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'Chainsaw' Cuts Up the Screen

After "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (search) came out in 1974, drivers no longer picked up hitchhikers and nobody looked at a tree-cutting tool the same way again.

The movie about a group of hippies, a rusted van and a killer named Leatherface was so scary it was banned by censors in Britain until 1999.

While several campy sequels ensued - "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)," "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III" (1990), and "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994)" - starring actors such as Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey and Dennis Hopper - none was as chilling as the original.

Opening Friday is a remake of the Tobe Hooper-directed original that some viewers might find even more shocking.

During filming, director Marcus Nispel would be shouting, "'We need more blood! Make it more dilapidated! Make a blood sandwich with her legs!'" says Eric Balfour (search), the "Six Feet Under" star who has a comic role in the flick.

Nispel and producer Michael Bay wanted to dig deeper into the psychology of the events that spurred the first film, tinker with the plot and make it a lot gorier.

They did intensive research on serial killer Ed Gein, the Wisconsin farmer who killed women in the 1940s and then decorated his house with their body parts. Gein inspired the original "Chainsaw Massacre" as well as other thrillers like "Psycho" (search) and "The Silence of the Lambs."

"People think 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is a Hollywood movie title, but it's a police file," says Nispel, who has directed more than 1,000 commercials and MTV videos.

A police file that's been closed for years, but still riddled with mystery and psychological intensity - all the more reason for a second splatterfest.

Moviegoers should put their popcorn down for the opening hitchhiker scene.

Instead of a delusional man who slices the wrists of a passenger - as in the original - the hitchiker is a suicidal woman who bleeds for no apparent reason.

We won't say anymore, but you might want to wear washable shoes.

Unlike so many of today's digitized thrillers, the new, comparatively low-tech "Chainsaw" has a retro 1970s look, achieved with the help of meat hooks covered in Bosco chocolate syrup.

"They used wood inside fake body parts that were splintered open," says Balfour, who broke his hand and tore a few ligaments in his knee during one scene.

In the original, they used human skeletons, real blood from the actor's cuts that occurred on set, and had Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen (search) shoot scenes in the same shirt for 30 days.

Jessica Biel (search) of "Seventh Heaven" fame took notes from '70s actress Sally Hardesty, who was beaten, chased and chainsawed throughout the first.

"There are so many scenes where she's hysterical and freaking out and crying and with the blurry-eyed face, you really felt for her, you were scared for her, and you wanted to get out of there," says Biel. "I wanted to match that level of intense emotion. I loved watching her do her thing."

In a slaughterhouse scene, Biel cried for real.

"The first time I walked inside, I was sick to my stomach," she says. "I walked out and sat down and cried a bit. I've never seen slaughtered animals like that, and I love animals. That was gross, I know it's frozen and dead, and I had to be desensitized. But there I was, in a tank top and jeans, and these things are touching my bare skin and it's 35 degrees in there."

Biel thinks if the remake sparks debate, that's a good thing.

"People will love it, hate it, and totally compare and contrast the two.

"But ours," insists Biel, "is more brutal."