“I don't think you're an idiot at all. I mean, there are elements of the ridiculous about you. Your mother's pretty interesting. And you really are an appallingly bad public speaker. And, um, you tend to let whatever's in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences... But the thing is, um, what I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that, um, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you, very much. Just as you are.”— Mark Darcy/the only man who has ever understood me/loved me/yes, I’m Bridget Jones, fuck off.
What is it, "Texas Horror?" - Part IIb
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was produced for approximately $140k in 1973 and released in 1974. It spawned multiple sequels, a remake, and a remake prequel. By no measure it is the “most successful” horror franchise; however, in broader terms of ROI as a body of film, they’ve collectively made decent bank.
The most glaring exception, the loss leader of the bunch is The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre aka The Next Generation aka TCM 4 from 1994. With an estimated budget of $600k (large in relation to previous entries) it flopped miserably even when it was reissued in 1997, when it earned the bulk of its lifetime gross. Rumor has it TCM 4 was intended as a continuation of the original 1974 release. It also boasted two Texas actors that would in short order break big in Hollywood: Matthew McConaughey, and Renee Zellweger. (Another rumor has it that Zellweger actively sought to suffocate TCM 4!) The 1997 reissue was clearly another bite at the box office apple. I personally dislike TCM 4 (I prefer the Californian TCM 3 to it) and that grates insofar as Kim Henkel, a Texas filmmaker who I very much respect directed and wrote it. By marking The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as my theoretical paragon, I’ve assigned de facto joint godfather status to him and Tobe Hooper.
The franchise as a whole is not the biggest winner of horrordom - and yet you’d be hard pressed to mention Texas to someone without an almost-immediate cognitive bell ring. TTCSM (shorthand for the 1974 original) not only made power tools scarier and inspired lackluster knockoffs, it permeated the language and pastiche of modern cinematic horror. As such, I contend that TTCSM’s contributions are so pervasive they constitute the visible precursors of Texas horror.
By now anyone reading this is probably very familiar with TTCSM. If not, here’s the quick rundown.
A group of young people traveling rural Texas byways run afoul of a homicidal family
Simple? The Devil is in the details ;)
To be continued…