||[Mar. 10th, 2007|06:56 am]
I watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its remake a few days ago, both for the first time. Despite having a much higher budget, the same cinematographer and producers, and a superb template to follow, the remake is vastly inferior to the original. I made a list of comparisons which you can read below. But first, a brief explanation of the merits of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre:|
Despite its rave reviews, I'd avoided this movie for many years, since I assumed it was a gory & exploitative slasher flick. After all, the name suggests as much, and even the positive reviews don't dispel that impression. But after my research for a writing project finally drove me to view the film, I discovered that it's largely gore-free, and even life-affirming -- in a magically "ZZ Top meets Lord of the Flies" sort of way. That may sound ridiculous, but if you've ever walked away from a tragedy feeling limbered up and invigorated, that's what I'm talking about. Not every violent film is cathartic, but in TCM we have a winner.
Apart from superb technique, I think the test of great writing is how it answers the question,"What might a person with this background do in these circumstances?" There are three answers to this question:
1. The incorrect answer: anything a person with this background would not do in these circumstances.
2. The correct but predictable answer: anything we could easily guess that a person with this background might do in these circumstances.
3. The correct but unpredictable answer: anything we could not easily guess that a person with this background might do in these circumstances, but which that person might very well do, nonetheless.
To the extent that a story offers the third answer, that story is great.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre offers that third answer to questions like,"What might a backward & isolated clan of cattle butchers get up to if their livelihood dried up?," and,"What might a group of teens do if they met such a clan?" You think you know the answers to these questions -- chainsaw, screams, and all -- but you don't. Until you see this movie.
In addition to the greatness of the third answer is a greatness of technique, which TCM has in abundance. The best way I can think of to detail its technical strengths is to compare it with its inferior remake. And so... ( Spoilers ahoy!Collapse )