Friday, May 2, 2014

Ranking The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Franchise

Forty years and 7 films.  For a well known horror franchise, that's kind of on the light end.  But, we should really be counting that from when the 2nd one came out.  Making sequels to this sort of thing weren't thought of back in 1974.  And with the end of the retrospective comes the wonderful ranking.  This franchise only contains 2 terrible movies for me.  So 5/7 isn't too bad.  For the common observer though, I think its probably significantly less as a few are acquired tastes and/or grow on you over the years.  But, no matter how bad it got, nothing will ever taint the original film.  It stands large and tall over the remainder of this series, much like Halloween towers above the rest of its franchise.  This series started off with one of the greatest horror (and low budget) films of all time.  So, nothing that follows is likely to have that same impact. That doesn't mean there isn't fun to be had with these movies.

Without further adieu, here's my ranking.  I'm gonna warn, I peruse the horror forums and the like.  And I'm well aware my tastes in Texas Chainsaw Massacres differ much much much much greatly than the typical horror fan and Chainsaw enthusiast.  This is a series I'm proud to say that my tastes are very unique.

7.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

Poop on a platter.  This should come as no surprise.  Chainsaw's fourth outing is absolutely abysmal and utterly flushed it down the toilet.  There are some wonderful moments by McConaughey in this film, but not enough to make it watchable aside from checking out a couple YouTube clips.  Skip over this one at any and all costs.

6.  Texas Chainsaw 3D

One of my and many folks thoughts last year when this came out was that the film's biggest offense was that it wasn't even the worst one.  Like I said before, I despised this movie when I first saw it.  At the end of last year though I sat down one night and gave it another shot, and where I was once getting angry I now found myself laughing.  I'm not warming to this movie in a way that it's some misunderstood secretly good movie, no no no.  I think its a candidate for an enjoyable bad movie.  You know, for all the wrong reasons.  Time will tell though as this one is still fresh and still too new that its a part of being "hated" right now and after a few years maybe people will turn those scoffs into chuckles like me.

5.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Just because this one is sitting low doesn't mean its bad.  While every time I go back to this movie it drops off a small percentage, I still like it.  When it comes to rewatchability though its kind of flat for me.  There's nothing weird or interesting to look at when you're going back to watch it for the x time.  It does what it does very well, but its more of a thriller that plays it safe, but does its things very well.  The suicide re-enactment with the revolver in the van still remains a high point in the series and an incredibly suspenseful scene that still gets me going today.  Its not a bad movie, solid in its own right, but as a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film it forgets some key things that make it such and is more interested in taking commercial cues rather than horror ones.

4.  Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

Had I done this retrospective blindly (not freshly off watching these), this one might've swapped with the 2003 remake in terms of position as the last time I'd seen it I found myself bored.  Not this time however, I had a blast with it.  The troubled production still provides us with a solid reworking of the original and the one that laid the ground for having a more elaborate creepy cannibal family.  Viggo Mortensen lights up the screen in this film and is a joy to watch.  Its also got some great dark humor.  Who doesn't love Leatherface using the Speak N Spell?

3.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

I really do love this movie.  As I raved before, I didn't quite understand and get it as a kid, but something kept having me come back to it.  As a fan of B-level and midnight movies, I can't get enough of the film.  Its got crazy committed performances, some twisted humor and terrific practical effects.  The film also has the greatest creeper in the series not named Leatherface and that's Bill Moseley as Chop Top.  And don't count this movie out in the scares department.  There are some genuinely good jump scares, suspense scenes and disturbing moments.  This movie goes big and packs it all.  They don't and can't make movies like this anymore.  It was very VERY VERY VERY close to me calling it a tie at #2...but i'm not gonna cop out like that.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

I'm in small company when it comes to the appreciation for this film, and of course I don't really see why.  I think it captures the spirit and ideals of the original while weaving its way to tell its own story and parable.  It betters its predecessor by not being afraid to embrace its roots and try to be a good horror and Chainsaw film at the same time.  Oh, and I may have mentioned that this film probably has the best protagonists in the series.  To Scott Mendelson, I raise my glass full of TCM: The Beginning appreciation and say "To the end, my friend!"

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Yeah, I getcha zzzzzz on that #1 pick, Brandon.  Make no mistake, this is one of horror's all time greats.  I argue this film is pretty timeless and due to technical merits (love you Daniel Pearl, your initials are DP for a reason) I think it still holds up.  Younger, impatient audiences may not appreciate it, but screw 'em.  There's a darkness and madness to this film that is perfectly weathered and never dives deep into self parody or going too ridiculous.  Its a terrifying night for Sally Hardesty and I think Tobe Hooper captures and tells it perfectly.

neXt TIME:  I's obvious...why go berserker and give hints?

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