The Myth. The Legend. The Evil…. “Leatherface” review!


Texas 1955 – the pride of the Sawyer family was not their tattered farm, but a bloodline taste for something else – callous murder and a penchant for human flesh. Verna Sawyer sought to instill that pride into her children, especially her youngest, Jed, but when Hal Hartman, hard nose local Sheriff, learns that his daughter becomes victim of the Sawyer’s suspect nefarious carnage, he executes the law to his advantage, deeming the Sawyer house unfit for children and removes Jed from his labeled degenerate mother Verna. Ten years later, a group of teenage patients escape a mental hospital, kidnap a young nurse, and reek bloody havoc in their voyage to Mexico in an attempt to elude the very same lawman who put them away, but this time, Hartman isn’t adhering to the law, straying off his moral compass to pursue a vengeance mission against unprincipled youth that’s personally driven by Jed and the Sawyer family. Once the embattled Hartman catches up with his prey, a series of gruesome events lead to the creation and the construction of one of the most notorious killers Texas will ever see.

I love a good origin story. There’s something to be said about understanding the commencement of character, to be in the shoes of a long running icon, and to be able to sympathize with their story no matter how atrocious. Directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s 2017 “Leatherface” does just that with the film’s own origin enlightenment on how the chainsaw wielding, human skin mask wearing psychopath came to fruition inside a home of unspeakable brutality and influenced externally by a unforgiving society. From a script penned by Seth M. Sherwood, “Leatherface,” serving as a direct prequel to Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” briefly touches upon the preteen years to setup the catalytic road trip from hell, birthing a monster in a time of adolescence and if part of a legacy spanning over forty decades inspired by Ed Gein, the real life human skin wearing and notorious serial killer, then you damn well know “Leatherface” has to be genetically predisposed to be ultra-violent drenched in blood splatter. The French filmmaking duo, who’ve helmed 2007’s “Inside” and had directed the “Xylophone” segment in “The ABCs of Death 2,” nail the dark and gritty tone that not only breathes a gassy and exhaust fumed life into a massive flesh-ripping chainsaw, but also inflicts heartlessness across the story board into a heartfelt homage to the characters and to the story fathered by Kim Henkel and the late Tobe Hooper, both of whom were attached as executive producers.

Over the years, many actors have held the mammoth power-drive cutting tool in their hand that’s ready to chip away at flesh such as Andrew Bryniarski (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” 2003 remake), Bill Johnson (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”) and, most famously, Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface. However, I’m not going to divulge who the pubescent Leatherface is in the story because the film plays out as a who out of the group of degenerate teens is the son of Verna Sawyer, even though you can easily obtain the information in a simple click and search on Google. Instead, Sam Strike, James Bloor, and Sam Coleman portray the three escapees who are accompanied by an equally insane sociopath in Jessica Madsen and an eagerly novice kidnapped nurse by Vanessa Grasse. Amongst a sea of English actors are a pair of vets to shepherd the young cast and be the embattled bookends to the dawn of an icon. Lili Taylor (“The Haunting”) and Stephen Dorff (“Blade”) face off as Leatherface’s mother, Verna Sawyer, who butts horns with a longstanding sheriff, Hal Hartman, with a steadfast vendetta against the Sawyer family. Christopher Adamson (“Razor Blade Smile”), Nathan Cooper (“Day of the Dead: Bloodline”), and Finn Jones (“Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines”) co-star.

Usually with a pair of directors, two different styles spawn to an end result. With Bustillo and Maury, styles merge into a seamless effort of elegant wonders. Each shot emerges a purpose to the story whether it’s painting an image of the Sawyer’s death house to pulling a one-eighty with characters, the filmmakers ability to combine each element into a single story, that has such a close knit cult following, and still manage to cinematically pull off the atmosphere, the grit, and the gory carnage of a Texas Chain Saw Massacre film is impressive. Cinematographer Antoine Sainer, whose worked previously with the directing duo on the “The ABCs of Death 2’s” segment “X,” has the ever so poised eye that’s able to well-round and solidify Leatherface’s terror tenor, particular exampled in a foot chase scene through a moonlit forest, smoke bellowing out of a growling chainsaw, and a tattered young girl bawling, screaming, and fleeing for her life from a deranged masked killer whose huffing, snarling, and growling during the pursuit.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment presents the Millennium Films produced “Leatherface” onto Blu-ray + Ultra-violet combo disc, a MPEG-4 AVC encoded disc with a 1080p resolution and presented in a widescreen, 2.38:1, aspect ratio that displays the Bulgaria landscape in a yellowish-brown, Texas-like backdrop. Details are noticeably fine that exquisitely reveal the death and destruction of the Sawyers and those who unfortunately surround the family. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track evenly distributes and consistently a range of engrossing fidelity, ambient, and dialogue layers. Bonus material includes a play feature with an alternate ending that’s less superior in contrast to the final product, deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes making of that includes brief interviews with directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, actors Sam Strike, Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, and others, and goes behind the scenes in creating the tone and style of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” while implementing their own vision. “Leatherface” forces the unsavory and unpleasant down the throats of TCM fans, jamming an attempt to exposition a futile chance to a destined maniac of cannibalistic proportions and manages to mix up the Tobe Hooper’s weathered franchise with a barbaric bruiser of a tale.

