Archives for October 2009 | Varied Celluloid

Archive for October, 2009

Halloween Horror: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 30 - 2009
Here we are everybody, the last horror review of this Halloween Horror event! It wasn’t as special this time around as last years. I didn’t even realize I should be doing anything special until about mid-month so I feel a little guilty. However, I plan on more than making up for it this December as I finally bring back the Kung Fu Christmas. My martial arts holiday event. I hope you’ll all stick around and enjoy the future martial mayhem coming your way! I know I’ll enjoy dishing it out! For the last Halloween effort though, here’s a rather special review of

The Plot: Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) is traveling across Texas with her friends and brother to check on the grave of her grandmother, which has been recently desecrated by grave-robbers. When they arrive and find there’s very little they can do, they decide to head back but the only gas station around has no fuel to offer. So the group decides instead to stop in at Sally’s family’s home to see what the old place looks like. It’s a run down shack at this point, as they moved away when Sally was very young, but it has apparently had some visitors in it throughout the years as the animal bone designs that pattern the house would suggest. When the group starts to split up, a few of them find an old house down the trail in the backyard. Their first thoughts are to see if there is gas that the group could possibly buy off of them, but this house is nothing they want to get involved with. A crazed family of cannibals lives there, with the psychotic Leatherface leading the charge with his whirring chainsaw blade. This family is mad… and hungry.



CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 30 - 2009
The Plot: Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) is traveling across Texas with her friends and brother to check on the grave of her grandmother, which has been recently desecrated by graverobbers. When they arrive and find there’s very little they can do, they decide to head back but the only gas station around has no fuel to offer. So the group decides instead to stop in at Sally’s family’s home to see what the old place looks like. It’s a run down shack at this point, as they moved away when Sally was very young, but it has apparently had some visitors in it throughout the years as the animal bone designs that pattern the house would suggest. When the group starts to split up, a few of them find an old house down the trail in the backyard. Their first throughts are to see if there is gas that the group could possibly buy off of them, but this house is nothing they want to get involved with. A crazed family of cannibals lives there, with the psychotic Leatherface leading the charge with his whirring chainsaw blade. This family is mad… and hungry.




The Review
When I first decided to start Varied Celluloid back in the day, I had this faint idea that I would never really cover the classics. Stuff like the Friday, Nightmare or Chainsaw series seemed to get tons of coverage elsewhere so why go that direction? Well, with this Halloween Horror concept I finally figured it was time to tackle a few of these masterpieces of genre filmmaking. If I don’t do it under this guise, then likely I’ll never get to write about these movies. Although no amount of words will be able to accurately describe something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the least I can do is give my own personal experience and interpretation of the film. I personally was kind of late to the film, in comparison to my discovering every other American genre series of any popularity.

This late discovery was based on two different factors, first of all as a very young kid the idea of a Chainsaw Massacre is pretty darn frightening you have to admit. So, growing up the idea of seeing bodies sawed into pieces scared the living daylights out of me. It was one thing to see Jason Voorhees take a machete and slice a teenager’s head off in one fatal swipe but it’s an entirely different thing to see someone slowly saw and carve through flesh and bone. When I finally hit my preteens I discovered mafia movies and from there I found Scarface… BAD idea in terms of conquering my fears. The chainsaw sequence in Scarface, as a 13 year old kid, was probably the most disturbing thing I could have witnessed. For some reason that nerve-fueled five minute sequence just left me shellshocked. It took me probably four or five years to finally discover the Chainsaw series and violence wise I found that I had been sitting on the fence for absolutely nothing.

The violence in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is NOT what has sucked audiences in throughout the decades. That title ropes you into believing that convention says that this flick is going to be all sorts of disgusting and violent, but the actual reality is that this is an entirely psychological form of terror. As a teenager, next to Cannibal Holocaust and Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh & Blood (though I may have been twenty seeing that one), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would mark one of the few times I have been incredibly nervous before a film by what I might happen to actually see. Although these fears turned out to be completely unwarranted it just goes to show both the power that a title can have and the brilliance of the marketing behind the movie. To this day people who have not seen Tobe Hooper’s original movie just assume that it is some kind of terrifyingly brutal film of violence and gore. However, going through it for probably my twelfth time recently there are only a handful of scenes in the entire movie that actually feature blood that you can actually see. That isn’t to say it isn’t violent or deserving of it’s R rating.

