Revisiting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Tobe Hooper

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (2x)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Produced by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper, Jay Parsley, Richard Saenz
Written by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Cinematography by Daniel Pearl
Edited by Larry Carroll, Sallye Richardson
Music by Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper
DVD (1:24)

I was 12 years old when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released and my friends and I knew we somehow had to see it. The title alone was enough to scare the crap out of us. I grew up in the South where we all knew what a chainsaw was capable of doing. I am convinced most of our fourth grade vocabularies didn’t contain the word “massacre” before hearing about this movie. Although we were too young to see the film, we couldn’t escape it. Newspaper ads claimed “By far the most horrifying film ever made!” Radio and TV ads were brief, containing voiceover narration such as “What happened was true,” and “the most bizarre and brutal series of crimes in America,” followed by lots and lots of screaming. The film was highly controversial and was (at least for a time) banned in at least 11 countries. As far as I know, it never came to my hometown theater, which meant I’d have to travel to Jackson, Mississippi (about 35 miles away) to have any chance of seeing it. Although those chances were slim, I was both excited and terrified by the possibility of one day watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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Rediscovering The Country Girl (1954) George Seaton

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The Country Girl (1954) rewatch (2x)
Written and directed by George Seaton
Based on the play by Clifford Odets
Produced by William Perlberg
Cinematography by John F. Warren
Paramount Pictures
DVD – library (1:44)

It’s always a roll of the dice, revisiting a film you saw once when you were much, much younger. Do you resist seeing the movie again, fearing that you might tarnish or even destroy those positive memories of a film you cherished in those days when you had few responsibilities, practically no fears or worries, and were willing to try (or at least watch) just about anything? Or do you let those memories lie undisturbed, hidden under an impenetrable protective layer?

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Vision Quest (1985) Harold Becker

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Vision Quest (1985)
Directed by Harold Becker
Produced by Joh Peters, Peter Guber
Screenplay by Darryl Ponicsan
Based on the novel Vision Quest by Terry Davis
Cinematography by Owen Roizman
Music by Tangerine Dream
Warner Bros. DVD (1:47)

I first saw Vision Quest shortly after it appeared on cable TV, probably in late 1985 or early 1986. The film resonated with me for several reasons, primarily because I believed I was on my own vision quest. It was my first year of teaching and I found my own drive mirrored in Louden Swain’s quest to defeat the toughest wrestler in the state. I wanted not only to be a great teacher, a great band director, but I wanted to be great early in my career, so great that people would think I’d been teaching somewhere else for years. In my mind, Vision Quest was nothing short of a call to action. How did that turn out for me? Keep reading.

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Rewatches in 2016

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I always approach rewatching movies with a certain level of fear and trembling… What if a movie doesn’t live up to that one magical viewing you gave it many years ago? Should I have left that wonderful memory alone? If I revisit a movie, do I run the risk of ruining it forever if it no longer delivers?

I expressed some of these concerns in last year’s rewatch post and those concerns still apply. For this year’s list, I limited myself to films I had previously seen only once, eliminating the favorite multiple-rewatch films, movies I revisit frequently such as Vertigo or fun movies like Back to the Future. It’s been several years between viewings of the films listed below. In some cases you can click on the title link for more info; in other cases I typed out a few thoughts. I hope you’ll find some films here to visit or revisit.

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Best Movies of 2015: Rewatches

Possibly the biggest headache for movie fans is whether to watch a new movie or revisit an older one. If you have fond memories of a movie you saw 10, 20, 30 or more years ago, you run the very real risk of shattering those fond memories forever, lacing them with poisonous regret. Yet sometimes you feel compelled to take the risk.

Some of the following rewatches were rather low-risk, while others were risks of the highest order. Here are some of the more memorable rewatches from 2015:

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Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch

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Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch
Written by David Lynch
Produced by Fred Caruso, Richard A. Roth
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Cinematography by Frederick Elmes
MGM
Amazon streaming (rental)
(2:01)

The David Lynch Project Part V

With some films, you lose track of exactly how many times you’ve seen them. I can’t tell you for sure how many times I’ve seen The Maltese Falcon or The Bridge on the River Kwai or even Ghostbusters, but I can tell you very distinctly about the three times I’ve watched Blue Velvet.

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The Driver (1978) Walter Hill

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The Driver (1978) Walter Hill
(1:31)
20th Century Fox
Studio Canal Blu-ray (Region B)

The Driver (Ryan O’Neal) pulls his car around to the front of a casino and waits patiently until two masked men rush into the car. The three of them make their getaway… at least for a few seconds, until they’re chased by a police car. The high-speed chase is edge-of-your-seat stuff, yet the Driver never utters a word or even lets on that this is anything other than a routine ride around the block. He loses the cops, only to have two more patrol cars on his tail. Pretty soon you realize there’s no way the Driver is gonna get out of this, right?

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