Author Archives: Matthew T.

About Matthew T.

Editor of the Blood Theatre.

The Burning poster

Burning, The

1981 / d. Tony Maylam
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In a subgenre dominated by lemons, there are few films that can adequately measure up to THE BURNING.  Certainly the idea of a camping excursion gone horribly awry is nothing new to the slasher film – entire franchises have been built around it – but there is something skillful about the execution of THE BURNING that makes it so endearing and memorable.  The plot can essentially be boiled down to good old-fashioned revenge: Cropsy, the camp caretaker, is the recipient of a horrible prank-gone-wrong. After becoming disfigured beyond recognition, he returns to extract his vengeance on the kids at Camp Blackfoot. Featuring a plethora of visceral treats from gore-maestro Tom Savini, the film offers up a delightful smorgasbord of garden-sheer mutilations, amputations, and stabulations (I might have invented one of those words);  fingers fly, necks are sliced, and – true to its name – people are burned. Watch for appearances by Holly Hunter and a young Jason Alexander!

(As an aside: if you’re looking for more information on THE BURNING, I highly urge you to check out Justin Kerswell’s retrospective on his website: Hysteria Lives.)

Texas

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 3D

Written & Directed by: John Luessenhop
Starring:
Alexandra Daddario
Dan Yeager
Trey Songz
Scott Eastwood
Tania Raymonde

I’ve said it before: I’m a sucker for gimmicks. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is a franchise that has spanned over three decades, and finally, seven instalments later, we are rewarded with a 3D film. Of course the question is, was it worth the wait? Or does this sequel fall into the heap of lacklustre efforts, the likes of which we’ve grown all-too-accustomed to seeing from long-running franchises?

Surprise surprise, this was the moviegoing experience of trying to make a bonfire with damp wood: every so often there’s a spark and a promise of something great, but instead it fizzles out and leaves you disappointed and frustrated.

It’s a shame, really, because I was absolutely jazzed after the first two minutes. They manage to recap the entire 1974 classic in mere moments, digitally restoring the picture and infusing it with surprisingly phenomenal 3D. I honestly would have left satisfied watching the entirety of the original film in 3D of that quality, but sadly, it was just a saw-tease.

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D is unique in the sense that it more-or-less gives the finger to its franchise predecessors and says: “Fuck you guys, Imma do my own thing.” Which it does… just poorly. Aiming to be a direct sequel to the original ’74 film, it picks up directly where the first film leaves off: exit Sally deliriously screaming in the back of a pickup truck, enter the police sherif on his way to the Sawyer Family’s House of Horrors. At this point I was still okay with it, but what happened next made my brain respond with, “Okay Matt, I’m checking out, buddy! I’ll see you when the end credits are rolling!”

The sherif, having arrived at the house, coaxes the family to come out and surrender. Inside the house, in a pseudo-DEVIL’S REJECTS scene, we see the family huddled together, prepared to defend themselves from the evil authorities. Bill Moseley replaces Jim Siedow, which made for a nice touch, and Gunnar Hansen also has a brief cameo, as the bearded man with a rifle. Oh, what’s that? You don’t remember there being a bearded man with a rifle living in the house with Leatherface and his family? Oh right, that’s because there was none! Somehow they managed to add a whole handful of extras into the house, making no explanation for who they were, or why they were even necessary. It simply didn’t make sense.

Let’s fast-track, so try and stay with me here. Inside the house, amongst those new bearded men with guns who miraculously appeared, is a woman holding her baby. Enter: a lynch mob. Apparently not content with the sherif trying to uphold the law, they decide to open up their own can of vigilante justice — taking a cue from the angry Elm Street parents — torching the house and murdering the family. The dirty work seems to be done, until one of the mob members finds the baby and proceeds to take it in secret, as a gift for his wife.

With the backstory complete, we then flash-forward to the present day, where we see the baby has grown up into the charmingly goth Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario). I’d like to take a moment to just point something out, here. If she was a baby in 1974, and the film jumps to present day… should she not be, oh, forty years old? Why then does she look like she’s in her early twenties?

And on that note, simply because I can’t stomach to think about this film anymore, I’m going to start wrapping up this review. Suffice it to say, she learns of her unsettling lineage, and returns to Texas for what becomes another — you guessed it — massacre (with a chain-saw, in case that wasn’t implied). The plot is so contrived and ludicrous I could go on and on, but I’ll force myself not to, simply because I’d rather use my time to review better, more worthwhile films.

If you find yourself watching it — purely out of morbid curiosity, or because you’re a completist — it will do nothing more than make you realize how much you love the original 1974 gem. As cliched as it sounds, they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

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Martyrs

2008 / d. Pascal Laugier
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Not since my first viewing of Fred Vogel’s AUGUST UNDERGROUND had I seen a movie that so strongly elicited the response: this is fucked up. After a slow and deceptively tame exposition, a brutally sadistic development plays out, featuring such explicit and unrelenting violence it leaves the viewer feeling completely overwhelmed. In fact, if the movie has a fault it would be in its pacing: by the time we reach the shocking climax we’ve already become desensitized from the sheer violence-overkill, which softens the impact of the conclusory scenes. Regardless, it’s a dark and effective film — aggressive in its execution and memorable in its fearless showcase of tortuous special effects. But beneath the gory visceral surface lies a deep commentary, raising fundamental (and profoundly horrifying) questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, and the existence of life after death. Be forewarned: it is impossible to walk away from MARTYS untouched; its stark, nihilistic imagery will forever be burned into your mind.