4 Shots From 4 Horrific Family Films: Spider Baby, The Baby, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville II: The Possession


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we have 4 shots from 4 films that all feature horrific families!

4 Shots From 4 Horrific Family Films

Spider Baby (1964, dir by Jack Hill)

The Baby (1973, dir by Ted Post)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, dir by Tobe Hooper)

Amityville II: The Possession (1982, dir by Damiano Damiani)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Tobe Hooper Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director: the master of Texas horror!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, dir by Tobe Hooper)

Eaten Alive (1977, dir by Tobe Hooper)

The Funhouse (1981, dir by Tobe Hooper)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (dir by Tobe Hooper)

Horror Book Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion by Stefan Jaworzyn


Originally released way back in 1974, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre continues to be one of the most iconic and influential horror films of all time.

Not only did the film terrify generations of filmgoers, it also undoubtedly inspired many people who lived up north to swear that they would never visit Texas.  (Speaking as a Texan, I appreciate it!)  So powerful was the impact of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that it is regularly cited as being one of the first “gore” films, despite the fact that barely a drop of blood is seen throughout the entire film.  Instead, what is seen is Sally (played by Marilyn Burns) screaming while running and Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) dancing with that chainsaw.

So, how did a group of hippies in Austin come to make one of the most famous movies of all time?  That is the question that is answered in the 2004 book, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion.  Written by Stefan Jaworzyn and featuring a foreword by Gunnar Hansen, this breezy and entertaining book contains almost everything you could possibly want to know about this film.  The book is largely an oral history, featuring lengthy quotes from the film’s cast and crew.  (For the most part, Jaworzyn allows the interviews speak for themselves and only occasionally interjects any editorial commentary.)  Along with detailing the film’s infamously difficult production (with Marilyn Burns nearly being driven to the point of an actual breakdown and Hansen, an otherwise sensitive poet, coming close to being possessed by his murderous character at one point), the companion also deals with crimes of Ed Gein and Tobe Hooper’s career both before and after his best known film.

Most interesting, to me, were the sections that dealt with how the head of the Texas Film Commission helped to secure The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a national distribution deal.  Considering that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre basically portrayed Texas as being a place where you could get killed if you made a wrong turn, the involvement of the Texas Film Commission may seem strange at first.  Some of the interviews in the book seem to suggest that the head of the Commission had a crush on Marilyn Burns.

It’s an entertaining book, even if I don’t agree with everything that Jaworzyn says.  (He calls Psycho overrated at one point.)  With the recent deaths of Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, and Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion now serves as something of a tribute to these three artists and the film that, to the surprise of everyone, changed cinema forever.

10 Horror Films That Should Have Been Nominated For Best Picture


Horror films!

Audiences love them but the Academy has never quite felt the same way.  True, there have been a few horror films nominated.  The Exorcist was a major contender.  Jaws was nominated.  So was The Sixth Sense.  Silence of the Lambs won.

But, for the most part, horror films have struggled to get Academy recognition.  While the Academy has recently shown a willingness to honor science fiction, the horror genre has yet to benefit from the decision to increase the number of best picture nominees.

Because I love horror and I love movies and I love lists, here are ten horror films that I think deserved a best picture nomination:

  1. Frankenstein (1931)

One of the most popular and influential horror films of all time, Frankenstein was sadly ignored by the Academy.  It’s certainly better remembered than the film that won best picture of 1931, Cimarron.

Psycho

2. Psycho (1960)

Psycho may have received nominations for best director, supporting actress, cinematography, and art design but the film that made people afraid to take showers did not receive a nomination for best picture.  The winner that year was a legitimate classic, The Apartment.  But it’s hard not to feel that Psycho should have, at the very least, received a nominations over the other 4 films nominated.

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3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero’s zombie classic may have set the standard for zombie movies to come but it was not honored the Academy.  The Academy was more comfortable with Oliver!

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4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

1974 was a very good year for the movies and certainly, I would not argue that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre deserved a nomination over The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, or Chinatown.  But over The Towering Inferno?  That’s another story.

5. Suspiria (1977)

Oscar nominee Dario Argento?  In a perfect world, yes.

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6) Halloween (1978)

The night he came home … to Oscars!  If nothing else, John Carpenter’s score definitely deserved to win.

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7) Dawn of the Dead (1979)

Few sequels have been nominated for best picture.  Dawn of the Dead definitely should have been one of them.  Who wouldn’t want to see, at the very least, Tom Savini’s speech as he accepted his special award for best makeup?

8) The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s film may be recognized as a classic now but the reviews, when it was first released, were mixed.  So, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that it wasn’t given any recognition by the Academy.  It’s a shame because I’ve watched The Shining a few dozen times and it still scares the Hell out of me.

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9) The Cabin In The Woods (2012)

One of the best films of the new century, this joyful tribute to the horror genre was sadly overlooked by the Academy in 2012.

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10) The Neon Demon (2016)

Is Nicholas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon truly a horror movie?  It’s close enough.  Though the film opened to mixed reviews, it’ll be recognized as a classic in another ten years.

 

Halloween Havoc!: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (Bryanston Pictures 1974)


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The first time I watched THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was at a drive-in around 1975. I remember laughing hysterically at the film; of course, I was tripping my brains out on mescaline at the time and laughed at anything! I’ve since viewed the film several times without chemical enhancement and I’m no longer laughing. I like it a lot, it’s a scary little exploitation shocker for sure, but one thing that really irks me is a  certain segment of critics who treat it as some kind of metaphor with deep meaning.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like here. The tension is gripping, the horror relentless, and Tobe Hooper did a terrific job working with a miniscule budget. It’s just that over the years, critics have overanalyzed the thing to death, expounding on the political and cultural ramifications of it’s themes and blah, blah, blah. Whether or not all this blathering about…

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4 Shots From Horror History: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jaws, Carrie, The Omen


This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we continue with the 70s!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, dir by Tobe Hooper)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, dir by Tobe Hooper)

Jaws (1975, dir by Steven Spielberg)

Jaws (1975, dir by Steven Spielberg)

Carrie (1976, dir by Brian DePalma)

Carrie (1976, dir by Brian DePalma)

The Omen (1976, dir by Richard Donner)

The Omen (1976, dir by Richard Donner)