30 September 2014

September 30th

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) directed by Jeff Burr
There's not much special about this one. The introductory text ignores part 2 completely to tell us that W.E. Sawyer (presumably meaning Drayton) was given the gas chamber and Leatherface disappeared after the events of part 1. Somehow, the retarded Leatherface, with a chainsaw-chopped leg that later requires a brace, managed to drag his Grandpa to this mysterious other Sawyer household where even more brothers live amidst bones and taxidermy. At least, I assume that's who they are. We never learn their last name and "Mama" is too young to have been Drayton's mother. Whoever they are, they never feel like anything other than actors trying to pretend to be stereotypical scary rednecks. You can really tell this one was made in California and not Texas.

The film is just a bog-standard slasher film. The bad guys chase people around and catch them sometimes, the good guys get away and seemingly kill the bad guys, the bad guys come back for one more scare, etc. etc. Even Leatherface is more slasher-fied than he's ever been. Like Jason, he now has the ability to silently appear behind a victim for a scare. He's given a ridiculously large chainsaw with engraving on the bar that says "The Saw Is Family" (recall in part 1, he used a standard 12" saw). His mask has been made Halloween costume friendly: no longer is it a woman's face and hair. The mask is now just leathery skin sewn together, looking not like much of anything. Easier to get guys to buy an officially licensed Leatherface mask if it doesn't have lipstick on it, I'd imagine. I'm guessing that because New Line had just grabbed the rights to Leatherface and Jason at this time -- already being the "House that Freddy Built" -- and they had big plans for merchandising the three killers. I wouldn't doubt this had a little to do with this sequel's choices.

The Walking Dead 4.01: "Infected" (2013) directed by Guy Ferland
Captain Trips visits the prison. I'm having a real problem buying this. I get that the producers of the show wanted to tap into the whole swine flu / pandemic fear we have in society these days. But, c'mon, a highly infectious flu that kills suddenly within 24 hours by dramatically making you hemorrhage out of every orifice in your head? I guess it has to be so, so that they can have people dropping dead without warning to turn into zombies. Still, aren't zombies and bad humans enough? They are for the comic, which had no need to rip off the first few chapters of The Stand. Good way to save some money, though. I'm expecting a bunch of dull episodes starring a bunch of sick people trapping in the prison now.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) directed by Don Siegel
Fellow Six Weeker Kaedrin's review gave me a hankering to watch the Body Snatchers films again. This one's one of the better sci-fi films from the '50s, taking itself seriously and completely lacking in rubber-suited monsters. I remember watching this film in a college class. Their take, naturally, was that it was an anti-McCarthyism piece in line with The Crucible. The pod people demanded conformity and excised independent thought just as McCarthy did. I never really bought this. You can just as easily flip it around and say that the pod people are communists, doing the same thing. I think that fits even closer, in fact.

1956 Phillip Morris ad.
I kind of like star Kevin McCarthy's take, as noted in the IMDb trivia: the story is dig against Madison Avenue's attitudes. In the post-WWII era, the American people were being sold on "the American Dream." What that meant at the time was owning your own home with a white picket fence, wearing a gray suit to a steady job, a stay-at-home wife raising the kids, and all of the modern conveniences that make life easy. It was attractive, no doubt, but didn't leave a lot of leeway. Want to paint your house something other than white? But what will the neighbors think? Daughter get pregnant? Ship her away for 9 months. Wife want a job to help pay the bills? She's already got a job, keeping house and it's the man's responsibility for the bills. The culture of the time tended to trap people in their predetermined roles.

Why did Kevin's McCarthy's character end up being the lone survivor of Santa Mira? I think because he was already going against the grain of society from before any outer-space stuff started happening. Dr. Bennell was a 42-year-old divorced playboy who apparently hung out at a local bar so much that people knew to call him there where they couldn't find him. Becky, the penultimate survivor, also wasn't a typical Santa Miran. Near middle-aged and still unmarried, she'd just spent several years living in London on her own. This was no '50s poodle-skirt-wearing housewife. Together, they discovered that it was essentially impossible to hold out against the greater society surrounding them.

Tales from the Darkside 1.21: "Bigalow's Last Smoke" (1985) directed by Timna Ranon
A bit of a rip-off of Stephen King's short story "Quitters, Inc." that, strangely enough, appeared in Cat's Eye the same year this episode aired. Bigalow wakes up to find his windows and doors barred. A mysterious man appears on his TV screen, explaining that they've started a stop-smoking program that Bigalow had forgotten about signing up for. As long as Bigalow doesn't smoke, he won't be punished. The episode has a nicely creepy tone to it, helped by the deadpan performance of character actor Sam Anderson as Dr. Synapsis.

Tales from the Darkside 1.22: "Grandma's Last Wish" (1985) directed by Warner Shook
A grandmother uses a wish to turn her loud and obnoxious family into premature senior citizens. Worst. Grandma. Ever.

Tales from the Darkside 1.23: "The False Prophet" (1985) directed by Gerald Cotts
Ronee Blakley, looking way younger than she did in the prior year's A Nightmare on Elm Street, is a astrology-obsessed woman on a journey to meet her soul mate on the advice of a fortune telling vending machine. Along the way, she runs into an even more advanced fortune telling machine and a lively preacher. It's a neat criticism of folks obsessed with predicting their future, though the twist ending is predictable.

1 comment:

  1. Kevin McCarthey's reading of "Body Snatchers" makes it sound like the horror version of a Douglas Sirk movie which is... Perfect, actually.

    I haven't seen "Leatherface" in years but I remember hating it for one small scene. While Leatherface is chasing them, one of his victims trips and falls. When he's down on the ground, Leatherface kicks him. That always struck me as so incredibly wrong and a good indicator that the creators behind the film did not understand the character. Leatherface sees the people he kills the same way a butcher sees the pigs and cows in a butcher shop. A butcher wouldn't kick a pig. That's the problem with so many of the TCM sequels. They all want Leatherface to be a sadistic serial killer when he's actually a simpleton who does the one thing he knows how. There's not a mean bone in his body, not really.

    Great trailer though.