Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Texas Franchise Massacre: An Uneducated Review

I had never related to Annie Wilkes from 'Misery' more in my life than in the first three and a half minutes of "Texas Chainsaw 3-D". You see, Annie Wilkes appreciates action. She appreciates drama. She appreciates romance. But most importantly, she appreciates CONTINUITY, as you can see in this clip from my now-most-relatable-movie-of-the-past-20-years, Misery:

So let's relive those first 210 seconds of decency that I experienced as Texas Chainsaw 3D began. Those moments BEFORE my pupils protested the visions in front of them and filled with feces, fogging up my Real-D glasses with fumes that could simultaneously clear a stadium as well as ignite a senior prom with fire.

The film started off as any self-proclaimed quote/unquote "TRUE" sequel should, recapping specific events and key aspects of the original, showing the narrative as well as establishing the characters and settings that are important to this new sequel. Using the actual footage from the original 1974 film was a great touch, as it showed us the whole dysfunctional reclusive family of cannibals, consisting solely of The Cook, Leatherface, The Hitchiker and Grandpa as they collectively capture, murder, and assumedly eat a group of teenagers using primitive weapons like saws and hammers while ONE of the teenagers, Sally, narrowly escapes their clutches and drives away as Leatherface dances in the sunset in front of the family's farmhouse, defeated and frustrated while the hitchhiker lay dead in the street, with the Cook, The Grandpa and Leatherface being the only surviving members of the cannibal family. This is where the original film ended, so I was genuinely excited to see that this new film KEPT GOING, exactly where the original film ended. COOL!

So the film officially begins what seems to be that same day, under the same sunset, minutes later, back at the cannibal family house, where the 3 remaining cannibals are hiding out inside as their house gets surrounded by a lynch mob of cops and unruly citizens of Texas. Then we hear some shouting coming from inside the house. So the camera swoops inside the house and we see all 15 members of the family posed with guns ready for the shootout and they are all....WAIT. What are 15 MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY DOING IN THIS HOUSE? Where were all of these 15 people 30 seconds ago?? There's now a plethora of hulking bearded men in flannels that only look slightly inbred holding an arsenal of weapons OTHER than chainsaws and hammers. They now have GUNS. An ARSENAL of guns. And beards! And cameos for no reason. And there's a GRANDMA in the house now. And a BABY!? And the police and rednecks proceed to shoot and kill everyone in the house and burn it down to the ground as one of the rednecks steals the baby for himself for no reason, while immediately I stood up, completely possessed by Annie Wilkes and screamed "THIS ISN'T WHAT HAPPENED? THEY CHEATED US!! HE DIDN'T GET OUT OF THE COCKADOODY CAR!"

And thus, from that moment on, my brain was so discombobulated with confusion that what followed was just a barrage of what seemed like everything stupid I've ever witnessed flashing before my eyes for the remaining ETERNITY of the film. So with that being said, I have no further cohesive review. Instead, I have a list of random moments, observations, memories, lessons and facts that I learned while watching this film that helped instantly vault this movie into both my FAVORITE as well as my LEAST FAVORITE movie, remake or not, that I have seen in 10 years. And that includes SMILEY.

So here we go. On with the Massacre:
- First off, let's start with something as simple as the title. In horror movies past, the subtitle "3D" is a little extra gimmick applied to "part 3" of something. Jaws 3-D. Friday The 13th Part 3-D. etc. Nowadays of course it's a little different with all of the remakes and the fact that something as dumb as 3-D fonts floating around in opening credits is so popular right now, but nonetheless this movie is titled "Texas Chainsaw 3-D", however it is being advertised as the only "true" part TWO. Well, ignoring the fact that there already WAS a part 2, AND a part 3, they just opted to go with the ever so generic liar of a title "Texas Chainsaw 3-D" instead of the correct title of "The Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 Part 2 in 3-D" or for short, "Texas Chainsaw 1-2-3-D".

Anyway, that's the least of our worries moving forward. A bigger obstacle for us to tackle is something that Dr. Who and Stephen Hawking combined wouldn't be able to comprehend: The Timeline. The original movie (as well as the suggested opening to this asshole film) takes place around 1974. This film takes place 20 years later in 2012. Yes, that's right. According to this film, 1974 + 20 = 2012. You can TRY to argue that the movie never sets a date, and that it COULD take place in 1994, except for the fact that numerous cars have 2011 license plates, there's an iPhone with FaceTime used prevalently, and Trey Songz has a stupid left chest tattoo that NO R&B singer got until Usher made it popular in the mid 2000's. But whatever, let's look past those for a moment and try to figure out this timeline thing another way...

