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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.45%
Average: 6.94%
Pretty Bad: 11.84%
Total Crap: 18.78%

6 reviews, 209 user ratings

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (2003)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Second only to the classic original and quite commendable on its own merits"
4 stars

Marcus Nispel's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" marks the second time this year (after Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean") in which derisive and dismissive snorts of "Why even bother?" would promptly and resoundingly be replaced with that most glorious of compliments: "It's ten times better than the film had any right to be." And though the remake is a grim, gloomy and gory great time - it doesn't pose any threat to Tobe Hooper's original film and its well-earned classification of "Grade-A Classic"; the fact that the revisit is a damn solid film in its own right is cause enough for astonished celebration.

Few things could strike terror into the hearts of the Hardcore Horror Freaks of the World like the phrase "Michael Bay to produce Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake", but there it was, just a few short months ago, screaming from the top link of every well-read movie site. Fans of the immortal original film (and c'mon; who isn't?) found themselves agonizing over the project...while still holding out a little hope that the improbable could happen. And indeed it has.

Because Nispel's version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a bona-fide gore-storm, a dark, dank and altogether delicious reminder that not all studio-distributed horror flicks are totally lacking in balls. There may be a more fervent purist than myself when it comes to the Modern Classics of American Horror...but I've yet to meet him. And when someone quite passionate about the Horror Movie tells you that an admittedly unnecessary remake of one of the finest genre films EVER MADE is actually pretty damn means that a lot of us skeptics are about to eat some big-time crow.

And have a ball while doing it.

Deviating here and there from its celebrated source material while forging its own blood-soaked ground, the new TCM is quite simply one of the finest horror flicks of the year. And in a year that offered titles like Cabin Fever, May, 28 Days Later and Bubba Ho-tep...well that's some high praise indeed. Against all odds, it seems that the filmmakers accomplished everything they set out to do.

There's an obvious respect shown for Hooper's seminal film, though Nispel, Bay and company plow ahead confidently creating their own movie. Comparisons between the two will be inevitable but there's no denying that there's some real craftsmanship involved in the new one.

There's also a refreshing lack of that oh-so-ironic and self-referential tone that's been so prevalent since Wes Craven's Scream blew up big attitude that only seems to work about 10% of the time its been exploited. Much like its predecessor, this TCM is a DARK affair, laden with shadowy, unsettling visions and a palpable sense of foreboding doom. There are lots of entertaining horror movies out there, but maintaining a 'palpable sense of foreboding doom' is a pretty tough thing to pull off. Expects lotsa chills, jolts, shivers, the occasional patch of goose bumps, and a handful of "Ew yuk" sort of the icing on the cake.

To those perhaps unfamiliar with the dance steps covered in the TCM movies, here's a brief primer:

Several young people end up where they ought'nt be and run afoul of a rabid family of cannibal butcher lunatics. It's so beautiful in its simplicity that the concept's been done approximately 2,400 times in the last 30-some years.

Horror Freaks of the World may wonder what makes this remake any different from the trio of sequels that followed Hooper's, and the answer is quite simply this: quality filmmakers. Sure, there's some campy good fun to be found in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986), Leatherface (1990) or TCM: The Next Generation (1994) but the goods come in very small doses (particularly in the case of the truly awful 1994 version) due to subpar filmmakers working with the lowest of aspirations. The sequels are not much more than vague Xeroxes, garish follow-ups that try to ape the original's most iconic moments (the dinner scene, the meat hook, Leatherface's wacky dance o' death, etc.) without offering much of anything new or inventive.

This year's version uses Hooper's film as a jumping-off point, referring to its inspiration in short, effective doses. And if you're fully determined to remake a film adored all over the planet, it's probably a smart move to avoid blatant plagiarism.

