Perfect Stranger Recap

Jamie

Rowena Price is an investigative journalist looking to take down her next big fish. That comes in the form of Harrison Hill, the man she presumes killed her friend (or does she?). Using her technological wizard friend and her undercover skillz, can she stop Harrison Hill (or perhaps herself?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Perfect Stranger.

How?! Rowena Price is an investigative reporter extraordinaire. She just loves breaking stories and taking names. But when her latest target gets away using his influence with her newspaper, she quits in disgust. A new big story is right on the horizon, though, when her childhood friend, Grace, shows up and reveals a steamy fling with big time ad man Harrison Hill. Rowena isn’t super interested until Grace turns up dead and Harrison isn’t even on the police’s radar. Using the mad hacking skillz of her friend Miles, she infiltrates Harrison’s company as a temp and catches his eye immediately. She also starts chatting with him via a dark web chat service and begins to compile evidence. Rowena plays hard to get, but uses Harrison’s attraction to her to attempt to hack his computer. When he walks in and accuses her of being a spy, she plays it off like she was leaving an innocent note. Harrison doesn’t totally believe her but like… she’s Halle Berry. Come on! So he says “fine, let’s go on a date,” at which he discovers text messages that totally blow her cover. Enraged, Harrison confronts her, but controls his anger and lets her go. While she’s still trying to figure out how to finish the story, Miles goes to the company himself and discovers the key to getting the police to look into Harrison. Meanwhile, Rowena discovers that Miles is a total creep, but that’s not important yet. In the end they are able to get the police to arrest Harrison and discover enough evidence to get him convicted. In the end, though, it’s revealed in a shocking twist that Rowena actually killed Grace and then set up the whole story because Grace had been blackmailing her. Miles figures this out and attempts to blackmail her too, but she kills him and we end wondering whether this terrible person will be arrested or not, but we also don’t care because we are so thrilled by the amazing twist or whatever. THE END.

Why?! The motivation in the film is the reason why reviewers were irritated with it. Like, Rowena kills Grace because she stole her boyfriend and was blackmailing her and stuff… and she totally gets away with it. Miles didn’t suspect her, Grace’s family didn’t suspect her, her boyfriend didn’t suspect her, and the police didn’t suspect her. Not a single person of importance suspected her. And yet she goes out of her way to do a deep, deep, deep investigation into the murder in order to frame Harrison Hill, a man she has never met, for a murder that no one actually thinks she did. And all while doing this she allows for Miles to figure out that she was the murderer, leading her to have to murder him and try to cover that up too. It’s… not great.

Who?! I agree with Patrick’s assessment that Ribisi’s character is a Planchet. He’s pining over Rowena while she doesn’t give him the time of day (despite being an elite hacker that does most of the heavy lifting in the investigation). He turns out to be a total creep, but before that he was a lamester Planchet for sure. We also have a cameo by Heidi Klum and per usual one of Bruce Willis’ daughters makes an appearance, this time Emma Heming Willis plays Donna.

What?! Finally we have some product placement to talk about! Much like in The Intruder, we are blessed with a main character who’s a rising star (or already risen star) in the advertising world. We see him charming high society at a Victoria’s Secret party for which Rowena stuffed an uncountable number of signature bags. We also see him putting the Heineken team at ease during a meeting (and this seemed to work on Rowena as she also drinks Heineken throughout the film). In fact, why even have the whole muddled murder plot? I am here for all this product placement.

Where?! Very solid NYC film. It even seemed like it focused on the advertising world in part because of the setting. ‘A modern day Mad Men!” say the Bad Movie Twins. “Marketing like you’ve never seen it before!” they rave while slam dunking Hienekens in our Reebok pumps at the big Victoria’s Secret show. A-. 

When?! There actually are a couple scenes with exact dates on them. Not sure they are all entirely consistent, but the one that’s very clear is a website with a number of news articles all dated 2/22/2006 and a date in the corner indicating that that’s the current date. That’s good enough for me and also makes it pretty clear we ain’t dealing with any secret holidays or anything. Booooo. C+.

Blah. Just blah. A boring film about terrible people being terrible and boring. Even the twist was kinda boring. Sure it turned out that the hero was actually the villain (as I expected), but I was also kinda hoping Grace would turn out to be a ghost. Alas, can’t win ‘em all. I really do think the issue with the motivation is what makes this so infuriating. Like… why? Why would she investigate the murder that she committed? There are some potential reasons, but most of them are dumb and I won’t even go into them. I really wish they just revealed that everything she ever did was a frame job. That her entire career was based on committing crimes, framing people for them, and then collecting Pulitzer Prizes for the revealing investigative reports she writes about the crimes she committed. In fact, I just copyrighted that. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this movie I would called it What a Twist! Because that’s what the movie is about. The twist at the end. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I think I was hoping this would be a return to form for the classic BMT erotic thriller. The Color of Night was an amazing BMT back in the day. And the genre is so scarce and fleeting to find another one (starring Willis no less) is quite fun. What were my expectations? Some gross erotic thriller action. Sock it to me! Pretend that like … pouring wax on one another is the pinnacle of sensuality put to film.