- Leatherface was about 30 years old in the original, give or take, so now he should be about 70, yet he clearly has the physical prowess of a healthy 40 year old. He also has a GRANDMA in this sequel, who I ASSUME was supposedly married to Grandpa, who was about 86 in the original film. He was so old he couldn't even hold a hammer. So although Leatherface's Grandma died the day before this movie takes place, she must have been at least 128 at the time of her death and yet she was still supposedly cooking for and babysitting Leatherface...maybe. Wait, this is getting confusing again. Let's go another route.
-So they got a 40 year old short guy to play a 70 year old huge guy. They got a 25 year old girl to play a 19 year old troubled version of Kelly Kapowski, who perhaps is or isn't supposed to be 40 years old in this film, even though she looks and acts like a 12 year old innocent goth girl? Hmm...well at least she's appropriately dating R&B singer Trey Songz in the film, who is portraying an angry boxing-obsessed sweaty alcoholic party animal, and the only apparent reason that Kapowski and Trey are perfect for each other is, I guess, because they live in the same underground gym? That's a good reason. And I guess the filmmakers ultimately needed some reason to have an intimate moment where a guy points out some dumb scar on the goth girl's chest for no reason, and it would be pretty hard to come up with some other ideas of how that could be revealed other than in bed, awkwardly. I don't think the two characters actually dated the remainder of the movie, considering that he fucks Kapowski's friend in a pig trough later and she doesn't even flinch. Oh my god my head's already exploding. I need a minute...

Alright, let's keep the observations moving...
-Timeline aside, let's touch on the Grandma subject as well as the whole "house burning down" subject. When the house burns down in the beginning, there are supposedly no survivors. But apparently, Leatherface not only survives unexplainably, but, completely out of view of the angry mob, he runs down the street to his extremely rich grandma's house that no one in town knows about, knocks on the door, and asks if he can live in her SECRET DUNGEON for the next 40 years if he promises to do nothing but be quiet and creepily dig up graves constantly for no reason. She obliges and tells him he CAN live there as long as he doesn't fuck up her new POOL TABLE, upgraded kitchen appliances and SURROUND SOUND RECORD PLAYER pre-equipped with 2002-era hip hop. It is never revealed how or why Grandma is A) separated from Grandpa especially since she, too, was shown at the house when everyone died, or B) she has a fantasy-themed DUNGEON complete with a giant CARTOON KEY that is used to open it.
-When the movie jumps 20 years in advance after the opening, and moves a few states away, we are led to believe that one of the 4 introductory characters was the baby that was somehow related to Leatherface in the beginning. But out of all four of the characters, we have no idea which one it is! Good thing they provided some clues. One character is a black guy. One character is the hispanic girl from the 90210 reboot. One character has a pooka shell necklace, and one character is first seen MAKING SPOOKY ART OUT OF ANIMAL BONES. It was just a speculation, but after thinking hard, I was going with the animal bones chick.

-In an exhausting but clever casting feat, one of the characters in the group of teenagers is played by 3 separate people throughout the movie with no acknowledgement of it. The lesbian character, Kenny, is simultaneously played by KD LANG, EDWARD FURLONG, and (for most of the film) ROB SCHNEIDER. Sometimes, through what I assume is a huge advancement in CGI, all three actors are combined to make this unearthly-looking human:

-At one point, Leatherface skins Rob Schneider's lesbian character assumingly to make a new mask, then holds the skinned face up to the light, which i guess is the moment that he actually REALIZES how ridiculous it would be to wear Rob Scheider's face, because he then takes off the mask that he's wearing, tosses Rob Schneider's face aside and starts to sew together a brand new one from NONE OF THE ABOVE SOURCES. And instead proceeds to put on this new mask constructed from what I assume is an airbrush and dried fruit that looks exactly the same as the one he just removed that he obviously had bought from the Spirit store in Austin four Halloweens ago.

-That walrus-guy from Office Space played a useless role as an uninformative lawyer who's only purpose was to pass along a letter that warned the entire gang that a maniac butler with a human skin mask lives in the basement in the house which got completely ignored for no apparent reason.
-Although the walrus informs them to read the letter about 15 times, the letter gets ignored. Turns out that he knew what was on the letter and easily could have just told them. Surprise. What did the letter say? Who fucking cares.

Here's a couple of additional quick "life" facts I learned while watching the film:
-If you are ever attempting to escape a maniac while driving a car, and you are near a BARN, CRASH INTO IT, as your cheating boyfriend just MIGHT be in there so you can save him for 30 seconds until he dies in a car crash for no reason.
-If you are a typically attractive female, do you know the best way to seduce someone, especially someone with a girlfriend, while inside a fancy mansion? Simple. Lead him OUTSIDE into an abandoned, shit-filled barn and tell him something disgusting is underneath a slop bucket. Then take your shirt off and don't question anything.

