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other new + recent LAZE features:
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copyright ©1999-2006

that 70s film: fright night classics
by Kiera Tara O'Brien
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continued from page 1

The Exorcist (cont.)
The underlying theme of faith also speaks to audiences in the now as much as those of the 70s. Burstyn is compelling as Regan’s confused, distraught and divorced mother, who struggles with her belief in a God and wonders why, if there is such a being, it would allow such a gruesome possession to take her innocent daughter. Father Karras’ spiritual strength is tested as he grapples with his own abilities as a priest (in a brilliant debut by Miller, who skillfully portrays the complex internal battle of his character in every scene). Meanwhile, the reappearance of Father Merrin in a beam of heavenly light for the final confrontation with the demon is rightfully one of the most famous images in horror film history (and graced the face of The Exorcist’s promotional poster). From the first scenes in Iraq to the ultimate clash in Georgetown, The Exorcist is a disturbing vision of the conflict of faith within and between humans – a cult movie that initiated a parade of possession thrillers of varying cinematic quality from The Omen to Emily Rose. Viewers may scream and faint and call for an ambulance, but they keep coming back to this ageless classic on every Halloween night.

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flick pick | The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Gunnar Hansen
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: horror/thriller
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  gruesomely terrifying
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fright factor: /5 

Plot synopsis On a summer day in 1974, college kids Sally and Franklin travel the back roads of Texas with three of their friends. They’re en route to visit the grave of Sally and Franklin’s grandfather, which has apparently been ritualistically desecrated. Driving past an old slaughterhouse in their VW hippie van, the happy five pick up a creepy hitchhiker. When the hitchhiker slashes himself and poor Franklin (already in a wheelchair), the others kick him out on the side of the road. Shaken, but apparently not too stirred up, the group stops for gas at the next town where the old man in charge has no gas to sell. The man advises Franklin against going to visit his grandfather’s former farmhouse – folks around these parts don’t take too kindly to strangers. Despite the warning, and nearly out of gas, they manage to make the drive up to the old sinister clapboard home. One at a time, the unsuspecting group is cornered by the horrifying Leatherface – a hulk of a man with a mask of human skin and a penchant for chainsaw murders. Only Sally awakes inside the house, discovering the psychotic cannibalistic family that has taken up residence in her granddad’s place. Attempting to flee, Sally is confronted with the terrifying fates that have befallen her carefree friends and brother in this demented rural homestead in the heartland of America.

Review Famous as the prototype of the brutal slasher films of the 80s and 90s, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre turned the happy American farm family into a creepy machine of slaughter and terror. Although the film features less outright violence than many of its slasher successors, the remote location, suspenseful direction and truly bizarre characters are more than enough to make you jump and squeal. Hooper famously experimented with boiling hot daylight shots, an uncommon feature in horror movies of the day, which was recently used to great effect in the low budget (but immensely disturbing) Australian indie flick, Wolf Creek. What gives The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that extra fright factor, though, is its explicit distortion of the family as an institution, the ultimate source of trust and protection of good values in earlier Hollywood narratives. The film reflects the sentiments of the counter culture movement that appeared at the time. ‘En masse’ tendencies and the conventionality of ‘trusted’ social institutions are far more threatening to the individual than anything else. Straight away from the opening scene of two decomposed corpses sitting in the sunlight, the secure order of the family collapses. The hippie heroine Sally and her disabled brother Franklin are at odds with the idea of the healthy, ideal family unit, and suffer the oppressive attacks of the bloody, freakish Texas cannibals. Will Sally survive the ordeal? Will individualism carry on in the face of chainsaw wielding conventionalism? Only a night of Texas horror will tell.

keep on runnin': the terror continues

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