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Texas Chainsaw Massacre is now available to stream on Netflix

When media outlets began reporting ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘ would yet again be receiving the “requel” treatment for 2022, I felt less than enthused. Admittedly, my expectations were low; given the previous poor attempts at rebooting the franchise with 2013’s ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D‘ and 2017’s prequel ‘Leatherface‘. However, with the announcement of Fede Alvarez (director of Don’t Breathe and Crawl) as the producer, David Blue Garcia (Blood Fest) as the film’s director, and the long-awaited return of fan favorite final girl Sally Hardesty (played this time by Olwen FouĂ©rĂ©), my interest peaked. I’ll admit upon my first viewing, I enjoyed 2022’s ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘, enough to recently warrant a second watch. Sadly, to my dismay, the chainsaw isn’t nearly as revving this second outing.   

Characters Melody, Lila, Ruth, and Dante standing together observing an object off camera. Dante's hands resting at his sides wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt in brown pants. Short curly brown-haired Melody stares up, arms crossed below her chest in a white collard-button shirt and blue jeans. Their friend Ruth observers, hands gripping at the waist. Her hair is wavy blonde. Outfit, light denim shorts with a printed black cardigan draped over a faded purple shirt. Lila stands in the back, short brown hair rests over her right eye. She stands bored, hands resting at her sides. Her outfit feeling the warmest of all under the blazing sun as she wears a denim jacket over a black graphic tee. Her pants tight and black, strutting in her dirty red converse.
Melody (Sarah Yarkin), Lila (Elsie Fisher), Dante (Jacob Latimore), and Ruth (Nell Hudson) observing a less than inviting flag off camera.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s plot centers around Melody (Sarah Yarkin) a young businesswoman from San Francisco, as she and her friends Dante (Jacob Latimore) and Ruth (Nell Hudson) meet potential investors in attempt to reinvigorate the seemingly abandoned town of Harlow, TX and draw in modern influencers. Along the way, Melody brings her younger sister Lila (Elsie Fisher) hoping she will stay in Texas after Lila’s recent traumatic experience involving a school shooting. Unbeknownst to these characters, this isn’t quite the ghost town they think it is, as a certain face-wearing maniac has made this his home these last 48 years. Shortly following the death of his motherly patron, Leatherface (Mark Burnham) resurfaces in merciless fashion to dust off the family saw and butcher more bodies.

Where it still cuts

2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the more visually pleasing entries to the franchise. Garcia’s confidence as a director shines through as he allows for his own vision, while honoring familiarity of past installments. The cinematography masterfully utilizes shadows and lighting, accompanied by meticulous camera angles adding tones of seclusion tangled in chaos. There’s one shot in particular I’m surprised I missed during my first viewing in which we see the physical manifestation of Leatherface through actor Burnhams’ eyes. It’s subtle yet framed so effectively it left me feeling harrowingly chilled.    

Image of Leatherface standing in a field wearing a human face mask. Dark browns mixed with hues of grey skies adding chilling atmosphere. Mountains are seen in the distance adding scale to Leatherface's stature.
Mark Burnham as Leatherface in one of Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s more chilling shots.

Now, this wouldn’t be a Texas Chainsaw film without the multiple bodily mutilations splattered on screen and this entry to the franchise is no exception. The kills in this film are savage, if not more creative than its’ predecessors. Writer Chris Thomas Devlin is unabashed by the violence he brings with his script as he is able to write these kills in a way, though may not all be new, feel wholly unique in their execution. For example, in a scene, Leatherface shreds through a bus of influencers in one of the films’ more memorable moments.  The deaths are further showcased by this newly found rage brought to Leatherface, adding a ravening brutality to the character we’ve not seen since the ’03 remake. Though the carnage candy Leatherface delivers is enjoyable, my headaches with Texas Chainsaw Massacre start with his character.  