Screenwriter Scott Kosar seems to know which TCM touchstones we most admire and doles them out sparingly, while affording his version an impressive array of divergences. Gone are a few of the extended "family" members; added are a few tragically effective character shadings. Jettisoned was the infamous "dinner table" sequence, while in its place are presented a few new fantastic chase sequences. While Tobe Hooper's original was presented in a gloriously stark documentary-style presentation, Nispel's update is awash in slick blacks and silvers; it's a wet, dripping, clanging nightmare come to life with a visual style that approaches mad genius.

A common thread between both films: fantastic performances from generally unknown actors. Though not much can approach Marilyn Burns' shriek-laden performance from 1974, the criminally beautiful Jessica Biel acquits herself exceptionally well here. Though her striking good looks are what intially draw us to Biel's "Erin", it's the gal's off-kilter smirk, her plucky tomboyism and her mother-hen presence that forces us to CARE about what happens to her.

And let's just say a lot of bad things happen to her.

Whereas in most slasher-type flicks we WANT the amazingly obnoxious characters to get sliced up in terribly gory fashion, here we have five Average Joe teenagers. (OK, maybe Average Joe doesn't have cheekbones like these kids do, but we're talking character here.) So it's essentially a simple formula: give us characters we LIKE and the horror is therefore amplified. And for us to like a character, they need to be well-conceived (Kosar relies less on stereotype and more on believability) and well-portrayed. Biel's quartet of co-stars (Jonathan Tucker, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour and Erica Leerhsen) are absolutely strong across the board, the horror flick equivalent of a baseball player hitting five homers in one game.

Sure, this one's not much more than a particularly polished addition to the age-old Slasher Genre, but every film deserves to be judged on its own specific merits. Nispel's Chainsaw is a bold, boisterous, bloody good time - and any old-school Horror Freak able to get over the "How dare they?!?" attitude should absolutely find a lot to enjoy here.

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originally posted: 10/17/03 15:12:10
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User Comments

