Friday, June 7, 2013

39 Stupid Moments from Texas Chainsaw 3D

As is my usual disposition, I eventually got around to seeing the latest entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. I had so wanted to see it in cinemas, especially given the 3D gimmick that should have at least added a little added novelty to a film that seemed to be offering nothing that the recent "remake" and its prequel didn't already give us. It has to this day gone unreleased in Australia and I missed its US release by a month or so. I finally caught up with it following its release on home entertainment and the franchise's ratio of good to bad continues to slide down the wrong way. Making the film even more of a shame is that is positions itself as the one true direct sequel to Tobe Hooper's 1974 original. If they hadn't have bothered with that needless twist on the franchise then Texas Chainsaw 3D (no "massacre" for some unnecessary reason) then John Luessenhop's film would have been inessential but hardly an offence of filmmaking. As it stands, the direct link to Hooper's masterpiece causes all sort of problems of narrative, drama, and general old fashioned storytelling. It's a mess.

Texas Chainsaw 3D (no 3D on this DVD, which itself raises a whole world of problems) is 91 minutes long and there is almost always - and I repeat, always - something incredibly stupid happening on screen during every single one of them. Why 39? Well, the film doesn't really warrant all that much mental energy put on it so I gave up at that number. Still, I live with the comfort provided by knowing I put in more of an effort than the filmmakers. Spoilers abound, believe me.

1. The opening credits are layered across scenes of Tobe Hooper's 1974 original as filtered through an Instagram filter, which I presume was meant to get the audience into the atmospheric state of dread that the original dwelled in to such powerful effect. I imagine the filmmakers thought doing this would give them a leg up, allowing Hooper's film to do the work that they knew they were incapable of. Sadly, it just lays the groundwork for disappointment by so overtly referencing how great the original was. Even in these near context-free snippets it's genuinely hard not to be creeped out. Shame the director seemingly hadn't even seen the original to figure out what the hell made it so creepy.

Introducting Tremaine 'Trey Songz' Neverson as... Terry McMinn's butt?

2. I'm sorry, but what is a "Trey Songz"? Okay, I'm being facetious - I know that Trey Songz is a singer of some sort, although I wouldn't be able to recognise any of his songs if you asked me to. Apparently he has five albums under his belt, which is news to me. But, then, I don't generally listen to the radio anymore so I wouldn't have the slightest idea what the hell he even sings.

3. Their plan to revitalise the memory of Hooper's film fails them dismally the moment they cut to the new film proper. This movie has been filmed in appalling unattractive digital that performs a complete 180 to the intent, aesthetic, and effect of Daniel Pearl's cinematography of 1974. Where the original worked so hard and yet looked so effortless in creating its sense of realistic, sun-drenched terror, this sequel's camera work by Anastas Michos is incredibly unforgiving to the creation of mood as well as to the sets in general which never look anything other than fake.

In fact, the cinematography is, perhaps, the film's biggest biggest failure. These films demand atmosphere, but it's hard to have that when the middle of a country night is lit by floodlights. There's a joke to be made in the cinematographer's name being credited alongside one of the most terrifying moments from the original film, too, but I'm not going to make it since I'm already heaping so much scorn upon it. Look, far be it from me to suggest how a filmmaker should have done something, but wouldn't it have made more sense to feature this 1974 flashback prologue in the same sort of rough hand-held style? At least would have made the transition somewhat easier, I think,

4. I guess given the film's problems with such concepts as time and logic (which we will get to soon) I'm surprised they even remembered to have the empty semi-truck on the road, the swing in the front garden, and the saw marks in the front door.  I do question whether this small, hick-filled Texas town would have an African American sheriff. Anyone?

5. Not sure where all these Sawyer family residents came from, but wouldn't it make sense for them to lay low until the "Texas chain saw massacre" stories have subsided before then carrying on the family tradition that they're all so very proud of?