“Leatherface” on Blu-ray! Buy it here, today!

Now, a Little Evil from Youtube: “We Love Our Monsters”

Teenage horror-throbs.  Young, dumb, and full of chum.

Get Into the Evil Spirit! Varsity Blood review!

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A small town pack of football jocks and cheerleaders with a dark secret spend Halloween night at a rundown farmhouse to party until dawn, but a sadistic killer in the school mascot uniform hunts them down one by one. Now their only chance of survival is to rely on each other, but will their dark secret get the better of them?

“Varsity Blood” tries to home in on the slasher saturated 80’s decade and, more or less, hits the mark right on the head with quick quip dialogue, teen angst, nudity, and blood. The killer garnishes a costume, even if the costume is the school mascot of a goofy tribal warrior, but the warrior outfit is simple, dark, and, like aforementioned, tribal which already gives it a ominous feel. Like most iconic slasher movie killers, they all have to brand a signature weapon – Jason had his machete, Myers had his knife, Leatherface had his chainsaw. The Warrier had his axe. Not too many killers carry an axe as a signature weapon and the axe is not overused as the Warrior does implement various methods of death.
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What about the teen group of various mannered jocks, cheerleaders, and other high school patrons of “Varsity Blood?” Like I said before, there is plenty of teen angst – jock wants sex badly, girl is major slut, fat girl tries to prove herself, lots of crying – so there lies enough teenage drama to make white and black pimples to form on your face. Some characters, like the main female lead Hannah (Lexi Giovagnoli) and good-girl Heather (Elyse Bigler), receive good character background, some of the cast are just fillers for the killer to dice up and their deaths become less important and severely fall short of a sympathetic death.

The whole reason why the killer kills is a bit of a joke too. I’m not going to go into more detail, but lets just say that there is an agreement and the one’s side terms are a bit too lame for my liking. The other side has an legitimate excuse for making these teen hooligans into mince meat. I do mean ‘hooligans’ too as the teens don’t learn from their historical depravities that resulted into a terrible accident that they’ll never forget. The past always catches up with them and the warrior makes sure of that.
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Didn’t I mention nudity earlier? You would think nudity would run rampant in a film about cheerleaders getting hacked to bits. Unfortunately, we’re teased to no end as Natalie Peyton and Elle LaMont give nothing but a tease show with covered nudity and bra and panties. However, not all is a total loss. Taylor Moessinger does do a strip show dance and goes topless and you can read my short review of her scenes here.
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The death scenes were relatively tame for a slasher that is suppose to homage the greats, but these deaths weren’t necessarily terrible either. There is great use of practical effects that are pulled off with excellent angle work with the camera and use of camera placement. I’ll give that to Jake Helgren, you might remember from my review of “Bloody Homecoming”, another high school slasher with the same vein.
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Give “Varsity Blood” a try and see how it fits. Room for growth and improvement with the director Helgren, a promising career for sexy leading lady Lexi Giovagnoli, and a great topless scene from the spirited, free loving, always naked model Taylor Moessinger. “Varsity Blood” is now available to own on DVD and VOD from Image Entertainment.

NUDITY REPORT

Taylor Moessinger – Topless
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Elle LaMont – Covered Nudity / Bra Panties
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Natalie Peyton – Bra Panties
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Toe Tagged: Marilyn Burns

Marilyn Burns, lead scream queen actress in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre directed by Tobe Hooper, died on August 5th at the age of 65. She was “found unresponsive” at her home in Texas by her family members.

Burns landed the lead role in Hooper’s cult classic in 1974 while a student at University of Texas. She has also appeared in another Hooper film, Eaten Alive, and had some cameo roles in Future Kill, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D.

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Evil Dwelling: Horror Icons of the 21st Century?

