil’s Rejects ends because the Sawyers pretty much get shot to pieces. The Firefly clan they are not. There’s even a shot of poor ol’ Grampa getting blown out of his wheelchair.

One of the vigilante rednecks goes around the back of the house to make sure no Sawyers are escaping and comes across a wounded girl with a baby in her arms. She begs him to save her and her baby. The guy leans down and gently takes the baby from her arms, then delivers a brutal kick to her jaw, snapping her neck. He takes the infant back to his presumably infertile wife to raise as their own. Just like Superman!

The house burns right to the ground with all of the Sawyers in it, though you and I know that ol’ Jedediah is snug and secure in his steel-reinforced underground Slaughter Hole.

Flash-forward an unspecified number of years later and you come to the first big problem I had with this movie. Well, not a big problem. Just something that simply did not work. I got over it, but it is kind of dumb that the filmmakers just decided to say, “fuck it”. But if I can constantly justify flaws in the logic of my favorite media property by saying, “Because Doctor Who”, then I can overlook this one. Here it is: Texas Chainsaw Massacre took place on August 19, 1975. No getting around that. But when we meet the girl that is quite clearly the grown-up version of the stolen Sawyer baby she’s in her twenties and the year is now. That math does not work. I don’t care that much, but it is kind of lazy.

But you know what? As I was writing all of that it occurred to me that you could look at this sequel the same way you look at Evil Dead 2. Put down that chainsaw – I’m not suggesting Texas Chainsaw 3D is anywhere near as good as Evil Dead 2. I’m just saying that TC3D is done in kind of the same fashion, where the events of the first movie are acknowledged and gotten out of the way in the opening portion of the film so we can get to new story. It doesn’t all match up quite right, but we’ve got fun, new kinds of crazy to look at so let’s just get past all the foreplay and get right down to the fucking. Which this movie doesn’t quite do; but it comes close. I think it was just beholden enough to the Hollywood system that we had to spend a certain amount of time getting to know the young douchebags that our hero – Leatherface – would be murdering later on.

I don’t want to spend too much time on all of that, so here’s the skinny:

Baby Sawyer has a boyfriend who is an annoying black guy. She has a friend who is an annoying girl of indeterminate national origin and has fake tits and a flat, narrow ass. This girl’s boyfriend is a dopey guy with a child molester mustache. None of these people’s clothes fit. They are all so tight that they can’t even button them up. Baby Sawyer wears this sweater for most of this movie that is so ill-fitting you would think she was twelve feet tall and one foot wide if you had no other frame of reference. I very much preferred Jessica Biel’s buttcrack-revealing jeans and eight-sizes-too-small wife beater from the remake. These kids all look malnourished.

Baby Sawyer finds out she has inherited property from an aunt or grandma or something she never knew she had. She goes and confronts her horrible, white trash adopted parents about it and they are assholes.

Side Note: Please remember that the Sawyers were a clan of murderous, people-eating lunatics. They were murdered by a group of murderous, law-breaking rednecks. All of Baby Sawyer’s friends are either assholes or morons (we find out later that Narrow Ass is having the sex with T-Smooth [or whatever that asshole’s name is] when she straight-up grabs his dongus right in the middle of a grocery store). Also, T-Smooth has a fucking poem or something tattooed on his chest. Everybody in this movie is a piece of shit. Except maybe Baby Sawyer. And she mostly gets a pass because she’s the one person in the movie that is nice to look at, even though she is too skinny and has fake tits. She’s a different kind of too skinny than her friend.

So Baby Sawyer decides it’s time for a ROAD TRIP! With all of her friends because why not? Along the way they pick up a suspicious hitchhiker who also does not own clothes that fit and we also get the dong-grabbing scene, which isn’t nearly as sexy as it sounds, mostly because of the utter undesirability of the two people involved.

When the gang arrives at the gates of Baby Sawyer’s new house, they are met by a lawyer played by that guy who isn’t Wilford Brimley. The movie impressed me again by actually offering an explanation for how he just happened to show up when the kids did – they’ve been watching Baby Sawyer. Creepy. He gives her some papers and a letter from Verna, who is Baby Sawyer’s aunt or grandma or whatever. Then Not Brimley makes a point of telling our heroine to read the letter.