Where the saw dulls…

Let me start by saying Burnham’s portrayal of Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre is far from bad. In fact, his performance is rather good. He’s domineering whenever on screen and visually, he looks fantastic. My issue with this Leatherface lies within the writing. Burnhams’ Leatherface is not the same character the legendary late Gunnar Hanson famously brought to life in 1974. 48 years prior we are introduced to a man with a child-like mind and instinctual violence bred into him due to years of abuse and torment by his twisted family. 2022’s portrayal removes the family, putting Leatherface front and center while also altering him into a more cunning character; he’s setting traps and utilizing enclosed surroundings to his advantage. The most noticeable difference between his 74’ counterpart is the upgrade in his strength. Whereas before, injuries slowed him down bringing whimpers and cries of pain, he now absorbs this damage, baring inhuman strength. There’s no cohesion between Hanson’s Leatherface and Burnhams.

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Leatherface enclosed in a bus wearing his bloody face mask. Streaks of red running down his chin, a grimy mustard yellow apron covers his chest, while he grips his rusted chainsaw in hands. The white-blue neon lights illuminating within the bus.
a bloodied Leatherface preparing to massacre a bus load of influencers.

The next frustration I had with the film’s script involved the actual characters we follow throughout the story. In order for a horror film to draw in its’ audience, especially when it comes to slashers, it’s imperative the story provides characters to emotionally invest in. Characters we want to see survive. Unfortunately, the script lacks here as I found none of the characters to be enjoyable. Adding to this annoyance, the plot continuously bounces between who the final girl will be, Melody or Lila? The problem is, I was not provided with enough of their backstories to warrant any care for their survival. Any emotional attachment I could have developed for these characters is never explored, only vague mentions. When the story briefly touches on themes of gun violence (Lila’s school shooting) and society’s most recent trend with cancel culture, it’s done so with no sustenance then sloppily contradicts itself in the 3rd act. Dante, Ruth, and the remaining others feel like cannon fodder, just as you would expect with any Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, as their screen time is brief.  

Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s biggest failure is in the way it reintroduces legacy character Sally Hardesty. Besides 1995’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation‘s brief cameo (reprised by original late actress Marilyn Burns), her character has been mainly absent from past sequels and reboots. Aiming to please fans with her return in the form of a seasoned warrior seeking vengeance Ă  la Jamie Lee Curtis’ most recent portrayal of Laurie Strode in 2018’s Halloween trilogy; a promising premise that’s poorly executed. Aside from owning a farm and unsuccessfully hunting Leatherface these past 48 years, Devlin adds nothing to further progress Sally’s story, nor does the character receive ample screentime. She makes certain decisions that, I’ll be frank, utterly baffles me. Most infuriating is the final battle between Sally and Leatherface. Lasting a mere few minutes, the sequence falls flat leaving fans unsatisfied. FouĂ©rĂ© attempts her best portraying a hardened Sally, though in the end the performance suffers due to the scripts deplorable handling of the character. 

Olwen Fouéré as Sally Hardesty holding a cell phone in a bloodied right hand. Her wavy white hair flows down the sides of her shoulders as a look of anger paints across her face. She appears to be standing in a makeshift barn or shed of sorts, as beams of light creep through the cracks of the wood.
Olwen Fouéré as a hardened Sally Hardesty in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Final Thoughts

Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t the worst attempt at a sequel or reboot of the franchise. The abandoned town of Harlow brings a sense of claustrophobia and the extreme use of gore brought to the kills is satisfying. Nevertheless, the writing fails to redefine the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s legacy and move the franchise forward in any bold new directions. The main and supporting characters suffer from lack of any development and Sally’s return is abysmal. When you centralize Leatherface as the main antagonist and take away his family, we are left with just another carbon copy slasher. Any mystique or personality you had previously established with that character fades; it doesn’t work as a sequel to the original. Those seeking a bloody hack and slash ride will enjoy this film for what it is. Die-hard fans on the other hand, may ultimately walk away feeling disappointed with the wasted potential to start anew. 

