Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Frank Review of "Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth" (2000)

The Short Version? Doc on shock.
What Is It? Documentary.
Who Is In It? Cast and crew.
Should I See It? Yes.

Part 1: Introduction (NSFW)

Blue Underground put together this recollection of the making and impact of Massacre in 2000, and it has since been released as part of Dark Sky Films' 2-Disc Ultimate Edition of the original picture. It's a pretty solid set of intercut interviews with most of the cast and creators behind the picture. It is in that area that Shocking earns its recommendation, as the subjects are especially candid, sometimes catty, and well worth your time. There are such curious, informative, amusing, and nauseating anecdotes that fans of the film will eat up, how could I not?

It is in the additional materials I find fault. Narrator Matthew Bell is plainly trying too hard to recreate John Larroquette's tone in reading the text scrawl from the original film, and his forced delivery grates where it appears. There's an attempt early on to create an historical context for the piece, with reference to the crimes of Ed Gein and a consideration of the trailblazing Night of the Living Dead. The doc then fails to acknowledge the influence of Psycho, the work of Herschell Gordon Lewis, nor any other obvious antecedents to Tobe Hooper's film besides Last House on the Left. Instead of the cultural critics, sociologists and noteworthy directors who often pop up in these types of documentaries, outside those involved in the original film, there's no one remotely noteworthy. A couple of horror directors of negligible films fawning is the closest the doc comes.

There's a lot of random period footage from Texas, in no clear way connected to the actual production, and some other awful stylized junk the doc director inflicts every once in a while. During a sequence detailing the longstanding ban of the film in the UK, wholly inappropriate footage of Nazi rallies and book burnings run. It's obnoxious.

So again, the interviews make this documentary, as the extras are more tumorous than of added value, but when weighed in the balance it is not found wanting. The whole documentary is available free on YouTube (well, as of this writing, anyway.) So long as it remains so, you can view it through the embedded screens below...

Part 2: Conception, Pre-Production, and Making (NSFW)

Part 3: Special Effects, Set Design, etc. (NSFW)

Part 4: The Dinner Scene and other painful shooting (NSFW)

Part 5: Post-Production, Distribution, Release, and the Mafia (NSFW)

Part 6: Reception & Sequels (NSFW)

Part 7 More Sequels, Sabotage and Conclusion (NSFW)

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