Book Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Readings
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La Corte Barrio, near Heritage Park Plaza, Fort Worth Texas
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was much more than a low budget drive-in movie; it became a phenomenon of mythical proportions. And like most myths it also became a source of much misinformation. It has been written about in lowbrow publications like FANGORIA and discussed by mainstream film critics like Rex Reed and Roger Ebert alike, but factual information about the film is sketchy at best and hard to come by.
There are two books available that I can recommend: the first being “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion” by Stefan Jaworzyn published by Titan Books in 2003, which devotes about the first 111 pages to the original film, then gives individual chapters to the four other sequels and remakes filmed prior to 2003 (there have been others made since 2003, most best not discussed here or anywhere else)
I got all the way through CHAINSAW II but never made it past the first 15 minutes or so of any of the others. Neither CGI, 3D or a multi-million dollar budget will ever substitute for the integral charm of the first film.
Companion interviews the surviving actors and actresses (Jim Siedow passed away in 2003, Marilyn Burns passed away in 2014 and Gunnar Hansen passed away in 2015) as well as almost everyone involved with the sequels and remakes. The book has many interesting photos, but is written in a choppy hard-to-follow format that seems more designed to give one a headache than to inform. Best recommended for completists and hardcore fans of the film series.
Better yet and much more worth searching for is the late Gunnar Hansen's “Chainsaw Confidential” (Chronical Books, 2013) which devotes itself strictly to telling all the inside dirt about the making of the original film. It has many behind-the-scenes photos and does a much better job of explaining how the film was made, a story that is almost as compelling as the film itself. Hansen does a great job of bringing the reader “into the moment” of making the film, describing in detail the long hours and the miserable working conditions of making a movie in the 100-degree Texas summer humidity. Reading his book you will sweat and want to take a shower and brush your teeth afterward, then sip a cold drink in front of a fan.
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