Yes, ‘Halloween’ Really Is a Knockoff of ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ (Column)

Yes, ‘Halloween’ Really Is a Knockoff of ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ (Column)

10/17/2021 7:45:00 PM

Yes, ‘Halloween’ Really Is a Knockoff of ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ (Column)

Occasionally a critic will write something that gets readers seriously riled. God knows I’ve done it. If I had to list my three greatest hits of outrage, they would probably be my pans of “Pr…

,'” adding, “but let’s leave that topic for another time.” That was meant to be a shorthand quip. I never intended to leave the topic for another time. What I meant is that I had no active desire to explore it, since I’ve already explored it so often. I felt it didn’t need to be belabored

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again.But oh, what a trigger that sentence turned out to be! The response on Twitter was fast and brutal. Here are some tweets that sum up the reaction:“Halloween is a knock-off of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on what planet? They couldn’t be any more different in style, tone, story, social commentary, etc.”

“I think we can all dismiss Owen Gleiberman’s Halloween Kills review as he thinks the original Halloween stole directly from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This following behind a long, sad chain of critics who have no respect for the horror genre.”“Hey Variety, if you ever want someone who’s actually seen Halloween ’78 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre enough times to know they’re really NOTHING alike, hit me up.” headtopics.com

“Wait. How is the original Halloween a knockoff of TCM?! Had you said Black Christmas, I would’ve been like I can accept that. But TCM?!!!”“Totally excremental review by someone who doesn’t know excrement about the subject matter.”“What do you expect from a by-the-numbers hack like Gleiberman?”

“Owen PLEASE explain the Texas Chainsaw Massacre parallel.”Okay, I will. But first a bit of background. I became a horror fanatic in the ’70s, because I happened to grow up then, but also because that decade was a high-water mark for horror, one that spawned so many of the tropes that rule horror cinema to this day. Just think of all the classics that came out during that era. “The Exorcist.” “Alien.” “Carrie” (one of the two films that made me want to be a film critic). “The Wicker Man.” “Dawn of the Dead.” “Don’t Look Now.” “The Tenant.” “The Omen.” “The Last House on the Left” and “The Hills Have Eyes.” And, yes, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Halloween.” The ’70s was the formative age of contemporary horror, a time when horror films across the spectrum were listening to and talking to each other. To be a horror fan back then was to drink from a cornucopia of movies that seemed, in their extreme way, to capture what was going on in the world as much as any movies you could name.

The first time I saw “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” it knocked me sideways. It wasn’t a documentary, but it almost felt like one; it seemed to weave the terror of real experience into its grungy vision of hell on earth. I went back to see it again and it was just as scary. Once, in the early ’80s, I saw it stoned, and it was scarier than ever. I’ve seen “Chain Saw” about 20 times, more than I’ve seen any other horror movie except for “Psycho.” It’s no accident that those two films loom so large. They‘re the twin poles of modern horror, and they’re intimately connected. “Psycho,” which I consider to be one of the 10 greatest films ever made, is the demon seed that spawned the slasher genre — but apart from its pure fear factor,

it’s really a movie about the death of God. At the end of the shower scene, we feel hope and faith are swirling down that drain right along with Marion Crane’s blood.“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” echoed the shock and terror of “Psycho,” but in a wild-ass rural-devil counterculture way. It’s very much a post-’60s movie. “Psycho’s” Marion Crane, with her furtively erotic and sly-eyed scheme of stealing $40,000 so she can get married, is now, in effect, a group of roving kids in a van who act out the license of the sexual revolution, and there’s a Mansonite madness to the whole thing. “Chain Saw,” like “Psycho,” was based on the case of Ed Gein, the Wisconsin serial killer of the 1950s, and both films unfold in an existential trap-door world where a lunatic with a bad weapon can slice the life out from under you. headtopics.com

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I didn’t see “Chain Saw” during its original 1974 drive-in run. But I saw “Halloween” the day it opened, on Oct. 25, 1978, and my feeling about it, which has never changed (I’ve seen it about six times), is that it’s a clever and diabolically well-executed movie that scares you without really haunting you. There’s no doubt that this trio of films — “Psycho,” “Chain Saw” and “Halloween” — might be considered the father, the son and the unholy ghost of the slasher genre. All three present us with scenarios that are in-your-face and over-the-top. But Norman Bates, in “Psycho,” and Leatherface, in “Chain Saw,” are two of the scariest human monsters the cinema has ever given us. And the reason they’re scary is that both characters

feel real. The queasy pull of the reality factor, as hard as it can be to define, is there in the greatness of Anthony Perkins’ performance as Norman, and in the extraordinarily resonant too-freakish-for-fiction gruesomeness of the image of Leatherface: a wordless mouthbreather wearing a mask of dead skin, wielding a power tool like the maniac he is.