12/31/15 Horror Girl Souless piece of crap 1 stars
12/29/11 David Hollingsworth Not as horrible, but not as good as the original 2 stars
7/18/11 art Marcus Nispel knows how to put togther an Excellent remake,{see friday the 13TH}. 4 stars
6/23/11 austin more gory than scary 1 stars
4/26/11 man terrible 1 stars
4/04/10 art THIS VERISON of the texas chainsaw massacre reminded of 2009's friday the 13th! 3 stars
11/25/09 Danny This one a very rare case: the remake is more frightening than the original! Very good. 4 stars
11/06/09 art MR.NISPEL"S remake of FRIDAY the 13th,gave the original a run for it's money! 1 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper I liked this as much as the original. Good re-make 4 stars
10/17/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Has some good ideas and a lot of bad ones. Stick with the original 2 stars
6/05/09 art NO,IT WAS DISGUSTING! 1 stars
1/31/08 art this remake is 5 time's better than the original one 5 stars
12/02/07 Bnorm Very different from the first; a decent movie in its own right 3 stars
10/03/07 wall complete garbage 1 stars
9/26/07 dude avoid by all means 1 stars
5/18/07 movieman avoid at all costs 1 stars
5/17/07 Austin Wertman pointless 1 stars
4/26/07 Indrid Cold The best TCM of all. Naturally, film snobs won't admit that it's better than the original. 4 stars
1/13/07 saad muhammud the remake suck ass 5 stars
1/11/07 Michael Cox Please stop trying to recreate MASTERPIECES! 1 stars
11/03/06 Hauzy should have been called T.C.S.M the new beginning 4 stars
11/01/06 Ben Had me nerved up in the theater....thumbs up 5 stars
10/30/06 AJ Muller Not as good as the original (few are); WAY better than anyone hoped - scary and intense. 4 stars
10/28/06 DIANA 1ST one was better... but this one is still gory 3 stars
10/14/06 michael classic horror flix 4 stars
10/11/06 David Pollastrini I liked it better than the original 5 stars
10/07/06 Gee I was surprisingly impressed 4 stars
10/02/06 Beau horribly disturbing, great acting and a great remake of it. 4 stars
10/01/06 JM Synth Ugly, stupid and unrelentingly tedious 1 stars
8/14/06 Sharon scared the fuck out of me!! slept with my lights on for weeks lol love it! 5 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist Not too bad, for a modern remake. 4 stars
7/30/06 Shaun Wallner lol i loved this movie definitely awesome 5 stars
6/16/06 Michele loved it great remake 5 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Suspenseful, but a little too much happens that makes it seem empty. 3 stars
2/20/06 chris f a very good remake people who dont think so are idiots 5 stars
2/09/06 Darren O Of course doesn't top the original, but a respectable remake nonetheless 4 stars
1/03/06 forwex very good film 5 stars
11/25/05 cr a pretty good remake and scary. it took in more dramatic direction, well done movie 3 stars
10/30/05 K. Sear I've said it before and I'll say it again, perfect movies don't need to be remade. 1 stars
10/19/05 Douglas Reese One of 2003's best films with Jessica Biel in an extremely masterful performance! Great! 5 stars
10/09/05 rob A very scary, well-done film. Great atmosphere, performances, scares. Just great. 5 stars
9/15/05 matt astonishingly bad, hardly any gore, just painful to watch 1 stars
8/25/05 Eden Better than I expected, but why watch this when you can see the original? 2 stars
8/02/05 aka Mase It was good for its graphics and characterization 4 stars
6/11/05 Manu Ginobli The only thing scary about this movie, is over 40% think it's awesome. 1 stars
5/24/05 E-FUNK Initially a good ride... but does not age well on repeated viewings. Neh. 3 stars
5/02/05 Valerie Really good, if you can stomach the gore. 5 stars
4/19/05 Ethan Much better than people say, lots of fun 4 stars
4/18/05 American Slasher Goddess Crappy remake with bland acting, MTV type directing and unnecessary gore. 2 stars
4/01/05 Old Man Sawyer What a disgracre to replace the great Marilyn Burns with a set of tits! What a Bitchhog! 1 stars