6. Bad visual effects, bad.

7. This is Paul Rae as "Burt Hartman". When he appears again later in the movie you will notice that he hasn't aged.

Just one of many moments where it becomes obvious Texas Chainsaw exists in a universe where time doesn't exist in the same way as it does on Earth.


8. See this? This is a baby. This is a baby in a flashback set in 1974.

9. See this? This a woman. This is a woman set in a film that takes place in the present day who was that baby.

This is a woman who is most definitely not on the verge of 40 years old like the timeline suggests. I can't make head or tails of this. Actress Alexandra Daddario is 26 years old and, given the rule of Hollywood and horror, we must assume she's portraying a character, "Heather", who is no older than 21. That positions that film very squarely as being set in the mid-to-late 1990s, but it's very clearly not.

10. Oh, and did I mention she's a butcher and makes artwork out of animal bones? LOL! Also: I hate you, screenwriters. Seriously. Could you signpost the final act any louder? And is wearing a knitted beanie really appropriate butcher acquire? I think so. I mean, he hair is still just hanging there waiting to fall onto food for everyone to eat. I find that infinitely more grotesque than cannibalism (okay, maybe not, but it bares noting).

11. Hicks are a Texas Chainsaw staple. These two were in the flashback prologue and were the ones who stole the Sawyer baby to raise as their own. She has a "defective uterus" (these writers sure do know how to get the mood going, huh?) and warns Heather not to go to Texas to get her inheritence going there will "bring trouble." They actually make the most sense of the picture: they left the town where it happened and they have no intention of going back. Smart move. "Texas is the last place you want to be." Still, they should've thought about this before Lynching the Sawyer family and stealing their baby after kicking the mother in the face. Maybe.

12. Anonymous crunk track on the soundtrack just further cements its modern day setting. It's a song so bad that the song credits on IMDb don't mention it and Shazam doesn't recognise it. Well done.

13. I actually like this shot, which is a rare moment for this film, but I query what modern day teenagers would go on a road trip in a minivan? There's only four of them and they'd fit easily inside a regular car, which they all surely have. None of them appear to be pot smokers or wheelchair bound, so... but, I did forget that this isn't set in Modern Day Earth, so...

14. The Chainsaw prerequisite hitchhiker isn't a victimiser (like Edwin Neal in 1974) or victim (Lauren German in the 2005 remake), but rather a hot studly guy (Shaun Sipod) who is allergic to buttoning up his shirt in the rain and basically belongs in a season-long stint on Hart of Dixie as Wade's cocky cousin who the audience thinks is going to try and steal Zoe away, but instead falls for Lemon! Umm... yeah. My mind drifted away several times during this movie, so I apologise.

15. The "horny babe who likes sex, rowr" of Texas Chainsaw is Tania Raymonde. They're... not really trying, are they?

16. Yes, if you had just inherited a house (so big you call it a "mansion") full of expensive stuff would you leave it and all of your luggage with the hitchhiker you just met? I mean, it's rare to come across a situation that deserves a "duh!", but this deserves it. Duh!

17. This is Paul Rae again at whatever undetermined moment in the future this is set. He hasn't aged. He hasn't aged 39 years like release dates and in-film technology suggests, not as he aged 20 years like the grown up Heather would suggest. This movie is stupid.

18. Not much of these images can really show off how bad Texas Chainsaw looks. It's the sort of film that looks ugly in movement, when the bad digital can really work its, ahem, magic. This particular set, however, is uuugly. Gharish green and pink (!!!) colours and photography that makes the set look like nothing but, well, a set. Yet again, comparing to the original is just mean, but we have to. The original was so lived in, This is just created with little thought put in to continuity.

19. The first sighting of Leatherface outside of the prologue is so dark I can't even take a screencap of it. I guess there's nice symmetry in his first kill being with a mallet like in the original, and I actually really like that he's dressed up like an older man. I mean, depending on what timeline you think this film exists in, he could be anywhere near 60 years old! He's not, because the film is fucked up with its continuity, but it's fun to imagine it don't you think?

