March 10th, 2007



Well, the Mrs. doesn't want to see Fincher's new flick, but it's rockin' the Tomato Meter, and it concerns my favorite serial killer, so I s'pose I'll have to go without her.

Unfortunately, as an unkempt White Male in his early 30s, there's something a bit too conspicuous about me attending a serial killer movie all by myself. (It's the white guy's equivalent of a large group of young blacks attending a movie about L.A. gangs.)

So, if anyone's willing to go see it with me, I promise to maximize your moviegoing experience by breathing heavily and whispering to myself throughout. Takers?

Massacred Massacre

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... Collapse )