HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: LEATHERFACE (2017)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

LEATHERFACE (2017)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Latest in this franchise, inspired by the late Tobe Hooper’s original horror classic, is a prequel that attempts to take us back to the youth of one Jed Sawyer, aka Leatherface. The film opens with young Jed (Boris Kabakchiev) getting his trademark chainsaw as a gift from his deranged mother (Lili Taylor), but not too keen on using it on the captive pig thief they mean to teach a lesson. When the clan murders a lawman’s daughter (Lorina Kamburova), her father, Texas Ranger Hal Hartman (Stephen Dorff) can’t prove it, but does get young Jed removed from the Sawyer house for child endangerment. He’s committed to an institution for wayward youth and there he is raised with a new name and identity. When four young inmates violently escape the institute with a pretty young nurse (Vanessa Grasse) as a hostage, their trail of blood will transform one of them into the mass murderer known as Leatherface.

Latest film in this series is written by Seth M. Sherwood and directed by the duo of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury who directed the over-the-top French gore-fest Inside. As such, the film does have some nasty gore and some really disturbing moments, including a shiver inducing scene of necrophilia. What the film doesn’t really have is a purpose. Do we really need to see Leatherface’s teen years? It may be somewhat clever that we don’t know which of the teens…well, it’s obviously not psychotic Tammy (Nicole Andrews)…is the grown-up Jed. We are kept guessing if it’s crazy Ike (James Bloor), the hulking Bud (Sam Coleman) or the somewhat noble Jackson (Sam Strike), who will turn out to be Jed. Once we find out though, it’s not the powerful revelation it should be. And this is where the film falters. Most of the flick is focused on these youth on the run causing bloody carnage wherever they go. It removes Jed from his clan for the first two acts and thus we really don’t get a sense of how the man became a monster, as we don’t really see him with his deranged kin and in their influence till the last third and then the transformation seems to happen all too quickly. True, the institute was almost a worse place than his childhood home and there is plenty of violence when they’re on the run, but like Rob Zombie’s Halloween, it almost takes away from the randomness of the character to try to explain his behavior through his constant exposure to horrifyingly brutal acts, even outside his bonkers family. Isn’t the maniac scarier when he is simply a maniac?…a natural born killer? Even in it’s final moments, we never really connect this young man with the monster, even when he dons his first face mask. At least Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury deliver some really twisted moments to keep the film entertaining on a basic horror film level and the carnage is very well rendered. It’s just it never completely feels like a part of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre legacy or adds anything really worthy to the lore.

The cast are fine enough. The teen leads all do their parts in playing their respective roles. Nicole Andrews is chilling as the completely deranged Tammy, as is James Bloor as the violently inclined Ike who becomes her lover. Sam Coleman is the large but outwardly timid Bud, who becomes extremely savage once provoked. Strike is solid as the only escaped inmate with somewhat of a moral center and Vanessa Grasse is a likable heroine as the hostage Lizzy. The real standouts here, though, are veteran actress Lili Taylor as the out-of-her-mind Sawyer matriarch, Verna and Stephen Dorff as the equally psychotic Texas Ranger Hardy. The film should have focused more on them.

Leatherface was a decent edition to the Texas Chainsaw franchise and better than some of it’s predecessors. But it’s also one that never really seems necessary or overly relevant. The events portrayed can be disturbing and gruesome, yet we never really feel we are watching the birth of a monster, as we did in Bereavement for example. It is interesting that the film tries to keep us in the dark as to who actually is the grown up Jed Sawyer, but once we find out, it lacks the impact it should have, even when iconic chainsaw and skin mask come into play. Worth a watch for some chilling moments, but the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 chainsaws.

 

 

 

 

bars

CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: CAROLINE WILLIAMS as STRETCH in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2!

