HOLLYWOOD—With Halloween fast approaching, I thought for this year, I would do a critical analysis on a series of movies in the horror/suspense genre that slightly excel or are comparable to the original. I truly wanted to take a look at remakes. Yes, they are quite popular in the genre, but the problem is that many of the flicks, likely 90 percent are absolute duds. They are indeed a rarity, but you have a few that are damn interesting.

The first flick I want to discuss in this series is “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Now plenty of people might be aware of the 1974 classic helmed by Tobe Hooper that as I heard from people who saw it (was quite horrific to say the least), unfortunately that was before my time. I actually didn’t see the flick in its entirety until I was in my 30s, yeah, go figure for someone who is a fan of the genre. I just never got to it, and to be honest, I’m not a fan of extreme violence and gore, I just don’t see the purpose of that when it comes to the genre.

However, after seeing the flick there was some technical genius to what Hooper did with the camera and his invitation for audiences to meet Leatherface portrayed by Gunnar Hansen. There was a level of realism to that film that was so terrifying. There was a grittiness that haunts and feels real even though it’s fake. Yes, it gives echoes of a snuff film (do your own research on what that is). I learned about them in film studies and I couldn’t believe people were doing this.

The 1974 version was heralded as a classic, and made more terrifying with its notion that it was based on a true story revolving around serial killer Ed Gein. FYI, Gein didn’t use a chainsaw, but he did utilize the skin of his victims that he robbed from graveyards and cemeteries. With that said, I didn’t see the original until after I had saw the remake, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in 2003 directed by Marcus Nispel. The camerawork that Nispel does for the film is great; and he has solid talent in Jessica Biel as the final girl in the movie. She conveys fear in such a great way.

I saw the remake before the original because I had nothing to judge the movie on. I was going into this flick completely blind. Unlike the original, I had no idea about the hitchhiker being a con artist luring our protagonists down a path that would lead to their demise. I had no idea these people that you suspect are just odd, are all family and I had no idea how relenting Leatherface truly is. In many horror flicks there are weapons used by the killer that can be scary, but a chainsaw is slightly different. It can cut through almost anything making escape and defending yourself that much tougher. Not to mention it can literally sever body parts.

The movie does a solid job of not showing all the gruesome matter, but what it does display is horror enough for your mind to imagine the terror you might endure IF it were to truly happen. The pacing is quite solid; the terror is amplified in a great way and R. Lee Ermy is fantastic in the flick. That scene where Erin (Biel) and Andy (Mike Vogel) is such a thrilling moment and gives the audience a glimpse of how wicked this villain is who not only wields a chainsaw but runs at a feverish speed. The meat hook scene, classic, the actual removal of the skin mask is haunting, and I loved that ending that gives you a nice jump scare you do not expect.

This remake builds suspense and tension in such a thrilling way you want more and more, even though you’re on the edge of your seat. True horror does that and this flick captures that well. There is a great hide-and-seek element in the climax that works between Leatherface and Erin where the tension just continues to build and you are glued to the screen.

I hadn’t seen the 2003 version in a good 10 years or so, and upon a recent re-watch it reminded me how solid this film truly is. I hate to say it, but I like the 2003 version better than the original that was all about horrifying the audience. The remake had a tighter story and I was invested in it. If you truly want something scary that in my opinion outdoes the original, the 2003 version of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” delivers some solid scares with great characters to root for and against.