The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a 2003 American remake of the 1974 horror film of the same name. The
2003 film was directed by Marcus Nispel and produced by Michael Bay. It was also co-produced by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper, co-creators of the original 1974 film.
This film has also been a milestone for Hollywood in terms of remaking classic slasher/horror films. This film is the first of many horror remakes to come from Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company which also remade The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
In the beginning of the film, there is archive footage of a police search of the Hewitt house. The two officers survey the house and descend into the basement, noting the fingernail scratch marks, human blood and hair embedded into the walls.
The story then shifts to August 1973 where five young adults, Erin (Jessica Biel), Kemper (Eric Balfour), Morgan (Jonathan Tucker), Andy (Mike Vogel), and Pepper (Erica Leerhsen), are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert after coming back from Mexico. As they drive through Texas, they see a distraught hitchhiker (Lauren German), who eventually gets in their van. After trying to speak to the hitchhiker, who speaks incoherently about "a bad man", she shoots and kills herself with a .357 Magnum. The group tries to contact the police, then go to a store where a woman tells them the sheriff is at the mill. Instead of the sheriff, they find a little boy named Jedediah (David Dorfman) who tells them that the sheriff is drinking at home. Erin and Kemper go through the woods to find his house, leaving the other three at the mill with the boy. They come to a plantation house where Erin is allowed inside by the owner, an amputee named Monty, to phone for help. When Erin finishes, the old man asks her for help. Kemper goes inside to look for Erin and is killed with an axe to the back by Thomas Hewitt aka "Leatherface" (Andrew Bryniarski). When Leatherface takes Kemper's body to begin to make a new mask out of him, he hears something hit the bottom of the tub where Kemper is hooked upside down. Leatherface picks up a small black box. Opening it he discovers a ring meant for Erin.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey) arrives at the mill and disposes of the hitchhiker's body, wrapping her in cellophane and putting her in his trunk in which he drives away and tells the youths to leave. Erin arrives and finds that Kemper is still missing. Andy and Erin go back to Monty's house, where Erin distracts him while Andy searches for Kemper. Monty realizes Andy is inside and summons Leatherface, who attacks him with his chainsaw. Erin escapes and runs through the woods, but Leatherface cuts Andy's leg off. Leatherface carries him to the basement and hangs him on a meat hook with his feet hanging over a piano, where he rubs salt on Andy's stump of a leg before wrapping it in butcher paper and tying it with human hair.
Erin makes it to the mill and tries to escape in the van, but the sheriff shows up and, after finding marijuana, orders Erin, Morgan and Pepper to go out of the van. The sheriff gives Morgan the gun he took from the hitchhiker and tells Morgan to reenact how she killed herself. Morgan, scared and disturbed by the sheriff's demeanor, and under pressure by Erin and Pepper, attempts to shoot the sheriff only to find the gun is unloaded. Sheriff Hoyt handcuffs Morgan and drives him to the Hewitt house (a drive which includes a brutal beating), leaving the girls in the van where they are attacked by Leatherface. Pepper runs, but is cut in half by Leatherface's chainsaw. Erin also sees that Leatherface is wearing Kemper's face over his own. Erin manages to escape and hides in a nearby trailer with two women inside, who offer her tea and try to soothe her. The two women, a morbidly obese middle-aged woman known only as the 'Tea Lady' and a younger woman named Henrietta, whom is presumably her daughter, act strange and after they tell Erin they don't have a phone for her to call for help, a telephone in the trailer rings and Henrietta picks it up and tells someone on the other end that "she's here". Erin discovers they have kidnapped a child when she sees that the baby with them is the same child in a photograph with the woman who committed suicide earlier in the kid's van. However, the tea is drugged and she passes out when she tries to leave.
Erin wakes up at the Hewitt house surrounded by the Hewitt family: Leatherface, his mother Luda May, Sheriff Hoyt, Uncle Monty, and the little boy Jedediah. Luda May tells Erin that her excuse for her son Thomas's actions, was that her son was tormented by teenagers and that she felt no one cared for her family besides themselves. Erin is taken to the basement, where she finds Andy. She tries to help him off of the meat hook but when he sees he will land on the piano keys and alert Leatherface, he begs her to kill him, which she does, though suffers severe emotional trauma. She finds Morgan, still handcuffed, and Jedediah leads them out of the house. Jedediah rejects Erin's plea to come with them and distracts Leatherface long enough for them to escape. Erin and Morgan find an abandoned house in the woods and barricade themselves inside. Leatherface breaks in and discovers Erin, but Morgan attacks Leatherface, causing him to drop his chainsaw. Morgan grabs him and wrestles him, but Leatherface is too heavy and easily lifts Morgan upwards onto a chandelier before releasing him and Morgan gets tangled in the chandelier by his handcuffs. Leatherface picks up his chainsaw and slices up into Morgan's groin, killing him.
