Featuring: Jessica “The Illusionist” Beil , Jonathan “The Ruins Tucker , R. Lee “Full Metal Jacket” Ermey , and Andrew “Street Fighter Bryniarski as Leatherface
Director: Marcus “Pathfinder” Nispel
Writer: Scott “The Machinist” Kosar
Given how you’re one of those “SPORTS ARE ALL WE LIVE FOR!” states, you might wanna get some first aid cream for that sick burn, Texas. No, that’s A-1…actually, you know what, stick with the A-1. It fits the theme of tonight’s movie!
“Shake, Bake, & Remake” continues tonight with episode 3: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre…yet ANOTHER production of the living intellectual black hole Michael Bay. Originally a cosmic entity who came to Earth to steal the collective intelligence of the world’s inhabitants, with which he would power the dreaded doomsday device he planned to destroy his home planet, Bay discovered the perverse joys of bilking we humans of our hard-earned wages using big budget Hollywood productions that corrupted the creations of others to serve his purposes. His evil is eternal, and as long as his victims continue to murder their minds at his hands, his reign will remain unchallenged and continue to spread its corrupting influence until the childhoods of ALL people have been irreversibly eradicated.
Bay’s actually the perfect knob to produce a movie like this, because much like Texas his stuff’s all loud noises and bluster without any actual substance. Hell, even the way his company Platinum Dunes has made its name bastardizing other peoples’ work fits because Texas’s greatest boogeyman, Leatherface, is just a “remake” of infamous ol’ Ed Gein, a native of Wisconsin! Ah, Wisconsin…whose virtues can all be found in the MST3K episode for The Giant Spider Invasion, as seen at >>THIS LINK<<. PUDDING!
Okay, I’ve been shitting on Texas and Michael Bay long enough (at least for this episode), so let us tarry (Gilliam?) no longer. Let’s sink our teeth deep into the steak sauce soaked heart of the Lone Star State and have a family reunion with the Sawyers. Wait, they’re the Hewitts now? Damn it. Well, at least they’re not the “Slaughter” family anymore. Stupid fucking “Next Generation” Zellweger/ McConaughey bullshit. Damn it Kim Henkel, if you hadn’t contributed to the original Hooper movie I’d gas up my time machine, go back to 1944, and burst your dad’s testicles with an air hammer.
Much like he did 30 years earlier, John Larroquette narrates us into the proceedings, starting almost word-for-word with his original TCM intro (which was so great I used to have it as a track on one of my mix cds) before going into further detail about the post-incident police investigation and spoiling the ending of the movie right away by telling us that the mystery was never solved. What seems like the setup for a sequel instead rewinds us back to 1973 and a Scooby-Doo style group of 5 twenty-somethings in their Scooby-Doo style ’70s VW van. The gang are on their way back from a trip to Mexico, smuggling 2lbs of Tijuana Mary Jane, as they make their way across the Texas outback to a Lynard Skynard concert in Dallas. For our younger readers, Lynard Skynard are those guys that Kid Rock wishes he was when’s not pretending he lives in a trailer park in Compton.
Gone are Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother Franklin, replaced instead by our heroine Erin (Jessica Bile errrrr Biel), her boyfriend Kemper (Eric Balfour), and their friends Pepper (Erica Leershen), Andy (Mike Vogel), and Morgan (Jonathan Tucker). Because chainsawing an obnoxious gimp in a wheelchair only brings bad press in this day and age (11 years ago), all of our cast are able-bodied victims-to-be. And because audiences don’t like innocent victims, they’re smuggling the weed to make them morally impure and thus acceptable saw fodder. Of course Erin is the exception though, since she needs to survive the whole ordeal, so she was unaware of the illicit substance transferal, proclaims herself against it when she does find out, and subsequently turns down a toke of the communal joint when it’s passed her way because she’s “nauseous”. If Vegas was taking bets on the mortality rates for this group, “Erin is the only one who makes it out alive” would be 1:10 odds – in other words, for every $10 you bet, you’d only get $1 back when, not “if” but “when”, you win. Doesn’t make sense? Let it sink in for a minute, then go call whatever member of your family has a gambling problem and ask them to explain it to you. Every family has at least one. And if you don’t know who it is? Spoiler: it’s you.