After watching The Collector, I started to think about how potential horror icons of the 21st century seem to shrivel up, fizzle, and dissolve away into nothing halting a potentially worthy horror franchise into spit – yeah, spit. The franchise runners – Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th, Michael Myers of Halloween, Freddy Kruger of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Leatherface of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Chucky of Child’s Play, Pinhead of Hellraiser – are good examples of horror icons and their franchise titles; yet the trend has seem to fade away, perhaps we are seeing the last of franchise horror icon and their time as reigning champs is on the way out. I like to think that this lack of a long hauling series is giving an opportunity for new blood, but the majority of horror movies the past decade don’t have the staying power nor do they have enough support to have a sequel every other year. I’d like to share with you my thoughts on current horror franchise icons and some possible contenders for the future.

Ghostface

I like my knife.

Who is probably the face of franchise horror of the 2000s, Ghostface became a household horror name, easily becoming an icon without really trying. The simple use of black and white and an abstract of Edvard Munch’s portrait woven with the mind of Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson catapulted the franchise from the 1996 all the way to 2011. The icon has made it’s mark in the Halloween costume market, memorabilia shelves and was even homaged in an unofficial video game that pitted horror icon versus horror icon called Terrordome. The Ghostface killer can be anybody, can out swift anybody and can rise from the grave over and over again (much like his icon predecessors). However, Ghostface stays human and never has been backed by evil powers to contribute to his killing spree success (much unlike his icon predecessors).

Jigsaw

Every channel has Jigsaw – gosh!

Where Ghostface became the face of an horror icon of the millennium. Jigsaw most certainly was the presence that absorbed the rest of the icon persona of the 2000s. Ghostface had the healthy braun, Jigsaw had the killer mental capacity. The ailing killer engineer masterfully justified his kills by righting wrong by committing extreme self-judgments. Even after death, Jigsaw had a lasting impression upon his followers who carried out his deeds for him. For seven consecutive Halloweens, Jigsaw has made an appearance on the big screen. While most fans have probably had enough of Jigsaw for at least another seven years, there are some die hard Saw fans itching for more traps, more blood and more Jigsaw and his creepy doll.

Victor Crowley

A face only a mother can love.

Louisiana back-woods, swamp thing Victor Crowley is a deformed tortured soul that will never sleep until every single person who trespasses is ripped to bloody shreds with his bare hands or, of course, hatchet. Crowley came on the scene in 2006. Adam Green brought the slasher back. Green gave Crowley a tragic backstory much like Jason Voorhees. A boy who is teased to the point of his almost death only to rise again to embark on a murder crusade. Victor Crowley initial success might be his downfall. Much like how Wes Craven played out the Scream with sequel two (it was okay) and sequel three (damn near stank), Hatchet II was garbage in comparison. One could only hope Green took a step back and reviewed Crowley’s flaws to bounce the deranged maniac back to spilling more blood than ever.

The Creeper

Be a part of me!

Never have I really cared for Victor Silva, but his creation, The Creeper, has to be one of, if not the, best horror character icons ever. With intelligence, attitude and a knack for resurrection, The Creeper has it all. Two films are under this potential franchiser’s belt with a possible third movie continuously being hinted at and unlike perhaps Hatchet, the fans want the winged creature back and possible this year…so sources say. Lets all hope that The Creeper will piece himself back together, from the body parts of his future victims, and return to more rural terror!

The Collector

You'd like nice in my Collection!

You’d like nice in my Collection!

The Collector had sparked this whole notion about more modern horror icons. With The Collection release, I’m anxious to see what kind of hobbies The Collector has in store. At first, I’ve brushed The Collector dismissing it as another run of the mill slasher flick. That is not the kind of horror blogger I strive to be, but one can get discouraged by most of the junk horror that surrounds us. I’m glad I have Jayson Kennedy in my life (or at least as a friend on my Facebook). I trust Jayson’s word so much that on his positive views of The Collector, I could not wait to get my hands on this interesting character. Marcus Dunstan’s and Patrick Melton’s icon has a bright future. Don’t get him mixed up with Jigsaw as The Collector is more of a perverse character whereas Jigsaw was a teacher of sorts. This is what makes The Collector an even more mysterious character.

Chromeskull

Slice and dice with a smile.

Laid to Rest was a sleeper. Loved the viciousness and the tenacity in brutally murdering people and using a camera to relive the experience over and over. Must like Adam Green, Chromeskull is the one trick pony of Robert Hall which could hinder Chromeskull’s career as a franchise killer! If there was ever another sequel, the story and the effects would really have to blow us, and the critics, out of the water if Chromeskulll wishes to return and return and return from the grave. Chromeskull’s mysterious ways his frightening and his appearance is reminisce of an 90’s slasher, but unlike those decade slashers Chromeskull has the most potential in the 2000s.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts, can you think of any other franchise or potentially franchise icons that sparked in the turn of the century?