For more Texas Chainsaw Massacre content, check out our episode of HauntedMTL’s: Streamin’ Demons, where we discuss Tobe Hoopers’ 1974 original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre along with IT, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. You can also stream or download the episode and many others on your favorite podcast streaming service such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, and more. 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Utah transplant TT Hallows now resides in Portland OR haunting the streets of PNW for the past 5 years with his spunky feline companion Gizmo. Horror and writing are his passions, taking special interests in sloshy grindhouse slashers, thought-provoking slow burns, and fright-filled creature flicks; Carnage Candy reigns supreme! When not binging excessive amounts of gratuitous gore, you can find TT Hallows shopping the local thrift and witchcraft shops (oh yes, he's a witch), expertly dancing (or so believes) to New Wave/Dark synth melodies or escaping the monotony of "walking amongst the living" with serene oceanic views and forested hikes. TT Hallows is an up-and-coming horror reviewer/writer for HauntedMTL. Step with me into the void...if you dare.

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Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule

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Mutant family, please gather ’round as February kicks rocks and we shove our way into March. With the new month comes the shifting from winter to spring as death beautifully resurrects back to life, drunken patrons swarm our local bars like rabid locusts for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and of course new exclusives and returning favorites on Shudder to satisfy the horror fiend in us all. To quote the prestigious Samuel L. Jackson, “hold onto your butts” and let’s dive right into Shudder’s March 2023 release schedule.

Shudder Exclusives

While it is true that the release schedule for the start of 2023 on Shudder has been minor and slightly mixed, with films such as the much talked about experimental low-budget indie ‘Skinamarink‘, the surprisingly entertaining horror comedy ‘Sorry About the Demon‘, and writer/director Neil Marshall’s return to the genre with ‘The Lair‘. We also graciously received the wildly fun ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine” special, with season 5 currently in production and premiering later this year; though it can’t come soon enough. As we like to do here at HauntedMTL, let’s kick off March with Shudder’s newest exclusives currently streaming now and in the coming weeks.

Spoonful of Sugar – Now Streaming

official film poster for Spoonful of Sugar. We see a vial filled with a red liquid, possibly blood being dripped into a young woman's open mouth. Her tongue slightly extended out ready to receive the scarlet drop. We see an individual in a space helmet standing in the background behind her, slightly blurred. The title Spoonful of Sugar reads in red capital letters.
Spoonful of Sugar‘ official poster.

Starting off this list we begin with director Mercedes Bryce Morgan and writer Leah Saint Marie’s latest film Spoonful of Sugar, now currently streaming.

Millicent (Morgan Saylor), a disturbed college student working on her thesis about children with severe allergies, is hired to babysit little Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a sickly, mute child who suffers from every allergy under the sun. His mother Rebecca (Kate Foster) is an accomplished author currently focused on her newest book release, while his father Jacob (Myko Olivier) spends his days in the backyard working on frivolous carpentry projects. After experiencing a bizarre sexual awakening while using LSD as an alternative treatment for Johnny, she soon uncovers the family’s dark secrets as things begin to become unhinged.

Leave – Premiering Friday 3/17

official film poster for Leave. We see a hooded individual holding a silver inverted cross necklace engulfed in bright orange and yellow flames. The individual holding the flaming cross has yellows hands and long rotted finger nails. one eye peers from thick-long black hair. The title Leave is smeared along the bottom in bright blood.
Leave‘ official poster.

After having been abandoned as an infant at a cemetery wrapped in a cloth with satanic symbols, Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) grows obsessed with figuring out who her biological parents are and why they seemingly abandoned her. However, as she gets closer to the answers she so desperately seeks, a malevolent spirit is warning her to leave.

Leave‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/17 and is directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad, starring Alicia von Rittberg, Herman Tømmeraas, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, and Stig R. Amda

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The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31

Official poster for The Unheard. We see the main Character Chloe staring out of a window, the image has a static blur. as we only see Chloes pale face and bright blue eyes. The title The Unheard is seen below written in White bold font.
The Unheard‘ official poster.

The Unheard‘ follows the story of deaf 20-year-old Chloe Grayden (Lachlan Watson) after she undergoes an experimental treatment to restore her hearing. While recovering at her family’s beach home after the successful procedure, Chloe begins to fear she is not alone as she begins to experience auditory hallucinations related to the mysterious disappearance of her mother.

The Unheard’ is directed by Shudder alumni Jeffrey A. Brown (The Beach House) and written by brothers/screenwriting partners Shawn Rasmussen and Michael Rasmussen (Crawl), co-starring Michele Hicks and Nick Sandow. ‘The Unheard‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/31.