The Good – If you wanted to point at an erotic thriller that does a good job of explaining the reality of an erotic thriller look no further: these people wouldn’t all be suave rich people having sex with each other. They would be a bunch of gross people and then maybe a rich person exploiting them while a bunch of sex happens. That’s what this film really feels like. Berry is a woman who was molested as a young girl, and whose friend seems to have been murdered by a rich dude. And Ribisi is a straight up alcoholic and obsessed with Berry to a profoundly depressing extent. That is what an actual erotic thriller looks like. And I’ll have to give the movie a bit of credit for that.

The Bad – The movie is sooooooooo boring. For a while I was wondering whether the film was just really really confusing. But I think it is the opposite. The movie is so boring that my mind was wandering during whatever exposition they were giving me, and I became confused later on. Even when it was trying to be like a cat-and-mouse chasing of a murderer type film there is nothing actually of interest. All of the grossness of the characters I mentioned in the good section is also bad … because it makes me not care the Ribisi is going to either be a serial killer or get killed at the end. I just don’t care about these people … that isn’t a good thing.

The BMT – Naw, this pales so much in comparison to the early 90s thrillers that I can’t even be bothered to care about this film in the end. It is very little narratively going for it, and in the end I think this will get lost in the BMT shuffle. Did it meet my expectations? Nope. I wanted just a fraction of that sweet erotic thriller schlock, and it game be less than nothing. It gave me a gross, boring mess. No me gusta, get that outta here.

Roast-radamus – In its own weird gross way I do think Ribisi could be considered a Planchet (Who?). His entire arc in the film is just being dunked on over and over and then killed. Because the film focuses on an ad executive you know there is going to be some insane Product Placement (What?). In this case we have a gigantic party with Victoria’s Secret, and a subplot involving Reebok. Both great. A very Setting as a Character (Where?) for New York complete with riverside murder scenes, subways, and obviously too expensive apartments floating on subprime mortgage money. And then we are at the Worst Twist (How?) with them revealing it was our hero all along! Even after it looks like she got away with it, she didn’t, such is like. The film is so boring it has an outside shot at Bad I think in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – I’m not surprised this doesn’t have much cred. It is most notable for being boring and having an in your face awful twist. Also 2007 was one of the worst years in film as far as the sheer number of awful films being produced, so it can be forgive. It should get some credit for being a very-late-to-the-game erotic (ish) thriller at the very least.

You Just Got Schooled – For this one I ended up kind of accidentally discovering that The Last Boy Scout was the last time Bruce Willis and Halle Berry worked together prior to Perfect Stranger. I have to say, I loved it. It was a solid mix of 90s action with just enough sweaty noir to make everything kind of loose and fun. I thought both Willis and Wayans were amazing in this and I’m shocker they didn’t at least try to make a sequel, although I would have to assume it was Willis who decided he didn’t want to. The opening scene is still nuts, but it pretty quickly settled into great Willis/Wayans banter throughout. A. Legitimately, one of the most enjoyable homework assignments I’ve done for BMT.

Cheerios,

The sklogs

Perfect Stranger Quiz

Oh boy. Last thing I remember I was hanging out with my super suave boss, the next we’re recreationally taking some drugs straight to the eyeball and I don’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Perfect Stranger?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) At the beginning of the film Halle Berry is working on a kick ass new story. What is the story about?

2) Berry’s friend approaches her that night about a bit of light blackmail. Unfortunately, she dies that very night. By what method is she killed?

3) Berry, to crack the case, decides to infiltrate the company of ad exec Bruce Willis. What two products do we see them advertising for during the worse of the film?

4) In the end it turns out that Berry killed her friend and began framing Willis for it. Why?

5) Meanwhile, ultra-creepster Giovanni Ribisi, has unraveled the thread. What does he want in return for his silence?

