Saturday Nightmares: Some More Thoughts on Texas Chainsaw 3D (and the Rest of the Sequels)

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Saturday Nightmares: Texas Chainsaw 3DWhat is it with Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequels? Why do they always try ignoring everything except for Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original? It’s as if every sequel thinks the rest of them “got it wrong”, and only they stand a chance of getting it right.

There’s arrogance to this approach that, as a fan, has always bothered me. And it’s compounded by the fact that Hooper himself made the only great follow-up in an entire canon of sequels. I know that Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2 wasn’t exactly a box office success, and that its reputation has increased considerably with fans over the years. That explains why Leatherface was essentially made as a ‘modern’ remake of the original just three short years after part 2’s theatrical bust.

Of course, New Line got cold feet and slapped a roman numeral after the title at the last minute, outfitting Texas Chainsaw Massacre III with perhaps the most baffling continuity of all time. Who in the hell was that family? Are we supposed to believe there’s another clan of Sawyers living somewhere else in Texas doing the same thing? And that Leatherface had merely gone off to live with them after the events of the original? After all, this movie’s opening narration tells us that W.E. Sawyer died in the gas chamber in 1981. It’s safe to assume that this is the name the filmmakers gave to Jim Siedow’s ‘Cook’, confusing, since Tobe had made him Drayton just three years earlier. And this Leatherface hobbles around with a leg brace, suggesting damage incurred from the ending of the original, but without any ‘battle damage’ from part 2’s wild climax.

Things got really weird when Kim Henkel tried returning to Texas Chainsaw territory in 1994 with his own sequel. Being one of the writers of the 1974 film, it sounded like a great idea at the time. Of course, he wiped the slate clean in one fell swoop, proclaiming The Next Generation (or, Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, originally) to be the ‘REAL’ sequel to the immortal classic. Gone was any semblance of the original family, offering a slightly more domesticated group of backwoods lunatics. Anyone who’s seen TCM: TNG knows that things go completely off the rails in act three, with the introduction of a shady character called ‘Rothman’ – a smarmy corporate-type in the business of marketing the experience of fear. So we walk away with the implication that the killers in this movie were all, to some extent, hired to play a part. And that part was to ‘recreate’ the original Sawyer reign of terror for one reason or another. Hell, these guys don’t even commit to their roles completely, opting to eat pizza over human flesh!

Saturday Nightmares: Texas Chainsaw 3D

TCM: TNG isn’t a good movie. It’s not scary or funny. The performances range from absolutely terrible to delightfully over-the-top (still my favorite McConaughey role). And the writing? Well, that’s the thing, TCM: TNG is as much of a failure as the ‘project’ in the film is. But it was actually trying to say something about the era in which it was made. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a dark examination of America’s post-Vietnam psyche while Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 made a wickedly wonderful comedy out of our American Dream ethos. Leatheface was a decisively entertaining if woefully empty addition while The Next Generation seems to think we, as Americans, have forgotten the ‘value’ in being scared. And as such we need to be violently shaken from our complacency.

And this brings us to Texas Chainsaw 3D (formerly Leatherface 3D). Keeping with the long-line of sequels (what remakes?), we’ve got another crew of filmmakers here who couldn’t figure out another way forward beyond ignoring everything that came after 1974. It would be insulting if it wasn’t already the standard in this series. Also, we’re finally able to bid farewell to that awful Hewitt family excursion that marred the 2000s, so whatever happens in this sequel, it’s already a step up from the last two films bearing the Texas Chainsaw title.

But this has promise. Not simply because the series has been rebooted back into its original canon, but because it sounds like these folks are making a good faith effort to appease fans of the franchise. What better actor to continue the late, great Jim Siedow’s legacy than Bill Moseley? I would’ve preferred seeing him return as an older Chop-Top, but seeing Moseley step back into the Sawyer world is exciting enough on its own. And I’m glad we didn’t see him in the trailer … something tells me Lionsgate is saving some of the best stuff for the film itself.

Texas Chainsaw 3D - Best Look at Leatherface Yet!

Lots of folks have expressed disappointment over the trailer, chiding it for being too reminiscent of the Platinum Dunes stuff. This is true. And while the movie itself looks a bit slicker than I’d like, the trailer is obviously a marketing tool. And here it’s being used to attract some of the people that helped make the 2003 film a $107 million worldwide smash. Let’s face it; we fans are going to be there opening weekend, regardless. I’m not suggesting we brush aside our cynicism and expect something great like good little sheep; rather I’m encouraging more of an open mind at this point in the game.