20. Oh look, it's Scott Eastwood, Clint's son, in the role of deceptively attractive lunkhead police officer who's actually bad. I'm justifying including pictures of him because, er, the character is stupidly written? I dunno. I just want to include these pictures of Scott Eastwood in a police uniform.

I think this is enough of a segue to include this image I once mocked up. Because I have mad skillz with Photoshop, y'all.

Does this not amaze?
21. The film's lone jump scare that actually works involves the character of Kenny, played by Keram Malicki-Sanchez. That's not because it involves loud strings on the soundtrack, and gore, and Clint Eastwood in 3D glasses, but because there are shadows and actually a bit of suspense. You'd never know it from looking at the rest of the movie, but this one scene is not stupid.

21. On-screen blood splatter is a 3D horror flick classic, but apart from this and two scenes involving chainsaws being directed directly at the camera the 3D seems to have not been used in a novelty way. That's most refreshing and disappointing. If your movie is called Texas Chainsaw 3D then I want limbs flying at the screen. LIMBS!

22. Leatherface has clearly let his masks of skin go down hill. Where's the make-up? Where's the freshly-filleted flesh? This is just kinda gross, no? In that top picture he kinda looks like Hoggle from the Labyrinth with a bad skin condition.

23. I think the differences between "Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and "John Luessenhop's Texas Chainsaw 3D" is in this scene right here. Whereas in Hooper's original the character of Pam gets popped on a hook with relatively little blood (the whole film has relatively little blood), Luessenhop's sequel features Karem Malicki-Sanchez' character getting splattered onto a hook and then chainsawed in half!

Curiously, Marcus Nispel's remake had a scene similar to this, and then had to take it out because Jonathan Tucker's innards were just too much for the MPAA. Hmmm. Maybe the ratings board was taking pity on this film by letting it pass with an R.

24. Yes, hiding in an empty coffin in an open grave in a small family cemetery is by far the wisest decision Heather could make in this situation.

25. Say what you will about Marcus Nispel's "remake" (it's really not a remake at all, but we've been through this before) but it didn't quite revel in cliches like having character fuck just to get them out of clothes. It got away with having them in skimpy clothes by actually having the vibe of a Texan summer. Remember Mike Vogel in his white tank top? MmHmmm. This movie doesn't have any of that, just typically horny teenagers that fuck in barnyards. But, hey, Trey Songz without a shirt?

26. Much like their friend trying to hide in an empty grave, trying to stop a chainsaw-wielding maniac from getting to you by using a wooden board and putting your body against the door is probably not the best decision these two could have made. And what does Leatherface do to get inside?

Er... a little lower, Mr 'face.

"Welcome to Texas, motherfucker!"
27. No, you're the one who's not from Texas. You don't get a slogan about welcoming someone to Texas. What?

28. Given that this house was only inherited to Heather because her grandmother died and nobody else lives there other than Leatherface in the basement, I have no idea why there are so many lights on including in the barn. This property is illuminated by floodlights, it would seem. As are the woods around them. You'd be forgiven for forgetting these scenes are set at night since they are so heavily lit by artificial light. It's distracting and the opposite of scary.

29. Yup. This makes sense. Escape via ferris wheel. Because it's not like they go in a circle or anything like that. I'm impressed they didn't give her underboob.

30. The most ridiculous scene in the whole film should have been the best. "Leatherface goes to the county fair" really should have been a great bit; Leatherface entering the real world and all of that. Unfortunately, apart from the aforementioned ferris wheel ride (quite humorously, there are people in the cart she grabs a hold of!), I found myself in hysterics - I had to rewind and watch it several times - over this bit where Leatherface throws his chainsaw at the screen and waddles away like Dr Zoidberg. I tried to make it a gif, but I am seemingly incapable of doing even the simplest of tasks. :( amirite?

