The rest of the day was a balance of interviews, waiting, sweating, interviews, and fighting to hear above the massive portable air conditioners that overtook the sound waves. Beyond the house, one of the most memorable moments was lunch, where cast and crew gathered for lunch. Here, we were able to speak with director XX, Gunnar Hanson, and a brief conversation with the original grandfather, John Dugan, who ate with us in his grandfather makeup!
Overall, we had 12 interviews total (none with any of the main stars), though some were more generic conversations than revealing exchanges. In fact, the two most interesting information came from the producer and the director (the least interesting came from Eastwood, who wouldn’t say anything about his role and was annoyed by questions about his dad). Our first interview came within minutes after stepping out of the van, where we were immediately taken into the tent, where producer Carl Mazzocone wasted no time diving his giving a sales pitch. He was everything expected of a Hollywood producer – a large man filled with bravo and the swagger, and he sold the movie the best he could.
Immediately, Mazzocone addressed the obvious lingering question: why the world needs yet another Leatherface movie, and why his was going to be the best since the original. “You know when I pursued the rights,” he said, “I wanted to reboot the franchise off the original. I thought there was an enormous missed opportunity,” referring to the non-linear, inconsistent sequels that followed. Mazzocone had a dream to make a true sequel, a worthwhile continuation of the first movie that none of the other films ever accomplished. And in a way he’s right. The random sequels never matched the tone, the power, or the story of the original. The modern sequels were so Michael Bayed up with gloss and style that they never resonated with audiences. “To me, there’s the first one, and every other movie was insignificant. I really wanna reboot off the first one. With a little luck, fans will love it.”
And for all intensive purposes, it sounds as if Mazzocone accomplished that, though it appears the direct continuation really only lasts momentarily before fast-forwarding to the modern era. Apparently, the movie will pick up immediately following the ending of the original, but then quickly moves into the modern era. “Times have changed a lot. I wanted to revamp this franchise for this generation. [The movie] is a wonderful blend of an opening montage tying into current day.”
Mazzocone even touched on the Platinum Dunes films, saying they where shot to look like “rock videos, and when you watch them the cinema gets in the way.” His Chainsaw film will avoid the Platinum Dunes films all together. In order words, all gloss, no substance, and that idea of substance became the manta for the new movie. “This is not a slasher film. This is not a movie that doesn’t have a plot. This is a very plot driven story. This is the difference between our movie and 90% of the horror films today.” He explained, “When you make a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, you have a lot of decisions to make. One of the greatest is the fine line you walk between plagiarism and homage.” He wanted to get back to the simplicity of the original film, which explains the return of Burns, Hanson, and Dugan. That day they had hoped to film a Gunnar Hanson cameo in a scene, but we were told he was unavailable that day (even though we would meet him later).
In terms of gore, it was difficult to pin anyone down as to what to expect. No one seemed interested in created a bloodbath. “A good horror movie, in my opinion, is a horror movie where the boogie man is reality,” Mazzocone said. He thankfully stated he was avoiding a heavy CGI film. He wanted practical effects, something that felt real and looked real. “It’s like what Hitchcock did and Spielberg did. Sometimes what’s in your mind is worse than you can show. We will have some graphics moments in this film.” He shot plenty of the gory stuff, but he remained coy whether anything of it would make the final cut. “This is not a movie that needs graphic violence to be a compelling story because the plot is so good. If you didn’t show a drop of blood this movie would hold its own.” Sure…
Before Mazzocone went back to work, he gave us an exclusive look at Leatherface’s new face, which of course looked like Leatherface, but it was still cool to get that first look. However, we did see the mask itself. It sat in a black box waiting for use before it was quickly covered up. He also touched on the new Leatherface, who attempted to create his own feel to the character, giving him a limp, which makes sense considering the chainsaw injury at the end of the first film. That probably would mess up a leg a little.
As for the reunion, the actors all seemed extremely enthusiastic about the project. John Dugan didn’t have a lot to add, (“I liked the script.”) but I’m sure his dialogue wasn’t thick. He couldn’t say anything. Ok, so about the role, but he more or less confirmed he plays the same character again (which probably means he’ll just look dead, creepy, and emotionless). He had yet to see the set after spending four and half hours of makeup. The problem with interviewing much of cast came from everyone’s reluctance of revealing anything about the story, let alone character. Therefore, many just kept going back to the idea of how great the script was.
