The Texas Chainsaw Massacre myth has purported to be a true story since the 1974 when Tobe Hooper smeared the first "film" liberally across the celluloid! Herein lies the problem. Much like the far too similar The Blair Witch Project the original Texas "Chain Saw" Massacre was not a great film, nor was it particularly scary, but it was among the first times such a film had been spewed across the screen. It was innovative, low-budget and ground-breaking, but it wasn't "great!" ("Great" or not, I count Myself as one of its fans!) After both movies, so similar to a documentary format, audiences raved about how real everything was and how bad they felt for those poor people back in 1973 in that small Texas town (or Maryland town as the case may be)!
Well, let 's take a deep breath here while I burst your bubbles... There was no Texas Chainsaw Massacre!!! There was nothing of the sort any more than there was a real "Blair Witch!" It isn't real, it's from the imagination of Texan Tobe Hooper. The events of the movie are said to be inspired by the arrest of Edward Gein. A real-life killer whose escapades are legendary, even to the point that he was whispered about in the small town Louisiana schools I went to (he was known as "that mean old butcher"). Not only did Gein inspire the paragon of poor flavor known as Leatherface, but also Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and your favorite and mine Psycho's Norman Bates! And guess what, there's no evidence Gein ever used a chainsaw! Guess what else? He was arrested in 1957, sixteen years before the events of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre were purported to have transpired! One more thing... there is no evidence he was ever in Texas at any point in his long, long life!
Director Marcus Nispel, screen-writer Scott Kosar and the main culprit, Producer Michael Bay essentially five-finger-discount all of the aspects of the original and skew them slightly so as to appear original. Again, we see a van full of fictional teenagers in the '70's who pick up a disturbed hitchhiker and end up embroiled in the significant dysfunction of a small town Texas family of meat packers who have a rather unique take on the rearing of their... somewhat "special" young man! Look, all you have to do is look at the title of this farce to know what happens over the next boring-ass ninety or so minutes!
And that's the main crime of this movie, it's more boring than a documentary chronicling the storied history of the modern cheese-grater! Look, star Jessica Biel is hotter than ever before, rivaling even her yummy role in Summer Catch and Eric Balfour is always watchable, but there's very little that can save this brain cramp of a stomach ulcer of a film! The dialogue hangs limply off of this plot like the rotten flesh of Leatherface's masks! There are so many failed attempts at humorous one-liners here that Rich Voss should be taking notes somewhere! Balfour looks almost embarrassed sometimes. Aside from the boredom and the bad lines this film is as predictable as the story line of a pornographic film. There are a lot of stabs (no pun intended) at a surprise here and there, but there really aren't any. Oh, there's the technique of silence before bad, bad man breaks through wall, but even that only works sporadically!
There are big buckets of gore here, not to mention great green gobs of greasy grimy hippie guts and some things are truly pretty nasty and realistic, but that's not much of a bonus anymore. All they had to do was throw money in a certain direction these days and things can look real! The "period" of this period piece is also skewed. It looked like they decided to just do the best they could and then throw in as many references to 1973 as possible, from Skynyrd tickets to "Shit Happens" Bumper Stickers. The kids don't look, act or sound like they're from any era but the early 2000s! It couldn't be more contrived if Topher Grace, Danny Masterson, and Mila Kunis had suddenly popped up and said "Look, we swear... it's the 70's, man! Far out!"
Okay, there are a couple of good things here. For one thing, Biel is beautiful, and her acting is fine. Most of the interesting things about this movie feature her either in scream mode or actually in battle with Leatherface or his family! She also looks incredible here, and it's almost worth sitting through the rest for her. That's what they were hoping for though, to distract the audience from a plot more full of holes than Bonnie and Clyde's car with Jessica's Jiggles. This is aimed at anyone who bought the Gear magazine issue with her nude pictures in it... and I did! Again, Eric Balfour is always good! He was good on Twenty-Four and on Six Feet Under and he's fine here... he just has very little to work with! The Virgin Suicides' Jonathan Tucker is passable, as is Blair Witch Project 2's Erica Leerhsen (not kidding) and that guy Mike Vogel from the WB's Grounded for Life! Hell even R. Lee Ermey (that drill sergeant dude from Full Metal Jacket and most other military movies ever made) shows up, as does the surprising voice of John Larroquette (the original narrator... I kid you not)! He's again credited as the Narrator, but he has about 8 lines total I think! Look the acting here isn't the problem. No one's that great, but no one had anything to work with or to measure them by either. It's sort of like if the cast of The French Connection all got together to do a stage play version of Schumacher's Batman and Robin! They could be the greatest actors on the planet, but we'd never know because we couldn't sit through the nasty mother grabber!
I think the thing that pisses me off the most about this side of maggoty beef is that many people will really see how they did this so-called film, and believe it really was real. I was born in Texas and grew up in Louisiana, and, no, there are no people like that there. I hear all the time that people are afraid to visit the South, and this sort of beaten horse hockey is the main culprit! Kids, it's all fake, fake, fake! Fake as Mary Carey's breasts! This movie really gives Southerners a bad name, man! Not only are there no families like this who eat people and condone murders, there are no horribly inbred hicks like that that I've ever seen.
Snap back to reality here... Eddie Gein was a loaner in real life and he didn't have a psychotic family who helped him... they were already dead, he was only ever proven to have killed two people! And what's more... he didn't even live in the South! That's right! The events that this film and its four predecessors purport to be based on took place in friggin' Wisconsin! Wisconsin! The original film was only set in Texas because that's where Hooper lived and had to film! So, in short, no Texas, no Chainsaw, no Massacre... how is this based upon real events? (For more on the real Eddie Gein, I recommend Court TV's web details on him and his horrible crimes. Click here for more on Ed Gein!)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre gets no stars! That's right... a Dog! Jessica Biel deserves better! In the Easter Egg category, take a look at the severed head in the bowl when we first see Leatherface's workshop. It's the head of none other than film critic Harry Knowles! I guess you know you've made it when you get slashed in the very movie you're going to slash! Maybe Freddy or Jason will chop me up some day! It's got to be better than this!
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is responsible for this review, this site, and his Salute to that Crazy Tobe Hooper guy, regardless of who really directed Poltergeist!
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