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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Starring: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker
Director: Marcus Nispel
Rated: R
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: October 2003
Genre: Horror

*Also starring: Eric Balfour, Andrew Bryniarski, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, R. Lee Ermey, Terrence Evans, Stephen Lee, David Dorfman

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1.  Harvey Karten review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Susan Granger read the review no stars
3.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie review
4.  Jerry Saravia read the review movie review
5.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Harvey Karten
3½ stars out of 4

They say that you should watch out for the strong, silent types. They're dangerous. Whenever do you suppose that expression came into existence? I'll take a wild guess that the aphorism emerged from developments in Texas in 1973, when a group of silly teens, perhaps thinking like all other teens that they were immortal, made a series of ill-advised moves that resulted in triggering a fella who was a real cut-up. Based on a real event, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," a remake of the 1974 film that Premiere Magazine named "the best horror film of all time," is this time blessed with a budget quite a bit more than the $150,000 that Tobe Hooper enjoyed in that version starring Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Edwin Neal and Allen Danzinger. Free of the pretension of Daniel Myrick's "The Blair Witch Project," which was touted by an audience as one of the scariest movies ever simply because we never get to see what's causing all the horror, Marcus Nispel's remake of the '74 classic actually advances the genre to a new level of fright. The current version, which deservedly placed #1 in its opening week at the box office, has unrelenting frights, sexy performers, and a family of weirdos and a director presumably contemptuous of the current crop of satirical sagas like the "Scary Movie" series and the redundant acts of Freddy Kruger and his ilk.

Considering the critical and mass acclaim of the original, it's no wonder that a series of sequels would be spawned, including writer Tobe Hooper's directorial effort in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," Jeff Burr's "Leatherface" (cannibal clan battles three would-be dinners said to have been damaged by pre- release cuts that modified the gore), and the Matthew McConaughey-Renee Zellweger vehicle directed by Kim Henkel, disappointing in its absence of cannibalism and chainsaws. Horror fans will be happy to note that this time around, director Nispel pulls out all the stops with unrelenting gore, dripping blood, a veritable laboratory of body parts on and off meat hooks, and a villain who has the support of people you're almost likely to meet in some rural areas of places like Texas.

The only thing lame in this version is a teen who loses part of his leg when overtaken by Leatherface who like Robert Downey Jr.'s character in the upcoming "Singing Detective" is a victim of a horrendous skin disease. This guy, though, saves money by avoiding botox and going with a leather mask which effectively covers a nose-free face that only a mother could love and indeed does.

The crew of teens, appealing dudes who just want to have fun, have crossed the border from Mexico where they purchased a pinata full of marijuana when they barely miss hitting a dazed young woman (Lauren German) on the road. They pick her up. Mistake number 1 and a really big one. As Erin (Jessica Biel), her boyfriend Kemper (Eric Balfour) and their three coevals wonder what they should do about the back window of their van, now shot out and drenched with blood, they run into a series of misfortunes that justify a statement by a sadistic sheriff (R. Lee Ermey in the most riveting performance of the picture), "You brought this on yourselves."

What they brought on themselves after making one bad decision after another creates the genuine, heart-pounding thrills of this blood bath, featuring missing limbs, a crucifixion, a guy (Andrew Bryniarski) who despite his heavy chainsaw can run faster than any of these 19-year-olds, and a technically solid, musically enhanced film that honors the horror genre. What more can a gore fan want? Right, Mr. Ebert?

Copyright 2003 Harvey Karten

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