Home / The Duke Revisits “Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2003”

The Duke Revisits “Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2003”

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In case you didn’t notice, what’s happening in the coke-sick corridors of Filmic Affairs in the recent times, is that two bandwagons are trundling along, one banging into the other now and again in highly entertaining scenes reminiscent of Ben Hur or maybe Days Of Thunder. At first glance, a fella could be hoodwinked into assuming both these bandwagons to be one and the same. Maybe one of them’s just a reflection in a mirror or some such.

(In case you were wondering, mirrors are what folks used to use for to make folks disappear and reappear as if by “magic” in the feature flicks, before CGI was invented and nobody ever needed use a mirror ever again.)

Anyhow, Bandwagon 1 involves the remaking of the feature flicks. The folks in this bandwagon, the band perhaps, they like to yack day and night about you know what would be the coolest, if we could maybe make a film exactly the fuck the same as From Beyond, with the same characters and situations, except it’s nowadays, and therefore all the more amazing.

The other bandwagon, which, to avoid confusion, we’ll call Bandwagon 3, it deals with the remakes of the classic feature flicks too, except the folks inside, in-between sippin the moonshine and playing the banjo, they like to yack about what the fuck you mean Dawn Of The Dead 2004 is better than Dawn Of The Dead 1978? Are you insane in the guts, they’ll ask? Are you out of your face on the crack-browns? Also, these folks don’t like you to mention John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly. They’d rather you didn’t mention that sorta shit around them, if it’s all the same to you.

As far as The Duke goes, I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle of these two dueling parties. For sure, I’m gonna be gettin’ sanctimonious as all roaring Moses when somebody wants to tell me The Ring is preferable to Ringu, but at the same time, ain’t no big deal if Sam Raimi thinks what the world needs is a version of Ju-On with more Caucasians.

Lest we forget, Sam Raimi is responsible for one of Kirsten Dunst’s most breath-taking cinematic outings, and so he’s entitled to do whatever the fuck he wants, pretty much.

So, with this in mind, let The Duke be the first to step up on top of some smaller, less masculine Dukes of some kind, and holler across the motherfucking globe that cheer the hell up, man, it’s ok to like Dawn Of The Dead 2004. Ain’t a damn thing wrong with that. I kinda liked it myself. No, it wasn’t as good as Dawn Of The Dead 1978, but it was better than, say, Navy Seals 1990. Our favorite flicks ain’t gonna disappear just cause some new version gets flung out there. It’s not like George Lucas had anything to do with Ringu. Just chill out, man.

I bet you even nodded your head during some of those Beatles covers in I Am Sam. I bet you tapped your foot like hell when The Black Crowes sang about Lucy Is in The Sky And Diamonds or whatever. You were probably pissed that they didn’t do Satisfaction or The Mighty Quinn or some other Beatle hits. What would’ve made I Am Sam better, you said later on when you typed up a review for an internet page, is if somebody had done Sgt Perrier.

Ain’t no difference, is what The Duke would venture, between Ryan Adams doing Wonderwall and Chuck Russell doing The Blob.

So the other day I bought this new-fangled Texas Chain Saw Massacre on DVD. The reason, truth be told, is that it was a 3 for 1 deal in the DVD emporium, and I had intended to purchase Mona Lisa Smile and also Get Over It, and so fuck it, I’m thinking, I might as well pick up this here, too.

What the hell else was I gonna do? Buy another copy of Hana Bi? That’d be insane, man, fucking insane. I’m surprised someone like you even thought of it, to be honest.

I’d already seen TCSM 2003, back in the day, and I remembered the fella from Full Metal Jacket who wasn’t Joker or Stanley Kubrick was very good. Also, there was a bit were the camera sails through a bullet-wound in a lass’s skull. If I gotta sum up the factors in my choice of purchase, those two things there would be high on the list. Probably numbers 2 and 7, respectively.

Now, I ain’t under any delusions here. There ain’t no way in hell’s holy acres that Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2003 is as good as Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974. In fact, if you were under the impression that it might be, then you deserve the resultant disappointment, angst, depression, subsequent visits to treatment facilities of varying degrees of usefulness.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2003 isn’t even as good as Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 1986. It comes close, though, to Texas Chain Saw Massacre 3 1990.

It doesn’t have the satire of the original. It doesn’t have the sexual politics of the sequel. It’s not as intelligent as either. Here’s some shit it does have, though;

For one, it looks beautiful. This Marcus Nispel motherfucker is one of these advert directors that made it into Hollywood, but if you’re gonna hold that against someone then it’s high time you forgot all about David Fincher and Ridley Scott and even Tony Kaye, the lovable rogue behind such works as American History X and American History X. You may have seen his most successful work, American History X.

Also, Nispel was kicked off of End Of Days on account of his ego. Fucking hell, Nispel, they probably thought. Arnie’s trying to save the world from Satan and also get over some personal trauma of some sort, and you’re throwing hissy fits cause we forgot to chill your milk in Disney’s frozen guts?

You’re this close Nispel.