While motoring down a deserted country road (i.e. every road in Texas not found in a major city), our meddling kids almost run down a young woman walking aimlessly on the pavement. In an apparent state of shock (an obvious victim of some manner of brutal torment), they offer the dazed female a ride back to civilization, only to have her whimper something about how she “won’t go back there” and condemn everyone in the van to their doom. She then pulls a revolver from between her blood caked inner-thighs (I used to know a girl who did photo shoots like that…minus the blood, of course), puts it into her mouth like it were Ryan Gosling, and sends her brains on the next bullet train to Fort Worth! With a massive hole blown through their rear window and their interior now painted crimson with accents of “Skull Fragment” White and “Gray Matter” Gray, the gang pull over to have their individual freak outs and try to remember the Drivers’ Ed protocol for “What to do when a hitchhiker kills his or herself in your back seat”.
Since they’re a few thousand miles too far from the San Fernando Valley to drop by The Wolf’s place (and trapped in a far worse feature), they opt to take their new friend (or what’s left of her) with them to the nearest semblance of civilization so they can report the freak suicide to the authorities. But, because they’re snarky tourists who do nothing but bitch about the stupid podunk no-horse town they’re in, they wind up getting the runaround (starring Stiffler and The Rock!) and eventually take a vote to decide whether to keep trying to hunt down the local constabulary or just dump Suicidey and get the fuck outta Dodge before they miss opening act Molly Hatchet and their sweet live extended rendition of “Flirtin’ With Disaster”. The gents vote for the hasty retreat, but the girls invoke the Veto Right of Cock Block, so once again, everyone’s going to be disemboweled because the ladies have misplaced sentimentality for some stranger who opted to ventilate the back of her brain pan in their Mystery Machine. Oh, the dangers of estrogen.
The search for the Sheriff leads our crew to an old Scooby-Doo style abandoned mill, where they run into a little deformed boy named Jedidiah (David Dorfman), who looks like he wandered away from the set of a Deliverance remake three sound stages down. He directs Erin and Kemp to the Sheriff’s home nearby, which is an old Scooby-Doo style rundown plantation house. Though there’s STILL no Sheriff to be had, they meet a stump legged, molest-y handed geezer in a wheelchair named Monty (Terrence Evans) who offers to let Erin use his phone to call the Sheriff’s office, while Kemper is elsewhere being introduced to big Scooby-Doo style goon Thomas Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski) wearing a very non Scooby-Doo style mask that’s less “rubber werewolf face” and more “patchwork human flesh”. Kemp gets a splitting headache via sledgehammer (and I don’t mean David Rasche) and dragged off to become tonight’s main course while Erin is told her boyfriend went back to the van, so she heads back herself. Speaking of the van, Sheriff Hoyt (Lee “please save this movie” Ermey!) finally arrives, takes the gun the dead girl shot herself with and pops it into his empty ankle holster (that’s not good…), then has the guys help him mummify her in Saran Wrap and dump her into the trunk of his cruiser before leaving. When Erin comes back to no Kemper, the gang does the Scooby-Doo style “let’s split up (so we’ll be easier to kill)” thing with Pep and Morgan staying with the vehicle while Erin and Andy go back to the shithole mansion to search for their errant amigo. Rut-roh, this can’t end well, Raggy…
Grandpa Gimp (“Gimpa”?) catches the snooping kids meddling around the house and summons up his juggernaut kin to dispose of them in the most violent manner possible, which includes bringing the titular power tool out for its big screen debut. Erin escapes, but while being chased through the world’s largest labyrinthine collection of clothesline dried sheets Andy gets his leg bisected by the hungry teeth of Bubba’s, I’m sorry, “Thomas’s” flesh-rending, gas-powered, death dealing chainsaw. If you had to use a chainsaw to cut open a pregnant woman and remove her child, would the baby be…………… “STIHL-born”?! Wakka-wakka!
