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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 Fouéré), 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 à 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. Fouéré 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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Movies n TV

Fallout, The End

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Launching with worldwide excitement, Fallout is based on the extremely popular game series of the same name. Fans of the series have waited with anticipation and trepidation to see if the Prime series would live up to the game.

Having now watched the first episode I can say that, so far, it’s successful.

The story

Our story begins with a children’s birthday party. A performer is there with his daughter, giving horse rides and taking pictures with the kids.

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As much as the adults try to focus on the party and the kids, it’s impossible to ignore the looming threat of war that’s on everyone’s mind.

Of course, it’s during this party that war comes, and the bombs drop.

We then cut to after the war and into one of the vaults established to protect humankind and the American Way. For future reference, this is Vault 33. We meet Lucy, our first main character, who’s petitioning to be married to a man from Vault 32 to ensure DNA diversity.

On the wedding night, though, Lucy and the rest of Vault 33 are met with a horrible surprise. The group they let in is not in fact from Vault 32, but is instead a team of raiders from the surface. The raiders kill a lot of the vault dwellers and kidnap Lucy’s father.

We are then introduced to our second main character, Maximus. He is in training to become a Knight in the Brotherhood of Steel. And, well, he’s not doing great.

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Things get worse when his best friend Dane becomes a squire before him. But when Dane is hurt, Maximus gets their spot.

Aaron Moten in Fallout.

We then go back to Lucy, who has decided to leave the vault and find her dad. Of course, the council of her vault doesn’t want her to go. So she is aided by her brother Norm and cousin Chet in a wild escape.

What worked

The first thing that deserves attention is the exceptional character work. Our three main characters are fleshed out and relatable right away. We feel sympathetic for The Ghoul before he’s even introduced as such. We love Lucy’s nativity and selflessness. And we love Maximus for his honesty and passion for his cause.

While these characters are their own people, they also exhibit the three responses we might expect to see in a post-apocalyptic world. We have the hopeful optimist who doesn’t understand how bad things are. We have the aspiring hero who wants to make the world better by force. And we have the self-serving individual who’s given up on the rest of humanity and is only focused on surviving.

Another thing I enjoyed about this episode was the balance of humor and gore. Because there was certainly enough blood and guts for even the most hardcore horror lover. We had a violent sabotage, a brawl with raiders, and even several nuclear bombs.

But there were a lot of funny moments as well. Usually from Lucy. Her overall goodwill and fearless gumption are absolutely hilarious, especially given the horrors she’s facing. It never ceases to amuse me.

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Ella Purnell in Fallout

Both of these aspects are done perfectly. The jokes land and the bloody scenes pull no punches. It was delightful.

All in all, this was an exciting start to a much-anticipated series. Here’s hoping they’re able to stick the landing.

For more tv shows based on video games, check out my review of Witcher. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Ave Hestia

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Episode seven of American Horror Story Delicate was a classic AHS flashback episode. If you were excited to see what Preecher had to say to Anna at the end of the last episode, I’m sorry to say that you will not get that satisfaction. However, we did learn all sorts of other fascinating things about the strange coven hunting Anna. And, we learned all sorts of things we didn’t know about Dex’s first wife, Adeline.

The story

We begin our story with a woman giving birth alone in a barn. When it becomes clear that she’s not going to be able to deliver vaginally, she pulls out a knife and cuts her stomach open to pull out her children.

For whatever reason, this is when the coven of witches decides to make themselves known.

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Ashlie Atkinson in American Horror Story.

We then cut to 2013, when Dex was still married to Adeline. In true Dex fashion, he’s surprised her with a puppy.

While that sounds great in theory, dogs are something a couple should talk about, not gift each other with as a surprise. An adult would know that. A trust fund boy like Dex does not.

Adeline owns a vegan restaurant called Ave Hestia. Love that name. She seems to be living a great life. She has a career she’s passionate about, friends who love her, and a husband she seems kind of fond of.

Maybe that’s why she didn’t want a puppy. She already had one.

Of course, things aren’t as good as they appear. We soon find out that Adeline was one of those babies we saw at the start of the episode. The other baby was Sonia, the painter.

Annabelle Dexter-Jones in American Horror Story.

And yes, both of these characters are played by Annabelle Dexter-Jones.

Adeline has stepped away from their family, and whatever dark things they do. But the family isn’t happy with her decision. And if she isn’t going to come back willingly, they’re going to make her.

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What worked

To start with, I loved the character, Adeline. She is fierce, she is fearless, and relentless. I feel like this would have been a far different story if Adeline had been our main character. It was astounding to see her interact with the same people Anna has, and get a completely different response. It’s clear now, how much everyone around Anna resents her for simply not being Adeline.

I also appreciated that there was just a shocking amount of blood in this episode. From the start when Adeline and Sonia are born, to the climactic end of Adeline, this episode is just drenched in blood.

Finally, I’m fascinated by the changes in this season from the book it’s based on. Because absolutely none of this was in the book. Compared to this, the book is heartwarming.

The book is kind of heartwarming even without the comparison.

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But I love the fact that, even with just two episodes left in the season, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I do not know what Anna is carrying. I do not know if she’s going to survive this. I do not know what these people want with her.

But I can’t wait to find out.

