Some people can’t resolve their problems through reasoned conversation, so they resort to other options. One of those is utilizing a chainsaw. Though they are notoriously noisy and sometimes tricky to handle, some people handle them quite well in memorable film scenes. Here are 10 films where characters let the whirring blades do the talking! Heck, with some of these scenes, you’ll forget a chainsaw’s modest purpose of cutting wood.
01. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
To paraphrase Martha Stewart, few things bring families together better than grave robbing, kidnapping and murdering hapless strangers. Also, when you’re done with the rampage, you even have new bones to decorate your home in! Yes, these are the family values in Tobe Hooper’s legendary film, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ Not only did the film innovate the slasher horror genre, but one of its main characters, Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), has become a horror icon comparable to the other greats. While much could be said of the deranged family, the chainsaw held by Leatherface could obviously be representative of technological progress in the wrong hands.
There’s an undercurrent of old versus new in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ and this family seems to represent people who have been led down a darkened, desolate path. While some critics disliked the violence of the film, no one could say Hooper and company hid what they were up to. The movie is called ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ for crying out loud! How much more on the nose could you get? Also, can’t we just admit it’s a great title that instantly gets one’s attention? I mean, you can almost hear the buzz-saw blades and screams in the words themselves! ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ also stars Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, Jim Siedow and Edwin Neal as the deliriously unhinged hitchhiker.
02. Scarface (1983)
Brian De Palma’s ‘Scarface’ is anything but a subtle film, and one of its most memorable scenes is a chainsaw death from a drug deal gone badly. While some lament such cinematic violence, one should remember that, even on film, Colombian drug dealers don’t always play nice. It’s also implied that Al Pacino’s character Tony Montana was partially shaped by such violence into becoming a criminal overlord. In other words, far from being unrealistic, this chainsaw scene reminds us that such brutality is possible, and the camera doesn’t totally shy away from the resulting bloodshed (even though the MPAA wanted it to).
Even if you’re not a ‘Scarface’ fan, you can’t accuse it of being an overly sanitized look at violent crime. Also, Tony Montana was never depicted as a particularly good guy, nor does ‘Scarface’ suggest a chainsaw as a proper way to resolve disputes. Ultimately, it appears to do more harm than good, thus giving us a hell of a movie.
03. Gremlins (1984)
Despite proposing new rules for a new kind of pet, Joe Dante’s Gremlins don’t like to play by any. Obviously there are many great scenes in this film, but a memorable moment is when one of the main Gremlins, Stripe, is going after Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) with a chainsaw in a department store. Although menacing, these creatures have a weak spot for playfulness. What better way to represent both than to chainsaw through a baseball bat? Stripe is solid proof that, when push comes to shove, the Gremlins are fully capable of full-on maniac mode, which makes this a great PG movie with a few borderline R-rated moments.
In fact, this film partly inspired the MPAA to create a new rating, the PG-13, which warns, “Parents Strongly Cautioned.” So, if you had cool parents, you probably saw this Gremlin chainsaw as a kid. Also, upon finishing the movie, you probably didn’t head over to the department store, buy a chainsaw and bring it in for show and tell. ‘Gremlins’ also stars Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holliday, Frances Lee McCain, Keye Luke as Mr. Wing, Dick Miller as Murray Futterman and Jackie Joseph as Murray’s wife Sheila.
04. Evil Dead II (1987)
Much like ‘Gremlins,’Sam Raimi’s ‘Evil Dead II’ proposes a few rules, at least thematically. For one thing, you may want to reconsider staying in creepy old cabin out in the woods. Second, don’t allow anyone to read passages from evil-looking books bound in human flesh called ‘The Necronomicon.’ Third, if you’ve done any of those two things, you’d better bring a shotgun and a chainsaw with you and if not, you’ll have a much harder time fending off demons!
Yes, ‘Evil Dead II’ is a rather chainsaw-filled foray into hellish battle, with some delightful, oddball comedic slapstick elements and a healthy dose of bloodshed. Basically, it’s hard to find a better pairing of horror and comedy than this (and the ‘Evil Dead’ franchise in general). Its lead star, Bruce Campbell, helped turn the character of Ash Williams into one of horror’s main good guy icons. ‘Evil Dead II’ also stars Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley and Richard Domeier.
