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Pulitzer Prize Winner Tracy Letts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “Poorly Acted, Poorly Directed …. Genius.”

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Tracy Letts may have just won a Pulitzer Prize but in the hearts of horror fans, his play August: Osage County will never dethrone his nasty little paranoid creepshow Bug. Unfortunately, misleading blood-and-guts promos plagued William Friedkin’s 2006 movie adaptation. “People who would have enjoyed the film didn’t go see it, because they were put off by the marketing campaign,” says Letts, “And kids who were enthusiastic to see the movie were furious — ‘Why are these people talking?’ They didn’t understand that there would be these long scenes of dialogue, so they felt cheated. Because they were cheated!” 

Letts himself is quite democratic in his love of horror. “It’s tough to identify what it is I like about it. But I like pretty much everything about it!” he says. “I was into J-horror when that started to appear, but then they all got remade and watered down.” The last movie that really got under his skin? “The remake of The Hills Have Eyes of all things!” admits Letts. “I don’t know that here’s acres of social commentary, but it was a pretty good scare.”

Tracy Letts’ Top 10 Horror Movies

10. Theater of Blood
9. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
8. Funny Games
7. Rosemary’s Baby
6. Psycho
5. Bride of Frankenstein
4. Blood and Black Lace
3. Eyes without a Face
2. The Exorcist
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

“At first glance, it’s the most poorly acted, poorly directed, and
poorly written movie on my list, but therein lies its genius,” explains
Letts. “Chainsaw feels
utterly authentic. One can easily believe it’s the work of madmen (as
opposed to the many great auteurs present elsewhere in my list).
Therefore, there is no net, no safety valve, no escape — truly anything
can happen.”

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