I know that will start some arguments in the comments and some of you may be waiting outside my house with torches and pitchforks after you read this, but that’s precisely the reason I wanted to write about this today. Horror remakes (or any remakes, for that matter) rarely improve upon their predecessor (and rarely are they any good at all). That being said, there are a few that I think are great films. The obvious answer to my question would be John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly, which actually do improve upon their source material. We’ve even has some amazing remakes in the past ten years (The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes come to mind), and while I really like those films, I would be lying if I said that one of them was my favorite remake. No, my favorite remake is 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This is where the pitchforks are going to come out I think. By pitchforks I obviously mean incredibly mean/offensive remarks in the comments section below, but I digress. I love this movie and please bear in mind that I love the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre and in no way and I claiming that this remake is a better film. I am judging the remake on its own merits and not comparing it to the original in any shape, way or form (though I do believe it shows a tremendous amount of respect for the original). I am a bit biased in my affection for the remake though, as it was the first R-rated horror movie I got to see in a theater with my dad (I’m only 25…sue me), so there are probably a lot of emotional reasons that make me like it more. Enough about me, let’s start with the trailer:
I fully realize that a trailer doesn’t make a movie, but that is a fantastic trailer and I used to re-watch it a lot when I was younger. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The marketing for the film was great and it certainly got butts into seats. It pretty much started the remake craze of the 2000s (so I suppose we can fault it for that one). The remake wasn’t a watered down version of the original (although some may argue otherwise). It was an intense, creepy and brutal film and if I recall, this site gave it 4/5 skulls at the time of its release.
I think the reason I enjoy this remake is because it’s just because it’s clear that everyone involved tried really hard to make this a good movie, and I believe they succeeded. The acting is great, especially from R. Lee Ermey and (dare I say it?) Jessica Biel. Please note that I actually think Biel is a great actress. Just watch The Tall Man or The Truth About Emanuel to see.. She definitely gets an (unwarranted) bad rap. My only real complaint about the film is the deaths. With the exception of Eric Balfour’s face-mask and Mike Vogel’s salting of the wound, non of the deaths are that memorable or creative (looking at you Erica Leerhsen). That is a minor gripe, but it’s a gripe nonetheless.
What always puzzled me about the remake’s critical reception is that, like the original, people seem to remember it as being this incredibly gory film. Roger Ebert’s review of the film just felt like he really had it out for it before he even watched it, in my opinion It is gorier than its predecessor, but it’s hardly explicitly violent (thought I may be a bit desensitized, as I’m sure many of you are), but this movie came out before Hostel did and I think if it had, people would have thought the remake tame in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, it is brutal, like I mentioned above. But it’s not that gory. In terms of us “normal” people who aren’t professional critics, this movie still seems to get a lot of hate. I get why, since the original is a classic. But I still think it’s a great movie on its own terms. It’s become one of those movies I can just put on and watch when I’m bored.
At the risk of turning this into another “In Defense Of” article (although it kind of already has), I’ll leave it at that. I love, love love the remake of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. We spend so much time harping about how useless and terrible remakes are, so let’s play Devil’s Advocate and talk about remakes we like. If you had to pick a favorite, what would it be? But if you say A Nightmare on Elm Street or When a Stranger Calls, I don’t think I’ll be able to help you with the verbal beating you will probably receive.