To think that Tobe Hooper was actually shooting for a PG rating initially is just insane, even if PG was a more loose rating back then than it is now. It’s just that everything within TCM is implied. We don’t see Leatherface slicing up the bodies, just a shot of the body in the foreground and him revving the chainsaw. We don’t see the meathook go into the back of his innocent victims, just their reaction and Leatherface lifting them up. When Michael Bay announced originally that he had plans to produce a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but instead this time make it less gory with the emphasis being on the ‘thriller’ aspects… it blew my mind. How could someone remake a movie that they had not even seen? Going on record and stating such a thing, you just could not say such a thing if you had seen the movie. Then skip forward to the release of the movie and it is precisely the polar opposite of Bay’s word and we get an incredibly hyper violent/gory remake that takes it to levels far more extreme than anything the series had ever seen.

What makes TCM the masterpiece that it is? In my opinion, it’s entirely based off of the psychological warfare that the characters play. The hitch-hiker and his insanity in the van, played so effectively by Hooper with minimal sound during the sequence. It’s an awkward situation that slowly goes out of control and even if Edwin Neal does take the character a bit out of range from reality, we can believe it by how awkward and desperate that conversation becomes. He doesn’t come across as some kind of degenerate who takes simple pleasure in pain, he much like the rest of the clan comes across as being mentally ill. Psychotic, insane, whatever you want to call it. These characters aren’t even in control of their own actions at any point anymore. They simply aren’t there. The Cook may be my favorite of the characters. His sequence in the truck with Sally is just brilliant. He bashes the girl repeatedly, obviously getting pleasure from it, then apologizes alongside his actions. It doesn’t make any sense, but neither do any of their actions. We don’t know what made these people the way they are but the unknown is even more frightening than any backstory ever could be.

The Conclusion
Without a doubt The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not only one of the best horror films ever made, it’s also one of the best films of the seventies if you ask me. It’s a tense and sordid tale that removes you from your comfort zone and sets you down with these sweaty people on a roadtrip who are caught up in an absolutely horrible situation unlike anything you could ever imagine. It plays ever different angle and leaves the audience bracing themselves for what comes next. Today’s modern audiences may go into it expecting tons of violence thanks to the remakes, but for any younger guys or gals out there who have not seen it – go into this one with the right frame of mind and you’ll find an absolutely brilliant piece of genre filmmaking. The dinner sequence alone is worth the DVD purchase, due to how many times the idea has been used throughout horror films since its release. Wrong Turn 2 is only one of many movies I can think of recently that have their own variation of this sequence. Gather it up, you won’t regret it.



Halloween Horror: Friday the 13th Part III

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 26 - 2009

Hey guys, back with possibly my last review for October. Although I would like to get one more in before the big day, I’m just not sure if I can make that happen. Since I’m crunching to finish my Rogue Cinema reviews, my time should be taken up over the next few days. However, who knows! Anything can happen! So here we are again with more Jason madness. Chronologically going through the series has been fun and brings back a ton of memories. It’s been interesting trying to dissect these flicks and explain just why I like them. Not an easy task when you’re defending rather basic slashers, but within their context there’s actually a lot of things going on. So, without further blathering, here is my review for Friday 3!

The Plot: In this sequel to the Friday the 13th series we start where we left off last time, with Jason Voorhees escaping from the scene of the crime. Once again we’re a little up the road from camp Crystal Lake at another neighboring camp site, with a brand new series of teenagers just aching to be slaughtered. It doesn’t take long for Jason to find the kids and start picking them off one by one. Will these kids wise up and find a way out of this terrifying situation or will they all be hacked up in memory of mommy dearest.



CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

Friday the 13ths Part III

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 26 - 2009
The Plot: In this sequel to the Friday the 13th series we start where we left off last time, with Jason Voorhees escaping from the scene of the crime. Once again we’re a little up the road from camp Crystal Lake at another neighboring camp site, with a brand new series of teenagers just aching to be slaughtered. It doesn’t take long for Jason to find the kids and start picking them off one by one. Will these kids wise up and find a way out of this terrifying situation or will they all be hacked up in memory of mommy dearest?


The Review: My good friend Jon, known online as Coffin Jon, always ends up giving me a certain amount of guff for being a bit of a Lucio Fulci apologist. I will concede that the man did not always patent his style or best efforts after a film with a great plot, but I have to say I’m a great admirer of the man’s showmanship. However, as much of a fan and apologist as I am for Lucio Fulci, you had better believe that I’m an even bigger apologist for the Friday the 13th films. The same mind set is required to be a diehard fan of either cinematic section, because both essentially suffer from many of the same flaws. Lots of blood, not always the most original scripts. At this point in the series, there’s actually enough blood still coursing through the veins of this camp crystal lake epic that not only do we get a film that does maintain much of what one might expect from a Jason Voorhees movie but there’s enough originality that it can sustain the weight of the series. Many have called this their favorite entry in all of the Friday movies and although I won’t take it that far, I will say that I can certainly see why someone might.

