The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Blu-ray) (Widescreen) product details page

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Blu-ray) (Widescreen)

Jessica BielJonathan TuckerErica Leerhsen

Director: Marcus Nispel

rated: R

- Profanity, Graphic Violence, Gore, Scary Moments, Drug Content

released: September 29, 2009

format: Blu-ray

Rating: Not rated: write a review
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Marcus Nispel's remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a valiant effort to bring Hollywood horror back to its grisly roots, though for all its brilliant photography and brutal intensity, the remake ultimately crumbles under its pandering to the new audience to which it's obviously catering. Where there were once disturbing, unsettling images juxtaposed with sly social relevance, the story is now reinterpreted into a nasty tale of ugliness that, while still chock-full of scares, is void of the shocking, under-your-skin feel that Tobe Hooper's original continues to instill decades after it dug into society's subconscious and changed horror films forever. That said, it's unfair to compare the two films too much, as even the last two dismal Chainsaw flicks were basically remakes of their archetypical ancestor, though the fact remains that producer Michael Bay and company refused to fully grasp why the first film still manages to resonate years later. If their idea was that the original was scary because it had elements stemming from real life weirdo Ed Gein, then why throw in the puritanical slasher ideals in the early moments, immediately separating the viewer from fact to popcorn-loving movie fiction? The answer undoubtedly goes back to the post-Scream youth culture which the filmmakers are nurturing, resulting in an annoying ploy that immediately singles out the perfect-bellied and curvaceous Jessica Biel to be the final survivor in a situation in which not one character should be safe. Thankfully, the rest of the film doesn't fall into too many more stereotypical pitfalls, but it's exactly that sort of thing that makes this mean fright flick far less gonzo and more a by-the-numbers slasher. That said, there are some high points to the flick -- the first being the original cinematographer Daniel Pearl's return behind the camera for this Leatherface epic. His painterly eye does wonders with the budget and lends this horror film an unbelievable look, thanks to his 30-plus years of experience in the field (even if it'd been over ten years since his last feature). It's the feel he brings to the piece mixed with the truly gnarly imagery of the picture that gives the film the uniqueness by which it can live up to the high standard under which it's labeling itself. Another class act with the film is the cast, namely Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface. Hitting a near home-run as the unstoppable killing machine, the newest chainsaw chopper surprisingly shines in a few subtle moments sure to remind you of the crazed, multi-dimensional work of his earliest predecessor, Gunnar Hansen. Another relief is the young cast members themselves, who tend to not fall into the atypically horrible modern genre acting, with Biel handling her own as the film's newest scream queen and the rest of her crew pulling their weight with the all-too-real mayhem erupting around them. R. Lee Emry also shows up for more of his hilarious foul-mouthed schtick, this time turning in a much more macabre role that is more akin to the outrageous performances known in the series. It's too bad, then, that things just aren't pointed in the right direction. The film works as a modern gore-fest, but loses sight of the original's integral pieces, such as incredibly unnerving sound design, non-music-video-style editing, and frankly, a madman like Hooper at the helm. Better thought of as just another revisionist sequel than a direct remake, Nispel's Texas Chainsaw is better than the jaded horror fan would think, scary-as-hell to any newbie looking for a nasty time, but ice ages away from the original. Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide

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