Ever since the dawning of the genre, the characters in horror films–villains and heros alike–have never been shy when it came to using all different kinds of tools and instruments as murder weapons. Jason, for example, hacked his victims to pieces with a machete in Friday the 13th: Part 2, Lionel used a lawnmower to make zombie gulash in Braindead, Lori ended her possessed boyfriend’s miserable life with a meat cleaver in Slime City and Richard Jennings, the misogynous antagonist of Mike and Robert Findlay’s infamous Flesh trilogy, even went as far as to kill his female prey with a poisoned g-string, a blowtorch and a lobster claw! Sure, these are all pretty kick-ass ways to end some poor bastard’s miserable life, however, there’s one particular object that towers proudly above all the others as the undisputed queen of horrendous murder weapons: the chainsaw! Her thundering roar is music to every splatter fans’ ears and her razorsharp teeth have granted us dozens and dozens of helluva cool and brutal on-screen killings… so, as a longtime overdue homage to this wonderful instrument of carnage and destruction, here’s my Top 10 of most awesome chainsaw scenes in horror history!
Yeah, I know what you think… what a lame way to start a list. No blood, no guts, no dismemberment, no nothing… except, of course, for a good dose of hilariously self-deprecating Bruce Campbell humor! And at least for me that’s more than enough to grant this funny little scene–in which fanboy Jeff offers his idol Bruce Campbell a kick-ass, custom-made chainsaw to battle the Chinese demon-god Quan-Di, only to find out that the EVIL DEAD-star prefers a lighter handgun to the “too damn heavy” powertool–the opening slot in my list of best chainsaw moments ever. I mean, Bruce’s stout-hearted monologue about the importance of the chainsaw in his life would even make Jean-Claude Van Damme blush and the disappointed look on Jeff’s face, when his hero turns away empty-handed, is absolutely priceless, so yeah, I guess that should be enough to justify why MY NAME IS BRUCE has made it to this list, too, despite the flick’s obvious lack of graphic violence… and don’t worry, fellas, we’re only at the beginning of our journey and we’ll come to the reel gore soon enough… 😉
I’ve seen THE VIDEO DEAD as a teenager and one scene that for some reason kept stuck in my mind ever since is the one where the film’s protagonist Jeff and his cowboy buddy Joshua have just killed an approaching zombie and start to argue about who’s going to dismember it with a chainsaw. To be honest, the scene is pretty inaptly made, the chainsaw is far from being impressive and now that I’ve watched it again, the humor isn’t exactly laugh-your-socks-off material either, but for reasons of nostalgia I still wanna include it to my list anyway… so don’t be mad at me, guys, cause despite all its flaws, THE VIDEO DEAD is still a pretty charming and helluva corny b-movie cheese fest and at least the rats, that come out of the bisected ghoul’s torso, are a nice gimmick, too…
Brett Piper’s episodic horror film SHOCK-O-RAMA is one of the most genuine and highly entertaining homages to yesteryear’s drive-in cult flicks that I’ve ever seen. I love every second of it and hence it’s no wonder that the movie’s second episode, Zombie This!, ended up here in my list as well. It’s funny, it’s charming, it’s well made and it features a very pissed off Misty Mundae, who finally turns the tables on her zombie persecutor and goes after him with a roaring chainsaw… the frightend expression on the ghoul’s face when Misty cuts through the door behind which he’s hiding, the funny dance he performs when her chainsaw doesn’t start up at first and the pitiable way he begs for his life when she’s about to finish him for good, it’s all comic genious at it’s very best!
Well, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS ain’t exactly one of the best movie’s ever made, but the film’s pseudo-serious private dick approach is pretty funny and the its big finale is certainly worth more than just a little mention as well… after all, we got two of the biggest b-movie icons of all time, Linnea “Trash” Quigley and Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen, lined up against each other and once the bare-breasted Linnea has cut through Gunnar’s guts with one of the gruesome tools that gave the film its hilarious title, she goes after his vicious henchwoman (played by scream queen Michelle Bauer) as well and fights her to the death in a no-holds-barred catfight… only that the two kitties give each other hell with chainsaws instead of paws!! Now that’s what I call entertainment, isn’t it!?
