As you can imagine I approached this film with some serious scepticism, a prequel to one of the grittiest, grim and brutal movies there is. I expected, as remakes and sequels have proven themselves to be, this to be an absolute sack of shit.
Thankfully, it appears that someone really did their homework on what made the first film so good and as a result TCM: TB is a fucking awesome film. Filmed in almost the same style and paced in a similar manner this film really does the original justice and is a more than worthy prequel.
In terms of plot, it basically does what a prequel sets out to do, sets the scene and shows the origins of all the characters; in this case the family. The film is set in the same location as the original film but is set at the end of the 1950s and follows two drafted soldiers headed for base in line to die in Vietnam (along with their partners). Coinciding with their trip, a struggling town in deep rural Texas is being abandoned, the last inhabitants moving out and the abattoir being shut down. All but one family decide to leave. Basically the family decide human is the new meat for their table and the four mentioned above are essentially dinner!
Whilst the plot is good, and all credit should be given for the fact that nothing shit or cheesy changes, no bullying wank like what was suggested in the remake of the original, just plain simple psychos, the film does suffer in the sense that the rather simplistic plot of the original is basically carried through in this film, essentially replicating the first film. The methods of murder may be slightly different, as are the characters, but this is basically the same premise.
But as with Hooper’s original the beauty of the film lies in the details. The first film was not at all gory but it made you feel well uneasy, this is just as grim. Perhaps not as shocking but then it’s been done before, but it is definitely gorier; and the effects are good. This is not a seemingly low budget affair and the violence is brutal. Plenty of blood and on screen murders. The highlights being a bear trap and of course the good old chainsaw.
In terms of other details, the house is still surreal; half built and bare concrete on the outside, but oddly decorated to be homely on the inside. The family seem eerily normal (aside from their choice in cuisine) and you sort of sympathise with them. The camera filter also reflects the dry dusty and uncomfortable Texan heat a technique also effectively used in the original.
Overall TCM: TB is very pleasant surprise. A nice balance of gore and atmosphere makes it a definite strong addition to the franchise. Its main problem is that it is very similar to the original in the fact that basically a small group of people are murdered by the family, and the same happens in this one. The small additions and hints to what created the family to be what they are to become make this film a little more special and definitely worth owning. But taken as a stand alone film it’s plenty brutal with some pretty awesome torture/death scenes with decent acting and script to complement them.