05. Bad Taste (1987)
Before he was making relatively tame (though still decent) Hollywood blockbusters like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘King Kong,’ Peter Jackson was making spectacularly gory and bizarre horror films like ‘Dead Alive’ and ‘Bad Taste.’ What is ‘Bad Taste’ about? Well, much as its title suggests, the film explores the boundaries of bad taste, in the context of alien invaders of earth who want to use humans as nutrients for their intergalactic fast food franchise.
Basically, this film is a bloody, glorious mess, and it features some prominent moments with a chainsaw, as well as some truly zany acting. Peter Jackson himself plays one of the main, literally brain-damaged characters, and the one who ends up with a chainsaw. ‘Bad Taste’ also stars Terry Potter, Pete O’Herne, Mike Minett, Craig Smith and Doug Wren as Lord Crumb, the main alien bad guy.
06. The Running Man (1987)
“The saw is a part of me, and now I am going to make it part of you!” Few finer words have been said about a man’s murderous affinity with those fast-spinning blades. Unfortunately for Buzz-saw (Gus Rethwisch), he’s faced against the ever-resourceful Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Right before Richards redirects the blades to Buzz-saw’s crotch, he responds to his taunt by saying, “That’s all right, keep it!” It’s a less-than-stellar end to a dystopian game show “Stalker’s” otherwise illustrious career. Still, these characters must know the risks of tracking down prisoner prey as a form of national entertainment.
07. Mosquito (1995)
At some point in our lives, we’re all asked that great question: Would you like to see “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s” Gunnar Hanson chainsawing a giant mosquito to death? Now, if your answer to that question is a solid ‘No,’ then we are at a crossroads, my friend. I mean, what can I say? Gunnar Hanson + chainsaw + giant + bloodsucking mosquito = Cinematic Success. Few successful formulas could be more plainly stated! The director of ‘Mosquito’ recognized this, and you should, too. So, honestly, if you don’t like that premise, I believe you’ve hit a snag or a roadblock somewhere. Now, I don’t wish to judge you, but you may wish to retrace your steps down life’s path, and then return when you’re ready to give the correct answer.
08. American Psycho (2000)
“American Psycho’s” Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a complex cocktail of narcissism, 1980s pop culture fanaticism, chauvinism, and in one scene, chainsaw-ism. See, when he’s not engaged in some business class dealings and fan-boying to Huey Lewis and the News, Bateman likes to kill people. This movie follows his gradually escalating mania, to the point where he’s naked and chasing a woman (Cara Seymour) with a chainsaw! Buzz, buzz. In preparing for the role, Christian Bale drew inspiration from Tom Cruise’s “intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes.”
09. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
What’s scarier than a chainsaw-wielding hillbilly? Well, possibly a chainsaw-wielding space alien or Sasquatch, but those are in short supply! Either way, ‘Tucker and Dale vs. Evil’ isn’t truly about psychopathic rednecks. Two guys just happen to look that way due to some bizarre circumstances, as some college kids’ act on their own preconceptions.
Starring Tyler Labine as Dale Dobson and Alan Tudyk as Tucker McGee, this movie does a great job of deconstructing stereotypes, and spurts out as many laughs as it does rivulets of blood. The chainsaw scene in ‘Tucker and Dale vs. Evil’ is potentially sidesplitting in more ways than one. The film also stars Katrina Bowden as Allison, Jesse Moss as Chad, Chelan Simmons as Chloe, and Philip Granger as Sheriff Gurr.
10. Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)
After surviving the great Los Angeles sharknado of 2013, Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and April Wexler (Tara Reid) must face the crisis anew – only this time in New York City! This movie is just a glorious, fun-packed mess, and I feel bad for those who would instantly hate it. Some movies like this are just done well! Of course, as one might guess, this movie is improved also by some truly epic chainsaw sequences.
Of course, there are many new celebrity guests this time around. They include Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath, Kelly Osbourne, Judd Hirsch (as a taxi driver no less!), Biz Markie, Billy Ray Cyrus, Richard Kind, Kelly Ripa, Al Roker, Michael Strahan, and some folks whose careers have since ended due to scandalous behavior. So, if you see those darkened clouds up ahead and suspect they may birth shark-riddled tornados, you’d best rev up that chainsaw and get to work!