I’m by far not the biggest fan of the not-so-recent-anymore trend of remaking just about every cult horror film of last 30 years, but one film that really turned out mighty fine in my opinion and that made almost everything right is Zack Snyder’s remake of George A. Romero’s classic zombie massacre DAWN OF THE DEAD. One scene, that particularly struck me, is the survivors’ escape from the mall in a heavily armed and armored autobus. When the hordes of zombies outside start to crawl up to the bus and try to turn it over, all the driver needs to say is “Hit `em with the saw!” and only a second later, the chainsaw is runnin’ and the zombies’ limbs start falling apart in all directions. I know, this pariticular chainsaw moment does only last for a couple of seconds, but it’s still one of the most powerful displays of chainsaw dismemberment I’ve ever seen.
Two regular guys–one of `em carrying a hammer and the other a chainsaw–on the one side and a dozen blood-thirsty Nazi zombies on the other? Who would you bet your money on? Sure thing… the regular guys! And you’ve made the right decision, cause once the chainsaw’s running, the snow is painted red with zombie blood and the sky is filled with dismembered limbs that fly in all directions. Tommy Wirkula’s over-the-top horror comedy DEAD SNOW was one of the goriest and most entertaining flicks I’ve seen in 2009 and the scene mentioned above is one that chainsaw afficionados will definitely still be talking about in aw many, many years from now. Hence, my #5 is none other than Norway’s very own DEAD SNOW!
I know you’ve all been waitin’ for her to hit the stage… and here she is: everybody’s favorite Nazi bitch goddess Ilsa! A woman so vicious and ice-cold that her sheer presence would turn the explosive warhead of any V2 missile into an icycle within just a couple of seconds! You don’t believe me? Well, then why dontcha visit the infamous She-Wolf of the SS in Siberia, where she rules a Russian prison camp with an iron fist and tortures her poor victims by diving `em headfirst into ice water, feeding `em to her pet tiger or forcing `em to arm-wrestle over two running chainsaws until one of the contenders has not only lost the challenge… but also a hand!
Being a prostitute isn’t always an easy job. Especially, when a slick and thoroughly morbid yuppie called Patrick Bateman is your customer. At first he might appear pretty charming with his romantic talk about Whitney Houston’s kitchy lovesongs and all, but before you can say knife you suddenly see him kill your mutual playmate right infront of your eyes and when you try to flee and get out of his stylishly equipped apartment as fast as possible, he ultimately comes after you with a chainsaw, completely nude and with a mad expression on his face. Honestely girls, you definitely wanna think twice whether or not you really want to end up in this fucked-up psycho’s bedroom…
Without a doubt, Tobe Hooper’s gross `n outrageous shocker THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE from 1974 is THE archetype of all chainsaw movies… and the one scene that always pops up infront of my eyes when I think of that film is the big finale: Sally’s jump through the window to escape the grotesque family dinner, her pursuit by Leatherface and the Hitchhiker, the truck running over Leatherface’s filthy sibling as if he was a coyote, Leatherface cutting his own leg with his chainsaw and finally Sally’s escape and Leatherface’s totally fucked-up chainsaw ballet against the setting sun… say what you want, fellas, but when it comes to legendary horror film scenes that involve chainsaws, this is one scene that you definitely wanna see right on top of your list… however, there’s one groovy son-of-a-bitch whom I like even more than good ol’ Leatherface and his name is…
…Ash! Yeah, there you got it! For me, the demon-killing hero of Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD trilogy is by far the coolest and most badass cat in chainsaw town! The girls succumb to his charms, the guys admire his guts and every Candarian demon from here to Michigan fears the baneful roar of his chainsaw more than the purifying words of even the most skillful exorcist. So, without a doubt, if there’s one guy who really belongs right on top of this list, it’s our trusty old friend Ashley J. Williams! And, at least in my opinion, one of Ash’s best and most memorable moments is his battle for life and death down in the medival castle’s clammy pit in the trilogy’s big finale, ARMY OF DARKNESS. Man, I really wouldn’t wanna be in the shoes of the gruesome fiends who made the unpleasant acquaintance of Ash’s chainsaw on that particular day. In all honesty, I’ve never seen anyone who looked more groovy when he chopped up lots `n lots of nasty demons with his custom-made chainsaw, and since being groovy is all that counts these days, Ash is my personal #1 chainsaw hero of all freakin’ time! Amen!!