Saturday, January 12, 2013

Texas Chainsaw (2013)

Even as a fan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (I, among many, consider it classic slasher canon), I wouldn't normally get excited about yet another modern TCM sequel/remake/what have you. But I saw the trailer for this one, and let me tell you, it looked fun. So I decided to go out and see it. And it was fun. Pretty good for a modern slasher, although you can't compare it to the original generation of slashers. There was a little too much emphasis on the 3D effect of the chainsaw coming "out of" the screen, which I regard as little more than a cheap novelty, but there were some genuinely cool gore effects utilized.

As for the story, this movie serves as a sort of sequel to the original, in an effort to (I presume) reboot the franchise. As such, it does a good job of summarizing the events of the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and then taking it in a wild new direction (although I anticipate some people will hate the direction they go). It actually had me guessing for a while what direction they were going, and I was intrigued at how they managed to flip things around - in a nearly convincing fashion - so that we're pretty much rooting for the bad guys, by making the 'good guys' behave so unappealingly. Fascinating.

As for the characters, they're actually pretty cool, you get to like them. But even so, knowing this is a slasher movie, you still don't care much when they get offed. My favorite part of this movie is actually not the gore or any of the traditional horror elements, but the unabashed, oozing sexuality. The main girl wears a cropped top that shows off her immaculate midriff, and the second girl dresses like a hooker - which is a mighty fine thing, if you ask me. And the camera is not at all ashamed of lingering on their assets. Even the black guy gets to shine in his sweaty post-workout topless scene.

There's one thing that bothers me, though. For a movie that so blatantly pushes the sex appeal of its stars, it's conspicuously gun-shy about actual nudity. In the barn, when the one girl makes her 'proposal' of sex to her friend's boyfriend, she strips down while he's distracted. He turns around to see her standing there - in her underwear. Underwear that is no more revealing than the ultra-skimpy clothing she's been wearing throughout the movie. Later, when the main girl is tied up and her shirt ripped to expose her breasts, a seasoned movie-watcher will note that not once do you see a glimpse of nipple - the shirt is almost certainly glued to stay in place.

I think that's one of the things I really liked about Rob Zombie's approach to horror. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing a nipple or two in his remake of Halloween. What's the deal? We can watch a man get sawed in half, his guts oozing all over the place, but a nipple is too much? I mean, I don't get it. I know that people are queasy about mixing sex and violence (and yet, what is a slasher movie all about?). But am I the only person who doesn't think that if I get turned on in a horror movie, I'm going to make the mistake of thinking it was the butcher's knife and not the heroine's ass that got me all hot and horny? It's ridiculous! I don't want to be treated like a baby!

That having been said, this movie was better than most about playing up the sex side of the typical slasher equation, and that counts for something. I'll give you an example of something surprising that I liked. Halfway through the movie, the one girl gets to switch out her midriff-exposing top (now splattered with blood) for a button-down shirt. I was thinking to myself in that scene, dammit, there goes her sexy midriff. But get this, she decides to only button one or two buttons - just enough to cover her bust - so that the bottom of her shirt flies open every time she runs (and this is a horror movie). That got me smiling, I'll tell you what. :-)

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