Answers

Perfect Stranger Preview

The Cool Girls stroll on up to the table and look disdainfully at Rich and Poe, “Who are these total nerd babies, Steve?” the leader asks before snidely remarking to Rich and Poe, “Where are your nerd diapers and baby glasses, nerd babies?” But Steve steps in and reminds her that for their scheme to work they needed a couple more bodies, “Besides, Adestria, these nerds are cool. Right, nerd baby mates?” he says winking at them. Rich and Poe are starting to get a bad feeling about this. What scheme is he talking about? Just then, Steve steps up on a table and calls for quiet. The cafeteria hushes. “Attention,” he announces, “We already run this school and now it’s time to take it over for real,” and with that he snaps his fingers and all the kids rise up as one. My god, Rich and Poe think, it’s like Turbulence (the 1997 smash hit) up in here and they best make sure this plane don’t crash. Not to mention that things will go from bad to worse if their cover is blown. Suddenly a group of kids bring a teacher to the cool girls and push her to the ground, “We caught one, Adestria. What should we do with her?” But Adestria waves them away, “just get rid of her. I don’t care.” Panicked at the implication, Rich and Poe step in, “Uh, we’ll do it,” Poe says quickly. “Yeah, you can trust us to take care of it,” Rich adds. Adestria looks suspiciously at them but Steve reassures her once again, “They’re cool… They’re just a couple of nerds,” he insists. “But how can you trust these perfect strangers,” she whispers. Steve looks at them and nods, “Because they are my perfect nerd baby strangers.” That’s right! I’m ready to replace my couch cushions because those edges are about to be worn out. We are (finally, IMO) watching the star-studded, thrill-a-minute Perfect Stranger starring Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. It’s probably best known in the bad movie world for having a terrible twist ending. Which can only mean that the hero is in fact the villain. The second worst twist of all time (just after the entire film being a dream). This is my guess before watching the film, but it’s almost certainly correct. It never fails to infuriate. Let’s go!

Perfect Stranger (2007) – BMeTric: 41.2; Notability: 33 

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(The BMeTric is a lot higher than I would have thought, mainly because the number of votes is way higher than you would thought. The more I add these notabilities in here the more I realize having a score above 50 is really a truly rare thing. We should savor those more than we have previously I think.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Muckraking undercover reporter Berry, frustrated by a setback on a major story, takes on a more personal investigation after a girlhood friend a hers is murdered. Her high-tech pal Ribisi helps trace emails that point to high-profile ad exec Willis as a likely suspect, so Berry gets a job working for him, hoping to get close. She does. Slick thriller gets sicker as it goes along, leading up to a revelation you can’t see coming – because it doesn’t make much sense.

(Literally everything about this film is about how bad the last twist is lol. Which is why we chose it in the end. Kind of perfect … stranger.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGH5w7cXGl8/

(It looks very techno-erotic-thriller-y. It is going to be interesting to watch another erotic thriller starring Bruce Willis that was made what? 15 years after The Color of Night? That’s pretty funny.)

Directors – James Foley – (Known For: Fear; Glengarry Glen Ross; At Close Range; Confidence: After Dark; The Corruptor; After Dark, My Sweet; Two Bits; Future BMT: Who’s That Girl; BMT: Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed; Perfect Stranger; The Chamber; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1988 for Who’s That Girl; in 2018 for Fifty Shades Darker; and in 2019 for Fifty Shades Freed; Notes: Originally a music video director, he was tapped for the second and third Fifty Shades films after E. L. James negotiated closer control over the writing and production of the series.)

Writers – Todd Komarnicki (screenplay) – (Known For: The Professor and the Madman; Sully: Miracle on the Hudson; BMT: Perfect Stranger; Notes: Was the voice of the Wheaton athletics during his time there.)

Jon Bokenkamp (story) – (Known For: The Call; Future BMT: Taking Lives; BMT: Perfect Stranger; Notes: Creator of the television series The Blacklist which he’s been executive producer for over 100 episodes.)

Actors – Halle Berry – (Known For: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Kingsman: The Golden Circle; X-Men; Cloud Atlas; Die Another Day; X-Men: Days of Future Past; X-Men: The Last Stand; X-Men 2; Robots; Monster’s Ball; Jungle Fever; The Call; The Last Boy Scout; Executive Decision; Boomerang; Losing Isaiah; Bulworth; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Things We Lost in the Fire; Future BMT: The Flintstones; Dark Tide; B*A*P*S; Gothika; Kidnap; Father Hood; Kings; The Rich Man’s Wife; Race the Sun; Strictly Business; Frankie & Alice; BMT: Catwoman; Movie 43; New Year’s Eve; Perfect Stranger; Swordfish; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress for Catwoman in 2005; Nominee for Worst Actress in 2014 for Movie 43, and The Call; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Catwoman in 2005; Notes: She was the first African-American to win Best Actress for her work in Monster’s Ball. She was first runner up in Miss USA as well.)

