“Texas Chainsaw 3D” — Slashing for Dollars, Past the Critics
Texas Chainsaw 3D wasn’t mentioned at the annual awards dinner of the New York Film Critics Circle last night, not even by Katie Couric and Charlie Rose, who bored the room while handing out awards, respectively, to Sally Field for her performance as Mary Todd Lincoln, and to Zero Dark Thirty, the thriller whose access to US torture methods is now under investigation. Not even by Michael Moore (but Moore had to forestall off an unexpected militant Catholic attack from the audience when he mentioned, handing out a prize to the deeply poignant documentary How To Survive a Plague, that the Pope had ignored the AIDS crisis for years). My guess is that the foremost effect of that investigation is that Zero Dark Thirty will get fewer Oscar nominations that were forecast six weeks ago.
Yet as guns fly off the shelves all over the country, the public was crowding into theaters to witness the latest in this slasher franchise in 3D, carving the splatter film’s way to the top of the box office. Were audiences piling into the cinemas because they feared that the 3D chainsaw bloodfest would be the last, as film violence came into the crosshairs of those who want to take assault rifles off the market?
Not likely. Before you could see an old Louisiana boy put some young kids on hooks in the slaughterhouse basement of a swamp mansion – if the script is off the rack, why not the bodies? — you went through a parade of trailers for upcoming bloodbaths, not least of which is the new Schwarzenegger vehicle, The Last Stand. The tag line on the poster is – “Retirement Is for Sissies.” Take a look at the poster – Schwarzenegger in shades shooting a gattling gun, an early version of the machine gun. Would a governor of a US state want ordinary citizens to do that? Would ordinary citizens want their governor to do that. The former gover-nator stressed in a recent interview that violence in films and media is not to blame for recent gun massacres in the US. He also said, according to the Guardian (UK), that “movies and real-life massacres should be ‘kept separate.’ “ Did he say that to the shooter who took his gun to a screening of The Dark Night Rises in Aurora Colorado on July 20? The description of that scene in testimony from cops who responded to the attack sounds a lot like a movie trailer.
Back to Texas Chainsaw 3D. With Tania Raymonde and Trey Songz in the cast, cynical marketers at Lionsgate (not that all marketers aren’t cynical) are luring a young crowd to the film – 64 per cent under 25 — it’s the generation that normally just downloads these splatter-fests illegally. Can you imagine how many slasher-junkies are streaming Texas Chainsaw 3D for free?
Rotten Tomatoes, the move review aggregate site, says that only 18% of critics liked Texas Chainsaw 3D. Once again, this dripping by-the-book bloodbath is a reminder that the audience is critic-proof. Sadly, it’s not bullet-proof.