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Frontier(s): A French Texas Chainsaw Massacre

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frontiers_coverI’m going to be totally honest, so you know where this review is coming from:

#1) I am not a fan of blatant movie remakes. When I say blatant, I mean anything that has the exact title of the old classic they are remaking, to the movie that changed the name, but rips off so much from another movie they might as well have called it a remake. This year’s Frontier(s) is the latter.

#2) I do not like subtitles. It’s not because I don’t like to read, I just find that I am not experiencing the movie entirely because sometimes I am making the choice to either catch either the text or the visuals out of the corner of my eye as I focus on the other. I guess it would help if I just studied all the languages so I could watch movies without subtitles, but I’m just too lazy. Movie-dubbing usually doesn’t do the trick either, so it’s a lose-lose situation for me. Frontier(S) is a French flick, therefore it uses subtitles.

Frontier(s) is a horror film that follows four criminals who rob something (they don’t tell us what, but there’s a big sack of money with them and the police are after them) during a series of political riots after a conservative regime takes over in Paris, France. They split up and flee to the country-side, and arrive at a hostel that, to their surprise later, is run by a family of cannibalistic Nazis, the leader of the family, Le Von Geisler, probably being ex-Gestapo. They find this out the hard way. Through a series of ordeals that brings new light to the term “dog eat dog world” and bus-loads of blood, the characters learn that even outside of society there is corruption and greed, and purity is in the eye of the beholder.

The gore in this movie is exceptional. From a normal gun-shot blowing apart someone’s hand to the beautiful use of a table-saw, the blood is strewn with a heavy brush. It is so gruesome that the producer of the movie, After Dark Films, had to pull it from their After Dark Horrorfest series because of an NC-17 rating by the MPAA. It was either that or edit it a bit. I think they made the right choice.

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The story and symbolism is quite good too. Although it is a horror movie, it is an intelligent horror movie, besides the TCM rip-off, which I will get to later. Of course a Nazi would be hiding out in the middle of nowhere in France, having his family kill impure visitors and eat their flesh. Of course the family would be inbred. Of course the only law in the area happens to be the eldest son of the family, negating any sense of justice for outsiders. All of this, and it works. By the end of the movie, the farce that this family has concocted is just as real as the real world, where politicians are corrupt and using people to their whim. Heavy-handed? A bit, but at least it has more of a brain then the usual slasher movie.

The problems of using elements from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre start once we get to the hostel, and they don’t stop until close to the end. Instead of a feeble old man being fed at the dinner table (grandpa in TCM), we have the family’s mother, who is actually spitting out the food (we find out what it is made of later on.) We also have the family police officer, the only law-man in this party of the country, blocking off the road to their house to make sure they don’t have party-crashers as they hunt down these kids. He’s like R. Lee Ermey from the TCM remake, without the comedic twist.

The greatest massacre to a horror figurehead is Goetz, the French Leatherface of the film. He plays the executioner/butcher beautifully, but he acts way too much like Leatherface, even without a chainsaw. The most annoying point is when he is chasing two of the criminals in a car, yelling and squealing like a pig, just like Leatherface. The problem is, Goetz speaks fluent French, unlike Leatherface who can only grunt and squeal. It seems too forced. They could have Goetz looking like a wild dog without giving him a transcription of Leatherface monologues. Maybe I’m being too harsh.

All in all, this movie is worth a rental at least. The political intrigue and human interaction are worth experiencing, as well as the buckets of blood.

I give it 2.5 out of 5 squealing gutted pigs. It would have been 3.5 or 4, but the TCM references lost it a point.

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Patrick began collecting a library of VHS tapes, DVDs, and CDs when he was young, and continues to build a library that could easily double as a video store and/or a revitalized Tower Records.

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