No sooner does Erin-on-the-safe-side (BLART!) get back to the van and declare her intentions to hit the road harder than Ike hit Tina (Don’t boo me! Dig out your Ouija Board and boo Ike Turner!), then Hoyt returns, this time acting even less like genuine law enforcement and just straight up starts torturing the remaining trio: threatening them, interrogating them, and ultimately dragging Morgan off in the back of his squad car. The girls are left to deal with Leatherface (a name that’s never actually used, but I insist on using for the rest of the review), who runs into the scene showing off his newest acquisition: a mask made of Kemper’s face, which is actually pretty damn creepy! Pepper dies when she tries to ward off ‘Face’s spinning death blade with her bare hands, and the gruesome stuff is left off-screen, likely because Suicidey’s self brain blowing probably burned up all of the MPAA’s allotment for graphic violence portrayed against women within a 90min run time.
Erin escapes to a nearby trailer, but as you can imagine, EVERYBODY within a 3 mile radius of the place is a member of this family. Such is the case with the two creepy ladies our protagonista encounters. Before she realizes it though, they exposition us on ‘Face’s backstory (he was born with a weird skin disease so HE HAS NO NOSE…shock…horror) and drug her with Celestial Seasons’ new Sleepytime EXTREME!!!!® herbal tea. She wakes up back at the house and gets dumped into the Hewitts’ confusingly HUGE basement, which is flooded with water for no other reason than to get Jessica Biel into a wet white t-shirt with no bra. She finds Andy clinging to his last morsels of life while suspended on a meathook, and tries against his wishes to lift him off of it, only to get it jammed in even deeper. Ouch. Finally giving up, Erin plunges a filet knife between her buddy’s ribs as his one last behest (all I can think of is Glen Danzig singing those last three words in his Elvis horror voice) before moving on and finding what’s left of Morgan, pummeled to shit and handcuffed with a gunshot in his back, doing what I can only assume to be basting in a bathtub full of filthy water. Practically carrying his busted ass on her own, they manage to escape the reappearing Leatherface thanks to help from the little deformed boy, who I’m starting to think may be ‘Face’s son…or nephew…maybe brother? Whatever. He could be his grandpa for all I know! Keeping track of an incest family tree is harder than figuring out the Pullman-Paxton Principle.
The duo escape to a nearby cabin/barn (all these dilapidated buildings look the same to me), but the struggle to save Morgan is fundamentally for jack naught, as he just ends up another sacrifice on the altar of the saw gods…and as a cautionary tale reminding you to only have your vasectomies performed by trained professionals! Now, having failed to save any of her friends, and the only remaining ham yet to be hocked, Erin takes flight once more. This time their Scooby-Doo style chase sequence (sans Monkees music) takes them to a nearby abattoir, partially because her shirt has now dried and needs to be drenched again in the animal shower. Ironically enough, I feel this is the ONLY place within running (and screaming) distance of that house that isn’t under Hewitt control. Not because it’s full of cows rather than humans, but because it’s just so damn clean and well maintained compared to EVERY other structure this movie’s taken place in up till now. For the first time in the entire movie (except maybe for the earlier scenes where she hot wires the van and picks a padlock with the tip of a pocket knife) Erin proves herself a potently bad-ass female lead when she lures ‘Face into a small locker room too narrow for him to maneuver his huge overcompensating chainsaw, then hacks off his fucking arm at the elbow with a meat cleaver! You GO, grrrrrrl!
Someone please hit me with a brick now. *THUNK* Thank you.
