By Cash Melville
If you read my last column, you know that I really think Hollywood has lost its sense of originality. All we seem to get are "true stories" (where the events have been altered for the sake of excitement), sequels that are shadows of the originals and pitiful remakes. I really just ignored all of them; I'm not much of a movie person as it stands. I was content just sitting back to watch my old horror movies, only venturing out if there was a new horror movie coming out to theatres.
Then the announcement came, Hollywood was remaking The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was initially excited... until the cast was made public. As soon as I heard the name "Jessica Biel", I cringed. Now, Ms. Biel is not an unattractive lady, in fact, she's quite the looker. But her acting leaves a lot to be desired. Eventually, that wore off and I started to get excited about the remake again, but then the promotional interviews started rolling in. There is one that I will never forget, mostly because it marked the end of my wanting to see the movie and the beginning of me wanting to destroy anything associated with it.
Jessica Biel said, "[It] wasn't so much a horror movie as it was a psychological thriller."
Right then and there, I swore that I would never see the remake for as long as I lived.
For an entire year, I held to that promise. I had bouts of curiosity, but never acted on them. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was bored and nobody was home so I decided to watch some TV. The only thing on my 250+ channels was, you guessed it, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. Deciding that it might make for some unintentional comedy, I watched it. What I was subjected to was the worst thing that I have ever seen in my life. Yes, it was worse than The Exorcist 2.
The original plot was nowhere to be found and the cinematography was completely wrong. The only thing that held true between the two versions was Leatherface, but, since Gunnar Hansen wasn't behind the mask, that doesn't even count.
Though it might initially seem like it, this column isn't about the mess that is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003); it's about the lack of originality in Hollywood, especially when it comes to horror films. (And I'm not even going to touch on their fetish for ruining Japanese movies either.) There have been very few horror movies released over the past few years, and even a small percentage of those have been from an original idea. Currently, Hollywood has decided to bless us with upcoming remakes of The Amityville Horror (I've seen the house... and it doesn't even look right), The Blob and The Evil Dead. The question that runs through my head when I read about stuff like this is, Why do people have to mess with something that is good? Why, if they remake it, do they have to change it? No matter how hard I try, I really can't answer that question. I don't know if it's because they think that they're going to appeal to the current target audience, or if it's because they think they can make it better. If it's the latter, they need to start watching their own movies and realize that the tweaks they're making are doing more harm than good.
With another Halloween sequel in the works and a prequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), the future looks bleak. Obviously, this is just another sign of Hollywood's inability to actually create something new. The reason that was given for the TCM prequel was, and I quote:
"We thought that a lot of people who saw the movie always wondered why he uses a chainsaw," says Form [producer of the remake]. "No one really explains it, he just does. We tried to explain a little bit in our version why he wears a mask, but here we're really going to try to show you how the mask originated, and stuff like that."
While the filmmakers plan to delve deeper into Leatherface's background, don't expect them to go too far. "We're not going back into his childhood. You're not going to see him at the prom — you'd be surprised at some of the ideas we heard. This is still a Texas Chainsaw movie; it's not going to be a family drama where you see how this kid grew up and all that. It still has to be what our last movie was, which was fun and scary and kind of a ride."
I always considered the mystique of Leatherface to be one of the cooler things about him. I don't want to know why he does this stuff to people. Heck — I didn't even want to know why he wore the mask. Sometimes, part of the scariness of a character is that you don't know why they act or dress the way they do. Why must the mystery be removed from every single thing that exists? It's as if Hollywood thinks that people have to know every little thing that is involved with a character.
The main question that comes out of this is: Where does Hollywood go from here? Is there going to be a revolutionary writer or producer that comes along and sparks a creative flurry in Hollywood? Around 1900, the United States patent office was almost shut down because people believed that everything that could be invented had been invented. After that, however, we were blessed (and cursed) with some of the greatest inventions ever. Similarly, I've heard rumblings that everything in cinema has been done, but I think we're in the same position as the patent office. There will be a huge awakening and people will become more creative than ever. It's happened in literature, inventions and art; movies are destined to have the same thing happen. We just have to suffer until then.
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Since I've finally managed to complete my unfinishable column, this will hopefully mark the beginning of my return to writing. Let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading guys and gals!
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