Erin runs out of the shack and escapes through the woods. Leatherface trips and cuts his leg while pursuing her. Erin stumbles upon a slaughterhouse, and hides inside. A deadly game of cat and mouse inside the factory ensues and Erin manages to hide in a locker; Leatherface opens the locker across from hers and she attacks him with a meat cleaver, and chops off his right arm. Erin runs outside and flags down a trucker, whom she tries to convince to go away from the Hewitt's house, but he stops to find help at the eatery. Erin sees Luda May and watches as Sheriff Hoyt arrives and talks to the trucker. Erin sees Henrietta watching over the kidnapped baby in a highchair. When Henrietta walks outside to join Luda May and Sheriff Hoyt whom are talking to the truck driver, Erin sneaks the baby out of the eatery and hot-wires the sheriff's car before running him over repeatedly until he is dead. Leatherface appears in the road and tries to stop her, but Erin and the baby escape unharmed.
The police archive footage continues to play. The officers inspect the basement noting the hanging meat hooks when suddenly one of the officers is grabbed and severely beaten. A blurred figure viciously shakes the camera and the other police officer is heard screaming. The narrator states that "The crime scene was not properly secured by Travis County Police. Two investigating officers were fatally wounded that day. This is the only known image of Thomas Hewitt, the man they call Leatherface. The case today still remains open".
Andrew Bryniarski as Thomas Hewitt / Leatherface, a serial killer who wears masks made of human flesh to hide a rare skin disorder that has left him disfigured and caused him to be ridiculed by others.
Jessica Biel as Erin who, along with her boyfriend Kemper and her 3 friends, makes an ill-fated trip to Texas. She is the only survivor.
R. Lee Ermey as Charlie Hewitt Jr. / Sheriff Hoyt, the brother of Thomas Hewitt / Leatherface and the only sheriff the town has left.
Eric Balfour as Kemper: Erin's boyfriend, and the 'leader' of the group. He is the first to die.
Jonathan Tucker as Morgan: Erin and Kemper's stoner friend who accompanied them on their trip to Texas. He is the 'nerd' of the group and the fourth and final one to die.
Erica Leerhsen as Pepper: a hitchhiker who the group met hours prior to the events of the film. She is the second to die.
Mike Vogel as Andy: Erin and Kemper's friend who accompanied them on their trip to Texas. He is the third to die.
David Dorfman as Jedidiah Hewitt: A child member of the Hewitt family, who disagrees with his family's actions. He is possibly an orphan from one of the Hewitt's previous victims.
Marietta Marich as Luda Mae Hewitt: The matriarch of the Hewitt family.
Terrence Evans as Monty Hewitt: A grumpy old amputee, and the uncle of Leatherface and Charlie Hewitt.
Heather Kafka as Henrietta Hewitt: Charlie Hewitt's significant other.
Kathy Lamkin as Tea Lady Hewitt: Henrietta's obese mother.
Lauren German as Teenage girl hitchiker: Her family was killed by the Hewitt family prior to the film, she managed to survive but committs suicide due to the psychological trauma.
In December 5, 2001 Creature Corner.com reported that Michael Bay's newly created company Platinum Dunes (which was created in order to produce low budget films), had set its focus on remaking The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Early announcements on the site indicated that the story would be told in flashback with actress Marilyn Burns who starred in the original film would reprise her role as an aged Sally Hardesty recounting the events in the film. It was later announced that the filmmakers had already purchased the rights to the original film. Early in the film's production the original films makers Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel would be writing a script for the film, but it was unknown at the time whether or not that their script would be used. In June 2002 it was announced that Marcus Nispel would direct the film in his directorial debut.
Scott Kosar later signed on as the film's screenwriter. In Kosar's earlier drafts, the original age of the hitchhiker was 15–16 years old but was later changed in order to fit the age of the principle cast.
