EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: TEXAS CHAINSAW GOT MASSACRED

One of my very first “Excess Hollywood” columns was about how much I hated horror movie remakes. I won’t go see them because I feel that if I give a studio money for a remake, the studio will see that there’s money to be made doing them and ignore all the original horror scripts that are floating around out there. (I did go see “Willard,” however, because I support almost anything with Crispin Glover.)

When the trailer for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out, I was definitely intrigued. It actually looked like it would be right up my alley. I wouldn’t go see it, though. Couldn’t do it. Then it came out on DVD, and I pondered it a bit more. I wouldn’t rent it, though. Couldn’t do it.

One of my friends saw it and told me that he thought I’d really enjoy it. He described several scenes to me, and it did actually sound like something I wanted to see. So I did it.

I didn’t pay for the rental. The video store I go to has this deal where if you rent twelve movies, you get one rental free. I had been saving the free rental for a movie I didn’t want to pay for, and this was the perfect time to use it.

Let’s just say the trailer and my friend’s description of the movie were both far better than the movie itself.

I was disappointed … and bored! One should never be bored by a horror movie. While the original was disturbing and intense, this just went for gore and cheap jolts by having people pop out of the shadows. The family had no personality, and Leatherface was a cardboard clone of the original. There were no redeeming qualities in the remake, and it made me very happy that I hadn’t paid for it. I was pissed as hell I wasted my time, but I could take some comfort in the fact that I had some cash left over for hookers.

As I write this, the remake of Dawn of the Dead is still in theatres (not the case by the time you read this). Lots of people are raving about it, including the people who raved about “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” disaster. Some of them are horror fanatics, such as myself, while others just sort of like horror movies if they star attractive actors and have good production values. Whatever way they go, I can no longer trust their tastes.

Neither of these two films needed to be remade, and my experience with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre proves that to me. It seems ridiculous that Hollywood would do these films all while ignoring good scripts that I know are out there. Hell, there’s even a remake of “The Toolbox Murders.” Most casual fans don’t even know about the original film. So not only has Hollywood taken to remaking classics like “Dawn of the Dead,” but it’s also delving into the more obscure works. A year from now we could have a remake of “Slave of the Cannibal God” stinking up a Loew’s instead of something from the team that brought us The Great American Snuff Film.

I’ve noticed that more and more people are obsessed with new things. To them, new always equals better. It doesn’t matter if that isn’t really the case because the illusion is true. A remake has to be better than the original because it’s new. The special effects have to be better. The actors have to be more attractive. All because it’s new.

I don’t buy into that, and neither should anyone reading this column. If you do, perhaps we can at least agree that any remake should be as good as the original — if not better. What is the point of making it otherwise? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the perfect example of what happens when even that simple criteria can’t be met.

If studios re-released these films like The Exorcist, I’d go see them. I won’t bother with any more remakes, though. Not even for free. I’ll spend my money on “28 Days Later” and forget about “Dawn of the Dead.” I want to encourage new stories, and I want to spend my dough on originality (or at least the original movie). Like The Who, I won’t be fooled again.

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Posted on August 12, 2004 in Features by
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