All awesomeness from the preceding scene is immediately flushed out to sea like so much improperly disposed of toxic waste though, because Leatherface’s arm does NOT spray geysers of gore everywhere, despite having MAJOR ARTERIES HACKED THROUGH! None at all! He flails around screaming his animal noises and recoups his still running saw without dumping so much as a pint of blood, let alone the gallons of ichor that losing half your damn arm would result in! I thought we had a moment there, TCM. We looked into each other’s eyes, stood on the verge of a deep, nigh-kismetic exchange of our very souls…and you threw up on my ceremonial reviewing robes. Expect my dry cleaning bill. And please don’t attempt calling me for another date. I won’t be kind. In fact, I may burn down your house.
Finally, Erin makes her way back to the family (long story about a truck driver I prefer to truncate for the sake of not wanting to type anymore about this movie) amidst a pouring rainstorm (can’t let that t-shirt get dry or the little boys in the audience will stop watching!), kidnaps a baby (again, not interested in explaining), steals Sheriff Hoyt’s car, and ends the movie on a high note by running the twisted bastard over THREE times (if you’re gonna do a job, do it right!) before escaping into the night… and narrowly running over ‘Face, who’s not only barely phased by LOSING HIS ARM, but somehow acquired the Jason Voorhees teleportation engine to get that far ahead of her in the time since she left him back at the plant.
In an epilogue (that actually continues our opening narration), we learn that ‘Face is STILL ALIVE SOMEHOW, thus threatening a sequel (that would be dropped in favor of a prequel before Lionsgate bought the rights from New Line) where I was hoping we’d see our villainous psychopath pull an Ash and run around with his chainsaw now strapped to his stump. Denied. Oh well. The weirdest part is that this epilogue is delivered through footage of a police walk through of the Hewitt house after the events of the movie proper. ‘Face attacks and (presumably) kills the cops in question while the camera is rolling, but John Laroquette never says anything about how or when the footage was recovered… or how the cops got their asses handed to them by a big galoot with only one arm. Whatever. Fuck it. The END!
If nothing else, Texas Chainsaw Massacre continues/started the general disdain of horror movie fans for weak cheese, needless remakes. I tried to go into it with no expectations so I could keep my disinterest pure, but when I found out that the writer of The Machinist was in charge of the screenplay, it came with the hopeful implication that this might not be the slog through sewage that I feared it would be deep in the cosmic vortex where my heart should be. In the end? Well, it was still a slog, but the shit sludge was more chest deep than eyeballs, so at least I didn’t get any in my mouth. In addition to the half-competent writer, I was happy to at least see director Nispel knew to remake Hooper’s classic shots of the wide open Texas sky. And he does a solid knock-off “homage” to Hooper’s eerie tracking shots of the family’s rundown abode, made all the more effective by the Hewitts’ decrepit plantation home. Speaking of creative, Hooper and Henkel were on as co-producers, but as far as how much of a hand they actually had in this shit show is unknown. I want to say very little, but neither are exactly well known for being infallible bastions of cinematic greatness. I refer you to my previous statement regarding a time traveling air hammer and exploded balls.
Now, we know why TCM is slightly better than our previous two half-baked remakes, but let’s really tackle why it’s still a steaming Texas Chili Bowl of a movie…and yes, before you ask, a “Texas Chili Bowl” is a poop-sex thing. The biggest offense? It’s boring. I checked my watch several times wondering how much more I had to sit through, and that’s REALLY not good when your movie is only about an hour and a half long. I had no real problems with Leatherface himself…except that he’s not ONCE called Leatherface…and the mystery is ruined when we’re very clearly shown his face…and they try to make him sympathetic by turning him into a ridiculed man-child with a skin condition…and this skin condition assumingly made the blood in his arms stop flowing…and they took away the whole transvestite thing because it was probably too “sissy” for a “scary” horror movie villain…and I couldn’t get over the fact that he was played by the same dude who was Zangief in that Street Fighter movie that was so campy it could’ve been a Meatballs sequel. So, yeah, I guess I had plenty of problems with “Thomas Hewitt” after all.