And here's some observational facts specifically about Leatherface that I never knew before this elegant and educational horror film:
-Leatherface has a stupid real name instead of Leatherface. His name? Jebediah. Which, shortened, is referred to as "Jeb", even though the shitty actors clearly said both "Ted" and "Jed" as well as "Jeb". No one says Leatherface. Fuck these people.
-Leatherface is also a butler I guess, as his room is called "The Butler's Quarters"
-Leatherface, a 7-foot 350 pound maniac, sleeps in a twin-sized bed. And he makes his bed nicely. Who'd have thought?
-Leatherface likes eating off of plates but hates doing the dishes.
-Leatherface was clearly rich as he was sharing his Grandma's wealth, but he still chose to shop at the Sear's child-funeral section because they sell the tiniest neckties, and he loves tiny ties.
-Leatherface likes pulling pranks on his victims, even if it's silly pranks like digging up his Grandma, cleaning her off, and placing her corpse in a corner of the house that none of the victims may ever see before he kills them.
-Leatherface gets distracted easily by noises that most likely could not be heard over the sound of a chainsaw. Noises like...a girl saying "Hey" from 50 yards away. Or noises like...the sound of a cop STANDING. Leatherface falls victim to these distractions especially when he is mere seconds away from killing someone.
-Leatherface has a cousin, who changed her name to Heather. But it is never once mentioned that she chose this name so that he would call her Heatherface. But I am convinced that she hoped that would happen. I know I hoped it did.
-Leatherface apparently terrorizes whatever Texas town he lives in so often that no one at all is scared of him when he brandishes his chainsaw in the middle of a carnival while chasing a screaming woman. In fact, one person even continues to eat his ICE CREAM as he observes Leatherface attacking a ferris wheel.
-While we are on the subject of the ferris wheel, there is a scene in the film where Leatherface waits patiently at the bottom of a ferris wheel, chainsaw revving, for his cousin Heatherface to come down so he can kill her. Meanwhile, as she is screaming atop the ferris wheel, the ride operator continues to let people off one at a time, calmly. And this act of carnival terrorism is not so much as mentioned on the local news. It's mind-boggling.

-This film is a great advertisement for FedEx, because it clearly showcases that FedEx can, indeed, deliver anything to anyone at anytime, anywhere, perfectly. It can even deliver a package from a dead person directly to someone who no one even knows is alive.
I don't even know what I'm typing anymore, as I have been staring at the computer so long I'm sure they have already rebooted Texas Chainsaw yet again in the time it took me to write this. But whatever, before I go, here's a couple of straggling memories I have from the film:

-If a stranger purposely throws himself on the windshield of your car at a gas station in the rain, that's clearly enough of a reason to offer him a ride across two states.
- Silverware is the MOST VALUABLE item in any old mansion.
- To a good cop, no amount of blood, guts, body parts, or secret dungeon basements should cause need for alarm or backup. It's ok to check it out alone.
-FaceTime on 3-D phones won't work around ice-chests because the cold blocks the satellite signal.
-Unexpected family blood is thicker than water. Family is family. Even if that new unexpected family member killed all 3 of your only friends in front of you. Hey, it's family. Your dead friends are now secondary and it's ok to go hang out in a bar for a while to talk about your new cousin with a stranger and no longer worrying about those pesky friends of yours.
-Wanna be taken seriously as a cop, but not TOO seriously? Wear jeans while on duty!
- If you change your name, everyone gets the memo, even semi-mentally retarded psychotic family members who you have never met. This comes in handy in case you ever need to convince your mass murdering new cousin not to kill you. You can say "Hey, it's me! The changed-name-person who you never knew!" That seems to work in a clutch.
-A good climax to any horror movie is a good fight between rivals. This movie is no different, as the end of the movie consists of a really epic fight between Leatherface and his long-time nemesis...."authoritative guy in shirt".
-And if that climax isn't cool enough, and "Authoritative guy in shirt" poses too much of a threat to an iconic psychotic mass murdering madman and almost kills him? Fuck it, have that leather-faced madman TEAM UP WITH HIS FEMALE TEENAGE VICTIM TO DEFEAT "MAN-IN-SHIRT" AND THEN HAVE THEM MOVE IN TOGETHER AND HANG OUT IN THE KITCHEN TO END THE MOVIE. I shit you not. That's what happened. Leatherface teams up with his female cousin to kill one guy and then they stroll away in the moonlight practically holding hands which gave me more of a sinking feeling in my stomach than when Predator high-fived that chick and jumped on the snowmobile with her in AVP.

Well, at least I finally found something to bond with Annie Wilkes over. Because whoever made this movie is "Just another lying ol' dirty birdy."

As an afterthought, as you read this, you may find yourself saying "Hey, I feel like I could make a better movie than this about Leatherface..."
Well, if your brain works like Tommy Wiseau, and the only horror movies you have ever seen are all of Rob Zombie's films, and you have no interest in anything ever, CONGRATULATIONS! You are automatically qualified to make the next Texas Chainsaw movie! And I'll be one of the millions of assholes that pays to see it, still holding a tinsel-sized shred of hope that it'll be good and crying all the way home like I deserve.