MZNJ_cult_classic_cuties

Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks, or whose sexy stars shined only briefly not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

**************************************************

caroline-williams-tcm2_08

CAROLINE WILLIAMS as STRETCH in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is Tobe Hooper and Cannon Pictures’ 1986 sequel to the 1974 horror masterpiece. It features the Sawyer family continuing their murderous, cannibalistic ways, now peddling their secret ingredient in an award winning chili. When Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and brother Chop Top (Bill Moseley) get recorded on a radio talk show carving up a couple of yuppies, leggy DJ Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock becomes the family’s next target…and the object of Leatherface’s gruesome affection.
Who better to portray a sexy Texas radio DJ than sexy Texas born actress Caroline Williams!  Williams had appeared in a few film and TV roles before being cast in this slasher sequel, but this was her first lead role and she definitely caught the attention of horror film fans everywhere. Her sassy, spunky and resilient Stretch is quite the capable final girl and despite finding herself in the Sawyer family’s clutches, she proves that you should never mess with a girl from Texas…or wear their friend’s faces. Despite a strong and memorable performance, this was the only time Williams would do final girl duty despite appearing in a few more fright flicks over her long career.

**************************************************

(click on the poster for a full review)

texas chainsaw massacre 2

bars

caroline-williams-tcm2_09

Long-legged, Daisy Duke wearing Stretch is a texas girl through and through!

caroline-williams-tcm2_06

The sexy DJ attracts the wrong attention when she records a murder over the radio!

caroline-williams-tcm2_03

Now she finds herself at the wrong end of Leatherface’s attention…and chainsaw!

caroline-williams-tcm2_07

…though maybe the cannibalistic Sawyer family picked the wrong Texas cutie to pick on!

caroline-williams-tcm2_05

Never piss-off a girl from Texas!

**************************************************

The actress has kept busy after her altercation with Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) and his demented kin. She continues working in movies and TV and has even has done a few more horror flicks, including an appearance in the Sweet Tooth segment in last year’s ghoulishly fun Halloween anthology, Tales Of Halloween. But it is her one final girl film appearance that captured our hearts, kicking cannibal ass with a sexy smile, long legs and a pair of Daisy Dukes and that certainly earns her the title Cult Classic Cutie!

9yjq4clhwrnslcwj

Still a beauty 30 years after teaching the Sawyers she can handle a chainsaw just as good, or better, than the good ole boys!

**************************************************

Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

texas chainsaw massacre 2

bars

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Twelve years after making his classic masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper returned to Leatherface and family with a much bigger budget from Cannon Pictures and a script from L.M. Kit Carson. Flick has the Sawyer family still on the loose and right under the authorities noses operating a mobile lunch truck from which they serve their award winning chili…and we already know what the prime ingredient is. They live under an abandoned amusement park and all is well for the cannibals until Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and brother Chop Top (Bill Moseley) get caught on the radio carving up two obnoxious yuppies. Not only does pretty DJ “Stretch” (Caroline Williams) begin to investigate but, it also catches the attention of  Lt. “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper), a retired Texas Ranger and uncle to victims Franklin and Sally from the first flick. He’s been on the trail of the Sawyers for over a decade and now with Stretch’s help, there maybe be a showdown between lawman and cannibal clan with sexy Stretch caught in the middle.

Sequel is a fun flick though it focuses far more on grisly humor and has a far lighter touch than the original classic. Gone is the oppressive atmosphere of dread and disturbing humor that got under your skin. No more evident is Hopper’s ex-cop wearing two chainsaws like six guns as he goes into battle. Hooper and writer Carson fill the sequel with more of this goofy style humor than chills and the impact of the plentiful Tom Savini supplied gore is lessened as a result of it. The body count is also relatively small and half the movie takes place with Stretch trapped in their underground layer while Lefty tears the amusement park above apart, with a chainsaw, looking for the Sawyers. Odd no one goes up there to investigate the racket. It’s a fun movie, but it’s also not scary in the least and the film stops it’s momentum dead about an hour in to do a retread of the dinner sequence from the first flick with the captured Stretch. To be honest, it gets tedious. Having seen it in a theater back in 1986, I had seen Cannon’s 89 minute release which was a result of the studio cutting out about twelve minutes. Now having seen the longer 101 minute cut, they may have been right, as it does go on about ten minutes too long. Still, the movie entertains, Hooper’s visual style works well here as the Sawyers’ underground layer is a visual feast of bones, tunnels and Christmas lights as designed by Cary White. It’s captured well by Richard Kooris’ cinematography and there is a fitting score by Jerry Lambert and Hooper himself.

