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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (review)

Um, why? What was the point in remaking a horror classic and watering down all the stuff that was good about it while simultaneously playing up a bunch of stuff that’s bad about today’s slasher flicks? I don’t get it. Gone is the sudden, shocking violence and the relentless, literally breathtaking terror of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 low-budget nightmare, and in its place is a big-budget construction where all the scares are plotted out to a rhythmic beat that leaves nothing to surprise. Absent is the mere suggestion of blood and gore — the imagination is so much more effective than any FX could be — and in its place are gallons of guts and twitching stumps of hacked-off limbs, like you’ll find in anything now called “horror.” And if there was anything impersonal in Hooper’s Massacre, it was that the chainsaw-wielding psychopath saw his victims not as people but as animals fit only for slaughter. What’s impersonal here, though, is that it’s hard for us, the audience, to work up an iota of concern for the massacred. Harry Knowles’s severed head makes a cameo, and that’s a good thing — for who doesn’t want to see Harry Knowles beheaded? — but beyond that? Feh. Rent the original.

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MPAA: rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language and drug content

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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