We bet you can't tell if this is a screenshot of the Sawyer house's infamous trophy hallway from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre movie or a rendered scene from the new multiplayer game based on the infamous 1974 film directed by Toby Hooper.screenshot from YouTube
It's taken far too long for the video game industry to deliver a game that lets horror fans control the movements and murdering abilities of some of the genre's most infamous killers in a quality, cinematic style. Gun Media finally delivered that to gamers with the 2017 asymmetrical multiplayer game Friday the 13th The Game, based on the slasher film series starring the hockey mask-wearing, machete wielding Jason Voorhees.
The game let players run around a series of maps of the storied Camp Crystal Lake, the hunting grounds of Jason Voorhees through the Friday the 13th film series, as a camp counselor trying to find a way to escape Jason's wrath or (even better) to play as the infamous Jason, who tries to bump off as many counselors as possible with a variety of sharp, pointy objects and creatively violent finishing moves.
Gun Media, now known as Gun Interactive, is back with another game with the same formula but a much different and much more violent setting, and that's because everything, even violent slasher films, are bigger in Texas.
The Lexington, Kentucky, game studio along with Sumo Nottingham in England are making an asymmetric multiplayer slasher hunter based on the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre film released in 1974 and directed by Toby Hooper. Gun Interactive announced its new game back in December with a frightening trailer that echoes the calm, unnerving chaos of Hooper's innovative horror film.
Earlier this week, Gun Interactive released a second, much shorter trailer featuring some of the first in-game footage, and the results are scary accurate.
The second trailer shows several familiar settings from the movie, and the similarities are remarkable. The trailer offers side-by-side comparisons of scenes like the We Slaughter Barbecue gas station, the Sawyer household and Leatherface's killing floor. If it wasn't for the captions underneath each image and the 1972 Ford Club Wagon parked in front of the gas station in the movie scene, it would be damn hard to tell them apart.
It's a promising start for an ambitious game project based on an ambitious film. The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre's set designs, built by Austin filmmaker and the film's art director Robert Burns, took time to build, especially the grisly settings for the Sawyer's backwoods home. According to the documentary Rondo and Bob, directed by Joe O'Connell, Burns would spend hours driving to open fields and farm-to-market roads looking for skeletal remains of dead animals that he could use to build the Sawyer household's furniture, supposedly made from the human remains of their sawed up victims.
Gun Interactive's game is not the first time that Hooper's blood-soaked classic got the video game treatment. The very first Texas Chainsaw Massacre game (without the space between "Chain" and "Saw") came out on cartridges for the Atari 2600 console in 1983 by Wizard Video Games and let you play as Leatherface in 8-bit graphics, according to the book Classic Home Video Games: 1972-1984 by Fort Worth based author Brett Weiss.
The manual refers to the game's main character as Leatherface and his weapons as a "chainsaw," but it looks more like Coach Buzzcut from Beavis and Butthead with a sea cucumber trying to burrow its way out of his gullet. Players run around a scaled down version of the fields in front of the Texas homestead trying to cut up innocent teenagers for points until Leatherface's "chainsaw" runs out of fuel.
The game caused quite a stir in a time when much tamer video games were being blamed for encouraging violence, aggression and even Satanism in children, and the game didn't sell very well. The cartridge, which was never approved by Atari for release, has since become a high-priced collectible. Last year, a single copy of the 1983 game went for as much as $629.20, according to Pricecharting.com.
If Gun Interactive can wrangle up the rights to the Atari version of the game, it would make for a fun Easter egg. Did the Sawyers ever have an old color TV? Even redneck cannibals who wear human skin as a mask had to take a breather and watch Sanford and Son once in a while.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune,Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.