The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Originally released on October 11th, 1974

Overview

As the story goes, a group of friends consisting of Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain), Kirk (William Vail), Pam (Teri McMinn) and Jerry (Allen Danziger) are all traveling to check on Sally and Franklin’s grandfather’s grave to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. They come upon a gas station that unfortunately had no gas, and they are forced to go to the grandfather’s house without refueling. Upon arrival, Pam and Kirk quickly venture off by themselves in search of a swimming hole, but inside they come upon a house that has a working generator–which leads them to want to ask the owner if they could buy some gasoline. This is where they meet Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) who wastes no time in killing the two of them, and butchering their bodies. Curious as to why their friends haven’t returned, Jerry follows their same path and inevitably meets their same demise.

Left alone, the two siblings Sally and Franklin argue about whether it is smarter to go and search for their friends or to try and find gasoline. Franklin, who is bound to a wheelchair, is all about trying to find gasoline until he realizes that they do not have the keys. Refusing to let Sally go by herself, he joins her and the two of them are subsequently caught by Leatherface, who kills Franklin first before chasing after Sally for what felt like forever. She ends up fleeing to the nearby gas station, only to find out that the owner, Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) is actually apart of the same cannibalistic family as Leatherface, because he brings her back to the house where the hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) from earlier in the movie is also living. We find out that they all make up a family of insane cannibals. The last thirty minutes or so of this film is just Sally screaming and fighting for her life but she ends up escaping by climbing into the back of a pick up truck, leaving Leatherface to raise his chainsaw in anger as she gets away.

My thoughts

Even for a 70’s slasher flick, I think there was a lot of screaming. To the point that it was like nails on a chalkboard, it lasted so long. I’ve heard that this movie was terrifying, practically all of my life. To the point, that I put it aside for so long out of fear. When I finally chose to watch it, I had hyped it up so high that I gave myself no other choice than to end up disappointed. The parts where Leatherface is butchering the individuals were undeniably chilling, but they were no more scary than other movies. There lies my final conclusions about this film; what made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) so scary wasn’t the chainsaw wielding cannibal, but in fact, the existence of his insane cannibalistic relatives. The hitchhiker being the creepiest one, Edwin Neal really did an amazing job making me uncomfortable anytime he was on the screen. He made it scary, with his unflinching portrayal of a deranged man who had no qualms about killing Sally, even mocking her the entire time she is understandably terrified.

It is undeniable that this film is a classic, and while on the surface it can seem like nothing more than your run of the mill slasher flick, I strongly believe that the horror lies in the family dynamics of the Sawyers.

What did you guys think of this one? Have you seen it, and if not, why?

The Turning (2020)

Originally released January 24th 2020

Overview

Kate (Mackenzie Davis) becomes the governess for a young girl named Flora (Brooklyn Prince), who despite her young age, has been dealt her fair share of traumas. She witnessed the death of her parents in an accident just beyond the front gate of the property, and then after growing close with her live-in tutor Miss Jessel (Denna Thomson) she too leaves without saying goodbye to the young girl. Upon her first night staying in the house, Kate hears noises coming from the East Wing of the house, and upon investigating it, she meets Miles (Finn Wolfhard).

Miles was expelled from his school due to attacking another student, and he and Kate’s relationship becomes strained at best. He begins to act more and more like the deceased Quint (Niall Greig Fulton) as time goes on, and the longer Kate stays in the house, she begins to experience nightmares and witnessing the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quint. Despite the toll all of the experiences are having on her, she refuses to leave due to a promise she made to Flora when she first arrived. In the end, we are left to wonder whether Kate herself has lost her grip on her sanity, just as her mother appeared to, or if the events that have unfolded around her were in fact true.

My thoughts

This movie doesn’t end with a concrete conclusion, one that the audience could walk away with, content that they know how it all ends. In fact, it is the opposite. We are left not knowing whether any of it was real, and if it was, if the lives of those in the house are doomed or not. We don’t know if in the end, when Kate is shown to be in the mental institution whether she is seeing her mother, or a reflection of herself. We are left not knowing very much at all. That can be very frustrating for people, because it definitely was for me. I haven’t read the source material, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but I’ve looked into and it seems as though it was already a confusing story, one that didn’t end in a concise way.

Finn Wolfhard has made a name for himself, starring in Stranger Things, It (2017), It Chapter Two (2019) and the The Addams Family (2019), among others, and I really think he made this film as creepy as it was. There’s something about his presence in a scene where his character is making dark remarks that really adds to the atmosphere of the entire film. Another name from this film that really shaped the entire experience is Mackenzie Davis, who played Kate. Throughout the film we got to witness her descent into madness, whether it be due to genetic factors, or as a result of supernatural entities. She takes up a lot of screen time, as we watch her either be tormented by the living, breathing, Miles or by the seemingly long-dead ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quint.

It was actually surprising for me to learn that on Cinemascore, it received a rare F rating. You know what else has earned an F rating this year? The Grudge (2020). This rating, I can agree with but I have to dispute the rating for The Turning (2020). While the ending was confusing, and that is enough to make people dislike a movie, it wasn’t a disappointment just as The Grudge (2020) was. I say more people need to watch the film, in order to really see for themselves.

Have any of you watched it? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Originally released on August 9th 2019

plot synopsis

The stories in the book come to life.

The book in question, is Sarah Bellows book of scary stories and even in death, she is writing her stories but this time, they are coming to life and terrorizing the children of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania in 1968. Stella (Zoe Colleti) wants to be a writer, her two best friends Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) and their new friend Ramón (Michael Garza) decide to go to the Bellows house since it has notoriety for being haunted. As one expects, Stella takes the book of scary stories home and she is the first to notice when a new story appears that seems to match the mysterious disappearance of the town bully Tommy. One by one, the children are put in a scary story and it is up to Stella and Ramón to stop Sarah, and the only way to stop her is by promising that her story would be told since she had been framed by her corrupt family while she was alive. In the process, Auggie and Chuck disappear and even in the end, they don’t come back.

My thoughts

As a child I read all of the stories in the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, so when the movie was announced and trailers began being released, I was very excited. While the monsters in the movie were rightfully terrifying, the movie fell short from being as terrifying as the book was. The scariest creature was probably The Jangly Man, because of his contortionist movements and the overall grotesque character design. Despite the movie not being as scary as I thought it would be, the stories surrounding Stella and her life with her dad, as well as the scary reality that Ramón faced, being drafted into the Vietnam war. I enjoyed the interpersonal connections between the characters throughout the movie. I remember watching the trailers and finding it really scary, to the point that I was not going to the theater to watch it because I wanted to watch it from the safety of my house. But the movie wasn’t as chilling as it seemed, so that’s my big take away from the film. Not as scary as it appeared to be. Still a good film though.

Have you guys seen it? What did you think of it?