The group gets to the house and discover it’s a mansion. It looks an awful lot like the one from the remake, only not a filthy shithole. The inside is actually super-nice and filled with fancy silverware and vases and valuables; so naturally the friends all go to the grocery store and leave the hitchhiker that they barely know there alone. The second they’re out of sight he starts ransacking the joint.

In town we meet the mayor who also happens to be the guy that was leading the redneck vigilantes back in the day. He has aged well. We also meet Sherriff Hunky, who is obviously going to turn out to be the mayor’s son. They don’t say it yet, but he might as well have a fucking sign on that says, “I am the mayor’s son and am also evil. Do not trust me, Baby Sawyer.”

Back at the house, the hitchhiker finds a butler’s closet in the kitchen. Inside that is a locked door which he opens with the hilariously huge set of keys that Verna Sawyer left for her descendant. Down some stairs from there he finds a cellar with a sliding steel door at the far end and I think you all know where this is headed. There’s several minutes of this guy trying to get the door open. If we had been in one of your finer urban theaters I’m pretty sure the entire audience would have been yelling, “Oh, no! Don’t go in there white boy! Oh my Jesus! That chainsaw man gonna be in there!” As it was I was just thinking that in my head. Just as it was getting to the point of being truly hilarious that this guy was trying so hard to get to his death, he goes over to a drawer, finds a heavy screwdriver, turns back around, and WHAM gets a hammer straight to the face courtesy of a massive dude clad in a fuchsia ladies’ sweater and a mask made of human skin.

Jedediah Sawyer, ladies and gentlemen!

So ol’ Leatherface pounds the hitchhiker’s face into mush with the hammer, drags him back into his new Slaughter Hole, slams the door shut, and scene.

The rest of the gang returns to the house to find the evidence of the hitchhiker’s scumbagginess. Baby Sawyer is all like, “He took my keys!” No shit, you dumb broad. Shouldn’t have left them there. Or him there. But there’s dinner to be made, so of course everybody splits up to wander around despite the fact that they don’t know where the hitchhiker is or just how much of a criminal he might be.

Mustache guy goes off to the kitchen to cook dinner, Narrow Ass coaxes T-Smooth into following her outside so they can go fuck in the barn, and Baby Sawyer goes upstairs and finds her aunt/grandma’s desiccated corpse hanging out in the bedroom. This is where shit starts to get crazy in a good way.

Mustache naturally finds the hitchhiker’s trail down to the Slaughter Hole. We get to see more of what’s down there before Leatherface shows up. Mustache is understandably disturbed by the appearance of Mr. Sawyer and tries to make a break for it, but slips on the stairs and WHACK gets a meathook to the back. Leatherface drags him back into the Slaughter Hole and slams the door.

Baby Sawyer is pretty bugged out at finding her dead relative, but not too bugged out. she’s just sort of looking for someone to show it to.

“Hey, c’mere – check this shit out! Crazy, right?”

So she’s wandering around the house wondering where her stupid friends are and walks into the kitchen to find Leatherface standing at the sink holding a disembodied human hand, which he is cutting the fingers off of and dropping them into a bowl. THIS SCENE IS AWESOME. This is the first scene that made me love this movie. There a several scenes that made me really not love this movie, but the good ones are really fucking good. Baby Sawyer walks in that kitchen and Leatherface is just standing there at the sink like Donna Reed. He turns around all like, “Well, hello, dear!” and she – understandably – flips out and runs. Leatherface grabs his chainsaw and THIS SHIT IS OFFICIALLY ON.

Baby Sawyer runs outside into the small family cemetery beside the house and discovers an empty coffin in an open grave – which explains why Verna is upstairs – and decides that the place to hide. Unfortunately she can’t stop gasping in terror and Leatherface hears her. He fires up the chainsaw and starts sticking it into the coffin lid.

All of this noise distracts T-Smooth and Narrow Ass from their dirty, lying fucking and they walk out of the barn to see what’s up.
Caution: This next scene is funny as shit. I was crying.