3/31/05 Flash The best remake I've ever seen--Jessica Biel and versatility...who knew? 5 stars
2/25/05 ELI I seriously didn't care about plot or acting. It's just bloody fun! 4 stars
2/09/05 New England Patriots = Dynasty ever worse than tghe original. 1 stars
2/02/05 Darryl Not much different from the first one, just more gore. 3 stars
1/31/05 New Jersey Rules Fucking lame, do we really need all these stupid remakes? 1 stars
12/25/04 Freddy very scary! 5 stars
12/18/04 Matt F. The deaths all sucked, there was no gore no plot and no reason for anyone to see this movie 1 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams Jessica Biel saved this flick for me 4 stars
11/17/04 Gooey check it out, or i'll put a chainsaw through yor crotch!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
10/30/04 Vince Jessica Biel is hot! 5 stars
10/04/04 Steve Newman My first ever sucks rating - what a load of crap 1 stars
9/21/04 Naka Utter shit. Dull, corny, and NOT scary. 1 stars
9/11/04 Anonymous Scariest movie since The Ring!! Really good!! Jessica B. did great!! 5 stars
9/10/04 jeff the main chick in the movie is HOT HOT HOT. 4 stars
9/05/04 J Its pretty gory, but nothing scary about it. 3 stars
8/21/04 McGraw Awful, unimaginative, and not at all scary. Only morons will be entertained. 1 stars
7/20/04 CORPSEGRINDER COMON!!! This movie was weak, those kids could have suffered way more NOT SCARY AT ALL! 2 stars
7/19/04 Benjamin Petrofsky Not as good as "Friday the 13th," but still a work of art in the Horror Movie world 4 stars
7/17/04 legend A pale imitation of the original. 2 stars
7/14/04 The Grinch Original is best, but this was very well done...R.L. Ermy is a scary motherfucker! 4 stars
7/01/04 American Slasher Goddess Doesn't even come close to the original 2 stars
6/30/04 Amanda Jones best horror film. is it based on the texas chainsaw massacre or Ed Gein 5 stars
6/29/04 The Chronic I have watched some shit but this and Faces of Death I couldn't even finish. 4 stars
6/24/04 Mark Louis Baumgart Lacks the humor of the first, good acting & sets, not as bloody as it should have been. 4 stars
6/21/04 silver10 this was a REALLY scary movie. Good cast and plot twists. more violent than originalbutgood 5 stars
6/04/04 Stab Wounds It's scary 4 stars
5/25/04 Mitch Loud noise and dark set design do not a horror movie make. 1 stars
5/20/04 Nate Best Horror movie in a decade! Fantastic! 5 stars
5/17/04 intelligent single woman I've seen the original, and this was better! Wow!! Great revenge scene, great cast! 5 stars
5/12/04 me As far as unnessecary remakes go, this one wasn't too bad 4 stars
5/08/04 Agent Sands More entertaining than the original, but not quite as scary. 4 stars
4/30/04 Kellie I loved it, and it was the ONLY movie that has EVER scared me.. 5 stars
4/24/04 J This is vile and not scary! The old one is better. Ermey is tight and in this one! 3 stars
4/23/04 tatum Not much different, or better, than DTV remakes and sequels 2 stars
4/21/04 Daveman Vile, horrible, worthless piece of excrement, has absolutely no respect for the viewer. 1 stars
4/18/04 Father Merrin I love the original so wasnt expecting much but was very suprised! Great movie! 5 stars
4/06/04 Samuel It doesn't even compare to the origional. 3 stars
4/04/04 Tito I'm easily scared by movies...BUT THIS SUCKED! Gets boring, and screenplay was AWFUL! 1 stars
3/24/04 movieguy a great film 5 stars
3/23/04 KGB Jessica Biel (OH YEAH!)... Leatherface (KICK ASS) 5 stars
3/23/04 Movieguy A GREAT FILM I LOVED IT ALOT 5 stars
3/18/04 Jessica klopfenstein i think it was the best film all year. i on the edge of my sit through teh whole movie. 5 stars
3/12/04 American Slasher Goddess Another pointless remake 2 stars
3/03/04 me A AWESOME FILM 5 stars
3/01/04 alice A lot better then I expected. 4 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge Just get the original. If it aint broke, don't fix it. Where's grampa?!?!? 2 stars
2/17/04 Igor Excellent. Not the best horror movie but has its moments. R Lee Ermey make this movie! 5 stars
