So, today's FEARce Five is all about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Franchise. The lovely lady behind Agony's Decay was kind enough to let me pick her mind on the topic and she has some awesome answers to some killer questions. Since I am getting to this a lot later in the day than I normally do, I am going to just dive in with our convo and skip the long intro!
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the eighth highest grossing horror franchise to date. When I first read this information I was surprised. Personally, I thought it would have been higher on the list. Granted, I didn't expect it outrank Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street, but I was still surprised when it didn't out rank franchises such as Saw, Scream, and even the Hannibal Lecter film series. Why do you think this classic franchise is low on the horror totem pole?
I believe this classic franchise is low on the horror totem pole for many reasons. Firstly, there are entirely too many sequels, prequels, and remakes. If horror fans are anything like me, they love the originals and don’t believe they need too many sequels or remakes. Secondly, it is an older film. Horror fans are always looking for the next ‘big’ horror film. Thirdly, I believe that from film to film, it lacks a consistent plot. There are also humane issues that may have inadvertently affected this franchise’s gross. Meat is murder. The Sawyer family ran a slaughter house that killed animals. Vegetarians and vegans and many organizations everywhere frown upon that even though the family was killing people. In retrospect, it could have also helped many people stop eating meat because of the cannibalism and meat murderous activity.
2. Like many books and films, this franchise is partly based on a true story. I spoke to a few people about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the past week to get a better insight of what the average Joe does and does not know about these films. What I learned is that about 50% of your horror movie lovers (not fanatics) know that the films are based on a true story. That being said, most of them thought the true story was about some crazy guy in Texas and not an older man from Wisconsin that enjoyed "crafting" with human remains. Do you think the reality of what these films are based on makes them more horrifying?
YAY for crafting with human remains!!! Absolutely, whether or not a person knows that this film was loosely based on Ed Gein, the reality of what these films are based on makes them entirely more horrifying. I am surprised that approximately 50% of people even know that it is based on a true story actually. For me, I believe any movie that is based on real events makes the movie more intriguing. For this franchise though and others like Silence of the Lambs the thought of an addiction to human skin, in itself, is gruesome.
3. Leatherface is a very iconic character to a major horror franchise and as such he has many elements that make up his character. He is dressed in normal clothes and sometimes dons a butchers apron that is usually covered in blood. He wields a chainsaw and wears a mask made from a human skin. There is no mistaking him for another slasher film villain. Which component of his overall appearance do you think has the biggest impact on viewers as far as the fear factor goes? and why?
I’m a HUGE fan of Leatherface’s character and overall appearance because his appearance is very unique. A bloody butcher’s apron and a loud and powerful chainsaw are all great additions to Leatherface’s get-up but nothing has as much impact as his masks. Throughout all the movies Leatherface wears “Pretty Woman Mask”, “Old Lady Mask”, and “The Killing Mask”. The thought of someone stitching skin together to make a mask is macabre enough but to have three different ones for different occasions makes Leatherface all the more morbid. For me, while I find “Old Lady and Pretty Woman Masks” particularly more gruesome, “The Killing Mask” is most terrifying for me because it looks so grim in different lighting. This ultimately makes him scarier.
4. Something that sets Leatherface apart from many horror villains is that there is no supernatural element to him. He doesn't kill you in your dreams, he wasn't drowned in Camp Crystal Lake, and he isn't a killer in a Good Guy dolls body. If you could revamp the film to give Leatherface a supernatural element, what would it be?
Good question! I’d like to say firstly that I’d never want to give Leatherface a supernatural power. For me horror and the supernatural aren’t always good companions. However, I would give him the power to project what his plans of murder are to the person he is about to murder, before they undergo his surgeries. It would be an ultimate mind fuck to know that firstly, there is no way to get away and to k now what is going to happen to you before it happens. To have to contemplate it and realize its realness would be an ultimate scare-all.
5. This, like many major horror films, has been remade/rebooted. In the last ten years there have been three new films added to the franchise. Most horror fans either love them or hate them. Where do you stand and why?
I am almost always opposed to remakes, prequels, and sequels. I like for films that were made so well, such as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre to be left alone. Because I am a huge fan of this particular franchise I will admit that I enjoy all the sequels and the remakes. There are things about them that I don’t care for but overall, they have made a gallant effort to keep horror and Leatherface alive. So for me, this is impressive. Overall, though, I’d have to say I’m on the fence, neither loving nor hating them. It also depends on the franchise.
Agony's Decay's Top Five Reasons to Watch the Original 1974 Version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
1. The close-up, raw, and grainy cinematography. The camera crew brings the viewers right up into the terror, full fledged.
2. The original is where it all started. They didn’t have to have an overtly amount of blood and gore to scare you.
3. The original gives you more history and more of an insight into the life of the family.
4. You just might never need to see any of the others.
5. For the popular franchises, Texas Chainsaw came first, before the slasher films, making it a pioneer to the genre.
This Ghouls Top Five Reasons to Watch the Original 1974 Version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
1. This film is a major influence in the slasher subgenre of horror.
2. This film is still considered one of the greatest and most controversial films. It was banned in several countries and even multiple times in the same country taking up to 25 years to finally be approved for public viewing and distribution.
3. Gunnar freaking Hansen!
4. For the pure irony that no one is actually filmed being massacred by the chainsaw and they only person on screen to be seen cut by it is Leatherface himself.
5. This is a story with no supernatural elements and the way it was filmed on top of the script leaves the potential for the reality aspect of this story to really impact the fear factor for the viewers.