So yeah, TCSM 2003 looks stunning, partly because Nispel just loves sweaty people. You may remember the hilariously fucking awful A Time To Kill, and you may remember thinking something along the lines of “I wonder how Joel Schumacher got these people so sweaty? Look at them, they look they could slide up and down the street all damn day. I’m betting that Matthew McConaughey stinks like a motherfucker.”

TCSM 2003 doesn’t have Matthew McConaughey, unlike Texas Chain Saw Massacre – A New Generation, which was also a remake of sorts, and which did have him.

What TCSM 2003 does have, though, is a fella who kinda looks a bit like Matthew McConaughey.

Also, TCSM 2003 is never happier than when ripping a limb or two off of some unfortunate teenager of some kind. Tobe Hooper’s original had not one gore scene. Nispel, however, makes sure that for every five minutes of screentime there’s at least 27 shots of a torn leg, or brains on a back seat, or pigs heads, or folks getting shoved onto meat hooks in close-up.

Of course, Hooper made up for the lack of all that in TCSM 1974 when it came time to fling TCSM 2 together, with guts flying left and right.

What a fucking great picture that was.

There are loads of things TCSM 2003 does right, and most of them involve looking great. Sadly, there are also loads of things they fuck up, and how about I just lay those sons a bitches out right now;

There just ain’t no sense of family in here. Texas Chain Saw Massacre was at least 67% as brilliant as it was purely because of how wickedly funny the family scenes were. Tobe Hooper took the idea of the All-American Nuclear Family and fucked it right upside the chops, just as Hitchcock had done a decade and a half earlier when Norman Bates started getting all obsessed with his father or whatever that film was about.

Both flicks were based, in part, on Ed Gein, so maybe the trick is to make sure you base your film on that, if you want to dig deep and get the satire just right. TCSM 2003, though, it tells Gein to go fuck himself, and decides to pretend that TCSM 1974 was a “true story” like Ray or Critters 2.

Maybe it all boils down to the fact that back in the medieval climes of 1974, the American Family was still considered something scared and so on. Single parents were fit only for prestige pictures like Scorsese’s Alice Done Went On The Road With Kris Kristofferson. There was a point to Hooper’s lambasting of such. Here, what point would Nispel be making, now that family means less than Santa’s stinky asshole?

So yeah, in TCSM 2003, you never get a sense that these folks are all related, even though Nispel goes out of his way to show how inbred-looking these people are.

Which is another thing that disturbs a fella about not just TCSM, but all those Demented Hillbillies flicks from Deliverance to Fahrenheit 9/11. They get very, very close to cultural snobbery. What we’re being asked to accept is that certain areas are filled with folks who are just “wrong”. Can you imagine a film about some well-to-do youngsters travel into South Central and get picked off one by one by demented “blacks”. You’d shit yourself. Here, though, it’s somehow OK, like a certain demographic, on account of their poverty, have earned the right to be portrayed as monsters and necrophiliacs and lawyers. It’s not like they’re gonna see the damn thing. They don’t show horror movies on CB Radio.

I don’t know that that rests too well with The Duke. But I’ll let it slide this time, Nispel, Hooper, Boorman, Moore et al.

In order that we don’t go ahead and assume TCSM 2003 to be a hollow, vacuous, shallow slab of looking good and saying fuck all, Nispel and the admirably respectful screenwriter Scott Kosar fling at least one genuinely unforgettable moment into the mix. What it involves is the fella from Full Metal Jacket demanding that a young fella show him how another character killed themselves. It constantly brings to mind that wretched moment in Bad Lieutenant when Harvey Keitel cleans his pipes whilst two young girls tell him how they administer oral blow-jobs.

“Show Harvey how you suck a dick.”

Thankfully the fella from Full Metal Jacket doesn’t prance around naked in a deranged crack-dream of some kind.

The scene is a sadistic delight, is what, high to the nuts on the possibilities afforded by a complete disregard for the comfort of ones audience.

However the hell, what it ends up as is a glossy studio variation on a timeless, unforgettable shock to the fuck me’s. TCSM 1974 was, however painful it may be to admit, a glorious accident as much as anything. As fitting for a film so concerned with solar movements and all that malarkey, the stars just aligned, man, just hit the right spot at the right time. Thank fuck they didn’t wait a week, or maybe the sky would’ve shifted once more, and we’d have ended up with, well, something along the lines of TCSM 2003. An enjoyable flick, one that’s gleefully unpleasant for sure, but hardly the riot of soul-shaking intensity Hooper and company conjured back in the day.

What it amounts to, is hearing maybe The Offspring doing a cover of Kick Out The Jams. For sure, there’s probably gonna be a few more “motherfuckers” in there, but they won’t add anything to the perfectly spat variant in the original. It’s probably gonna be faithful, you’re gonna be aware that The Offspring dig the hell outta those MC5’s, but the time’s gone, and what it is, is on the one hand a nostalgic exercise, and on the other hand a perfect example for to bring up in conversations about if you wanna be faithful to that feeling, then probably best to write a new fucking song.

Thanks folks.

The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando

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