I’m not even going to talk about the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre other than to say it took me years to get up the nerve to watch it, and it is a film that still disturbs me today. So let’s leave that piece of perfection alone and trash every film that has come out since.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II (1986)
I love 80s horror, but 80s sequels to 1970s horror films often fall victim to 80s cheese: The Hills Have Eyes II, The Exorcist III, Jaws IV: The Revenge, and TCM II. Yeah. I get it. It’s not supposed to be anything like the original. It’s supposedly a campy, dark comedy or something like that. Whatever.
Two dudes call into a radio station and the DJ chick listens as they get ripped apart by Leatherface and family…who then come for her. Dennis Hopper is a bad ass sheriff hero who goes to rescue her with a chainsaw of his own. Total comic book stuff.
The family lives underground now. The cook from the original returns. Bill Moseley plays the brother of the hitchhiker from the original. Grandpa is back. Main girl Caroline Williams screams nonstop and you’ll either love it or hate it. Personally, I thought it was awesome—I’d be screaming like a bitch too. We get a repeat of the old hammer and bucket trick. There’s a weird “sex” scene with the main girl and Leatherface.
The gore is cool and gruesome, there’s plenty of torture, and a cool alternative soundtrack including Concrete Blonde, Oingo Boingo, Timbuk 3, Lords of the New Church, and Stewart Copeland. You know it’s the 80s when you can say a TCM movie has a cool soundtrack….
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
The voiceover intro to this sequel tells us that Sally, the chick from the original, died. Why? Why do they need to kill Sally?
Anyway, in this glossy sequel, some guy and chick are heading from California to Florida. They soon find themselves being pursued by Leatherface and a whole bunch of new family members, including a mother and a little girl named…Sally!
Leatherface is no transvestite pretty boy this time. He and his chainsaw are bigger and scarier than ever. The only hope for our male and female leads to get away is…Ken Foree from the original Dawn of the Dead! He’s a survivalist hiding out in the woods and becomes the comic book hero of this installment.
The family just doesn’t have that same psychotic intensity of the original crew. I guess that’s why the lead chick goes through all this horrifying shit and barely reacts to any of it. She whimpers when she should be screaming her head off like the chicks in the first two films. You have to see how calm she is after her hands get nailed into the armrests of a chair. And she even gets the cheesy final survivor “quote” at the end.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
Fans HATE this sequel. I, um, kind of think it’s the best. Of course, many say it’s a remake, not a sequel, because the same shit happens. If you ask me, the same shit happens in ALL of them!
Anyway, TCM 4 (that’s right, I said it) opens with a voiceover referencing 2 minor incidents that happened since the original massacre, the last being 5 years ago. Then we cut to 1994. See? Sequel.
Renee Zellweger and her friends are going to prom. Their car breaks down. They meet Leatherface and yet another new family. Matthew McConaughey brings back the insanity of the original family with a completely perfect, over-the-top performance. Plus, there’s some serious torture porn in this film, as well as Matthew demonstrating why he should be in gay porn.
Leatherface is back to being fabulous. He puts lipstick on his mask and dresses up all pretty for dinner. Most of the film is a big joke (IMO, it succeeds way better in its humor than TCM II). But there is one totally creepy scene in which a chick on a porch swing doesn’t know Leatherface is standing behind her. Very effective.
No one gets chainsawed, but one chick flashes her boobs, and it made me realize something I never had before; most TCM movies contain no nudity! WTF?
Finally, things escalate to new levels of weird that don’t make any sense at the end, but I definitely got a very Cabin in the Woods vibe. Was all the craziness some failed experiment by a big nasty corporation?
Look out for cameos by several of the original TCM cast members at a hospital in the final scene….
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake (2003)
It would have been dangerous to try to make this as over-the-top freaky as the original considering young audiences these days actually laugh at the original and think it’s lame and boring. Don’t believe me? Look at the message boards. Modern mainstream horror standards are too polished to dabble in absurd levels of genuine crazy.
The remake has your typical staged grit, suspense, gore, jump scares, and chase scenes. It’s actually a really good contemporary horror movie about a crazy family of killers. Just let go of the fact that it’s a remake of a classic before watching. It fits snuggly in with other films of its time, such as Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes remake. This movie is incredibly intense, gruesome, and brutal with some torture porn to satisfy today’s whores.
And speaking of porn, Eric Balfour looks all kinds of sweaty sexy in the film. Why would anyone want to take a chainsaw to this?