Returning Classic and Fan Favorites

Now that we’ve removed the veil for the new exclusive titles dropping this month, I think it’s time we reveal the returning classics jump starting our transition into spring for 2023. Allow me to highlight some of my favorite films returning to Shudder for March including ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ and ‘The Company of Wolves‘; grim re-telling’s of popular children’s fairy tales. We also cannot forget John Carpenter’s haunted coastal horror ‘The Fog‘; no, not the remake…thankfully.

Gretel and Hansel – Now Streaming

image of Alice Krige as The Witch in Gretel and Hansel. She stares in the camera with a sinister smirk. Her head covered and body drapped in black clothing. Her right eye a dark grey/brown color with her left pale white...blind.
Alice Krige as “The Witch” in ‘Gretel and Hansel’.

Directed by Osgood Perkins, ‘Gretel and Hansel’ is a terrifyingly dark and unique vision to one of history’s most famous childhood fairy tales. After being thrown out of their mother’s home, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her younger brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), through the woods in search of food and work. The children soon discover a quaint cottage where a fragile old woman Holda (Alice Krige) offers fresh food and bed. The children accept all Holda has to offer, with little thought as to what may be asked of them in return.

Though it has been met with mixed reviews, ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ offers astounding performances by veteran actress Alice Krige as the films iconic Witch of the woods and Sophia Lillis as lead Gretel. Director Osgood Perkins does well to draw his viewer in with a beautifully haunting score and unnerving cinematography, making this one grim re-telling worth checking out at least once. ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ is available to stream now.

The Company of Wolves – Now Streaming

Image of a werewolf transformation. A mans head is tilted back as the snout of a wolf begins protruding from his mouth. The fur on the snout white as the large fangles gnarl and growl. The mans eyes are a bright yellow and his hair long flowing brown locks. A terrifying image as his mouth extends in an inhumanely manner.
My, what big teeth you have…

Continuing our list of returning classics, we have yet another bold re-telling of a beloved children’s fairy tale, 1984’s ‘The Company of Wolves‘. While the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood‘ has been retold through various forms of media, including numerous films, ‘The Company of Wolves‘ is a beloved horror interpretation with adult themes and memorable practical effects including one of the genres best werewolf transformations.

A wise grandmother (Angela Lansbury) tells her granddaughter Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) a disturbing tale of innocent maidens falling in love with handsome strangers … and of their sudden mysterious disappearances when the moon is full and accompanied by the strange sound of a beast in the woods.

‘The Company of Wolves’ is co-written and directed by Neil Jordan and stars Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Micha Bergese, and David Warner, streaming now.

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John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31

Haunting ghoslty image of 8 figures standing in a cloud of mist and fog. They are outlined in eeire blue and white lighting. All we see is the outline of these ghostly figures and their glowing red eyes.
When the fog comes, run!

Writer, director, musician, and horror master John Carpenter is a legend in the genre having provided countless classics such as ‘The Thing‘, a terrifyingly gruesome remake of ‘The Thing from Another World‘. Or his sci-fi action/horror ‘They Live’ where he deals with societal control through corporations and government. And of course, my personal favorite, the film that jumpstarted his career and created one of horror’s most iconic slashers…’Halloween‘.

1980’s ‘The Fog‘ is a terrifying shoreside tale of vengeful spirits haunting the fictional coastal town of Antonio Bay, OR. as they begin preparations to celebrate its centenary. Following exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in the town’s waters, a thick unearthly fog harboring the souls of those who perished rolls in and with them, the dark secrets of Antonio Bay’s past.

John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ stars scream queen and recent Academy Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis, genre alums Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Kyes, and was co-written by the late Debra Hill. ‘The Fog‘ will be available to stream on Shudder 03/31.

Full Shudder March 2023 Film Releases

For a full comprehensive list of all the titles being added to Shudder for the month of January, please refer to the graphic below. Please be on the lookout for our review of ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine’ to drop later this week here on HauntedMTL and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more Shudder news and spooky reviews!