31. Look, when I used to purchase newspapers, I could barely keep them in order for one day. Somehow, these newspapers from 1974 have remained perfectly in tact. Because being stored in the evidence locker of a small Texan town is entirely conducive to remaining in mint condition with crisp, white paper. And nothing about "they chainsawed my paraplegic brother" isn't funny.

And not just that, but as Heather reads the file that the police so conveniently left on her the table right next to before promptly leaving the room, the file she reads is filled with hilariously obvious exposition that the audience is already well aware of. My favourite of which is this typo.

dun dun duuuuunnn!
32. Oh look, causing further timeline fuzziness is the use of an iPhone. And not only that, but doing so in a way that the interface takes up the whole screen. I thought that was only a device used in cheap action movies. Seriously, unless the makers of Texas Chainsaw decided that the original was set in the future of when it was actually made, nothing about the continuity of this sequel makes any sense at all. None. Zero. Zilch. Stupid!

Look, I can't even get proper reception on my iPhone in the middle of Manhattan without a cloud in the sky, so how are these guys getting perfectly clear video phone reception in a Texan basement that's clad in brick and steel? This shit is stupid.

33. Longest bloodtrail in history, for sure. It goes from the road all the way through the grass, down the long driveway, up the steps, through the house, down the stairs, through the basement and into the lab. Fairly certainly the body doesn't even have that much blood to drain out of plain ol' wounds. Even those made by chainsaws.

34. Jeepers! Richard Reihl! As a real estate agent who handles the estate that Heather has been bequeathed. He knows about the murderous cannibal in the basement and didn't do anything because, gosh, the old dead lady had written a review telling Heather all about it. No seriously, that's his defence: "Did you read the letter?" Remind me not to deal with real estate agents in Texas if this is a common thing, okay?

35. Boobs. And very carefully covered boobs at that.

"We saw your boobs."
36. "It's me! Heather!" she cries when Leatherface recognises the family birthmark mere moments before sawing off her arms. Why she thought to cry out her name as proof that they're related is a bit baffling since, well, Leatherface has no idea who "Heather" is since that was her adopted name. Stupid girl.

37. "Do your thing, Cous'", says Heather as she throws her cousin his chainsaw. Seriously. Somebody actually wrote this nonsense and was convinced that inventing a catch phrase for this girl was the right way to go. Everyone loves a spunky chick who leaves her hick family to take over care duties of her long lost cannibalistic relative. Bless.

37.5 Bad visual effects, bad!

38. So, after the Sheriff lets Leatherface kill the guy that started the lynch mob on his family's house, he apparently just lets them both go. Also: Clint Eastwood's son was left and just isn't heard from after he ties Heather up. Who the fuck knows what the police of  this town are telling everyone. It then dissolves into some sort of tender family drama as Heather begins to take care of Leatherface. Family heals all wounds with this lot.

39. Well, except these two who show up in a post-credits spot of wacky comedy. I hate this movie, it is so bloody stupid.

Say what you will about all the other Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, but none of them ravaged the corpse of the original quite as much as this one did. The nerve of them to hail themselves as the only true genuine continuation of the 1974 original may have come through for the filmmakers if they'd really tried. But this is little more than a rehash of numbers 3 and 4 in the franchise. I know I am a rare fan of the 2005 "remake", but surely anybody can see that one was trying for tension and a sweaty, slick take on the franchise that hadn't been done before. Pretty much everything in this edition has been done before and done this way before. It's ridiculous, but never ridiculous enough (hi Matthew McConaughey in The Next Generation), and ultimately a dreadfully sloppy film that lacks any sort of horror movie necessities. It misses out on an outright F because I got such a laugh out of that stupid carnival sequence. D-.


Prospero said...

I actually like Nispell's movie a lot. I didn't (nor am I likely to, now) see this version. The trailers made it obvious just how bad it was going to be.

Anonymous said...

The film is suppose to take place in 1974 not the present.

Glenn said...

Anon, it's not set in 1974 since the baby from the opening scene has grown up to be the main character. But there are also iPhones and modern clothes/language. It's set in a parallel universe.