If horror movies are to be believed then the chainsaw is the ultimate weapon– the scourge of both the undead and the soon-to-be-un-alive. Of course in real life, if you use a chainsaw on anything other than a fairly docile tree then you’re just as likely to massacre yourself than a bunch of nubile teens. But since when does anyone pay attention to real life? Never, that’s when, because real life can’t hold a candle to classic cinematic chainsaw moments like…
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
Half remake and half sequel to the seminal horror classic The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II sees our hero Ash (played by the legendary Bruce Campbell,) battle evil spirits, the re-animated corpse of his girlfriend, and even his own possessed right hand– which he promptly cuts off in just one of the many great chainsaw moments of the movie.
However, the truly memorable chainsaw moment comes when Ash has enough of being pushed around by dark forces and decides to man up in the manliness way possible– by attaching a chainsaw to the stump of his missing hand. Now, of course, Man Cave Daily can’t recommend you try this at home because– let’s face it– the first time you got an itchy nose you’d probably make Ripley’s Believe it Or Not for the most Daliesque suicide in history. But, as far as glorifying the chainsaw as the ultimate horror movie weapon, Ash suiting-up to battle the evil dead is the undisputed champion…at least until he gets knocked into medieval times to battle the Army of Darkness.
Phantasm 2 (1988)
In Don Coscarelli’s debut low-budget horror he gave us the sinister Tall Man, an army of mutant dwarves and the terrifying Sentinel Spheres. So how to up the anti in Phantasm 2? Chainsaws, thats how. Admittedly, the saw isn’t the star of the show– that title goes to unlikely hero Reggie’s custom four-barreled shotgun, shown here clearing a tree of an infestation of horror-dwarves. However, Reggie does manage to get himself involved in a doozy of a chainsaw duel, a duel which systematically reminds us how fundamentally awesome chainsaws are, and why they definitely shouldn’t be used for dueling.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre involved a chainsaw massacre. In Texas. It was the movie that paved the way for chainsaw mayhem on the silver screen, and for that we owe it much. However, for true chainsaw-related shenanigans we must turn to the lesser appreciated sequel, which finds a stoical sherif (played by Dennis Hopper,) out to track down the movie’s villain; the chainsaw-wielding, human-skin-wearing, republican-voting Leather Face.
But our trusty white-hatted sherif isn’t playing things by the book–he’s in it for personal reasons, and revenge is a dish best served with a chainsaw. Or better still lots of chainsaws. That’s why Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s crowning chainsaw moment isn’t Leather Face using his saw-blade as a literal penis-extension, but Dennis Hopper playing the bad-guys at their own game with a chainsaw rampage of epic proportions.
Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
In 2004 everybody decided that George Romero’s classic zombie movie and social commentary Dawn of the Dead didn’t have enough boobs and nu-metal, and so a remake was made, because nothing is better than a remake of a perfectly good movie. The remake certainly had its moments, though, and what it lacked in substance it made up for in chainsaws.
When the ragtag group of survivors (they’re always ragtag) use some converted vans to make a break through the zombie horde, it seems obvious that they’d take some chainsaws along to keep the inconsiderate undead from scratching up their paintwork. The interesting thing about this particular cinematic chainsaw moment is that its a nice reminder of the real-world consequences of using a chainsaw in a moving vehicle, which is to say, it doesn’t end well.
Rec 3: Genesis (2012)Every little girl’s wedding fantasy comes true in Rec 3: Genesis, when the proceedings (and guests) are torn apart in a burdgeoning zombie apocolypse. Now its up to bride Clara to stand by her man in the most badass way possible.
Ah, men. We’re such an easy bunch to please. Just give us a pretty woman, a bunch of zombies and a power tool and you’ve pretty much ticked all the boxes. If they could have somehow worked beer, football and Batman into this chainsaw sequence, then there would have been no need to make any more movies ever again.
The Machine Girl (2008)
The Japanese prove once again that anything the West can do, they can do insaner– as evidenced in this clip of a machine gun emerging from Machine Girl’s butt (you’re welcome?) The Machine Girl not only has a variety of spinning blades and ridiculous gore, but the saw in question is wielded by an attractive teenage warrior in a schoolgirl costume, because this is Japan, and if they remade Wuthering Heights it’d probably feature an attractive teenage warrior in a schoolgirl costume. Here’s a great example of how, in this bizarre, gory, and fundamentally ridiculous movie, a mere chainsaw competes with mini-guns and ninjas.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
I know we’ve already listed the sequel, but this wouldn’t be a chainsaw article without giving The Texas Chainsaw Massacre its due credit and acknowledging one of the most iconic chainsaw scenes in history. I speak not of Leatherface’s brutal attacks on wheelchair-bound teens, nor of the tense chase through the woods, but of the final scene of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where, thwarted from claiming his final victim, Leather Face whirs his saw through the air in a dance of both rage and triumph. This simple, creepy, and oddly poetic sequence tells us everything we need to know about the role of the chainsaw in horror movies; It is psychotic, noisome, cumbersome and furious. Not a weapon that is defined by its master, but more a character in its own right– an unreliable but enthusiastic accomplice. To quote the eloquent inscription on Leatherface’s own weapon of choice: “The Saw is family.”
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