Bruce Willis – (Known For: Pulp Fiction; Motherless Brooklyn; Sin City; Split; Looper; Die Hard; Twelve Monkeys; The Fifth Element; Moonrise Kingdom; The Sixth Sense; The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part; RED; Die Hard 4.0; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; Unbreakable; Ocean’s Twelve; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; The Expendables; Grindhouse; Planet Terror; Future BMT: Look Who’s Talking Too; Vice; The Cold Light of Day; The Prince; Extraction; Lay the Favorite; Precious Cargo; Breakfast of Champions; Reprisal; First Kill; Once Upon a Time in Venice; Cop Out; The Bombing; Acts of Violence; Marauders; Fire with Fire; Striking Distance; Rock the Kasbah; Rugrats Go Wild; The Story of Us; 10 Minutes Gone; Blind Date; Billy Bathgate; Loaded Weapon 1; Surrogates; Sunset; The Jackal; Last Man Standing; Tears of the Sun; Hostage; Glass; Grand Champion; Four Rooms; BMT: North; A Good Day to Die Hard; Color of Night; The Whole Ten Yards; Perfect Stranger; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; The Bonfire of the Vanities; Hudson Hawk; Mercury Rising; Death Wish; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Hudson Hawk in 1992; Winner for Worst Actor in 1999 for Armageddon, Mercury Rising, and The Siege; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1992 for Hudson Hawk; in 1995 for Color of Night, and North; and in 2019 for Death Wish; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Glass in 2020; Notes: Seemed like he was going to maybe have a little comeback with Glass, but that didn’t do too well. Does a ton of straight-to-VOD stuff, like Nic Cage, and is notoriously difficult to work with it is said.)

Giovanni Ribisi – (Known For: Avatar; Saving Private Ryan; Lost in Translation; Ted; The Bad Batch; The Virgin Suicides; That Thing You Do!; Cold Mountain; Public Enemies; Lost Highway; Ted 2; Selma; The Gift; Boiler Room; Contraband; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Results; SubUrbia; Heaven; The Dead Girl; Future BMT: The Mod Squad; A Million Ways to Die in the West; Masked and Anonymous; Flight of the Phoenix; I Love Your Work; Basic; The Big White; All the Rage; 10th & Wolf; The Other Sister; Middle Men; BMT: Perfect Stranger; The Postman; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Gangster Squad; Notes: His entire family, including his twin sister, is involved in show business. He became famous as Phoebe’s half-brother on Friends.)

Budget/Gross – $60 million / Domestic: $23,984,949 (Worldwide: $73,534,117)

(That isn’t so great. I wonder how much of that is just Willis’ paycheck. The domestic take is awful, but it is merely a $20 million or so hit once you add in worldwide.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (14/142): Despite the presence of Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, Perfect Stranger is too convoluted to work, and features a twist ending that’s irritating and superfluous. It’s a techno-thriller without thrills.

(Again, most of the time all of the reviews are just hung up on the ending. This ending better be just the worst thing you’ve ever seen. Reviewer Highlight: That’s right, it’s a techno thriller that treats the already clichéd topic of Web abuse with an idiotic sense of discovery. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.)

Poster – Perfect Stranger 2: Even More Perfect (A-)

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(I have a sneaking suspicion this poster has little to do with the actual plot of the film, but I’ll let this slide because I think it’s actually kind of cool and interesting. Better font and I’d be raving about it.)

Tagline(s) – How Far Would You Go To Keep A Secret? (D)

(Wait a sec… is this a second rhetorical question tagline in a row? Turbulence had one and then this one too. We really have stumbled onto something potentially interesting to look into. They went a little long and cliche for this, though. Like this could be a tagline for like twenty different terrible films. Thus it is terrible.)

Keyword – erotic thriller

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Top 10: Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Basic Instinct (1992), Original Sin (2001), Fatal Attraction (1987), Basic Instinct 2 (2006), Wild Things (1998), Unfaithful (2002), Indecent Proposal (1993), Body Double (1984), Sliver (1993)

Future BMT: 60.3 Sliver (1993), 49.4 In the Cut (2003), 39.2 Diabolique (1996), 37.8 Never Talk to Strangers (1995), 35.6 Indecent Proposal (1993), 32.4 The Crush (1993), 28.9 Original Sin (2001), 28.0 Deception (2008), 23.2 Goodbye Lover (1998), 18.1 Whispers in the Dark (1992);

BMT: Basic Instinct 2 (2006), Color of Night (1994), Body of Evidence (1992), Perfect Stranger (2007), Jade (1995), Twisted (2004)

(You can see the early 90s boom, and for real the genre fell off a cliff. I don’t think it’ll ever recover. It is a genre of a time when the US became somewhat accepting of sex in film, but didn’t respect itself enough to care about the kind of sex it was showing in film. I think that makes sense.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Giovanni Ribisi is No. 3 billed in Perfect Stranger and No. 2 billed in Gone in 60 Seconds, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 13. If we were to watch Last Man Standing, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – The filmmakers filmed three different endings to the film, each with a different character as the killer. (ha!)