The victims were pretty much all useless skin sacks, starting the trend of Platinum Dunes characters that we couldn’t care less about when they’re being hacked to bits, and that’s NOT just because I’m a sociopath. When Alfred E. Neuman images get more of a reaction out of me than any member of your actual cast, you’re doing something terribly wrong. Speaking of the cast, whose idea was it to expand the family to include so many ancillary members?! When it was Cook, Hitchhiker, and Leatherface, or Drayton, Chop Top, and Leatherface, the family was at its strongest because we only had three members to keep track of and they each had their chances to stand out! Not only do the Hewitts have five or six (or seven) members, but out of the only three whose names I remembered, Thomas was one of the least dimensional, Jedidiah was only around for two scenes, and despite being the clear focus of the group, Hoyt feels like he wasn’t taken far enough. He came off less like the sadistic animal that Chop Top and Hitchhiker were, and more like just another Texas asshole with a badge.
Final judgment? If the saw truly is family, then this family member deserves to be driven out into the desert and left to the coyotes. Though not the strike that Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street were, this installment of “Shake, Bake, & Remake” was definitely a hard foul and has made no case that remakes shouldn’t be allowed by penalty of death via air hammer between the legs, for males and females. Avoid this Scooby-Doo mystery if you can, ignore if you can’t, and kick it in the gonads while shouting “NO MEANS NO!” if it persists. Say no to cash-ins, kids. Zoinks. Good night, patriots!
Moral of the Story: Brains look kinda like lasagna…so John Arbuckle is the first/most fucked if a zombie outbreak hits the Sunday Comics.
When asked if his cameo in Texas Chainsaw Massacre caused him any concern for his safety, Mr. Neuman replied, “What? Me wo… you know what, *expletive* this. Interview over.” before giving his interviewer a crass gesture and walking away.
An alternate time line’s Courtney Love in a dimension where Nirvana went on to have a long and illustrious career.
“Hey, I never agreed to have my likeness appear in a Michael Bay production! Someone get my agent on the phone! RIGHT MOO!”
Hey Jessica, don’t look it as a filthy toilet bowl. Look at it as a crystal ball showing you the future of your career!
It’s the rare San Diego ComicCon exclusive “White Trash Legolas” collectible variant figure! Buy one to resell and another to pose on your shelf making out with the mail away “Rodeo Clown Aragorn” figure you got for sending in 300 Lucky Charms box tops!
“Does anyone else hear banjo music and the sound of a middle-aged man squealing like a pig?”
Keep feeling around old man. You could be back there all day and you still won’t find anything. You’ll have better luck finding a hymen in a strip club than you will an ass in those pants.
What a mansion! It’s like redneck Xanadu! It’s Texas’s Tarra!
Lee Ermey tried to turn this role into a Reynold’s Wrap spokesperson gig with limited (i.e. no) success.
I was gonna make a joke about how good it was to see somebody finally shut Harry Knowles up, but then I realized this is actually him and I just feel completely ripped off.
Did you know that the best way to preserve old photographs is inside of a mason jar full of urine? It’s true! Don’t ask me how I came to that conclusion.
Special cameo by Michael Jackson! If he doesn’t have a nose, how does he smell? Awful. *rim shot*
Sweet mother Isis! That’s the most nightmarish thing I’ve seen since the unreleased Hulk Hogan/Bubba the Love Sponge sex tape! GAH!
Leatherface put a lot of effort into the mask for his Tony Stark Halloween costume, but everybody thought he was supposed to be James Franco and avoided him.
That reminds me, whatever happened to Calista Flockhart?
I think I’ll order a pizza tonight. I don’t know why, but I’m in the mood for sliced pepperoni.
Ahhhh, somebody saw Field of Dreams and thought it’d be a good idea to build a baseball field behind their house too.
“Blair Meat Co.”? A subtle hint that Platinum Dunes also plan on running The Blair Witch Project through the meat packing remake factory too? Probably not. They only ruin good movies.
“Now let’s get you home, little lady. Momma’s had a long night and she’s got a hankerin’ for veal!”
Anubis will return next time in
“The Shape of Things to Come (Looks Kinda Like William Shatner)”
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