I remember being completely mystified by Tobe Hooper’s original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as a kid. Although now I can look back and really appreciate the timeless, unsettling aesthetic that he and his crew created in grueling conditions, with limited resources, at that point in time my interest was completely vested in one thing: Leatherface. Here was this crazy looking, chainsaw-wielding dude who was dispatching people in horrific ways and yet I couldn’t help but think to myself “Man, this guy’s life sucks…”. The sense of sympathy I had for him was something that I had never felt for other similarly iconic “monsters” (I’m looking at you, Jason, Michael, and Freddy). For me, the inexcusable sense of pity he evokes is what sets Leatherface and the Chainsaw franchise apart from others of its ilk. Conceived literally of blood and sweat, I see Hooper’s original as the great American horror film that never got the direct sequel that it probably didn’t need, but definitely deserved.
Enter director John Luessenhop’s (Takers) Texas Chainsaw 3D. While time and the final cut may eventually prove my inclination false, based on what I seen of the film from its Shreveport, Louisiana set on August 12th, 2011, I believe that January, 4th, 2013 could finally bring fans new and old a true sequel that is worthy of the Hooper’s original. My set visit recap, including 10 things to know about the film and an exclusive new image, awaits on the other side of the jump.
Before I dive into the recap, I recommend watching Texas Chainsaw 3D‘s first trailer again and checking out the official synopsis below:
Lionsgate’s TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D continues the legendary story of the homicidal Sawyer family, picking up where Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic left off in Newt, Texas, where for decades people went missing without a trace. The townspeople long suspected the Sawyer family, owners of a local barbeque pit, were somehow responsible. Their suspicions were finally confirmed one hot summer day when a young woman escaped the Sawyer house following the brutal murders of her four friends. Word around the small town quickly spread, and a vigilante mob of enraged locals surrounded the Sawyer stronghold, burning it to the ground and killing every last member of the family–or so they thought.
Decades later and hundreds of miles away from the original massacre, a young woman named Heather learns that she has inherited a Texas estate from a grandmother she never knew she had. After embarking on a road trip with friends to uncover her roots, she finds she is the sole owner of a lavish, isolated Victorian mansion. But her newfound wealth comes at a price as she stumbles upon a horror that awaits her in the mansion’s dank cellars…
Now that you’re up to speed, I’ll kick things off with a list of 10 things to know about the film. Keep in mind this list is not intended to compile 10 breakthrough, never before known, revelations about the pic but rather things I learned while on set that I think are cool and worthy of mentioning. Also, some items in the list could possibly be considered “spoilers”. Proceed with caution:
- The film is being shot in 3D with RED Epic cameras. This was a point of pride for producer Carl Mazzocone who claims that a movie with their budget has no business investing in such an expensive, state-of-the-art camera.
- Most well known for his work on the Saw franchise, Mazzocone hints that Jigsaw may make an Eastern egg appearance at some point in the movie.
- Chainsaw 3D is intended to be the first installment of a new series. Mazzocone owns the rights to license up to six Chainsaw movies.
- This will mark the first Chainsaw movie since the original that inaugural Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen, has agreed to participate in.
- In addition to Hansen, original cast members Marilyn Burns and John Dugan will also appear in this film with Burns playing a new role and Dugan reprising the role of “Grandpa”.
- After consulting the filmmaker prior to the start of shooting, original co-scribe Kim Henkel told director John Luessenhop that Chainsaw 3D is his “favorite of the group” to be made since the original.
- As an homage to its predecessor, Mazzocone and company not only built a self-described exact replica of the Leatherface house from the original but also hosted a reunion at the house in which original cast members got together prior to shooting.
- Chainsaw 3D has the right to use “about 15 minutes” of footage from the original. Mazzocone says he believes it is the first hi-res scan that the original has ever received.
- Leatherface will wear multiple masks in Chainsaw 3D with one of them being referred to on set as his “rage mask”.