The film’s original setting was New Orleans. During pre-production, Hurricane Katrina struck; the script was quickly rewritten to take place in New York City.

Miles’ phone number (seen when Hill reads the text message on Ro’s mobile phone in the restaurant) is shown as 917-867-5309–a nod to Tommy Heath’s classic rock hit “867-5309/Jenny”, which repeats the phone number (sans area code) in the refrain.

As Rowena enters World Trade Center building Seven (26:15), where Hill’s agency is located, Larry Silverstein the actual owner of the entire WTC complex make a cameo appearance at the security desk.

Miles says that it will take Ro three minutes and fourteen seconds to download the spyware, “but that’s an approximation.” 3.14 is an approximation of pi. (That’s dumb)

The film includes extensive product placement for Sony Vaio, Reebok, Heineken, and Victoria’s Secret. (Sweet, the Victoria’s Secret one is off the chain).

Heidi Klum: The Victoria’s Secret Angel that introduces Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis) at the Victoria’s Secret party.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning Recap

Jamie

Leatherface is back, Jack! Or perhaps he’s just getting started. Two brothers are heading across Texas with their girlfriends in order to report for Vietnam (or are they?). On the way they are taken captive by a sadistic family led by Hoyt and his nephew Leatherface. Can they escape the mayhem before it’s too late? Find out in… Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. 

How?! We open with the origin of Leatherface, from his tragic birth to his even more tragic start as a murderer, when the meat packing plant he works in closes down and he chooses to murder the owner. His uncle Hoyt helps him escape the law and takes on the guise of the local sheriff. A short time later, a gang of youngsters are roadtripping across Texas, this time in order for Eric and Dean to report for duty for Vietnam. Dean is planning to draft dodge, but before he can fully admit it to Eric they tangle with an angry biker resulting in a car crash. When Hoyt shows up he kills the biker and thus we begin hours of on screen torture that I’m sure someone out there enjoyed. Anyway, they are all packed up and taken to the family home while Chrissie, Eric’s girlfriend who was thrown from the crash, climbs into the wreck when it’s towed to the house. She quickly realizes that her friends have been taken captive and she heads for help. She finds a biker and convinces him to come help while Eric, Dean, and Dean’s girlfriend Bailey attempt and fail to escape. Returning with the biker, Chrissie finds Eric, but he’s murdered in front of her by a chainsaw. Leatherface, well… takes his face all while the biker is killed like a dope. This is all very graphic and unpleasant. Chrissie then tries to save Bailey but is captured and joins the family and her friends for dinner. She and Dean manage to escape and head to the meat packing plant. There Dean saves Chrissie’s life and she manages to get away… except we know she doesn’t because this is a prequel. Leatherface pops out and kills her and everyone dies. Sad. THE END. Big Question: There must have been an audience for the neverending gore, torture, and lack of scares or else they wouldn’t have made it… right?

Why?! We do get a better picture of the motivations expressed in the remake. In that one they made it seem like the family is motivated in part by revenge against those that insulted them. In particular those that bullied Leatherface due to his skin condition. In this film, though, they make it seem more like Hoyt was driven insane from his time in the Korean War as a POW and then uses the perceived insults of society against the family to rile them up to murder and/or accept murder and cannibalism… a little zag there.

Who?! I’ll take this opportunity to highlight another movie monster actor. Andrew Bryniarski is interestingly the only actor to ever portray Leatherface twice in both the remake and this film. He was a former bodybuilder who broke onto the scene as Butterfinger in Hudson Hawk. He drummed up some controversy after making some insensitive remarks upon the death of Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface. Not a good idea if you want to keep raking in that Leatherface money. 

What?! These films generally lack much for this category given the horror genre (which spooks advertisers) and the fact that they’re generally set in the past. Obviously there are a huge number of props out there for the film, given the horror market on these things, but interestingly not many for sale at the moment. 

Where?! Gotta love the series that has given us so many A+ settings. It’s interesting that much like the temporal setting of these films, it’s probably impossible for them to ever stray from the Texas setting. It’s in the name and would be real weird to release The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Takes Manhattan… but I’d be there for it.

When?! The reboot was more specific with the time, but this still is pretty close. It’s set in July 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War, and that plays a prominent part in the plot. Probably not prominent enough to boost it up into A territory, but enough to get it to a B, despite not having an exact date.