Jessica Biel who previously starred in the television series 7th Heaven, was revealed to cast as the main character Erin. In her audition for the film, Erica Leerhsen (who portrayed Pepper in the film) screamed so loud during her screen test that people in other parts of the building called the police because they thought that someone was being attacked. Lauren German who portrays the hitchhiker at the beginning of the film originally auditioned for the role of Erin but lost to fellow star Jessica Biel, actresses Katie Holmes, and Jessica Alba were all considered for the role of Erin before it was announced that Biel had got the part. Actor John Larroquette would reprise his role as the film's narrator in the film.
Dolph Lundgren was first considered for the role of Leatherface but turned down the role in order to spend time with his family. Actor Andrew Bryniarski heard about the film's development, who also starred in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor and stayed friends with him afterwards personally met with producer Bay and asked him for the role of Leatherface. Another actor was cast for the role before Bryniarski, on the first day however the actor was hospitalized and fired. Without an actor for the film's main antagonist the filmmakers called and asked if he still wanted the role which he accepted. In order to prepare for the role, Bryniarski ate a diet of brisket and white bread in order to get his weight to nearly 300 pounds. Bryniarski would later reprise his role as Leatherface in the film's prequel.
Filming began on July 22, 2002 and wrapped up in September that same year and was filmed in several locations in Texas including Austin and Granger. It was filmed with many of the same crew from the original film. The film includes several references to the original film including the bumper sticker on the back of Kemper's van which says "Nothing is true/Everything is permitted, which references the original film's claim to be based on actual events. The weather during filming was very hot, and humid. Bryniarski, who portrays Leatherface in the film did all his own stunts, and was forced to wear a 'fat suit' gave added to his near 300 lbs to 420 lbs. The suit also heated up quickly so that the actor had to ensure that he drank a lot of fluids before a shoot. Leatherface's mask was also a problem, the mask was made out of Silicone and was difficult for the actor to breath out of. The crew had many prop chainsaws for actor Bryniarski to use with some chainsaws that puts out smoke, and live chainsaws. On the final day of shooting his scene, actor Eric Balfour stripped from his film wardrobe and walked off set, only wearing a baseball cap.
Connection to actual events Edit
This film, like the 1974 original, as well as Psycho, was inspired by Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. Gein skinned human bodies and made furniture out of them, but he acted alone and did not use a chainsaw. Most of his "victims" were already dead and he "only" personally murdered two people. The film's opening claims the events are factual, a use of the false document technique (filming of the first film was from July 15, 1973 to August 14, 1973, while the event took place on August 18, 1973).
Critical response Edit
The film received mostly negative reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows a rating of 36% for the film with the consensus "An unnecessary remake that's more gory and less scary than the original." Metacritic, another review aggregator, calculates an average of 38%, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Roger Ebert gave the film a rare 0 stars out of 4, calling it 'A contemptible film Vile, ugly and brutal. There is not a shred of reason to see it. Those who defend it will have to dance through mental hoops of their own devising, defining its meanness and despair as "style" or "vision" or "a commentary on our world."' Variety gave the film a negative review calling the film "Initially promising, but quickly disappointing retread of hugely influential horror classic". Peter Travers from Rolling Stone panned the film, awarding it 0 / 4 stars stating, "Director Marcus Nispel, acclaimed for his ads and music videos, has a sharp eye and the good sense to hire Daniel Pearl, who shot the first Chainsaw. But all the bad-rehash mojo from Friday the 13th to The Blair Witch Project has infected Scott Kosar's script. Hooper went for primitive, Nispel goes for slick. Hooper went easy on the gore, Nispel pours it on" and called the film "soulless". Dave Kehr from New York Times gave the film a negative review stating, "Rather than exhilaration, this bilious film offers only entrapment and despair" further commenting that the film was about as much fun as sitting in on an autopsy. The film earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel, but lost the award to Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
Box office Edit
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in North America on October 17, 2003 in 3,018 theaters. It grossed $10,620,000 on its opening day and concluded its North America opening weekend with $28,094,014, ranking No. 1 at the box office. The film opened in various other countries and grossed $26,500,000, while the North American gross stands at $80,571,655, bringing the worldwide gross to $107,071,655. All based on a $9.5 million budget, the film was a commercial success. The film's box-office success was notable for starting a long line of remakes of 70s/80s horror films that continues to the present day.