- As a true sequel to the original, the beginning of Chainsaw 3D will pick up right where part one left off (Black Maria truck driver included!) and tell you “what happened the rest of the day after Marilyn escaped”. From there, it will go decades into the future and feature an aging Leatherface.
Exclusive New Image
Below is a new image featuring Heather (Alexandra Daddario) and a looming Leatherface (Dan Yeager) that Lionsgate sent over earlier in the week [click for hi-res]:
While on set I had the privilege of watching a scene as it was being filmed. In terms of locale, the on-location set resided near the Cargill Regional Sports Complex in Shreveport. The set itself was literally transformed into a fully functioning carnival for which an actual fair company had been hired to set up carnival rides, games, and food stands for the duration of two-day shoot. Outside of the impressive attention to detail, another positive byproduct of the carnival set was the free Sno-Cones, but I digress…
Shooting on the scene didn’t begin until after the relentless Louisiana sun had retired for a few hours. Once things got underway, though, I received a quick lesson in how much coordination and patience is necessary across the entire crew when the cameras are rolling. The scene in question required around 150 extras to run frightened through the carnival from Leatherface who was in hot pursuit of Heather (Alexandra Daddario). The extras were just that, untrained locals who had little to no experience in front of a camera and, as a result, the scene required multiple takes so as to capture the sense of real fear that would likely be present when someone’s night at the fair gets interrupted by a maniac with a chainsaw.
As for the actors themselves (Yeager and Daddario specifically for this scene), the amount of physicality required for their respective roles was quite apparent as they both ran wildly through a frightened crowd of people numerous times in the name of getting the best take. On Daddario’s side of things, an emotional toll was at stake too as literal screams for help belted from the young actress time and time again. After a while it became tough to distinguish whether she was still in character or if she really needed aid. I assume this is exactly what everyone was going for, so chalk one up for success.
My role in all of this was to sit behind the monitors, wearing a pair of 3D glasses, and watch the horror unfold in beautiful 3D. That’s right, I said beautiful 3D. It isn’t something I say often and it isn’t something I say lightly. As someone who rarely finds 3D as actually adding to the cinematic experience, I have to say that I was impressed with the quality of the technology unfolding on the monitors in front of me. In fact, it’s likely that I’ll even willingly dish out the extra box office dollars for that additional dimension when it finally hits theaters.
To close, in the grand scheme of things this was only one scene that may or may not play a pivotal role in the final cut of the film. Nevertheless, I left the my chair behind the monitors with my expectations exceeded and a sense of genuine excitement for the final cut.
Like I mentioned in the intro, I left the set of Texas Chainsaw 3D truly believing that it could be a worthy successor to Tobe Hooper’s original. Granted, a film’s set is often times an environment where optimism springs eternal and the place where raw footage is yet to be subjected to the editorial decisions that will ultimately shape what the film will become.
Regardless of the pic’s final cut, though, I can honestly say as a fan of the franchise that I feel comfortable with the hands in which this film resides. The level of respect for what Hooper and co. achieved and the passion to do it justice was tangible throughout the cast and crew. Is it going to please every fan of the franchise and set a new gold standard for horror films? Probably not. Is it going to be a film that pays obvious tribute to its iconic predecessor while also trying to progress that story and its characters in the most entertaining and intelligent way possible? I really think so.
Finally, I’d like to thank Lionsgate for the opportunity to take part in the visit. Having been a Chainsaw fan since I was a kid, it was a surreal experience that I won’t soon forget. Here’s to hoping the end result is indicative of the extremely hard work and care that everyone I came into contact with during my day on set exhibited.
For more from our Texas Chainsaw 3D visit:
- Alexandra Daddario Talks About Starring in an Iconic Franchise, How This Film and the Original Differ and More on the Set of TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D
- Director John Luessenhop Talks Shooting the Film in 3D, Picking His Favorite Scenes from the Original and More on the Set of TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D
- Carl Mazzocone Talks His Role as Producer, Says the Goal Is to “Deliver the Best 3D Monster Movie of Modern Day” on the Set of TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D
- Scott Eastwood Talks His Character, Future Projects, and More on the Set of TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D