Top 5 HEALTH AND SAFETY NIGHTMARES: Power Tool Abuse, Hollywood Style!
By Gavin Baddeley
Horror films have long been criticised as immoral, inspiring all manner of antisocial behaviour in their impressionable audiences. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in particular was singled out as a bad influence: Banned by the British censors in the 70s, several of its sequels were caught up in the ‘video nasties’ panic of the subsequent decade. Yet surely this was unfair. For The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was actually a public information film in many respects; warning viewers of the hazards of picking up hitchhikers, while highlighting the issue of rural unemployment. In particular, the film led the way in stressing the perils of being careless with power tools.
So, to celebrate the release of the newest, nastiest entry into the Massacre family, Texas Chainsaw, we’ve thrown together a brief list of the most memorable moments of power tool misuse in cinema history: The trail of electric and petrol-driven destruction that leads us to Texas today if you will. It’s kind of like the Oscars, only if the Academy gave out awards for the most irresponsible use of industrial and home machinery. While we’d be the first to admit that this is a quirky line-up, we can only assure you that this list truly comes from the heart. There’s a fair amount of kidney, liver and headcheese in there too mind…
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
You like head cheese?…
A movie that changed the face of a genre – banned, celebrated, analysed, adored, and reviled – the idea for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre came to Tobe Hooper while he was in the hardware section of a busy store. The moment when Leatherface first cranks up his chainsaw is the moment the traditional horror film enters the machine age, that high-pitched roar, the sound of the birth pangs of post-industrial Gothic.
White powder wipe out…
Chainsaws soon became standard issue for any filmmaker wanting to up the up the [del for repetition] ante in the nastiness stakes. So it was that when Brian de Palma decided to update the gangster film to reflect the increasing brutality of organised crime, he cast Al Pacino at his most unhinged in the lead, while Oliver Stone wrote a power tool torture scene into the script which still makes audiences squirm thirty years on.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Who’s laughing now…
While some purists prefer its less comical predecessor, the second Evil Dead film not only puts its chainsaw centre-stage, but in the hands – or more accurately instead of the hand – of its indomitable wisecracking hero Ash. This surely inspired games designers to make chainsaws the melee weapon of choice for computer game protagonists, from the influential FPS Doom onwards.
American Psycho (2000)
Die yuppie scum…
Patrick Bateman, everyone’s favourite upwardly mobile psychopath, murders people in a wide variety of fashions to a selection of toe-tapping AOR. Notable power tool employment includes the stylish despatch of a hooker using a dropped chainsaw, and menacing his secretary with a nail gun (Patrick later confesses to having successfully killed an ex with the same device).
Caution, floor slippery when wet…
While many agree that Hostel represented a cinematic landmark of sorts, whether that was a good thing remains more controversial, earning itself the ambivalent (and inaccurate) ‘torture porn’ tag. Certainly, Hostel pioneered new levels of graphic onscreen sadism, including a nod to Texas Chainsaw, in the shape of a blackly comical power tool mishap.
Lionsgate UK releases Texas Chainsaw on DVD, Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and download on 27th May 2013.