In exchange, the remake family is much more controlled than the original. They’re just your run of the mill redneck crazy killers, not the out of their fucking minds weirdos variety. No dynamic, high intensity lunacy here. There’s the “dad” who is apparently the sheriff, there’s the “mom” who works at a gas station, there’s a legless old man in a wheelchair, and there’s Leatherface. The most notable thing about this installment of the franchise is that we SEE Leatherface without the mask. And it ain’t pretty.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
This is how it all began. Just like the remake, this is pure new millennium sleek HD quality backwoods horror with some mainstream torture porn thrown in—only it’s much flatter than the remake. The upside? Matt Bomer is sweaty and shirtless. Someone pass the hot sauce please.
We learn about the day Leatherface was born and how he got a job at the slaughterhouse. When it’s closed down, the hungry family can’t resist when a dish as delicious as Bomer walks into their lives. Yep. The family becomes cannibals because of a meat shortage. Well that explains over 30 years of massacres. We also get explanations for all the random givens from the remake: how the father became sheriff; how he lost his teeth; how the old man character ended up legless in a wheelchair. I think this prequel was made just to answer those questions we never asked.
This one takes place in 1969, so there’s a Vietnam subplot, there’s a tough motorcycle dude and his girlfriend to up the body count, and there’s some craziness at the family’s home. Also, important to note in both the remake and this prequel is that Leatherface’s transvestite leanings are obliterated; he only wears the faces of men.
Other than that, there’s a mini dinner scene homage that is kind of lame, and Jordana Brewster from The Fast and The Furious franchise does the window leap—from the first floor. Yawn. And, since this is a prequel, you can kind of guess how “The Beginning” is going to end…
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
After this, people should stop complaining about the 2003 reboot.
So Texas Chainsaw 3D pretends the sequels to the original 1974 film never happened. If it was trying to be better than the schlock the franchise became, it failed miserably. Basically, it’s just as fun for the gore, but just as bad in all the other expected ways, and as usual, has you wondering, “Who the frick are all these new family members?” Still, there are actually parts of this movie I really like aside from the cameos by members of the original series—Sally, Grandpa, Leatherface from 1974 and Chop Top from TCM 2 (the actors, not the characters).
See, Trey Songz was cast pretty much so he could be shirtless and glistening in sweat the whole time, and this actor Shaun Sipos (he was also in The Grudge 2, Lost Boys: The Tribe, and Final Destination 2) looks AMAZING in soaking wet jeans and a shirt unbuttoned down to the navel. Hold on while I go copy and paste that whole sentence into my STUD STALKING section….
Once we find out what happened after Sally escaped the house in 1974, we flash forward for the new premise; a chick finds out she inherited an estate in Texas. Dunh dunh dunh! It’s also Halloween, but other than one reference to it and a plastic pumpkin sighting, the holiday is forgotten.
So the main girl and her pretty friends are off on a road trip in a classic TCM van. The first 45 minutes have typical TCM suspense, creepiness, seriously brutal kills and torture, and an intense scene involving the van. But I must say, Leatherface is quite the girly girl in this one. He’s never looked less butch, from his clothes to his build.
After the initial gorrific fun that has some of the look and feel of the 2003 reboot, my ADHD took over and I lost interest, mostly because typical TCM sequel crap followed involving family lunacy on par with the sideshows in TCM 2, 3, and The Next Generation.
Don’t buy into the news that this one is from the makers of French shocker Inside. They’ve managed to take the late Tobe Hooper’s oft-mimicked masterpiece and turned its legacy into an Americanized clone of Rob Zombie’s Texas Chainsaw knockoff.
I guess that’s good news for those who think The Devil’s Rejects and Rob Zombie’s Halloween are the bomb, though. A kid is tossed in a mental institution, there’s a huge massacre there, he escapes with a bunch of white trash crazies, then they terrorize locals across the state of Texas while being pursued by the law enforcement in cars and on foot.
By the way, there’s no excuse for calling this film Leatherface. Not only is it virtually the same title as a previous film in the long-running franchise, it’s also a (horrible) origins story of what happens before Leatherface becomes Leatherface.
Things I learned from Leatherface: Leatherface is fucking cute under all that leather.
In an early scene a couple stops when they drive past a lump in the road. Look, I know it’s only 1955 and people cared about children back then, but how gullible do you have to be to chase a little boy wearing a cow carcass into a cornfield?!?!?!?
The good news is, I Shot Andy Warhol stars Lili Taylor and Stephen Dorff are reunited.
Plus, the kills are wicked brutal and there’s some necrophilia. Yay! Everything else is the bad news, including the fact that the better, crueler, alternate ending wasn’t used for the final cut of the film. The only consolation is, you can watch the film with the alternate ending if you go to the special features on the Blu-ray.
Please, PLEASE just stop making Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. Please. I guess I’m not helping the cause, considering I bought this shit on Blu-ray.
One thing the modern day reboots and remakes have going for them are the men. That’s Leatherface in the center….