The cast are having a good time with the gore and giddiness. Caroline Williams makes for a sexy, sassy heroine with her long legs, skimpy Daisy Dukes and raspy voice complete with thick Texas accent. She gives her character some fire and a toughness that make her very endearing…and very hot. Hopper plays Lefty straight and gives us a driven man, who, will stop at nothing to find the Sawyers and make them pay for killing his nephew and driving his niece crazy. Jim Siedow is back as Drayton Sawyer and he hams it up and provides a lot of the fun as he tries to preside over his maniacal offspring. He is not as disturbing as in TCM 1 ,but his performance fits the lighter tone. Bill Johnson plays the silent Leatherface and sadly, he is portrayed with far less menace even to the point of spending a good portion of the film acting like a love-sick puppy around Stretch. The script neuters one of cinema’s most shocking killer’s and is one of it’s biggest flaws. Bill Moseley is having a blast as the demented Chop Top. This underrated actor has a good time with the over-the-top character that has picked…and eaten…the skin off the metal plate in his head. He also carries around his dead brother (Edwin Neal’s Hitchhiker from TCM 1) and talks to him frequently. A good cast that works well with the tone of the film and helps make it work better than it should.

The long-awaited sequel to Hooper’s drive-in classic is a very entertaining horror, but hardcore fans of TCM 1 were disappointed, at the time of it’s release, that it went for laughs over frights. It wasn’t a big hit back in the day. It’s looked back at a bit more fondly now and I’ll say I do enjoy it, despite that it’s uncut edit does seem a bit too long and maybe Cannon was right to pair it down to a faster paced 90 minutes back in 1986. The cast have a good time and Tom Savini does gives us some top notch gore, but the film is a far cry from the disturbing nightmare Hooper gave us in 1974. A fun…and now nostalgic…sequel that disappoints in some ways, but entertains in others.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 chainsaws.

3 chainsaws

 

 

 

bars

HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

MZNJ_halloween_favorites_02

now playing

TheTexasChainSawMassacre-poster

bars

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

Partially inspired by true life serial killer Ed Gein, this is the original teens v.s. redneck cannibals flick and still the best and most effective. 5 friends travel to checkout stories that the gravesite of bother and sister Franklin (Paul A. Partain) and Sally’s (Marilyn Burns) family has been vandalized and on the way to their family’s abandoned property, they encounter a bizarre hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) who seems to mark them for something by leaving a bloody smear on their van. That something turns out to be an encounter with his fiendish family of backwoods cannibals including the hulking, chainsaw wielding Leatherface (Gunner Hansen) and the disturbed family matriarch (Jim Siedow) who runs the twisted clan. Now one by one the young victims are murdered by this deranged family who have found a horrifying way to keep their kitchen and BBQ business filled with meat now that the local slaughter house is closed. Will any of them escape or will they all become lambs for the slaughter? Director and co-writer Tobe Hooper makes every frame of this classic fright flick give you the willies and saturates this tale of teens and cannibalistic rednecks with dread and tension from the first frame to the last. From the opening scene at the cemetery, to the fateful picking up of the bizarre hitchhiker, to arriving at “the house” this film has us on edge for the full duration. Hooper takes his teens on a nightmare roller-coaster ride that will not end well for most and his disturbing visuals and frantic explosions of deadly action, take the audience along with them. Added to his visual assault is a very disturbing soundtrack of strange sounds and music that give the film a really unsettling feel even in it’s quieter moments and truly unique production design complete with furniture made from bones. The film oozes dread and Hooper adds just enough of a twisted sense of humor to keep us from being numbed to his horror show and make us even more uncomfortable for giggling at his demented family while they horrify and torment their prey. The film is obviously bloody, though not nearly as gory as it’s reputation suggests or any of it’s sequels would become. Hooper ultimately creates one of the greatest horror flicks of all time and one of the most iconic horror characters in Leatherface. He also gets good work from all his cast from the likable young victims to the crazed cannibal clan, it all combines to make a terrifying and unforgettable horror flick. A text book example of how to make a low budget horror film. Also stars Allen Danziger as Jerry, Teri McMinn as Pam and William Vail as Kirk, who are among the 5 intended victims of Leatherface and company’s wrath. A great horror and a true classic.