Where in the second film there were subtle allusions to the original Friday the 13th throughout, with Friday 3 the notion of a formula arises pretty early on. If you were to watch all three of these movies back to back, as I have, then you can almost make the call of what is going to happen at what point – and not be wrong. Although, having grown up with the entire series, rewatching these gems in order as I have has given me a new insight into their creation. Gone are the allusions at this point, Friday 3 takes the first two movies then beat by beat actually begins to re-paint them. That probably seems a lot more negative than I intended it, but it does take a lot of cues from those first two movies then deliberately recreates them. The interesting thing here though is how it mixes these older ideas in with a lot of new interesting twists and changes. I think the first thing I’m obligated to even mention, or my license as a card carrying horror freak might actually be revoked, is that yes indeed: Jason finally gets his mask. After two very mask-less Friday the 13th films we finally have our hockey masked serial killer that would soon become one of the most iconic visuals in all of mainstream horror media.

Jason picks up the mask only for the latter half of the film, but I guess it was enough to embed itself into the minds of every teenager screaming at the theater back in those days. I suppose since the sport has never been as heavily followed here in the states as something like football, the mask actually comes across as something perhaps a little foreign to us. The visual of it is almost Gladiator like and what can you say, it’s just darn cool. The hockey mask may be the largest addition to this series and its vitality, but there is one other new addition that has to be mentioned when talking about Friday the 13th Part III. That’s right, it is in 3D. Well, that’s the way it was originally intended to be shown in theaters. For those of us who have grew up watching it on television and video, we were unfortunately never able to experience that joy but the intentions still live on through numerous cheesy “3D FX” moments where our cast literally throws or shoves any number of objects directly into the lens of the camera. When you know the intention, it just comes off as being so corny. Still, there’s a certain amount of fun naivety to it all. It takes you back to that point where even in a formulaic slasher, producers and directors still wanted to get a shock or scare out of us in the audience. These days one starts to just feel like another dollar at the box office to them.

Although it’s certainly formulaic in nature, Friday 3 is still fun for the way it provides all the familiar objects in a not so familiar environment. We’re given a new camp, once again up the road from Crystal Lake (how long is this stretch of camping grounds?), there’s that new addition of the mask, it’s Jason’s first time using a speargun, there’s a biker gang lead by a Pam Grier looking woman (what kind of gang takes orders from a chick anyway? Can it be a gang if there are only three members?), it actually manages to keep the violence high while taming the nudity down considerably and the film also marks the first time Jason would use a body as a projectile through a window! Although true, I’m joking on that last bit but there are a lot of interesting new ideas going on here amongst all the regular Friday stuff one would expect. Once again we have a practical joker, once again teens die while having sex, once again we have a warning of impending doom before our teenagers arrive and we’ve got a stealthy killer wandering around making everyone pay. It’s your prototypical Friday movie, but it still plays oh so well by keeping with what works and not being afraid to throw in it’s own additions.

For some new fans who are just coming to this series, once you get past some of the dated visuals and styles of the times, you may find a slasher that actually demonstrates how to use suspense in a meaningful way. Although certainly not the film that best demonstrates this, I was surprised while watching the movie with my thirteen year old cousin by just how much it affected him. It showed me that despite it’s age, it’s still giving people those knee jerk reactions. Where viewers are constantly belittling the cast for their bonehead decisions. For walking into that dark room with no light, or not running for the car when they have a chance. It is most certainly one of the best of the series and truly shows why these first four are so immortally loved. They still pack a punch after all these years and are likely the films that the series will be best remembered for. I give it a four out of five, yet another classic that has to be seen.



Halloween Horror: Friday the 13th Part 2

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 22 - 2009

Back once again with more Halloween Horror! Returning once again with another piece of gold from the Friday the 13th series, this second film in the trilogy may very well be one of my absolute favorites. It essentially establishes everything that the Friday series would come to be known for, while also carving (pun very much intended) out an outrageously fun time.

The Plot: Moving just up the road from camp Crystal Lake, our story focuses on a counselor training camp for young people. Having many who have served as counselor’s before, the team is a tight knit group of young people looking to party down. As is the case with almost every Friday film. However, things get spooky once the teens find out about the myth of Jason Voorhees, who was never found after the incidents of the first film and Ralph the drunk shows up once again to tell everyone that they are indeed DOOMED! On a night meant for partying down and getting loose, the mysterious presence in the woods who has been keeping an eye on the young counselors decides to strike out against them! Who will survive this massacre?



CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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