Wednesday, October 24

Streamathon - Death by Chainsaw

Streamathon - Death by Chainsaw

October 2018
Preface: This is part of an ongoing blog series of curated movie marathons that are thematically or otherwise tied together. The other common factor tying these films together will be their availability to watch them all from the comfort of your own home on various streaming platforms. The goal is that writing this blog will somehow justify the excessive number of streaming platforms I subscribe to. The films will be found on some combination of NetflixHuluAmazon Prime VideoMubiFilmStruckShudder and/or Fandor. These titles will be available for the month that the blog is published. All of these subscriptions offer free trials so feel free to dive in and follow along… Have fun. Just don’t message me for my login information.

By: Emery Martin-Snyder

It’s the official season for horror films. So I decided to go a bit specific with this one. A legitimate chainsaw murder is the type of thing that you’re only likely to find in the movies. A short google research has found lots of gruesome stories of murder victims being subsequently dismembered by chainsaws. And there are a handful of accidental chainsaw related deaths every year. But to actually murder someone with one just seems rather implausible in real life. Maybe that’s why it’s so awesome in movies. You just must know that the practical effects guys get super excited about.
To the best of my knowledge, the first time the lumberjack tool was ever used in a kill scene can be found in Wes Craven’s 1972 directorial debut, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Only two years later, it would get its own showcase in Tobe Hooper’s minimalist masterpiece, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Later, Ash would add the tool to his repertoire in Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD series in 1981. The first entry to that series is currently available to stream on Shudder but I decided to leave it out of this list. The saw takes on a much larger role in EVIL DEAD 2 but unfortunately that one is not available to stream anywhere at the moment. 

The Stream

Directed by Mary Harron – Streaming on Hulu

If you didn’t realize it, you were supposed to be watching this film as a satire. And if you were unaware of that fact going into it, the white track shoes wearing chainsaw wielding Patrick Bateman chasing a woman out of his apartment should probably have clued you in. I have no idea why Bateman even owns a chainsaw in this apartment. This movie has a lot going on. I honestly didn’t care much for it the first time I watched it. But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate it more and more.

Directed by Jeremy Lei Howden – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Look, I’m just going to hold the two running chainsaws out at arm’s length and spin in a circle. If you get hit, it’s not my fault. This movie is absolutely ridiculous. And if we’re being honest, the chainsaw is one of the more conventual weapons used in this film. This is one of those great time killer horror comedies. That’s not to say that it’s a great film all together but it’s easy to watch and a whole lot of fun. It’s the type of flick that metalheads and gorehounds (lots of overlap in that Venn diagram) champion. I’m neither of those but I tend to respond to horror comedy and this is a very strong entry. 

Directed by Kevin Connor – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

This is such a charming little cannibal movie. It’s a sort of darkly comic tale of rural America’s hospitality industry. Rory Calhoun stars as Farmer Vincent, who also fashions himself as a hotelier. Say what you will, but you can’t call him wasteful. His hotel guests double as menu items. His performance is delightful and endearing. He radiates southern charm as he buries his victims alive. Although there are plenty of missteps here, the climactic pig-head chainsaw duel is just fantastic and undeniably worth waiting for. 

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier   – Streaming on Shudder & Netflix

Over the past decade, Jeremy Saulnier has been rapidly becoming one of my favorite directors. His GREEN ROOM was my favorite film of 2015 and I loved his most recent release, HOLD THE DARK. This one is his first feature and it if we grade on that curve, it’s quite impressive. As you can see, this list is pretty full of dark comedies. This is no exception. And that’s not to say that it’s shallow or thin on message. This actually feels like an angry film and a clear indictment of the pretention of the New York art scene. The chainsaw scenes here are unique as well. You’re not very likely to see an electric chainsaw as a murder weapon. It just doesn’t seem very convenient. 

[REC] 3: GENESIS (2012)
Directed by Paco Plaza – Streaming on Hulu

Full disclosure: I’m not the biggest fan of the REC series. This one is my favorite of the four of them. I was very pleasantly surprised when, after about five minutes they ditched the found footage gimmick and just focused on making a hyper, campy and fun zombie apocalypse film. What this lacks in story, it completely makes up for in tone and imagery. I don’t know if I can think of anything cooler looking than a beautiful woman in a blood-splattered wedding dress going all bridezilla on a herd of infected party goers.

Directed by Tobe Hooper – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

This is a rare type of a movie. It’s only a sequel in the fact that it continues the original story from twelve years before. Its atmosphere and tone however are a serious departure. And that being said, it has perfect casting. Jim Siedow as the wily cook has a ton of lines for his screen time. And his delivery always seems to be on the precipice of an aneurysm. This is the perfect contrast for Bill Moseley’s ‘Chop-Top’, the violently energetic flower child that can’t seem to take anything too seriously. And then you have the hero Lt. ‘Lefty’ Enright played by Dennis Hopper. He was never one to phone it in and he certainly seemed to have a firm grasp not only his character but on the type of film that was being made. It’s also worth noting that this came out the same year as BLUE VELVET, THE RIVER’S EDGE and HOOSIERS. He was on fire at this time. I’m sure that the popularity of the legend itself helped this film immensely at the box office. That being said, I still think the atmosphere is eerie and well put together. I could be the thousandth person to complain about the bad CGI but I always tend to be forgiving of that stuff in favor of empathetic characters and good tension building. 

Directed by Eli Craig – Streaming on Netflix, Hulu & Shudder

It’s fitting that I end on this note. We’ve taken a look at a lot of horror comedy, dark comedy, campy and outlandish films. This one is all of those things as well as a great deconstruction of modern horror as a whole. Unfortunately, I feel like this gets lost amongst the group of BEHIND THE MASK (’06) THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (’12) and SHAUN OF THE DEAD (’04). I love those movies too, but I find myself more often drawn to revisit my good friends Tucker & Dale. The meta-deconstructionist aspects here are just as good as the rest. But I seem to just have more fun with this film than I do with the others. Every death scene puts a perfectly gruesome slapstick finish and you just can’t help but laugh out loud. I might be cheating a bit with the chainsaw death scene. Technically, a chainsaw is used in one of the film’s most hilarious mishaps; albeit in a very Rube Goldbergian fashion. So, I’m keeping it. Because it brilliantly takes the wind out of some of our most serious cinematic killers. And I think it’s a great way to end the season.

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