The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was done on a shoestring budget by a group of mostly inexperienced film makers who wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before 1974: A truly gruesome horror film. Because of the low budget and other factors…like the type of film they got cheap, the fact that the couldn’t afford plastic prop bones and were trying to get a PG rating…the film turned out to be an extremely realistic, disturbing movie with visuals that will stick in your brain for years.
House of 1000 Corpses is Rob Zombie’s ode to Chainsaw. Using digital technology and an additional 25 years of film-making expertise, he recreated the style right down to the over-exposed daylight scenes and realistically insane characters…just not with a low budget. Chainsaw was over-the-top and disturbing in 1974…Corpses blows by it without any stops, quintupling the gore, blood, insanity and fantasy in such a realistic way you’ll be believing in monsters by the end.
There are more similarities between these two movies than just the style. Chainsaw is about a group of young friends traveling through Texas that get unintentionally drawn into world of a family of insane, inbred wackadoos that torture, kill, etc etc. Corpses is about a group of young friends traveling to discover the truth behind the legend of famed murderer, who unintentionally get drawn into…ok, you get the picture. The main difference between the two is how Zombie went all out, with dead cheerleaders, carnival freaks, intense violence and gallons of blood, whereas Chainsaw is more focused, more direct and down to earth about the horrors.
Some interesting notes on Chainsaw: Because of the low budge the film makers couldn’t afford plastic prop skeletons. Instead, they bought real human skeletons and bones from India. There are also a lot of animal bones, feathers, etc. in the film. These are real. They acquired remains from animal shelters and burned the carcasses in the back yard where they were filming. The black cloud of smoke and the stench caused the sheriff to close off the highway near the filming location, and almost got the film closed down with it. Oh, and by the way…the money used to make this film was basically laundered from the profits of Deep Throat. Ain’t life crazy?
My take: I didn’t get to see chainsaw until I was in my 20s. I’m glad I didn’t see it sooner. I’m pretty sure I would have had nightmares for years. I was actually afraid…yes, afraid…to see Corpses in the movies when it came out. I had to psych myself up for months to watch it on DVD, and it still disturbed the hell out of me. The imagery is so intense, so out there that unless you’re a seasoned horror film addict it will probably blow your mind.
A funny note: I actually saw Texas Chainsaw II on HBO not long after it came out in the early 1980s. It was nothing like the original. The fact that they had a decent budget worked against them, and it just turned out to be another run-of-the-mill 80s slasher flick. HOWEVER…I just happened to be watching while making a pot of my famous Texas Chili for an upcoming Halloween party. Here’s the funny part: Chainsaw II is about the nuts using human meat to make Chili for a Chili contest, and as I was mixing up my Chili, they were mixing up theirs. Needless to say, I’ve served Texas Chainsaw Chili at every Halloween party since.
Food & Booze: Well, what else…Chili. Made with people, if you can murder yourself some young chicks. For drinks I’d recommend a nice Chianti. As for Corpses…you’re not going to want to eat anything while watching this flick. If anything, you’ll want to have a bucket handy.
-Spooky Tiki Chris reporting from the barbecue pit behind the smokeshack at Tiki Lounge Talk, the hep & happenin’ joint for Halloween-lovin’ kats and kittens.