Plus, that coffin bit in the trailer is really good. In that one scene, we have more tension and suspense than in both of the Platinum Dunes movies combined. My hope is that the filmmakers understand that an intricate part of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s legacy is madness and macabre. There’s much more to these films than Leatherface and his massive chainsaw. By the end of the best films in the series, we feel like we’re on the verge of insanity alongside our battered and crazed protagonists. And considering this film is built around a distant relative of the Sawyer clan discovering her unfortunate inheritance, is there perhaps room to take this aspect a little further and have her actually turn against her friends?

We’re four months away from Texas Chainsaw 3D and it’s a film I’m really looking forward to. My expectations are in check, but I do think there’s some promise here. Will the filmmakers go the extra step and imbue their film with the kind of satirical subtext these films live for (the timing is ripe to say something scathing about today’s youth culture)? Or will this be an excuse to push that chainsaw off the screen and into our laps for 85 minutes straight? Time will tell, but I’m really rooting for this one.

Saturday Nightmares

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Matt Serafini

Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.

  • MonsterMash

    That coffin bit looks like shit. And, no, I will not be there opening night/weekend just because of the name value. If you support shit, shit is what you get. I liked 1-3. I’d love an unedited part 3.

  • Jerel Of The Dead

    I liked the remake, it can never touch the original, but I still enjoyed it. TCM: The Beginning is better than the remake, and R. Lee Emery is awesome in both. As for this movie, I am kind of getting excited for it.

  • DavidFullam

    Well I wish them well with the new one. But the track record is not a good one. Did catch TCM 2 the other day and like many fans, now enjoy it a great deal. Certainly one that truly did get better with age. Who knows about 3? If it hadn’t been re-edited into oblivion, it might have worked.

  • MakeThisAMovies

    @Masked Slasher, I agree with you 100% I think people are flipping out over this trailer (while it is understandably underwhelming) without realizing what IT DOESN’T show. Again, we could both wind up looking stupid upon its release to find Lionsgate has bent the fans over and well…you know. I for one, have faith in the studio and the fact that Burns, Hansen, and Moseley are in this film. We didn’t see any of them in the trailer, and I honestly think that they’re saving all the good stuff for the final act in the film. Also, I agree with your comment about the coffin scene, and I want to point out the fair scene. Imagine being chased by Leatherface wielding a roaring chainsaw only to see tons of people right ahead who can save you…except they’re even louder than the chainsaw itself. That should prove to be a tense moment. Time will tell, and while all of the films have simply stood on their own for the most part, they still leave behind a legacy of gas fumes, meat hooks, and bird bone lanterns….and I’m okay with that.


  • theGoldenSimatar

    I’m glad that they didn’t pick up from the remakes. Saw the remake before the original and thought wasn’t that good. I just found most of the film rather dull, nice looking but dull. TCMTB I felt was annoying as R. Lee Emery became the main focus and not Leatherface; which I felt was a huge mistake.

    I’m holding out hope for this one; the trailer really impressed me so here’s to hoping it’s good. I’m not expecting it to recapture the intensity of the original; nothing can. The first film is lighting in a bottle; everything about it that should have equaled failure: weather, inexperienced cast/crew, little money, not a lot of plot/characters etc…..everything that screams ‘bad film’ is in that film but a marvelous picture came out of it. It rarely happens.

    A mistake I think the remake as well as TCM3 made was trying to recapture that gritty, brutalism that can never be replicated. Only hope of attempting to recapture that would be replicate the same conditions the original film was made…it’ll never happen.

    However, watching the trailer of this one…while it is going for something dark and gritty; I’m hoping they do what a good sequel does and give the audience what they liked about the last film; while expanding and going in a slightly different tonal direction.

  • LSD Zombie

    Man, if you loved McConaughey in New Beginning, you should see him in Killer Joe! He fuckin’ breaks the meter for off the wall craziness. As nonsensical as Parts 3 and 4 are, I still like Part 3 quite a bit. The director’s cut is very gory, Leatherface’s mask is bad-ass looking, there’s some laughs to be had, and Ken Foree kicks ass and takes names. That’s enough to satisfy me.

    • Masked Slasher

      Damn. I tried to go see KILLER JOE last weekend, but it’s already out of Boston.

      Sucks, ’cause I think McConaughey is great when he wants to be, and I love Friedkin.

      Will blind-buy the Blu-ray on day one.