Is Michael Myers, in “Halloween,” a scary character? Of course. There are two or three points in the movie that always make me jump. But Michael is an extremely stylized scary character. Tall and ramrod-straight, standing there in his slate-gray asylum jumpsuit, always photographed in a teasing peek-a-boo way, he’s an implacable force of evil who, from the famous opening sequence (Look! He’s a towheaded six-year-old who slashes his own sister! Like a suburban-tyke Norman Bates!), never seems like an actual person. He’s a hulking conceit: the slasher who keeps coming at you, like an android in a video game. The slasher who never dies. (The last shot of “Halloween” marked the true birth of franchise culture. That shot said, “We can do whatever the heck we want. Our desire to set up a sequel is more powerful than the rules you thought we were playing by.”)

Okay, I can hear you saying: How does any of that make “Halloween” a knockoff of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”? The two films, in a way that could hardly be more obvious, are quite different. “Chain Saw” is a demented backwoods poem of fear. “Halloween,” set in Haddonfield, Ill., a placid suburb that looks, during the day, like a Spielberg vista with more trees (maybe that’s because the film was shot in California), is a booby-trapped fright film built around a chatty group of high-school babysitters. It frightens you, but it has no real dread. It formalizes and roller-coaster-izes the slasher template of “Black Christmas” (1974) and, before that, “A Bay of Blood,” the 1971 Mario Bava film that invented the genre in an amusingly accidental way: The killings — knife through the face, two teenagers pierced by one spear — were certainly influential, but the “aesthetic” of “A Bay of Blood” arose out of the way that Bava’s staging of the story was so logy and inept that there was no weight to it. The film almost inadvertently created the rhythm of headtopics.com

Read more: Variety »

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OwenGleiberman Nah. Watch Black Christmas if you're trying to write an article about Halloween being a rip off. OwenGleiberman OwenGleiberman Ahem OwenGleiberman Doubling down on a horrendously bad take is never a good idea. Better to just take that initial L and let it go. OwenGleiberman The most similar thing about Halloween and TCM is that it they are cheap drive in movies for teenagers that happened to be great as opposed to most of the garbage that was around at the time. Halloween(and F13) have more in common with The Town That Dreaded Sundown

OwenGleiberman Owen, what are you even saying? You don't get how the grungy rural setting and other-ed villain of TCM is a total contrast to the 'evil in your backyard/it could be anyone' slickness of Halloween? The saturation of carnage vs the slow build of dread Oi. OwenGleiberman Because both wear masks.....Jesus fucking Christ

OwenGleiberman I’ll save you all a lot of time: at the end he finally gets to why it’s a knockoff, and it is as simple as “they both wear masks.” For fucks sake. OwenGleiberman TCM 'borrows' heavily from Psycho... OwenGleiberman OwenGleiberman He is still quite wrong.

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OwenGleiberman All this does is point out some of the similarities between the characters of Michael Myers and Leatherface... it doesn't even begin to explain how the film Halloween is a 'rip off' of Chainsaw. “Stop yelling at me for being wrong! I’m just going to keep being wrong even louder!” I admit I was triggered by the headline but it's an OK piece. He already acknowledges the arguments ppl raise here (Bay of Blood, stylistic differences etc.) but hones in on the depersonalizing masks & has an interesting take on difference b/w LF and MM as figures of terror.

Your argument is both killers wear a mask? Read article to be fair. Is still a weird take. A masked killer. Literally the only thing they have in common and that makes Halloween a total rip off? You’re entitled to your opinion of course but… yeah. Nah. Objectively false. I’d agree with ‘influenced by.’ But masked horror was not new to the 70s. Symbolism w/Myers’ mask is also a key motif, it starts with the viewer seeing through his POV! Both films stand alone as classics.

(Aside from very superficial aspects) No, it really isn’t. Never write another article in yo life

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If you dig deep enough in this turd, there are a few nuggets of insight. Don't know why anyone would want to, though. Wouldn't it make a LOT more sense to say 'The idea of a killer wearing a mask in a slasher movie was something that Halloween took from TCSM' instead of just broadly saying that the ENTIRE movie is a rip-off?

Except it’s literally not This was clearly inspired by and written on dangerous psychoactive drugs Oh go fart in a phone booth No it’s not! Have a good day. This is very wrong and dumb The people calling this bad and dumb aren't reading the article because the argument is bad and dumb. Click bait with zero clicks, how tragic.

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Fuck sake. No I hate you Troll, who gives a f*ck?…$50 M opening night😉🖕🏻✌🏻 No, It Empirically Is Not! (Response) No. Swing and a miss. 🤦🏻‍♂️ ?

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No. House of 1000 corpses is. And it’s a shitty one at that. Don’t try to defend a movie where the villains give me a migraine for and hour and showcases Robs Wife poor acting skills CLICKBAIT bull. Owen needs the sack , No. No? no it's not They have basically the exact same reasons for wearing masks LOL

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Sounds wrong Halloween is a dumb movie. It has no plot or reason for the action. I don't get what people like as nothing scary happens. The Texas kind of story has loosely happened so at least it has some realism. yes, variety doesn’t know anything about the movie it is trying to write about. but why bother learning about a movie when you can just publish nonsense? ¯\\_(ツ)_/¯

Felt more like Suspiria to me but whatever Bro, Texas chainsaw massacre is even a knock off, shut up. Who decided to write these articles when the new one is killing it at the box office? Makes literally no sense 💀

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