HOLLYWOOD—Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, these are all names that are notable faces in the horror universe. However, before any of those horror icons, there was Leatherface aka the villain from Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” This movie was unleashed before my time, but that doesn’t mean the flick did not pique my interest. Being a horror buff, this is a flick I should have seen right away, but can you believe I saw the 2003 remake way before seeing the original?
Yes, I know it’s bad, but I didn’t watch the original until 2015. Why? I heard so many conflicting tales about the movie; I just thought it was best not to entertain myself with seeing something as some would call it “would disturb my psyche.” So, after seeing the original and the remake, I have my opinion of which reigns supreme. It’s no question that the 2003 version was leaps and bounds better than the original.
The original has perhaps the worst cinematography I have seen in my entire film career. Yes, I get its 1974 and it was made on a small budget, but the movie attempts to present itself as a snuff film more than a horror film. The horror is measured more by the subject matter compared to the actual characters and the villain itself. Leatherface is a disturbing fiend to say the least. He’s not all mentally there, he’s a brute and he wields a chainsaw unlike anyone I’ve ever seen in cinema. What makes a chainsaw so dangerous? Well it cuts through almost anything people!
Unfortunately, the 1974 version is a silly mess in my opinion. Nothing really takes place until the audience gets two-thirds into the movie. It’s really hard to consider the movie to be serious in nature, in terms of thrills. While the subject matter of cannibalism is disturbing, the way the movie plays out the element of fear is not as prevalent as I would hope.
Now, let’s look at the 2003 version. It has some amazing cinematography in my opinion and director Marcus Nispel does wonders behind the camera. We’re introduced to these five characters that are unique in their own way. We see a character who we ‘think’ will have a bigger role in the melee, met his maker fairly early. Leatherface is a hulking beast and has a face that echoes danger; you’re frightened by what you’re witnessing on the screen people. Our heroine portrayed by Jessica Biel is sensational. We see her go from tough to fearful to desperate to survive, and the horror that transpires to her friends is difficult to watch on the big screen. Rarely, does a remake outweigh the original, but the 2003 version works not just because it develops a villain in a new light, but characters who we actually care about. This is what I call a true horror flick; there is no laughs, not wit, its pure terror and watching it unfold is terrifying.
Oh, in case I forget, the 1974 classic was heralded as a must-see because it was touted as being based on/inspired by actual events linked to serial killer Ed Gein. While he did utilize the skin of his victims, no chainsaw was used in the process that I’m aware of so that was fabricated a bit for the sake of cinema.
This is a time where the argument stands that the 2003 version of the “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a must-see, definitely over the 1974 original that might leave you wondering, why in the world were people scared of this movie?