T-Smooth walks out of the barn putting his pants on and Narrow Ass is wearing his shirt. They see Leatherface – who is just far enough away that they can’t see the fuchsia sweater and the skin mask – and are all like, “Hey, buddy! Keep it down over there!” at which point Leatherface looks up, raises the chainsaw over his head, and starts to run, screaming, towards these two dumbasses.

Dude, it was fucking awesome.

Somehow everybody got away from Leatherface and back to the van. They take off down the road leading back to the gate only to find the gate locked and closed. They’re sitting there, trying to figure out what to do, and the whole time we as the audience see Leatherface through the back window, holding the chainsaw over his head and running full speed towards the van. Narrow Ass finally turns around and sees ol’ Jed and tells T-Smooth to get them the fuck out of there. He finally decides to ram the gate. They make it through, but Leatherface catches up and chainsaws through the front wheel and half of the fucking van. And then stands there and quietly watches as the van speeds off, flips over, and screeches to a halt.

Baby Sawyer wakes up and sees that T-Smooth got his head caught between the ground and the door of the van. Dude is dead. Not even killed by Leatherface, which is okay because that assclown didn’t even deserve to be killed by Leatherface. Narrow Ass is still alive, though, and everybody is too freaked out to wonder why she’s wearing T-Smooth’s shirt which, oddly, is as close as anybody in this movie gets to clothes that fit properly.

Once again we get the terrifying yet strangely hilarious long-distance view of Leatherface approaching. He finally gets to the van full of gibbering chicks and sticks his chainsaw in the side, cutting Narrow Ass’ leg. Then he moves around and sticks it in the top, catching her stomach. Baby Sawyer is just too quick. But she sees that her friend is near-catatonic, so she crawls out of the overturned van and lures Leatherface away. I don’t remember exactly what happens, but she gets whacked in the head and dragged down to the Slaughter Hole.

When she wakes up, she’s on the floor and Leatherface is across the room cutting somebody’s legs off. Then he makes his way around to a huge table that Mustache is laying on. He picks Mustache up off the table and hangs him up on a meathook, at which point we find out Mustache is still alive. He actually manages to clock Leatherface a good one in the noggin, but then our hero ties Mustache’s hands up to some other meathooks and cuts him in half at the waist. This is the most effective 3D in the entire movie. Or, it would have been if a member of the Studio Movie Grill staff hadn’t been walking in front of us.

Let me take a minute to discuss the use of 3D in Texas Chainsaw 3D.

It’s pretty pointless. It’s kind of the worst case scenario 3D where it’s only really used to make stuff poke out of the screen at you. There are a few shots where Leatherface’s saw blade is popping out at the audience and there’s this one really weird shot in town where the front of a store is crazy 3D for no good reason. The only truly good shot is the one where Leatherface is cutting Mustache in half. The guy’s torso looks like it’s hanging in front of the screen, then you see the chainsaw blade come through and once he’s sawed in half it looks like his legs drop into the front row. It was pretty great. But other than that there just wasn’t much.

Okay, so Baby Sawyer finally gets her shit together enough to be freaked out and starts screaming and Leatherface walks over and makes some retard noises and kicks her in the face.

Side Note: Look – I know it isn’t cool to say “retard”. I have a cousin who is autistic and I grew up around a kid with Down Syndrome. It isn’t anything to joke about and both of those guys were sweet kids who just wanted to be friendly with people. But I do not know how else to describe the noises that Leatherface was making. Sometimes you just have to say “retard”. Or “gay”. Sometimes stuff is just gay.

Rather than just whimpering and passing out, Baby Sawyer hops up and bolts out of the Slaughter Hole and actually makes it all the way to a carnival (which had been mentioned earlier). She jumps the fence and runs in, clearly thinking the huge crowd of people will keep Leatherface away.

Leatherface don’t give a fuck.

He saws right through the fence and runs into the packed carnival, howling and swinging his chainsaw around.

