The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974/2003)

D: Tobe Hooper
Bryanston/Vortex (Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper)
US 1974
81 mins


W: Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper
DP: Daniel Pearl
Ed: Sally Richardson
Mus: Wayne Bell

Marilyn Burns (Sally), Allen Danzinger (Jerry), Paul Partain (Franklin), William Vail (Kirk), Gunnar Hanssen (Learltherface)

Fraught with controversy and even banned in some countries since its original 1974 release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will either strike people as one of the scariest horror movies of all time, or a shamelessly violent exploitation film.
A small group of teenagers visiting a cemetery in rural Texas pick up a mentally unsound hitchhiker, who they subsequently ditch, only to go from the frying pan and into the fire when they discover a ramshackle house occupied by a family of maniacs.
Adapted by the same true events which inspired Psycho & The Silence Of The Lambs, it displays a sustained amount of terror which never relents, even up to an ending without any real closure.
Though its cult success has turned it into a horror classic, it's a very difficult film to watch, both due to its guerrilla filmmaking style and its bloodthirsty content, but nobody can deny its power to disturb.

Gunnar Hanssen in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Gunnar Hanssen in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

D: Marcus Nispel
New Line (Michael Bay & Mike Fleiss)
US 2003
98 mins


W: Scott Kosar [based on a screenplay by Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper]
DP: Daniel C. Pearl
Ed: Glen Scantlebury
Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Jessica Biel (Erin), Jonathan Tucker (Morgan), Erica Leerhsen (Pepper), Mike Vogel (Andy), Eric Balfour (Kemper), Andrew Bryniarski (Leatherface), R. Lee Ermey (Sheriff Hoyt)

Some clueless Hollywood executive must have watched the original movie and felt that a remake would be even more disturbing if the audience saw what "Leatherface" looked like beneath his mask made from human skin. It doesn't work.
It also wasn't a good move to cast R. Lee Ermey either, especially playing the same character from Full Metal Jacket, except as a sheriff rather than a drill sergeant.
Though it may have a bigger budget thrown at it, it lacks the austere style which made the original film so stomach churning. It also lacks a more important factor, which would be to make a horror film scary.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre