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!

Crazy Evil Women! Crush review!

crushCrush might be another edgy, teen melodramatic turned psychotic, obsessive-driven suspense genre film, but Crush provides a solid story that entertains. The teenage day-to-day runs over exaggerated throughout – a teenage life we wish we all had minus the crazy crush. Director Malik Bader works his black magic over his indie project that compares itself to a minor league version of 1993’s (29 years later…coincidence?) Crush starring Alicia Silverstone and Cary Elwes.

The most popular guy in high school has it all – a soccer superstar, good looks, and a beautiful best friend who is head over heels for him. His life seems perfect until a crush begins to secretly stalk him and remove any obstacles that may halt her destructive path that might interrupt their ultimate “union” together.
I’m going to begin with what I dislike about Crush. Crush, like I mentioned before, over exaggerates the teenage life. High School parties involving alcohol were never this easy to obtain, but for these “kids” the parties seem to be conjured with ease. Also, practically almost no adult presence or the adults are among the clueless crowd throughout the film. Parents are rarely clueless because adults were once teenagers. Thirdly, why in all these obsession thrillers are the mentally unstable women always model-like hot? My mental picture of a woman of this nature, should have a socially unpleasing appearance. I’m imagining a large nose, frizzy hair, over weight, frumpy, maybe even anorexic, gothic and such. However in Crush this is not the case. Lastly, every woman in the film has a hard on for the main character, the soccer superstar. Even his English teacher flirts with him, asks him to call her to “discuss” a novel (even though she never gave him the title of the book).

With all that said, there are numerous undertones to the film. Teacher-student relationship borders are being crossed, the socially accepted version of beauty, the absent presence of adults in a youth’s life, and the way we, as teens, want to perceive our young lives with parties, sex, and alcohol. Crush’s plot plays off these issues, but quickly just hints at most of them and then just as quickly discards.
Technically, the film can compete with most modern day productions. The story could use strategic work to cover up the twist ending because one could decipher the ending without having to watch the entire film. My most aggravating aspect of Crush is with DVD/Blu-ray cover as this gives away the film’s ending making act one and two of the film pretty much pointless. I’ve probably said too much already, but I won’t go into more details about that. In fact, I’ve probably done enough damage to the film’s reputation, but don’t take my word for it because Crush is certainly entertaining with hints of Swimfan sprinkled throughout – okay, maybe not sprinkled but definitely heavily garnished – and everybody loves watching crazy women when the crazy women aren’t being crazy on them.

Evil Arachnids from Space! Spiders review!

Spiders creep me the hell out. Eight legs, hairy, lots of black eyes, fangs – Spiders are frightening creatures of nature especially if you’re an insect. Spiders can hunt probably better than any human can as they can spin a web to capture their pray, dig holes to create traps for passing by prey, and can inject poison to paralyze their soon to be meal. I’m so fascinated (and frightened) of spiders that I had to review a copy of Tibor Takacs film simply
entitled Spiders.
A disabled Soviet Union space station once harvested alien DNA that would only combine with the genes of spiders. The station was abandoned and 20 years later, the station orbits earth until a crumbling meteor slams into the station breaking off portion and sending the space junk into the atmosphere and crash landing into New York City’s metro underground. The mutated spiders lay eggs inside their prey and grow six inches every hour. A massive military cover up exposes the greed behind a rogue colonel’s intentions and its up to a metro controller and his estranged ex-wife, a city health inspector, to bring the surface the truth of the colonel malicious reign and to stop the mutant spiders from taking over the city.
Director Takacs isn’t new the giant spider genre as he directed the 2007 TV movie Ice Spiders which didn’t fair too well with audiences, but who doesn’t love man-eating monstrous spiders? 2013’s Spider’s feels like David Arquette starred Eight Legged Freaks with the terror among the community in an old fashion creature feature, but Spiders does stand on it’s own eight legs by making the spiders alien in origin. Adding the once softcore porn actress Christa Campbell doesn’t hurt either. Campbell is accompanied by Patrick Muldoon who might remember from another arachnid type sci-fi movie Starship Troopers as the fleet pilot Zander. Muldoon also appeared in Ice Spiders – the guy has a thing for spiders.
Takacs surprises me with the quality of Spiders and his other recent work. The story and the effects are okay and passable, but not as creatively outstanding as 1987’s The Gate – the film that had boosted his career as well as Stephen Doriff’s. These computer generated spiders are awkward when crawling and their razor-teeth filled mouths are even more awkward when stretched out to devour the next victim. However, Takacs knows how to keep an adventure and the action going and continuous, but seems to lack character motivation at times. I struggle to comprehend and begin to question our hero’s (Muldoon) and heroine’s (Campbell) choices in handling the spider chaos and the military’s cover-up. Also, I’m finding difficulty understanding that Muldoon’s character can outwit a giant Queen spider which is three stories tall while an entire military force can’t even handle the baby 4 foot tall male spiders.

With Spiders you will have to stretch your imagination beyond the limits of logical thinking, but with most creature features, you kind of need to and with that said, Spiders fairs well among the latest in the monster spider genre which has been severely neglected over the last five years. Spiders is also available in 3D if you have the capabilities! Thank you Millennium Films and Nu Image productions for a terrifying arachnophobia experience.