This is where I ran into my first major problem with Texas Chainsaw 3D. There were little problems before such as pacing, too many douchebags, and the temporal problem; but I could overlook those. But if you’re anything like me, you read the above sentence and just knew with all your heart that we were about to get a slaughter scene the likes of which Leatherface has never truly been able to enjoy. That he was going to wade into that crowd of people and just start slicing motherfuckers to pieces.

Did. Not. Happen.

He completely ignored all of those people and just went after Baby Sawyer, whose genius idea of getting away was to grab an ascending Ferris wheel car and ride it up and then over and back down to a waiting Jedediah Sawyer. Luckily, Sherriff Hunky showed up and shot at Leatherface, who threw his chainsaw at him in 3D. And then ran away.

Baby Sawyer told her story at the police station and the cops were so impressed that they sent a single officer to Casa de Sawyer and stuck Baby Sawyer in a room with all of the files about how her family got incinerated. The nice cop who sort of tried to stop it is there and he tries to stop the mayor from being a total cocknozzle when he shows up, but he’s no more effective now than he was back in the day.

Sheriff Hunky escorted Baby Sawyer to the file storage/waiting room and I decided it was a good time to inspect the Studio Movie Grill’s facilities. They were fine. Nothing special; which sort of surprised me.

When I got back an utterly ridiculous caricature of a cop was following an utterly ridiculous trail of blood to Casa de Sawyer. He was talking to the mayor and Good Cop on his cell phone and at one point even started up a video feed.

Meanwhile, Baby Sawyer was alone in the file storage/waiting room reading all about how her family got incinerated by the mayor and his pals.

Goofy Cop made his way down to the Slaughter Hole, providing awful commentary the whole way. This was probably the worst part of the movie. I am actually too embarrassed to repeat any of his stupid lines here. This guy is following what appears to be Narrow Ass’ trail of blood, but in order to leave that much blood behind Narrow Ass would have to have been Apache Chief. It kind of doesn’t matter though, because once Goofy Cop actually enters the Slaughter Hole he sees that the blood trail leads to a large freezer off to one side, and there are noises coming from within.

I’d like to mention that the mayor and Good Cop have seen Goofy Cop discover the overturned van, the trail of blood, the bowl of fingers, Leatherface’s transvestite boudoir, and now the Slaughter Hole all full of chopped up twenty-somethings and blood and hooks and stuff and have not sent one bit of backup. Not only that, the mayor has been taunting Goofy Cop the whole time, even going so far as to call him a pussy when he hesitated to open the freezer.

So finally he does open the freezer and Narrow Ass pops out, screaming, and he shoots her in the face. The mayor is not upset by this in any way, but Good Cop is mildly perturbed. The mayor tells everybody not to worry, nobody will know, she was never there. Then he flips out about Baby Sawyer being a… well… Sawyer. He races down the hallway only to find all of the incriminating files on the table with this scrawled across a group picture they all posed for after burning the house down:

 
Murderers
Which was just mad silly, yo.

Baby Sawyer ditched the police station and found a pay phone and called Not Wilford Brimley. He met her at a bar and explained whatever else was left to explain and asked her why the fuck she didn’t read the letter like he told her to. Then the mayor showed up and was unnecessarily rough with some bar patrons on his way to detain Baby Sawyer, who bolted.

Side Note: The guy that played the mayor was really good. A little campy, but good. I know I should know he is, but I can’t think of why. Baby Sawyer was also really good. By the end of the movie you realize she was doing a lot more subtle acting than your typical Survivor Girl.


Baby Sawyer ran outside and found Sherriff Hunky and the black lady inside my head was all, “Oh no, girlfriend! DO NOT get in the car with that honky mahfah!” but she did and the mayor told Sherriff Hunky Honky to take her out to the slaughterhouse (not to be confused with the Slaughter Hole). Then Baby Sawyer found out the mayor was Sherriff Hunky’s dad and she tried to stab him through the cop car divider.

Leatherface, meanwhile, was moping around the garage. He was disgusted with himself for not slaughtering a bunch of people at the carnival. I’m right there with you, big guy. For whatever reason he reaches into a car and hears on the police band that the mayor is meeting Sherriff Hunky at the Slaughterhouse and decides to go and settle the score.