While I could see the interesting choices made in the remake, while also admitting that it just wasn’t the type of film for me, this one really doubled down on the stuff I didn’t like from that one. They let R. Lee Ermey run wild and then upped the gore to the extreme. This must have been in some kind of apex of this type of horror film or something because in the 2003 film they cut Jessica Biel’s pregnancy storyline and removed the scene when a kid was murdered by Leatherface because that crossed a line. Here that was all out the window. It is tough to watch and almost laughably not scary. They aren’t even really trying to scare you until near the end of the film. That’s all without even mentioning the fact that they somehow still managed to rehash everything in the 2003 film for this film. If you’re going to make a torture movie then at least do something different with it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Just when we caught up with BMT we get sucked back into a bad horror franchise. This does mean we will only be two films away from completing the entire series. Well … I’m impressed, so whatever. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – After watching the first film and reading the preview I would assume that this is basically the same as the first except that they did everything wrong instead of most things as right as you could (given it is a remake of a classic horror film). So let’s see: they’ll redo the dinner scene and up the ante on the gore. I hope I’m wrong. What are my expectations? Now this one I fully expect to despise. Otherwise I’ll have to declare myself immune to gross-out gory horror.

The Good – Not much! I guess you have to give credit where it is due: this has by far the most chainsaw action and kills of any of the six films in the series. If you like prequels riddled with callbacks this is your movie as well. Like if you watched the remake and thought “I wonder how Hoyt had his teeth knocked out,” then guess what? You’re going to be pleased to know you find out. Also if you like frequent call backs to the original classic film they dole out those in spades as well.

The Bad – Nearly everything? I started this film and all of a sudden I had an overwhelming sense of deja vu. At first I thought “wait … this is the same story as the remake!” But guess what? If you think about it, five of the first six films have the same goddamned story! And with that my brain rejected the film. I hated this film. I’m going to declare it dog poo in my face. So there, take that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning! It is grosser, and weirder, and … if this is your style of film (it isn’t mine) then this really cranks the formula up to 11. And for me that made it a very unpleasant viewing experience.

The BMT – I hope to almost immediately forget this film exists in the coming weeks, but it’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with the Friday the 13th series as far as film series we somewhat illogically decided to watch all of the entries for (eventually, still two Massacre films to go). Unlike Friday the 13th I think I’ve liked each subsequent entry less than the previous one except for the remake. My ranking is basically: 1, 2, 5, 3, 6, 4. And my defense for liking the second is that at least it had a new and kind of amusing story. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, although I expected to hate it just for the gore, but ended up hating it because it was a retread as well, so it has that going for it.

Roast-radamus – Another Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, another A+ Setting (Where?) for BMT. Also I like that there all end up being weird Period Piece (When?) entries because for whatever reason people feel like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has to take place in the 70s? I do think this has a decent shot at the Bad entry at the end of the year as well. I’ll leave it at that, while there was a bunch of twist-y callbacks, that was mostly to service the prequel formula.

StreetCreditReport.com – This manages to be perfectly in between the time in which big publications were doing worst of lists and when the more consistent lists (like the AV Club) started being developed. I can’t find it anywhere, but I think by the time this came out the critics who didn’t feel like seeing the prequel to the 2003 version just ignored it. But if Ebert did review it, it would have gotten a thumbs down I’m sure. Its cred comes from its predecessor anyways.

You Just Got Schooled – Naturally for a two film series why not watch two good films in a series: Happy Death Day 2U. I’m actually a bit surprised this got almost the exact same critical reception as the first. I found this one to diverge too much from the horror formula to be interesting. It is, instead, a sci-fi alternate dimension comedy. To be frank, that’s not what I signed up for. Initially I was excited because it seemed like maybe they were going to focus on another character in the film (Ryan Phan), but then they just went back to Tree again and with that my interest waned. I kind of just wished it was a bit better because the writer-director clearly loves time travel films, so it would have been fun to explore more horror-comedy versions of those types of films. I don’t like genre mash-ups in general, and here they tried to mash up three genres into one. Guess what? That’s two too many genres. C+.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) Recap

Jamie

Leatherface is back, Jack! Or am I just (re)imagining it? When a group of friends find themselves trapped by a sadistic family of murderers led by Hoyt and his nephew Leatherface, they must try to escape with their skin intact. Can they find a way out (and finally take down the family) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).

