13 Must See Horror from Texas Chainsaw Alumni
Article By: Sean Abley
If Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel didn’t invent the “college kids in a van” genre with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they certainly set the bar sky high for all the imitators to follow (of which there seems to be a never-ending supply). So what did those college kids, and their new friends the Sawyer family, do after the massacre?
1. Eaten Alive (1977)
Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film includes alligators eating people, a crazy guy slashing at everyone that crosses his path with a scythe, and TCM’s final girl, Marilyn Burns, once again proving she’s one of the best screamers in the business. All the action centers around a sleazy motel run by Neville Brand (one would think scything your guests and feeding them to alligators would be bad business, but to each his own), and features cult favorites Roberta Collins, Robert Englund, William Finley, Janus Blythe and future “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star, Kyle Richards. The movie is a complete mess, but an entertaining one. Aka “Death Trap,” “Horror Hotel,” and our preferred title, “Starlight Slaughter.”
2. Mausoleum (1983)
William Vail, who played “Kirk” in TCM (he got the sledgehammer to the head in the hallway) is mainly a set decorator today, but he did do a few more small roles, including “The Final Demon” in this Bobbie Bresee epic. The not-prolific-enough Bresee stars as a sexy heiress who is also a sexy, vengeful demon bent on sexily dispatching anyone who gets in her way (courtesy of John Carl Buechler’s special effects). Also starring Marjoe Gortner and the late LaWanda Page.
3. Future-Kill (1985)
Ed Neal and Marilyn Burns star in this sort of sci-fi, sort of horror, sort of gang movie set in an “inner city” ruled by “mutants,” who are really toxic waste protestors dressed like new wave groupies. Marilyn doesn’t have a lot to do, but the reliable Neal plays “Splatter” (which was also one of the alternate titles of the film), delivering the crazy while hunting down a group of frat boys.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Okay, yes, this is sort of a cheat. But we love Jim Sideow’s “The Cook” character from TCM, and we love him even more in TCM2. How Dennis Hopper ended up in this film we’ll never know, but he blends in with the rest of the insane characters perfectly. Special mention must be made of the then-unknown Caroline Williams, terrific as small town DJ, “Stretch,” who carries almost every minute of this film, making us love her as much as we love Marilyn Burns.
5. Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)
We like film titles that tell you exactly what you’re getting, like The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies or Showgirls. Fred Olen Ray’s Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers delivers on its title in a spectacular way, including bringing TCM’s “Leatherface,” aka Gunnar Hansen, back within arm’s reach of the titular weapon. There’s something about an Egyptian hooker cult that worships chainsaws, but really it’s about johns getting cut up in motel rooms (again, not so good for business). Definitely worth a look, and a big studio remake.
6. Mosquito (1995)
Mosquitoes feed on a dead alien and things turn out pretty much the way you’d expect – giant mosquitoes. Thankfully, Gunnar Hansen has a chainsaw (again).
7. Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
It’s appropriate that the actor who narrates the prologue for TCM appears in the prologue of this Tales from the Crypt series spinoff film. John Larroquette, who would enter pop culture bedrock as “Dan Fielding” on the sitcom Night Court, introduced us to the story of Sally Hardesty and her friends, then returned to do the job again for the 2003 Marcus Nispel remake and the 2006 prequel to the remake, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.
8. Zombiegeddon (2003)
Ed Neal plays “God” in this microbudget trash flick. A “Who’s who…” of lowbudget indie horror filmmakers and actors (Fred Olen Ray, Lloyd Kaufman, Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Felissa Rose and Tom Savini to name just a few), Zombiegeddon is as epic as the budget allows.
9. Satan's Playground (2006)
According to an interview with Felissa Rose, the Sleepaway Camp star suggested her friend Ed Neal to replace Michael Berryman in Dante Tomaselli’s dreamy and terrifying stream-of-consciousness thriller. Other familiar faces include Evil Dead’s Ellen Sandweiss, scream queen Raine Brown, and Tomaselli’s good luck charms Danny Lopes and Christie Sanford.
10. Gimme Skelter (2007)
Charles Manson’s (alleged) illegitimate son decides to take up the family business in Scott Phillips’s low budget, small town murder spree. Gunnar Hansen shows up as one of the citizens on the wrong end of a knife, while indie horror golden boy Trent Haaga lends a hand in the slaughter.
11. Hell-ephone (2008)
John Dugan, aka “Grandpa” makes an appearance in this flick about a prank call gone horribly awry. What starts out as a fun game of calling grieving family members and pretending to be their deceased relatives ends in the death of the mother of a notorious, recently-executed serial killer. Soon the pranksters start dying (surprise!) at the hands of guess who? Also starring Friday the 13th’s original “Jason,” Ari Lehman.
12. Butcher Boys (2012)
Butcher Boys is a tale of urban cannibals hunting a group of tender, delicious looking 20-somethings during one harrowing evening out in the city. TCM screenwriter Kim Henkel returns to the flesh trade with a film featuring alum from both TCM and TCM2 (Edwin Neal, Marilyn Burns, Teri McMinn, John Dugan, Ed Guinn, Perry Lorenz, and Bill Johnson, aka Leatherface from TCM2), with the executive producer from Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation making an appearance as well.
13. Texas Chainsaw 3-D (2013)
Coming full circle (and in all three dimensions), TC3-D is positioned as a direct sequel to TCM (and ignores TCM2). The film starts 24 hours after the end of the first film, with the massacre of the Sawyer family by a group of vigilante townspeople. Gunnar Hansen plays the head of the Sawyer clan, John Dugan comes back as “Grandpa,” and Bill Moseley from TCM2 takes of the role of “The Cook” originally played by the late Jim Siedow. Marilyn Burns plays “Verna Carson,” the grandmother of the new last girl, Alexandra Daddario.
Sean Abley writes the “Gay of the Dead” blog for Fangoria.com. His writing has appeared in Fangoria, The Advocate, Unzipped, and in his new book, Out In the Dark: Interviews with Gay Horror Filmmakers, Actors and Authors.