You know that scene in Rambo: First Blood Part II where Sly gears up? He ties his boots and gets his guns and stuff and puts the headband on. It’s been paid homage and parodied so many times it’s lost all meaning. But Texas Chainsaw 3D brings the concept back. Leatherface puts on his best killin’ duds, sews a new mask onto his face, grabs a new chainsaw, and then - as an afterthought as he walks out – reaches back and snags a tie. This scene is OUTSTANDING.

Side Note: I forgot to mention that Leatherface cut Goofy Cop’s face off and made a new mask out of it. He actually sewed it onto his own face, which is something new. It was gross.

Out at the slaughterhouse Sherriff Hunky has dragged Baby Sawyer inside and tied her up to some chains. Her shirt gets ripped open – though not in a rapey way – and exposes not only her boobs that are too round and plump for her tiny frame, but the scar from the Sawyer family necklace that I forgot to mention earlier.

Side Note: I’m sorry I described her boobs as “plump”. That seems weird.

Sherriff Hunky is acting all wacky now and wanders off for some reason. That’s when we get our final long-distance shot of Leatherface approaching. He comes out of the shadows behind Baby Sawyer, clearly intending to cut her to pieces. But then he sees her Sawyer scar and realizes they’re kinfolk. He revs up the chainsaw anyway, but cuts through the ropes rather than killing her. Then the mayor and some random goon show up and beat Leatherface up with pipes or something. Baby Sawyer crawls off and is going to leave, but then the movie decides to get awesome.

While Baby Sawyer is outside having her moral crisis, the mayor and his goon are putting Leatherface in what is a straight-up Batman ’66 death trap. They wrap a chain around his neck and set it up so it will slowly drag him into a gigantic meat grinder that I guess they use for cows. It’s ridiculous and amazing. The goon leaves to activate the mechanism that starts everything up, and that’s when Baby Sawyer comes running in with a pitchfork and jams it straight through his breadbasket.

Holy shit.

Baby Sawyer distracted the mayor long enough for Leatherface to get up and unwrap the chain around his neck. The she tossed him his chainsaw and he and the mayor had a chainsaw versus steel pole fight. Obviously chainsaw wins this fight and Leatherface backed the mayor up to the edge of the meat grinder pit. That’s when Good Cop showed up and looked like he was going to shoot Leatherface, but Baby Sawyer asked him not to and he looked at her sweet, white titties and said “okay” and watched while Leatherface chainsawed the mayor’s Achilles tendons (both of them), kicked him into the meat grinder pit, then chainsawed his hands off so the mayor fell in and got graphically ground into red goo, then kicked his disembodied hands in one at a time.

Glorious.

Good Cop left and Baby Sawyer took Leatherface back to Casa de Sawyer and finally read that fucking letter from Aunt Verna:

My dearest Baby Sawyer,

We keep a crazy, murderous retard locked in the basement. Feed him three times a day and do not let him out.

Love,

Aunt Verna

P.S. – He likes to wear ladies’ clothes and cut off people’s faces and wear them on his own face
.”

So Baby Sawyer decided to take care of her cousin, Jedediah, and they lived happily ever after.

The End
I think I like this movie a lot more now than I did right after I watched it. Now I really want to watch it again. It isn’t the best Chainsaw by a long shot, but I think it might be pretty great. If I did half scores I’d give it a “3.5”, but I don’t, so I’ll man up and give it 
 
4 out of 5 finger sandwiches
 I’d say go see this. Don’t bother with 3D. Just see it. In terms of tone it’s somewhere between The Next Generation and the remakes. It’s consciously goofy in parts, but tries to be serious in other parts. I think I dig it quite a bit now that I’ve had some time to think about it.

-Phantom













2 comments:

  1. Dude! You deleted me from your blogroll! Bummer...

    I have not seen this one yet. I did see the 2003 version. Looking forward to this one on DVD.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Weird. No idea what you're talking about. I haven't touched that. I liked the remake more than this one, but that may change in time.

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