How?! We open on a backcountry road of Texas. A group of teenage-to-mid-thirties teenyboppers are on their way to a concert after visiting Mexico for some illicit fun. They include couple Kemper and Erin (who is obviously pregnant, but this seems to be abandoned part way through the film), Andy and his new hitchhiker boo Pepper, and jokester Morgan. When they see a young woman wandering the road they pick her up only to have her pull out a gun and kill herself. They try to find the police but are directed to an old mill, where a creepy kid directs Kemper and Erin even further into the wilderness to an old house. There, Kemper is taken by Leatherface, one of a family of psychos that prey on ne’er do wells like them. Freaked out, Erin gets Andy to go back with her and search for him, resulting in him also getting captured. She runs back to a van only to have a crazy cop, Hoyt, come and brutalize them and arrest Morgan. Erin and Pepper try to drive away, but Leatherface tracks them down and kills Pepper. Erin runs into the woods, but is taken in by a couple of other creeps and drugged. She wakes up with the psycho family, who explains to Erin (aka the audience) about everything that is going on. She’s put in the basement where she finds Morgan and is helped by the creepy kid to escape. They get to an abandoned house where Morgan sacrifices himself to help Erin get away. She makes it to the slaughterhouse where she is able to subdue Leatherface and escape to a truck. In a final climactic scene she is able to steal back a baby that the family has taken and get Hoyt’s cop car. She kills Hoyt with the car and escapes to freedom, thus ending The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Big Question: wait… this actually isn’t that bad, right?

Why?! Unsurprisingly the motivations in horror films get real weird the longer the series goes on. So we get a little breather with the reboot as they get to start over. Here they add in the wrinkle that the family doesn’t just kill and eat people, but also steals their children to raise as their own… in fact, it’s not till the prequel that they make it clear that they even eat them. Additionally, they goad Leatherface into murderous rage by invoking his childhood bullying due to his skin condition. So that’s slightly different than the previous films.

Who?! There are a couple Special Thanks that maybe seem music related. But I think the most notable thing for this film might end up being something that we focus on for a future cycle or just for this portion of the recap: the narrator. Here we get some opening and ending narration that is done by none other than John Larroquette. And you might be like “Wow, how did they get superstar John Larroquette to narrate this film?” Well… it’s because he narrated the original. Say whaaaaaaaaaa?!

What?! There apparently was several attempts at product placement for this film, but they didn’t come to fruition. It’s explained on the director commentary, but we unfortunately didn’t listen to it. While researching that I also stumbled across a book that posits that this film is a shift in the series to more erotic objectification male bodies rather than female. Which is interesting because Biel spends the latter half of the film running around in a tight white t-shirt in a rainstorm. But perhaps that’s a clash between director (Nispel – who directed Pathfinder and the new Conan and stuff) and producer (Bay).

Where?! It’s actually starting to get boring just writing over and over that these films are A+ films. Obviously set in Texas, obviously in the title, and obviously plays a role in the film given the isolation and backwoods characterization of the psycho family. 

When? I do have to give the new films some BMT props for really nailing down the timeline. They make it abundantly clear that it’s August 18th, 1973 when the events of the film take place. It’s an interesting quirk of Texas Chainsaw Massacre that they seem to feel compelled to keep the film set in the 70’s in the reboot. It’s not like when they rebooted Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street that they were like “no, it has to be set in the 80’s”. I think for that reason only it crosses from B+ to A-.

While this is not my type of movie, I actually kind of appreciated that they made some changes and choices that were unexpected. I really just expected a rehash of the original with increased gore (people forget that the original really doesn’t have much gore). Instead they added different reasons for how the kids get ensnared, a whole new family, and seemed to consciously eschew certain classics that had been a part of every Chainsaw film up to that point. Like I was truly shocked when there wasn’t a family dinner scene. This may in fact be the only film in the series without one. Add to that some pretty OK acting and if you allow for the fact that these movies generally exchange gore for scares (not a great exchange in my opinion) then I think this actually isn’t all that bad. I daresay it’s maybe even a little underrated in reaching BMT qualification. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We just couldn’t get enough of our friend Leatherface. Can he redeem his honestly pretty bad turn as horror icon from the original quadrilogy (or is that a trilogy plus a remake … it is hard to tell)? You’ll just have to read to find out. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Everything about this preview screams: Patrick you will hate this. Every bit of it suggests it is a sadistic horror film focused on gore. Which is, quite literally, my least favorite sub-genre of horror. So I don’t know what to say, I was going in ready to be disappointed. What were my expectations? To be disgusted and disappointed. I’ve grown to love horror films over the last few years, but really it is mostly the eerie ones focused on hauntings and curses and evil demons and such that I like. The goofy slashers are fun and can be some of the best the genre has to offer, but some time in the 2000s they veered off course into gore. I expected to be very upset coming out of this film.

