Tag Archives: Cult film

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen

Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary

Leatherface is nuts

So last night I got to see the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen. The movie was shown at the Treehouse Cinema in Gulf Breeze Florida and hosted by local horror group Nightmare Theatre. This was my first time to actually see TCM on the big screen, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered  40th anniversay edition is absolutely beautiful. I’m not going to get into technical specs about sound, video, aspect or whatever because I’m not that guy. I will just say the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary version looks beautiful, it sounds beautiful and it is worth seeing on the big screen.

I have been a fan of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre since before I can remember. As a kid I saw the movie posters in the local theater, but never saw the film itself there. I’m not even sure it ever actually played there. TCM doesn’t sound like a good match for a small town theater in rural Mississippi in the 70s. I cant even remember when I first saw the movie. The commercials for it, and the sequels always intrigued me, but they also scared me a little. Okay, they scared me a lot. They promised blood, gore, and horror. Which was masterful advertising, since the first film has so little blood and gore.

Marilyn Burns in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre  remastered 40th anniversary

The Late Marilyn Burns as Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition

What The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre did have, that it’s gorier remake doesn’t have is insanity. The remake is bloody, it’s violent, and it’s gory. The characters are evil and they are unbalanced. But compare the families, the Hewitt family versus the Sawyer family of the original. Although they really didn’t get a family name in the original, it works for here. The original family was absolutely insane. Look at the cook, played by the late Jim Siedow. “I dont take no pleasure in killing” he says, completely serious one moment, and the next he is cackling, and urging Grandpa on in his attempt to kill Sally Hardesty. The whole dinner scene is insanity. People like this are capable of anything. This is horror, this is what modern filmmakers don’t get.

It’s one thing to show people doing bad things, doing horrible things, but show people doing insane things and it’s scary. Jason Voorhess is evil but his movies are no longer scary. Why? Maybe because he’s predictable. Is he insane? Probably? Crazy? Not so much, if anything Jason is predictable. Come to Crystal Lake and he will chase you, slowly, catch you and kill you, especially if you are having sex. Leatherface? Well now, Leatherface will chase you at high speed. He will chainsaw his door to pieces, even though he could probably just open it, or cut through the lock. Leatherface will put you in a freezer and sit down and have a moment of self doubt. Leatherface will spin in the road with a running chainsaw. Leatherface is fucking nuts. Even worse, he’s possibly the sanest member of the family.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition with the Sawyer family

The family is even crazier in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition

Probably the coolest thing about seeing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen was seeing, and hearing people’s reaction. It was a small crowd, which was sad, but there were people there, and at least a few who had never seen the movie before. It is nice to know with all the crappy PG films, with all the horrible CGI, that the meat hook scene can still cause a reaction. Yep, some one exclaimed out loud, not the loudest shriek, but a reaction nonetheless. Call me naive, but I think a proper release with full studio promotion this film would draw. Yeah, I’m naive. Kids today are too jaded, they wouldn’t give it a chance, but if they did they would walk away happy, and maybe a bit scared to go down those lonely deserted roads.

So if you get the chance check out the Texas Chainsaw remastered 40th anniversary edition on the big screen, or just buy the DVD. It really is a wonderfully restored version, and well worth having without even touching on the extras. This is probably the best the film will ever look. But even beyond the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition, if you are a horror fan, support when these films get shown on the big screen. Support the few small local theaters that still exist, and support your local horror community. For those of us living in the Lower Alabama, Florida Panhandle that is Nightmare Theatre and the Tree house Cinema in Gulf Breeze.

Nightmare Theatre will be hosting several cult horror films during the month of October, including Army of Darkness and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you are in the area I urge you to make the trip over the bridge and support these films, and the people hosting them.

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered 40th anniversary edition is availbale now on DVD and Blu Ray, and playing in select theaters

BIlly Jack

Sometimes nostalgia is best left in the mind. It can be fun going back and reliving those fond memories, but at times it can be an unkind kick in the head. That’s kind of how I felt after watching Billy Jack this weekend. Harsh reality kicked the living shit out of my fond memories of this Cult classic.

I first saw Billy Jack as a kid. No clue how old I was probably under ten. I remember watching it at school. As I wrote in another article published on Squidoo, I was lucky enough to be exposed to some really cool films at school. Billy Jack was one of them.

Billy Jack

To say it had a huge effect on me is a bit of an understatement. When the other kids wanted to play cowboys and Indians, they would be the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy or Tonto. I was always Billy Jack. OK, sometimes I was the Lone Ranger, but mostly I was Billy Jack, the ass kicking half breed former Green Beret.

And I still think kindly on it, but I had this fear re-watching it for the first time in years. I had read all the bad reviews, and faintly remembered that the last time I watched it, the magic had faded.

And my fears were pretty much true. It really isn’t a very good film. The acting is pretty bad all around. Billy’s girlfriend, Jean, was especially memorably bad. The fight scenes, that were all so cool as a kid, now look very amateurish and staged. The dialogue is silly at times, along with the story and plot. The characters other than Billy Jack, seem uneven and not fully developed.

Billy Jack

The main villain, Bernard is probably the most pathetic spoiled rich kid ever. I think I know where they were going with his character. Trying to show someone who lived in the shadow of his father, and was full of big talk, but really was a coward. I think that’s what they were trying anyway but it just didn’t work. The rape scene is supposed to be shocking, but instead it’s just sad and almost laughable.

The movie does deal with subjects that are still relevant today such as racism and bigotry. However it delivers it’s message in such a ham fisted way, it’s near impossible to take it seriously.

Sadly there isn’t a lot to really recommend about Billy Jack, and yes I was disappointed. But I still love this movie and the character of Billy Jack. You see, the one thing I can recommend is the character himself.

There is just so much to like, at least for me in the character. What’s not to love about the soldier, who has turned his back on war. Billy Jack is a man who values peace, and is tired of war, but who is all to willing to fight to protect those he loves.  As far as I know Billy Jack was the first “Half-breed” action star. At a time when race relations were at a fever pitch, he stood not only for the rights of indigenous Americans, but for blacks, hispanics, and all those who weren’t a part of the white majority.  Billy Jack was a hero for everyone who felt oppressed.

If Tom Laughlin had one thing it was screen presence and swagger. He was larger than life, and he made Billy Jack larger than life. Under a better director and writer, Billy Jack could have been the great American hero, but Laughlin kept the reins all tightly in his own hands, and those hands were not’t capable enough to deliver the goods.

One Tin Soldier

So Billy Jack isn’t a great movie, it isn’t even really a good movie, but I can’t bring myself to call it a bad movie. The worst I can do is label it a guilty pleasure. And it’s a part of Cult Movie history, and it needs to be seen and appreciated, even with all it’s flaws. Plus it has the coolest closing theme song ever.  If you do decide to check out Billy Jack look out for Howard Hesseman, apparently preparing for his role as Dr. Johnny Fever.

Billy Jack [Blu-ray]


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