Our first cast member was the legendary Marilyn Burns, who seemed like an incredibly nice lady. She seemed truly appreciative being part of the franchise once again. “I was generally freaked out by the script. What they have on paper is absolutely [great]… Right from the beginning, I was interested. I was amazed in what they accomplished and what they had done. It excited me.” Like everyone, she was blown away by the recreation of the original set, but didn’t mind the heat. In fact, she felt it would only enhance the end product. “The heat just makes it better for the picture because we were very miserable when we shot the first one, so the heat this time is just as oppressive and miserable. It makes everyone uptight and want to scream. It just adds to the realism of the movie. I don’t think it’d be complete without all that pain and suffering.” When she was asked about the power of the franchise, she said, “It’s a damn good title. The title helped. The chainsaw helped. It did help all these movies that followed.”
Perhaps more interesting was Gunnar Hanson’s idea of a sequel back in the day. “Before there ever was a second Chainsaw, I had this notion what would make a great Chainsaw 2.” The story involved the older brother and the cook who escaped with Leatherface and were living in hotel in the Midwest. They are house siting in the hotel until some people attempt to scam the owners into selling, which some how sets up the classic trapped teenager scenario. Obviously, the project never materialized, but it was interesting that all these years later he still cares about the role. “There are a couple things in this about Leatherface that are really neat, because I would never have thought of them. A lot of times when they create the new Leatherface they ignore the original….They did some details on the new Leatherface … that were really nice additions to the personality of Leatherface that were consistent with the Leatherface from 1974.”
However, I found the most interesting interview with director John Lussenhop (whose credits include Takers and some movie that co-stars Master P), who we had the opportunity to sit down with at lunch. After a few odd minutes of food and small talk, the ice was broken. “I had never been in the horror genre. I approached it differently, like make a good movie.” Of all the cast and crew, he was most forthcoming in his interview. “I didn’t want to turn it into a 50’s drive-in picture with stuff thrown at you all the time. My goal was to create a really cool 3D world. That’s balanced, that’s easy to watch.” He went into detail on, thankfully, longer shots instead of the frantic pace of modern movies because the 3D nature needs time to explore that world. Given that scope, it’s worth noting the production had a 30 day window to complete the picture. “It’s been a challenge to all the down the line to complete it in time. It’s a low-budget movie. We’re making a 3D movie for what, $11 million or something. They want to compete with The Hobbit and Spider-Man.”
For the look of the movie, Lussenhop noted that he was “highly influenced by the first Texas Chainsaw,” but ensures that they went to “great lengths to contemporize the movie. The lead couple is interracial. I don’t think it looks like we’re pandering. I think we made strides to make more scope…“What I didn’t want it to feel like was another 80s, 90s horror movie.”
But to him it was essential that TCM3D resembles what came before. “When I look at Toby’s picture, I saw like 10 little things that I wanted to homage that I could sprinkle in without being heavy handed. I tried to put those into imaginative places.” He continued, “I wanted to reuse some of the sounds that were in the original. The camera frying that starts the original, the eerie fluting thing that plays throughout. I don’t want to repeat somebody. I just want to reuse what it inspires.”
Like everyone, Lussenhop pushes the greatness of the script, explaining there’s more to it than the expected. “What’s interesting about this story is that you’ll complete the horror movie in the first 60 minutes, and you’ll go ‘where does it go?’ which I think is going to keep you engaged.” Lussenhop acknowledges that the TCM3D is a set-up film with the hopes of continuing the franchise, which can only excite fans. “It’s got some set-up for later in the next ones this being the kick off one. Nothing’s been written or storied out.” Obviously, everything is box-office dependent.
When asked about the possible narration from John Larroquette (the original narrator), he remained coy but said they did want to keep the words from the narration of the original film. “The people who follow this picture, this genre are incredibly detailed. And so that’s why we’ve went to great lengths with the house, with certain things they say, to not offend them, but at the same time not remake that movie. They’ve already seen that movie. That’s how I’ve approached it.”