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"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"

Directed by Marcus Nispel.
Written by Scott Kosar.  Based on the 1974 film of the same name.
Starring Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker and R. Lee Ermey.
Release Year:  2003 

Review Date:  10/27/03 


Sadly, I have still not seen the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” film from 1974, based on a true crime that took place in the early 70s that has still not been solved.  But, I figured I would just catch up to that classic later; in the meantime, dammit, we’ve got another chance at a great horror film!

I saw this at a packed house the day that it opened, and the combination of scares plus great crowd interaction led to me having a blast at the movies.  Five friends are heading to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert on a hot, humid day in August when they come across a girl that is looking pretty rough and walking aimlessly down a highway.  After the friends pick her up and ask her why she’s mumbling about her dead relatives, she gets a little too friendly with a handgun and this leads the kids to meet up with one of the most whacked-out families in the history of whacked-out families.  One of these guys loves chainsaws too!

The best thing about the 2003 version of this film is the mood that is created after the kids meet up with the fucked-up family in question.  You can just feel your stomach swirling around after we meet Leatherface (ahem, the guy that loves chainsaws) and we get to see his lab and his severely twisted workbench.  It helps that this guy loves cutting people up, hanging them on metal hooks and, oh, carving faces off of dead bodies.  Eck!  But, the music plus all of those amputated limbs makes for some pretty nasty stuff later in the film, and we know we have a body count since we are informed of it in the film’s opening moments.

Jessica Biel and R. Lee Ermey (the sarge from “Full Metal Jacket”) are the only faces you will recognize here; thanks to a small budget and sparse sets, the film’s budget came in under $10 million but it doesn’t show for the most part.  The performers do a great job of working with nothing here and the kids all look appropriately scared shitless when the situation calls for it.

The film would probably not been as good had I watched it in an empty theater, but I wouldn’t know about that for sure.  As it was, girls yelled out anytime something remotely scary was about to happen; four Latinos sitting behind me were yelling out in Spanish every time a good guy was about to do something terribly stupid, which made me think that they were saying things like

“Don’t go in there, you dumb bitch!” or
“Shoot that muthafucka, man!  Shoot ‘im!!”

so all of this made for a better experience.  Taking that into consideration, plus the fact that the body count could have been higher (even IF it stretched the truth a bit), the movie is a steal for $7 and a bit of a stretch to see at night.  But, keeping with the strong showing of horror films in 2003, you can’t really go wrong with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09