The Good – I actually wasn’t upset by this film. The R-rated cut is, for the most part, tame enough that I could handle it. It was mainly the Ermey parts that got on my nerves (he was fine, his character was just a bit distasteful, and not in the “I’m a cannibal” kind of way). Overall, surprisingly, the film is a pretty decent reimagining of the classic. At the very least it isn’t nearly as bad as one could have expected. And that’s good. Oddly the very warm sepia look works for 70s / August / Texas, I was practically sweating watching the film.

The Bad – This film is bad in precisely the ways you would think it is bad. It is basically a reimagining of a classic horror film, and that always begs a question (why?). And it is a genre that I would guess only a small portion of the general population genuinely enjoys (gory horror, which some call sadistic horror). There are definitely goofy parts (Leatherface wearing Eric Balfour’s face). And there are definitely weird storyline choices (the hitchhiker and baby are good narrative decisions, but end up requiring a lot of explanations to build a coherent story). But as I said, this is all expected in my opinion. It was basically the least bad it could be.

The BMT – All of that being said it feels like they actually managed to get through this film relatively unscathed. It didn’t damage itself too much trying to reimagine a classic. It built up Leatherface and the family effectively. In an alternative universe this is a pretty decent jumping off point to a larger 2000s Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. But that wasn’t meant to be it seems. Did it meet my expectations? Maybe my constitution is hardening, but I actually didn’t think the film was too bad. I think there was maybe only one moment where I thought the gore was over the top (the suicide scene). Otherwise I handled it pretty well. Which is definitely a plus for the film.

Roast-radamus – Obviously, yet again, we got a Setting as a Character (Where?) with the A+ setting of Texas. And Period Piece (When?) for the clear and present 70s set piece. I don’t think it’ll get much of the other options unfortunately. No real twists or turns or anything, this kids are just here to die by the hands of Leatherface. I don’t think it’ll get Good either, it is too gross, and that is the closest it would have come to those awards. Pretty sparse options in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – Not surprisingly given it got a very rare thumbs down (zero stars) from Roger Ebert, but it beat out some solid competition to be declared his number one worst movie of 2003. Even crazier is that both that video and the Rolling Stone list from that year included Masked & Anonymous, a film that appears to have only been released to 25 theaters which I had never heard of. Wild stuff. Regardless, that thumbs down is all the cred you need.

You Just Got Schooled – I was sitting around last Friday really not wanting to watch this movie when I stumbled onto a horror series which I had meant to watch: Happy Death Day. And perfect, there are two of them available. I knew the vague concept for the first one already (horror Groundhog Day), and it didn’t disappoint for the most part. I like the main actress, I liked the kind of amusing way she goes about trying to solve her own death, and I liked that the film acted as a kind of inventive-kill-buffet at times. But the twist was pretty telegraphed (if you paid attention), and I wish they hadn’t made the time loops semi-persistent (giving her a finite number of loops to get things right basically). It worked well enough, but I’m a bit surprised they decided to go with a direct sequel instead of maybe reworking it into an amusing television premise or something. It seems like they could’ve squared the circle a bit and come out with something even more fun using a rebooted format. I liked it though. Solid B.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning Quiz

Man, this can’t be right, I must have hit my head real hard, because I seem to be watching the same movie over and over and over again. Do you remember what happened in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open with two brothers and their girlfriends riding through Texas. But where are they going?

2) Meanwhile we meet the sadistic Charles Hewitt, who soon becomes the sadistic Sheriff Hoyt. How does he become Hoyt?

3) In this film they, for some reason, everyone are cannibals again. Why? Why is Hoyt, and thus his family, a group of cannibals?

4) In the first film the family is a group of psychos who want to continue their grandfather’s legacy of being the best killer (in his case it used to be cows, but now it is humans) in Texas. In the second amusingly they kill to get meat to win chili cook-offs. The third is roughly the same as the first. In the fourth (wait for it) they kill as a grand Illuminati conspiracy (not joking). In the remake it seems to be just as amusement. But why oh why do they kill in The Beginning?

5) There are six main deaths in the film, our four young heroes and the two bikers (there is the meat packing business owner, Hoyt the sheriff, presumably Leatherface’s mother, and the two people right at the end, but let’s ignore those as they are somewhat minor). How did they all get killed?

Answers

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) Quiz

Huh, the last thing I remember I was running away from a psycho with a chainsaw and then I found so real nice ladies who gave me some tea … but I can’t remember anything after that. Do you remember what happened in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Where are our unfortunate group of teens coming from, and where are they going to before getting waylaid by Leatherface’s psycho family?

2) How do the kids get tied up into Leatherface’s family in general, what sequence of events puts them at the old Mill where they first meet the Hewitt family?

3) Can you describe the Hewitt family? The different members we meet throughout.

4) How do the four teens die?

5) Who’s baby does Biel save at the end of the film?

Answers