Posts Tagged ‘massacre’

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 Banner

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Straight Razor, Pocket Knife, Sledgehammer, Meat Hook, Chainsaw, Broom, Fillet Knife, Pipe Wrench


Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

The original 1974 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is comparatively low on bloodshed by today’s standards, but tame? Not at all. The film possesses a deep well of savageness and ferocious energy from which it draws its strength, not only in terms of the horror action, but in the very way that it looks and feels. This is what made the film controversial in its time and what has made it a classic today, not gratuitous bloodshed, but harsh, unforgiving ugliness.

Reports of bizarre grave desecration bring Sally Hardesty and her friends to a small rural area in Texas to ensure that her grandfather’s remains have not been disturbed. Their road trip is disrupted, however, upon encountering a family of murderous cannibals, including the horrific chainsaw-wielding maniac, Leatherface.

Cast Pic The Hitchhiker

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is slim on plot and features little to no character development, but that’s okay because that’s not what this movie does. This movie is a well-oiled machine that was built to do one thing and do it well: punish the audience. No, not scare the audience, punish. More than scare you, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre delights in disturbing you, right from the very beginning, the first thing we see is a desiccated skeleton impaled on a tombstone, setting up the macabre tone right away. Before any killing begins at all, the movie goes to considerable lengths to establish an oppressive atmosphere of gruesomeness: the deranged hitchhiker, the story of the local slaughterhouse, the furniture made of human bones—all add to the sense of nastiness and unease even when there’s no actual violence onscreen.

Butcher Leatherface The Family

Not that there isn’t any violence. The violence is really the centerpiece of the film, with the aforementioned atmosphere being the plate upon which this entrée is served. And I don’t mean simple bloodshed—I mean naked, unadorned violence. Every action is carried out with overwhelming force and power, even mundane things like cranking up a chainsaw or slamming a door are so loud and so physically expressive that it frazzles the nerves. It’s not the blood that makes you wince, it’s the sudden furiousness of the attack. It’s not the death that disturbs us, but the dying; we watch the victims twitch before they go. And finally, most horrible of all, is the extreme casualness of the violence. There is no anger or hatred on the part of the killers, no complex psychological motive; they kill for the meat, with all the humdrum of a neighborhood butcher’s shop.

Formal Wear Leatherface Survivor Sally

When the film was first released, the opening faux-documentary monologue lent credence to the belief that there really had been a Texas chainsaw-massacre. But more than that, audiences were ready to believe the story because, being human, they recognized human nature when they saw it—the unending capacity for violence and cruelty. Indeed, some of the onscreen horrors were based on the real-life crimes committed by Ed Gein, the infamous murderer and corpse desecrator. For all its horrors, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre does not stray outside of the realm of possibility; it could have happened. It could happen yet. The film makes us believe it could, because gives us a candid look at what real violence looks like. I can sum it up in a word. The word is: ugly, ugly ,ugly.

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Nail Gun


Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

Originally titled “The Texas Nail Gun Massacre”, Terry Lofton’s seminal cheese-fest, Nail Gun Massacre, featured the tagline “Cheaper than a Chainsaw” in a sly (no wait—ham-fisted) homage to the 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. If by “Cheaper than a Chainsaw” they meant the entire cost of production, then yeah. Firmly within so-bad-it’s-good territory, Nail Gun Massacre is actually quite watchable; in fact, if Nail Gun was in on its own joke, this bad horror movie could actually pass for a good comedy. But despite Nail Gun Massacre’s numerous crimes against cinema (bad acting, bad FX, total lack of atmosphere), perhaps its greatest failure is in its fundamental inability to tell a coherent story. It really says something about a movie when being formulaic would be an improvement.

In the town of Seagoville, Texas, a crew of construction workers gang-rape a young woman and soon thereafter, local construction workers are being murdered by a crazed killer with a nailgun. Wondering who the killer is yet? Have you figured it out? Anyway, a local sheriff and doctor begin investigating the series of nail-related murders and bumble around without ever meeting the killer until the lame final confrontation.

Nail Gun Killer Doctor and Sheriff

If that synopsis is vague and unsatisfying, well, so is the movie—a symptom of the lobotomy-style storytelling. This is an even more fatal flaw than simple bad writing; writing can be bad and still be coherent, but if the storytelling itself is bad, if it has no logical progression, no structure, no clear sense of direction or purpose, then you’re left with pointless nonsense.

