Film Reviews

Joe Bob Briggs

Today's lesson is on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
No matter how many times I've talked about this flick before, you guys still expect me to take time out from serious drive-in reviewing to go rehash all the Saw trivia just because you missed it the first time.

So now I'm gonna put all your questions in one place, and I want you to clip this sucker out and save it. I don't wanna have to tell you again.

OK, here goes.
* Did the story of Chainsaw really happen?
Whenever I get asked this, I barely want to dignify it with a response.

Of course it happened. There are two movies based on the same real-life event--Psycho and Saw, but Psycho gets all the publicity.

Actually, Saw is a whole lot closer to the true story of Edward Gein, a handyman in Plainfield, Wisconsin, who liked to dig up fresh graves, cut the skin off corpses, wear it on various parts of his own body, and dance in the moonlight.

When the guys in white suits finally got him in 1957, they said he'd been collecting body parts for years--had skulls on the bedposts, a human heart in a saucepan, and a lady out in his barn dressed like a deer.

Eddie died in the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he was making rock jewelry.

* When Tobe Hooper made Saw, why did he locate it in Texas?
Tobe was living in Austin, Texas, but he really didn't care where the movie was located. They only made it Texas when somebody came up with the title, which, you've got to admit, is one of the all-time greatest titles in the history of the universe.

It was shot in Round Rock, Texas, for about 40 cents.
* Where was Saw first shown to the public?
The Empire Theatre, San Francisco, fall of '74.

They sneaked it on the back end of a Walter Matthau picture, and the audience members barfed, stormed the lobby, demanded their money back, and started throwin' punches. A legend was born.

* Is it true Saw has been banned more than any other movie in history?
Naw, not really. Deep Throat has been sued a lot more times.
But the difference with Saw is that it's the first R-rated flick ever to get over 20 continuous years of flack.

When the National Organization of Bimbos or the Babtist Church wants to get on my case, they always say, "This guy is so sick he likes movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

They use it like some kind of put-down, like they never saw it. (Or maybe I should say they never got sawed by it.)

* Is it true that Leatherface--"Mr. Chainsaw''--never worked again?
Gunnar Hansen, the actor who played Leatherface, moved up to Maine to write poetry and build rock houses. I'm not makin' this up.

While he has popped up on screen occasionally (he made a brief appearance in the anthology film Campfire Tales, for example), he never reprised his Leatherface role.

* Is it true that the director had trouble getting work after Saw?
Sort of. Tobe Hooper was just a boy from Austin who liked movies, and Saw was his first crack at making them.

After that he made Eaten Alive, also known as Horror Hotel Massacre, where Neville Brand runs a little swamp motel where he feeds overnight guests to the alligators.

Then Tobe made Salem's Lot for TV, and that was pretty decent. Then Spielberg let him make Poltergeist, but nobody could figure out whether Tobe was doing it or the Spielman.

And then Tobe got back on track with Lifeforce, about nekkid outer-space bloodsuckers.

Other post-Saw Hooper flicks include The Funhouse, Spontaneous Combustion, I'm Dangerous Tonight, Invaders from Mars, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre II.

* Where did Sally, the only survivor in the movie, learn to scream like that?

Marilyn Burns, "The Screamer," is truly acknowledged to be the finest motion-picture screamer known to mankind--far better than Jamie Lee Curtis and other imitators. But it might be because she had so much to scream about.

When they were makin' this picture it was 110 degrees inside the Cannibal House, and all the meat on the table was dead rotting animals filled with formaldehyde.

Considering the smell, plus all the sticky blood they poured on Marilyn, plus the fact that she got dragged around through the underbrush for a couple weeks and busted up both knees, you've got to figure those were real screams.

* How successful is Saw?
Nobody knows exactly, but it's estimated to have made at least $100 million at the box office.

* Do you think current flicks are gettin' a lot scarier than Saw, what with all the sophisticated special effects they have now?

Nope. No way, Jose. You take somebody to see Saw who hasn't ever seen it before, and you'll know what I mean when I say: Saw is still the king."

Joe Bob says--again and again--check it out.

Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's temple-tenderizer comes from...Steve Carrier of Barcelona, Spain:

"When I first came to Spain in 1991, I caught the last half of what was (I think) an American sci-fi film. I'm pretty sure it starred Martin Kove, who played the evil karate instructor in Karate Kid I.

"I think he was playing an alien hiding on earth who was being chased by other aliens. I think he had lost his memory, because he was having flashbacks and experiencing difficulty controlling his alien powers.

"He was being helped out by a teen-age girl. I can't be sure about any of this, though, because it was dubbed into Spanish and my Spanish skills were very poor at the time.

"I asked my brother the Psi-Phi Phreak, and he said he had never heard of it. Can your faithful readers put this mystery to rest for me?''

A video will be awarded for the correct answer. (The winner chooses from our library of titles.) In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held. Send "Find That Flick" questions and solutions to Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221. You can also fax them to (213) 462-5982 or e-mail them to Joe Bob on the Internet: [email protected]. (E-mail entries must include a postal mailing address.)

1996 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NYT Special Features)

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Joe Bob Briggs