4 classic chainsaws!

Texas chainsaw rating

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TEXAS CHAINSAW (2013)

marquee_HYMHM

texas_chainsaw

bars

TEXAS CHAINSAW  (2013)

Is Texas Chainsaw 3D a good movie?… well that depends. If you can’t get past a stupid script, cardboard characters and the fact that by the implied timeline our plucky heroine (Alexandra Daddario) should be in her 40s not barely in her 20s, then, no. But, if you can sit back and just enjoy a hot babe running around being pursued by a chainsaw wielding maniac who has a knack for carving up her stupid friends, then, yes, it’s unintentionally goofy, gory fun. Chainsaw 3D is a direct sequel to the 1974 classic that opens with a vengeful redneck mob laying siege to the house occupied by Leatherface and a lot of other Sawyer family members that weren’t there in the original. A baby is found on the property and we cut to 2012 (the date is confirmed on a tombstone as September 2012) where Heather (Daddario), has magically grown up to be only 20 something and is an amazingly hot butcher at a supermarket. She soon gets word that her grandmother (original Chainsaw heroine Marilyn Burns), that she didn’t know she had, has died and left her a house in Texas. Whoa! Adopted and now rich! Heather goes down to the house with some generic stereotype friends who seem handpicked to be murdered, which is smart because there just happens to be another family member living hidden in the house like Bad Ronald (70s TV movie reference. Google it.) and he just happens to like world peace, romantic evenings, chainsaws and wearing peoples faces. Before you can say, gratuitous ass close-up, Leatherface emerges from hiding and starts hacking up everyone he can find. Throw in some sleazy rednecks, some redneck cops (including Scott Eastwood, Clint’s son) and it’s a redneck smorgasbord…literally as the body parts fly fast and furious. Sure, director John Luessenhop doesn’t really generate much suspense or scares from the incredibly dumb script but, Chainsaw 3D reminded me of some of the lower tier 80s slasher flicks that were entertaining despite of and because of how bad they were. There are numerous references to the original flick and I just had fun watching a chubby, balding Leatherface carving up all the unlikable characters when not chasing his hot cousin around trying to kill her. Alexandra Daddario was a fine (and I mean FINE) and feisty heroine and I liked her character’s twist once she finds out who she really is and that she now has to buy her chainsaw wielding cousin a Christmas Card every year… if he lets her live. Yes, Chainsaw 3D is a very dumb and silly horror flick but, it also is blood drenched fun if you go in not expecting much and stop comparing it to the movie it’s trying to honor. And despite how bad it’s written, the film is trying to honor it’s roots and we get some fun cameos to prove it and when it’s all said and done, it can be a good time if you just sit back and enjoy watching hot chicks in peril and sleazy rednecks meeting chainsaw justice. A few beers before the show wouldn’t hurt… if fact it might be a good idea. Be sure to watch through the credits.

Check out “Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls?” for a closer look at Alexandra Daddario’s character, Heather here. (Careful though, there are some spoilers.)

A goofy, gory 3 chainsaws

3 chainsaws

bars