2/13/04 Kai A perfect film does not need to be remade. 1 stars
2/12/04 This Movie is Pretentious Another run-of-the-mill offensively brainless & exploitative modern slasher "film" 1 stars
2/07/04 Tom de Wijs Very Very Good 5 stars
2/04/04 May Q. Horney Jessica Biel surprisingly watchable for a change. Movie poignant but hard to watch. 3 stars
2/03/04 Neo N/A 5 stars
2/03/04 ghost NOt as creepy as the original, but a good film. 4 stars
1/29/04 American Slasher Goddess Pointless remake,only thing that saves it, is the gore. 3 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Fucking scary and gory - but you can't beat the original... 5 stars
1/03/04 A F Not as good as the Orig. But great none the less. 5 stars
1/02/04 marc its was amazin 5 stars
12/26/03 Sara Fabulous. Can't wait for the DVD 5 stars
12/22/03 Ravenheart Great movie.Not as good as the original but close. 5 stars
12/21/03 nina I LVD IT! 5 stars
12/20/03 Brent This movie by far outdoes the original, and all the other crappy clones made off of it! 5 stars
12/13/03 darkofnight An unbelievably scary ride through Hell. Brilliantly executed. 5 stars
12/08/03 lilcutie great film i loved it 5 stars
12/07/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Whose really terrifying, Leatherface or that sheriff? Go stick with the original. 1 stars
12/04/03 wog fukn siiikkk!! 5 stars
12/03/03 re THIS FILM WAS GREAT I LOVED IT 5 stars
12/02/03 matt way too stupid for words! 2 stars
12/01/03 Nicole much more gruesome than the first, but still has the crazy scare 4 stars
12/01/03 Lincoln This movie is scary as hell! its awsome 5 stars
11/30/03 kelvin it was really scary and it was really awesome as well 4 stars
11/29/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. Being a dumb teen, I found it, surprisingly enough, didnt suck. Long live cheap thrills. 4 stars
11/29/03 k this movie proves how dumb teens are 1 stars
11/28/03 john vile crap with no integrity - get the original 1 stars
11/26/03 Brian Great film, and awesome gore. 5 stars
11/23/03 smartmusician Average scares 3 stars
11/22/03 wayne This movie was the best! It had alot of gore, alot of suspence. (jessica beil u rocked !!) 5 stars
11/21/03 homer simpson fucking awesome, blood and gore and chainsaws, who ask for any more 5 stars
11/20/03 Raquel the bell WOW WOW WOW WOHOOOOOOOOOO SCARY AND GORE!! 5 stars
11/18/03 Megan Awesome Movie!!! My favorite!!! 5 stars
11/18/03 he scary 5 stars
11/18/03 Sean (Movie Guy) Perfect, A good scare in theatres, excellent opening and closing scenes. 5 stars
11/17/03 lizz it was great!!! i had my eyes closed have of the movie, very realistic 5 stars
11/16/03 Igor R LEE EARMEY RULES. This movie would be dogshit without him. 4 stars
11/14/03 jahangir very scary 5 stars
11/13/03 greg nozzel i mean, this movie doesnt touch the first one. but whatever, it isnt full on trash. its ok. 4 stars
11/12/03 David A. Not really scary, but it is a good time gross-out!!! 4 stars
11/12/03 Red a great film 5 stars
11/12/03 Mike terribly acted, directed, and written, i could make a better remake than this shit pile 1 stars
11/11/03 Jesse I liked this movie because it made me shiver in my seat. 5 stars
11/10/03 Alan Layton I'm sorry...but it sucked... 1 stars
11/09/03 nick schmidt i loved this film. it was a great remake 5 stars
11/08/03 Eduardo Diaz Jr It was the best moive I have ever seen. 5 stars
11/07/03 elena i thought that the movie was great. im really into the horror films. 5 stars
11/07/03 Cameron Slick A disgusting, gory, unnecessary remake obstaining from scares. 2 stars
11/06/03 re A GREAT FILM 5 stars
11/04/03 simon best horror film in 10 years, it might make horror take itself seriously again. 5 stars
11/03/03 noelle It was funny! 4 stars
11/02/03 Maryan a great film, very scary!! 5 stars
11/02/03 Matt I thought i was going to hate this movie... I was wrong!!! 4 stars
11/01/03 Lord Chu Surprising good. Still, there are quite a number of "Oh, gimme a focking break" moments. 4 stars
