2003’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” much like the original, centers on a group of young travelers who come across an isolated rural home while driving through Texas. Unfortunately for them, the decrepit house is the residence of a family of deranged backwoods killers who begin to hunt the strander group one by one. Also like the original, it is loosely inspired by the real-life crimes of serial killer Ed Gein.
The film even brings back John Larroquette in his role as the film’s narrator to provide some connective tissue. Larroquette would, once again, reprise that role for Netflix’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in 2022. Nispel added some found-footage bookends to the film that made it appear as though law enforcement had uncovered video from the scene of the crimes, just to help set the tone for what was to come.
Convincing Nispel to do the film as his first feature was another thing entirely. Interestingly enough, cinematographer Daniel Pearl, who shot the original film in ’74, returned for the remake. He was the one who convinced Nispel to do it. Speaking to Starburst in 2015, the director explained:
“I said, ‘Daniel, this is blasphemy. They’re remaking your movie and they’ll screw it up!’ And he says, ‘Well you’ve got to direct it.’ I asked him why and he said, ‘If you’re going to direct it, you’re gonna hire me and I’m gonna make the same movie twice. Once at the beginning of my career and once at the end of my career …’ So I was like, ‘F**k it! Let’s just do it, let’s go for it.'”
Went for it they did. Filming took place in Austin, Texas, in 2002, staying true to the roots of the original. Armed with a cast of up-and-coming young actors such as Jessica Biel (“7th Heaven”) and Jonathan Tucker (“The Virgin Suicides”), as well as sturdy character actors like R. Lee Ermey (“Full Metal Jacket”), Nispel didn’t just craft a hit movie — he helped kickstart an entire movement within the horror genre.