The Week in Horror: Sam Raimi, Jennifer Tilly, Dyanne Thorne, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’

Fiends, fanatics, freaks – lend me your eyes! Welcome back to The Week in Horror, where we peel back the skin on horror’s highlights of the week. Watch anything fucked up this week? I checked out the latest reissues of Spain’s Jose Ramon Larraz from Arrow Video, the US/Spain co-produced, late period slasher Edge of the Axe and Deadly Manor. More impressed in some regards, than I expected, these are some bizarre late entry slasher films, but a lot of fun. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of the film as well as the Arrow box set of Larraz’s Whirlpool, Vampyres, and The Coming of Sin.

For now, let’s get current…

Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: horror master Sam Raimi, the man behind modern genre classics Evil Dead, Darkman, and the original Spider-Man trilogy is in talks to direct Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, taking over from the exited Scott Derrickson (Hellraiser; Inferno). This is huge and deserved. Derrickson made an amazing Dr Strange film, but creative differences lead to his unfortunate departure (he’ll stay on as executive producer, so there’s no real bad blood). If you’re going to replace someone as good as Derrickson, swing for the damn fences!

Raimi’s three Spider-Man films (yes, I said THREE, fight me, nerd) are still the gold standard of superhero films. Yes, CGI has improved, bigger names and budgets have come through, but go back and watch Tobey Maguire in suit, in action, in those films. They still hold up, even as good as our current Spidey and his movies and appearances have been. Raimi grabbed a balance between being comic accurate and adapting to film better than many other superhero films and TV shows and did it when there was a hardly a standard to hold up to. Raimi, though, is first and foremost, a horror guy. The Evil Dead movies are unparalleled for sheer zaniness and physical comedy slathered in goo. Drag Me to Hell was a surprisingly gory return to form. And Darkman took a superhero movie, added the physical comedy of Evil Dead, and the violence of an action film, a bit of old school horror, namely The Wax Mask, and gave us one of the most unique heroes of all time. Hiring Raimi to take on the character of Doctor Strange is a no-brainer. It’s perfect and I hope the deal actually goes through. The Big Two comic companies owe Raimi big time, by the way. Sony interfered with Spider-Man 3, forcing Raimi to shoe-horn in Venom. He also lost the first Spider-Man 4. But lets go back a little further, to the late 80s, when Raimi campaigned for the job of directing the first live-action Batman film since the 1960s Adam West version. The job went to Tim Burton. Look, Burton did a lot right, but he didn’t grow up on the comics, didn’t show enough respect for many aspects of the characters, and wound up making good Burton films, not good Batman films. Raimi was a fan and when you look at what he did with Darkman, which he made after losing Batman, he could have changed the course of the history of superheroes on film. So, let’s hope he and Marvel strike a deal and Disney lets him off the chain because The Multiverse of Madness now has the potential to be Marvel’s best film to date.

Don Mancini’s Chucky series for Syfy continues to take shape, regardless of last year’s remake of the original Child’s Play. Mancini’s new series for the small screen will continue the original timeline, last left off with the excellent Cult of Chucky. It’s now been reported that series regular Jennifer Tilly will continue her role of Tiffany. Say what you want about some of the films in the franchise, but the addition of Tilly with Bride of Chucky has remained a solid decision and Tilly herself has embraced the role in public and on social media. I can’t wait until this series debuts.

Time to say a sad farewell to Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS star Dyanne Thorne, who passed away this week. A grindhouse/exploitation queen, Thorne portrayed the nasty and lusty Ilsa in three films as well as number of other genre films, including Blood Sabbath and Wanda, the Wicked Warden. Thorne was 83 when she sadly lost her battle to pancreatic cancer on January 28th.

So now, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is with Legendary, being produced by Fede Alvarez, and rebooted with Ryan and Andy Tohill directing a script written by Chris Thomas Devlin. I know who Alvarez is, I know who Legendary is, but all in all, this is just a jumble of words that doesn’t add up to anything until the film actually comes out. Look, I hold the original Tobe Hooper film up as one of the most important and influential horror films outside of Night of the Living Dead. I’m a huge fan of the first two sequels as well, and I’ve enjoyed, at least to some degree, all the subsequent sequels, remakes, and reboots that have trickled out over the years. For the most part, aside from Part 2, Texas Chainsaw 3D, and the latest film, Leatherface, every film in the “franchise” has just been some variation on the original plot when you get right down to it. Alvarez claiming to Variety that the film will be “violent, exciting, and so depraved…” doesn’t get me interested. Yea, I’m seeing it as soon as it comes out, because I’m a Chainsaw fan, but they’ve all been “violent, exciting, and depraved.” Can we also get “original” worked in there too? It’s why Part 23D, and Leatherface are good sequels – they don’t try to replicate part 1. And if you want my opinion, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 3 is the best riff on the original, because screenwriter David Schow evolved the character of Leatherface and brought out more of his personality. The Platinum Dunes remakes just made him a big silent thug instead of a layered and complicated character. I don’t want to downplay the past accomplishments of the creative team now involved in the new TCM, but we’ve been burned before, and we’ve been to this dinner table before. I want to be excited, but I want to see what Alvarez and company are cooking up first.



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