11/01/03 raihan202 yes the texas chainsaw masscre im 12 i watched this with my parents i loved it but some peo 5 stars
11/01/03 culprit64 The best part Jessica Biel's wet T-Shirt shot. Boring movie 2 stars
11/01/03 James Leber Totally, had me glued to my seat throwing popcorn all over the join!! 5 stars
10/31/03 Judy Jensen Very gory & scary... loved it!! 5 stars
10/31/03 redpjas a great film I got scared 5 stars
10/31/03 Sweet Nic They fugged it up by taking off Leatherface's mask. Other than that,cool! 4 stars
10/27/03 Jenny It gets better after it stops being so gross 4 stars
10/26/03 Gary Loved it 5 stars
10/26/03 Erik Van Sant Surprisingly vicious and gory. One of the best horror films in years. 5 stars
10/26/03 Nunzeo big letdown, fell asleep 1 stars
10/25/03 Greg AWESOME 5 stars
10/25/03 cleve van valen spot on representation of middle American, Bush supporting Texans. 3 stars
10/25/03 here a great film 5 stars
10/25/03 My eyes bugged out Four words: Jessica Biel, midriff shirt. Enjoy 5 stars
10/24/03 Danni Great horror movie 5 stars
10/23/03 Daniel one of the best scary movies out there 5 stars
10/23/03 Jack Bourbon Aside from one hilarious scene, this movie has been done to death already. 2 stars
10/23/03 Gary Ozbourne AWESOME 5 stars
10/23/03 mz nice i actually saw the movie thinking that it would some how scare me. foolish of me! 2 stars
10/23/03 here a great film 5 stars
10/23/03 chris murphy all around thrill ride it was a very good remake of the classic film.....and jessica biel i 4 stars
10/23/03 Savanah Baez I didnt think I could sit through the whole movie because I was so scared!!! 5 stars
10/22/03 Kyle Ready yourself for an hour and a half of a high velocity adrenaline rush!!! 5 stars
10/22/03 Gary COOL 5 stars
10/22/03 redpjas i thought it was a great film and the actors did great 5 stars
10/22/03 malcolm "mad genius"?-slow down weinberg. a fun, nasty trip. 3 stars
10/21/03 Chris Sweetest Fucking Movie I've ever seen!!!! 5 stars
10/21/03 Gary A great film 5 stars
10/21/03 nr AWESOME 5 stars
10/21/03 Obi Wan TCM wipes it's ass with FvsJ crap!! 5 stars
10/21/03 Desiree Great and gorey! 4 stars
10/21/03 José Lugo Very Worth Watching 4 stars
10/21/03 maxomai An interesting variation on the original. Very entertaining. The cinematography was spotty. 5 stars
10/20/03 Brian D. Crandall Pleasantly terrified. 5 stars
10/20/03 Courtney Never been so scared in my life... 5 stars
10/20/03 Fred Great movie 5 stars
10/20/03 Gray not good as the original but what a real horror movie shoould be 5 stars
10/20/03 Josh Standlee A good movie to see on the big screen! 5 stars
10/20/03 Obi Wan One of the better horror flix to come around in a long time... 5 stars
10/20/03 luke awesome 5 stars
10/20/03 here a great film 5 stars
10/20/03 GMAN R. Lee Ermey is the icing on the cake. Loved it. The whole theatre jumped a few times. 5 stars
10/19/03 Gary GREAT FILM 5 stars
10/19/03 jawsboy24 Pretty decent. Not great Horror, but certainly a fun/well made movie. Better than FvsJ! C+ 4 stars
10/19/03 Frodogandy Jessica Biel. Wet t-shirt. Nuff Said 5 stars
10/19/03 he AWESOME 5 stars
10/19/03 mason if the actors weren't scrubbed clean teens, this thing would have been scary, only flaw tho 3 stars
10/18/03 Jon A worthy remake of a horror classic. 4 stars
10/18/03 KING RALPH My liege Edward you really mustn't take to heart the if you only see 1 movie this year ads 2 stars
10/18/03 nr great 5 stars
10/18/03 KING EDWARD jax- you deserve a visit from leatherface. this is now my 2nd favorite of all time. see it! 5 stars
10/18/03 jax major letdown. wanted to like it. 1 stars
10/18/03 Morally Sound This brings back the 'horror' in horror movies. Scary as hell! Worthy to the original. 4 stars
10/17/03 jdogg "not as stupid as i thought so it must be good??" NB: that's how we got our president, too 2 stars
10/17/03 Gary Great horror movie 5 stars
10/11/03 The F-Bomb SO.FUCKING.SCARY.SEE THIS NOW. 5 stars
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  17-Oct-2003 (R)
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