The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Film that Terrified a Rattled Nation
Published by Skyhorse, 2019. 304 pages.
By Joseph Lanza
For those that are thinking this is just another book about the Tobe Hooper classic, reading more tales of the notorious film, they are in for a big surprise. I grew up in the early ’70s but am surprised to read about all the stuff going on in the world that I was apparently oblivious too because I was so young. With all the chaos on in the world back then, I’m kind of glad I was too young to know or care about. So a good portion of this book is about just that, all the craziness throughout the world, from gas shortages, meat shortages, trouble overseas, different political scandals and nefarious deeds, serial killers, all coming from the decade of peace and love.
Lanza knows his history and lays it out for the reader to intake, setting the times that Hooper’s film was coming to life and how it was effecting the production, not just in Hooper, but the entire cast and crew. While this book is not going to fill you with more and more details about the actual making of it, you will read about the possible influences that had a hand in shaping this film, then you will find this book very intriguing. There are some things that might be taking a stretch when it comes to hidden subtext, such as the signage at the gas station/BBQ joint the cook runs. But there are more than a few things that seemed like it definitely was the reasoning behind it, such as when the cook is worried about making sure the lights are turned off to save electricity. Continue reading
While I continue my quest to add more books to my personal library that I’ll ever be able to read in my lifetime, I thought I would give a little shout out to a few titles that are currently sitting in my Want List on Amazon. I don’t have any of these yet (key word…yet) so all I know about them is what I’ve read on the Amazon description. But they do sound pretty interesting, and I know that I intend to pick them up at some point. While I’m in the middle of reading 3 different books right now, and have a few piled up that I still need to find room in the bookshelves for, it might be a bit.
Who am I kidding, I’ll probably order them next payday!
I’ll list this these alphabetically so it doesn’t look like I’m playing any favoritism!
Ad Nauseam By Michael Gingold
Any horror fan worth their weight in magazines knows Gingold from his decades working for Fangoria magazine, but has been keeping himself quite busy since those days. His book The Frightfest Guide to Monster Movies is just awesome and is simply a must. But his new book is something that older fans will love paging through, as well as giving younger fans a look into the past. In his youth, Gingold would cut out the ads for horror films, the bigger named ones as well as the smaller titles that snuck out. This book is a walk through the 1980’s in a year-by-year guide to Gingold’s archive, featuring more than 450 ads. Remember folks, years before the internet, this is how we found out movies that were playing so these ads had the tough job of capturing the attention of the person paging through the newspaper and make them want to rush out to see this movie. And more times than not, at least for us horror fans, it worked.
There are certain names in the horror genre that are known as icons, or one of the Masters of Horrors. And yesterday, the genre and the fans lost another one of them, Tobe Hooper. Regardless of the ups and downs of his filmography, he will always be remembered for directing the infamous 1974 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which still is as gritty, scary, and damn entertaining as it was when it first assaulted movie audiences over forty years ago. His adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot (1979) still remains as one of the best made-for-TV movies of that decade, not to mention other entertaining titles in his filmography, such as The Funhouse (1981), Lifeforce (1985), and of course, the bat-shit-crazy sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).
Hooper passed away yesterday at the age of 74. For as long as there are horror movie fans, there will be screenings of TCM. And with each of those viewings, there will be some watching it for the first time that will be amazed and entranced at what they see on screen, possibly even inspiring them to try and do what Hooper and company did all those years ago in the dead heat of a Texas summer all those years ago.
You definitely will never be forgotten, Mr. Hooper. Thank you for the scares. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.
With the holiday season approaching, we are always seeking out just the right gift for that special person in our lives. Now this may come as a bit of a surprise, but I’m a pretty big proponent of books. Yeah, I know….shocker, huh? But honestly, why buy something like a movie for this person (when chances are they might already have it!?!?!) that is just going to sit on a shelf until they get around to watching it. Okay…same could be said for a book…especially in my house. But honestly, a book will stay longer with them, by teaching them something they didn’t know before, which will allow a few different things to happen. For instances, if you get them a biography, they will learn about this particular person, be it a director or actor, which will help them appreciate and understand their work each and every time they watch one of their movies. If it is a simple film guide, it could open up a bunch of titles to them that they might not have known about yet. Or even if it is a book about the genre in general, it could open up some understanding as a whole, which always helps you appreciate it even more, getting you to think about these films possibly a little different than you had before.
Earlier this year, when Christopher Lee passed away, he was really the last of the great horror icons from my generation. Along with Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, playing updated versions of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and a variety of other different monsters, these were the famous actors known for their horror roles that I grew up on. The next generation grew up on the likes of Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, and of course, Leatherface.
Gunnar Hansen was the first one to wear the human skin mask, chase dumb kids who wandered on his property, and dance with the chain saw. And no one did with such style as Hansen. He showed us fans, that Leatherface was much more than a huge brute with a deadly saw, but a disturbed and troubled young man, with some obvious social issues. But this came out in Hansen’s performance, which is even more incredible when you know what these poor actors went through to get this film actually made.
Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s By David Roche Published by University Press of Mississippi, 2014. 335 pages.
Sometimes I really regret asking for a book to review. Especially when I had just finished reviewing one epic size book of Psycho-Babble, and then along comes this relatively new book by David Roche. He is a professor at the Université Toulouse Le Mirail with some publishing credentials under his belt. In other words, he’s no slouch. In fact, Roche is a very smart man and can do some amazing fact finding research, which he puts to use in this book. The concept of the book is to try and figure out the differences between the original ’70s versions of Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, Hills Have Eyes, and Halloween, and their remakes that were all made in the 2000s, or what makes them better or worse and for what reasons.
That initial concept is what intrigued me at the start. But once I dove into it, I quickly realized what I had gotten myself into once again. This is not written for the casual fan, but for a very academic crowd. In fact, I had a dictionary opened most of the time when I was reading it to make sure I was getting the point he was stating. Gotta say though…even that didn’t help a lot of times. These University style books love to go way out of their way to explain something about a movie that really doesn’t need it or even have an explanation other than what is at face value. Here, Roche does a lot of quoting from other works of this sort, as well as giving his own insight, which I frankly think all of which is putting way too thought on this stuff. Let me give you a couple of examples.