What didn’t work

All that being said, it is a bit frustrating to have no forward momentum in this episode. This was all backstory, and it felt like there wasn’t enough backstory to fill a full forty minutes. Because of that, it dragged. There were a lot of scenes that just didn’t need to be as long as they were. It felt like they could have cut that down considerably, and had some time to check in with our main characters at either the start or the end of the episode.

There are only two episodes left in the season, and I can honestly say I have no idea what’s going to happen. But so far the story has been dark, bloody, and provocative. So I hope they can manage to end it on a high note.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Movies n TV

The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: An Eggs-celent Time

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The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs returned March 29th for the first ever Easter-themed episode. Debuting the new series format, hosts Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl presented only one film. The Drive-In can be watched on AMC+ and Shudder every other Friday during the season.

This week on The Last Drive-In, Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl hopped onto our screens to include us in their Easter party. Festivities include decorating eggs, blowing noisemakers, cuddling mutilated stuffies, and of course, swigging down Lone Star beer. You’re invited to consume whatever substances you like best to enhance the viewing experience of this week’s film, Brian Skiba’s Rottentail (2019).  

Season 6 poster for The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.

As Joe Bob opens the episode, there is hope he will remain focused and on topic. He begins with innocent rabbit behavior patterns before taking a turn into the best methods of hunting them. Darcy grows increasingly uncomfortable as he delights in giving pointers to would-be hunters. She incredulously asks, “Are you talking about killing rabbits right now?” 

Believing the audience is on her side, she throws up a Twitter poll. It was a close split, but 50.2% of viewers who responded do agree with her. See? Every vote does count. (Seriously, make sure you are registered to vote in this year’s elections.) 

Ch-Ch-Changes

Calling out the elephant in the room, Joe Bob reminds viewers about the new one-movie format of the series. Instead of two movies every Friday, this season has been stretched out with one movie showing every other week until Labor Day. 

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If you want someone to blame, Joe Bob says you can point at us tired folks on the east coast struggling to stay awake past midnight. However, between the new format and specials, we have been assured there are actually more movies this season. 

Thankfully for the audience, Rottentail is packed with action and hits multiple genres to the point that it feels like at least a movie and a half. 

A poster for Rottentail (2019) featuring the mutated Peter Cotten and the tagline "Hippity Hoppity Homicide."
A poster for Rottentail (2019).

Rottentail tells the story of unassuming scientist Peter Cotten (Corin Nemec) being transformed into a rabbit-human hybrid after receiving a bite from a genetically-engineered rabbit. He embarks on a journey of revenge against those who wronged him in his childhood such as Pastor Jake Mulligan (William McNamara). He even finds time to rekindle a past romance with Anna Banana (Dominique Swain).

The Drive-In Totals include but are not limited to: 4 dead bunnies, 1 mad army general, mutated bunny rampage, lettuce nibbling, heart tossing, 1 mutant bunny baby, and erection fu. “Four stars. Joe Bob says, ‘Check it out.’

No Animals Were Harmed

It goes without saying that there are a few depictions of animal cruelty within this film. Darcy feels it is prudent to warn the audience. Whenever an animal dies on screen, Twitter is flooded with upset viewers expressing their distaste. Dragging the warning out of Joe Bob, she reminds him of the gentle nature of the #MutantFam. We’ll watch humans be slaughtered all day, but don’t you dare hurt that animal.  

Joe Bob seems to not understand the need for the warning as, “this whole movie is about taking revenge on people who harm animals!” He insists no animals are actually harmed and implies that being bothered is indicative of good effects. To demonstrate, at one point he “snaps” Darcy’s neck with the assistance of a sound effect.

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Joe Bob demonstrates the use of sound effects as he fake kills Darcy.
No mail girls were harmed in the filming of this episode.

Pages to Print

The film is based off of the graphic novel Rottentail by David C. Hayes and Kevin Moyers. Initially self-published, Source Point Press picked up the novel and are responsible for its translation onto screen. The film is very stylized and Joe Bob says it gives Re-Animator (1985) vibes. 

Nemec is a big fan of graphic novels, and had read the story prior to the film’s production. He ended up becoming a co-producer of the film. Joe Bob believes Nemec should get more praise for his role as Peter/Rottentail, and the hosts bemoan his lack of availability to come on the episode.

Furthering my belief that Joe Bob is secretly a huge fan of Lifetime Christmas movies, he highlights that director Skiba is perhaps best known for his work on the network. I am continually baffled at how many of these Christmas movies he can name and refuse to believe he doesn’t actually cozy up to watch them.

Tis The Season?

Speaking of Christmas, this week’s mail call features a letter originally sent back in December. Joe Bob immediately senses what is going on and chides Darcy, “I do not want letters that make everyone cry.” Brad from Loretto, Kentucky writes in to share his Halloween memories with his daughter. Unfortunately, she passed away at the age of 20 before Brad had a chance to share The Last Drive-In with her.  It’s a sobering reminder that we truly do not know how much time we have left to spend with someone.  

No, Wait, Come Back!

It is understandable why some folks were upset with the new format change of the series. However, the episode is still full of The Last Drive-In spirit. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but it feels as if there was more time & space for host segments. At points, Joe Bob and Darcy were breaking in almost every 15 minutes. It’s very much still the same show we love, just now featuring more anticipation.  

My rating for Rottentail: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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My rating for the episode: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

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