For example, experienced horror-viewers will know that in slasher flicks, you have your cast of kill fodder; usually a group of teenaged friends introduced at the beginning of the movie. Not so in Nail Gun Massacre; instead we are introduced to the cast of characters in sporadic bursts, two or three at a time, throughout the movie, and most of these characters do not meet, interact, or have scarcely any relation to each other at all. The plot structure of this movie is like a blob of ice cream melting in the sun—messy and all over the place.

Nail Hand Nailed Prayer

In addition to that, Nail Gun Massacre also features all the usual problems that bad movies have. Bad acting? How about a guy that falls over dead onto a BBQ grill, starts tipping over, pushes himself back up, and then looks at the camera? Bad FX? How about wobbly nails and a non-firing nail gun? Bad writing? Here’s a direct quote: “Do you remember when you could sit outside and not worry about the mosquitoes and the killers?” Even the soundtrack is bad; it is literally someone yelling WAAAHH and MUAHAHA into a synthesizer so persistently that you’ll find yourself daydreaming about what death is like.

Roadside Nailer Nail Face

And the ending? Jeeesus…there’s simply not enough room to go into that in a single review, so I’ve added an addendum at the end; look there for a more in-depth discussion of one of the stupidest endings in all of horrordom. Still, despite repeatedly spitting in the face of all that is good and decent in film, Nail Gun Massacre is a fun movie to watch, if only to laugh at how much of a train-wreck it is. But I can’t recommend this movie for the same reason I can’t recommend huffing spray paint—it’s bad for you and it’ll make you stupid; but, meh…it’s kinda fun.

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Let’s get this spoiler out of the way right now: the killer is Linda, the girl that gets raped at the beginning. Oh my God! Bet you didn’t see that coming! Especially since the killer’s fairly snug jumpsuit reveals to us early-on that the killer is obviously a woman. Although, there is actually some controversy about the killer’s identity, and understandably so, because the storytelling is so horrendously poor and the movie is so war-crime-ingly directed that you may very well not notice who the killer is.

Many people, after having seen Nail Gun Massacre, believe that the character Bubba is the killer because early in the movie, he very unsubtly states that he’ll be seeing the victims “…sooner than [they] think.” Plus, at the end of the movie, the killer dies, is unmasked, and is revealed to be Bubba. Okay…that’s a strong case for the “Bubba is the killer” theory, but hear me out.

Number one: since the whole movie takes place in broad daylight, we can very clearly see that the killer is female, judging by the curvaceous hips and the fact that the killer is way shorter than Bubba. Number two: At one point the killer states: “You guys played with me; now it’s my turn to play with you” and “…nobody came when I screamed”. Number 3: After Bubba’s death, when the doctor declares that it’s all over, the sheriff utters the unbelievably corny line: “Is it? Is it over?” Number four: as the doctor and Linda walk off into the sunset, Linda’s right arm falls to her side, revealing that she is holding the killer’s motorcycle helmet, and we hear a dramatic DUUUNN from the soundtrack as this happens.

Okay, so those are some good reasons for thinking that Linda was the killer, but if that’s the case, then WHY DOES BUBBA SAY HE’LL SEE THOSE VICTIMS SOONER THAN THEY THINK?! Why would Bubba EVER see the victims AT ALL if Linda was the one doing the killing? Was Bubba also killing? If so, nothing happens in the movie that would suggest this other than him wearing the costume at the end—but then that could be explained by saying that Bubba was merely taking the rap for his sister. My guess is that the character Bubba was a clumsy attempt at inserting a red herring into the storyline, but it is done so poorly that it defies all sense and logic. Secondly, we need more than a dramatic DUUUNN to highlight the fact that the killer is Linda; what should be a cool Basic-Instinct-style surprise ending is instead so lazy and ambiguous that many people don’t even notice it. Or maybe I’m just imagining things and Bubba really was the killer; in any case, the ending should not be this difficult to figure out!

So there you have it: one of the most colossally incompetent and nonsensical endings to a horror movie ever. Whether you believe that Bubba was the killer or Linda was, the ending still leaves you with logical loose-ends so flagrant that you’ll rage against the audacity of the mind that created Nail Gun Massacre.