Image list of the films releasing on Shudder for the month of March.
Shudder March 2023 film release schedule.

3/1:

Gretel and Hansel

3/2:

Spoonful of Sugar

3/9:

The Company of Wolves

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3/13:

Holidays

3/17:

Leave

3/20:

Jack be Nimble

3/27:

Ultra Pulpe

After Blue

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3/31:

The Unheard

The Fog

The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

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She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…

I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.

Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.

It’s a guilty pleasure.

The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.

Shakira She Wolf
Madonna Express Yourself
Metropolis dance scene

Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.

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She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel
She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel

Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Beware The Slenderman Documentary

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The Slenderman is a well-known character for both gamers and Creepypasta fans alike. Most of us have seen pictures of him. Eerie photos of an incredibly slim, tall man with a white face and three-piece suit. He stalks children at parks, taking them away forever. 

It’s a great scary story, a modern urban legend. And I’d like to think that most of us know that it is only that. 

Unfortunately in 2014, the story became too real for three twelve-year-old girls. Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser attempted to murder their friend, Payton Leutner. The three girls went into the woods, and Payton was stabbed nineteen times. 

Miraculously, she survived. 

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Today, I want to talk about the most comprehensive documentary I have seen to date regarding this tragedy. We’re taking a look at Beware The Slenderman. 

Released in March of 2016 by HBO, this documentary was actually released before the end of the trial. Despite that, it was incredibly informative. 

The two-hour-long documentary can be broken into two basic topics. The first, of course, is the attack on Peyton Leutner and the subsequent trial. The next topic is the one I was more interested in if we’re being honest. Slenderman is a modern-day urban legend. Why did his story have the power to drive two children to kill?

Original Slenderman photo, created by Eric Knudsen

Let’s talk first about the coverage of the criminal trial against Anissa and Morgan. Now, I’m going to tell you something that surprised me. This documentary was released in 2016. The criminal trial was not over until 2017. Seems to me that it would have been better to delay the documentary until the trial was, you know, over. But hey, what do I know? Instead, our climactic ending revolves around one serious question. Would Alissa and Morgan be tried as adults or children?

We saw a lot of interviews with the parents of the two girls. They talked a lot about how seemingly normal they were. About how they were often the target of bullying, and how they only had a few close friends.

This was a very sad, yet touching view of families that are struggling with an impossible situation. How do you love and support your child after they’ve done something so terrible? 

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I will warn you that this portion did involve police interviews with the girls. It’s not as upsetting as hearing babies crying while they died like in Transmissions from Jonestown. But it’s still not a warm and fuzzy experience. 

I appreciated the view of the families. It’s a point of view we don’t see as much. Part of me would have liked to see the family of Payton Leutner involved more. I’d have loved to know what they think of all of this. But it appears that they either didn’t want to participate in the documentary or weren’t asked in the first place. And honestly, I think that might be for the best. Even though Payton survived, she was brutally attacked by her two best friends. She and her family deserve to live their lives in peace.

What I was fascinated by was the story of Slenderman as a modern urban legend. What was it about this character that these children latched onto?

In this documentary, he’s compared to the Pied Piper in the way he lured children away from their families. This included a warped and frankly terrifying retelling of the Pied Piper with some of the creepiest animation I have ever seen. I loved it. 

The Pied Piper in a still from Beware The Slenderman.

Slenderman is a perfect character for this sort of infatuation, unfortunately, because there are just not a lot of specifics in his story. He pops up in video games and online tales with any number of motivations. Is he abducting children to torture and kill them? Or is he rescuing them from their cruel peers who ostracize them? His vague back story and vague appearance mean we can look at him and see whatever we want to see. If you want to see a killer, that’s what you’ll see. If you want to see a friend who happens to kill other people sometimes, you can see that too.

Overall, this was a fascinating documentary. It managed to handle a sensitive situation tastefully. No one is made out to be a bad guy here because in the end no one really is a bad guy. I mean, except Slenderman.

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This story is a stark reminder that stories have power. They have the power to heal us, inspire us, to change our lives. And if we aren’t very careful, they have the power to destroy our lives as well.

Stay safe, and don’t take things too seriously out there. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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