'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' Re-Release Might Actually Help the Horror Genre
With the exception of Shakespearean revamps and boy-meets-girl rom coms, perhaps no story has been told and retold quite so many times as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There was the original, of course, which came out in 1974 and is credited with singlehandedly redefining the slasher film, followed by 1995's sequel-slash-remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, starring Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, a 2003 remake starring Jessica Biel, and a 2006 prequel. Then, for fear that might not quite be enough, last year brought us the inauspiciously named Texas Chainsaw 3D, which attempted to rebrand the killer as a sympathetic antihero — proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that this already thin premise had been stretched far past its breaking point. Almost. Now, in an attempt to prove that OG Leatherface reigns supreme — or, more likely, to sell movie tickets without having to pay another actor to wear that mask — the powers that be have decided to re-release the 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre in theaters for its 40th anniversary, after handing it back to director Tobe Hooper for some restoration. The revamped edition will have its first screening on Monday, March 10 at SXSW, as a preview for its theatrical run this summer.
Of course, the news that movie execs are reaching into their back catalogue is about as surprising as the Pope's Catholicism. Hollywood is overrun with remakes as ever — see: Hooper's other classics, Poltergeist and Lifeforce, both currently in line for re-production — and re-releases are now also apparently en vogue, following the advent of 3D technology.
Remember when Jurassic Park hit theaters again last April? The "if they liked it, they'll like it again" movie marketing ploy rages on, especially, it seems, when it comes to horror. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, when asked about the forthcoming remakes of his work, Hooper agreed with the reporter that most mainstream scary fare looks like a rehash of his and John Carpenter's movies:
"Is that a compliment? I guess it is." Sure, it makes sense to pay homage to the greats, but there's only so much pastiche an audience can take. I mean, at least in Hatchet (and its two sequels), they picked a different weapon?
Still, it does beg the question: just how many more times can there be a "real game-changer" in the slasher genre? The Cabin in the Woods did a good job of lampooning the tradition Chainsaw helped create, and its success seems to signal a shift in our appreciation of four-naïve-kids-on-vacation-style torture porn. However, lest this 40th anniversary tour start to feel more like a death knell for gore fans, we can nurture a glimmer of hope yet: Maybe seeing Leatherface for the first time on the big screen in all his surround-sound glory, some bright-eyed new Hooper or Carpenter will be inspired to blow our minds all over again.
Until then, we'll have to make do with the golden oldies — or, next year's surefire hit, Texas Chainsaw 8: Pleatherface. (Think about it; it could totally work.)
Image: MPI/Dark Sky Films