  • JB Demented

    Very great article. I was just thinking about the franchise the other night. Going over the sequals and wondering if this new movie will leave the door open for TCM 2, or if they are going to do 2 more will the last one open the door. The original TCM is My favorite movie of all time. And Ive always loved TCM 2 and Leatherface TCM 3. I think the reason TCM 2 and 3 didnt do that well at the box office was becuase they both were released with an X rating, which allowed only adults to watch until they hit VHS. TCM 2 is probably My favortie sequal. Tobe Hooper returned to direct, Tom Savini on FX for which He really outdid Himself, and Dennis Hopper and Jim Siedow and of course Bill Mosely. Perfect ingredients for a cool horror sequal. I learned to love Leatherface TCM 3 once I finally saw the unrated/X version. The watered down R rated release was a joke. And for some odd years I considered it a bad movie. Funny how unrated makes a difference. Leatherfaces look was kind of odd as well. But R.A. Milahouf did an outstanding job as well as Kane Hodder who doubled for R.A. as well as served as the films stunt cordinator. As for TCM: TNG, Wtf was that crap? The only upside to that film was Mconughheys performance. Robert Jacks played the worst Leatherface ever, and screamed way too much. And whats with the Roseanne Barr look Leatherface has picked up this time around? I swear You think John Waters directed this movie or something. I get that Kim Henkel was trying to take it back to the original, hence alot of similarities such as the meathook scene, and the sledge hammer. As for the remake and the prequal, I consider them both a different story and dont connect them to the original series. And I loved them both. Andrew Bryanarski played an awesome Leatherface and Im a huge R. Lee Ermey fan. For the upcoming film, I really hope it does well and takes us back to the original and provides everything Youd expect in a TCM film and maybe more. My biggest hope is this movie will kickstart the slashers and maybe give us more. Like a FT13th sequal us Jason fans have been dying for. Ill always love the TCM series. Leatherface is a scary dude.

  • Terminal

    GREAT GREAT article a usual, sir. I’m looking forward to TCM 3D because it’s not in any relation to the remake and the remake of the remake from PD. They were so stupid to cut off Leatherface’s arm in the first film completely destroying their chances are fueling a new franchise, then went backwards and turned the “origin” of Leatherface in to R. Lee Ermy: The Movie all with an origin of Leatherface that’s about twenty minutes in length.

    That said, I HATE HATE HATE HATE TCM: TNG so much I’d much rather re-watch the PD TCM films, instead. If given the choice, give me Jessica Biel’s jiggling in tight jeans and a tight tank top over that nonsensical climax in TNG any day of the week.

    What the fuck did that final scene in the hospital even mean? UGH.

    Either way, I wasn’t disappointed or excited. I was just indifferent. I love TCM 74, but I’m not a fan of the franchise since it’s just as muddled and disjointed as the NOES, Halloween, and F13 series’ are.

  • Sirand

    Like HALLOWEEN, I just don’t think TEXAS CHAINSAW works as a franchise. I mean, how many times can you watch a cannibal family chase teenagers around with a chainsaw in Texas and hang them on meat hooks? After the Hooper films, it’s just been a series of pale imitations.

    • Masked Slasher

      I disagree.

      The only limitation comes when powers-that-be prevent writers from exploring these characters outside of the established confines.

      Tobe Hooper went to the well twice and delivered two different, brilliant films. And Kim Henkel’s movie, while poorly produced, had a very interesting idea in there.

      It can be done, but now that these movies have fallen under studio control I’m sure it’s a lot tougher.

  • KlassikKush666

    I’m sorry to probably disappoint you but there was absolutely nothing with the previous 2 most recent installments of the franchise; I mean sure they didn’t exactly continue from the original, but they rebooted the series which is more than likely why this one got Green-lit in the first place-everyone knows that there are hardcore fans out there for this stuff especially the studios.

    Its a goddamn shame they aren’t bring R Lee Emery back because he was what made the last two so great for me, his mouth and attitude (he could almost pass as Chop Top if he )were more crazy/hardcore) that and the good amount of suspense/gore. the reboot and the Beginning were better than the last couple installments, the original and #2 being the only exceptions although you are right McConaughey has probably his best performance in #2. I’m highly excited for this continuation of the actual series, as for the trailer I’m fairly certain 89.9% of all people hate just about every trailer made with the exception of their erection-induced superhero flicks as these days all trailers give away either too much or too little, or misgive information.; regardless ‘3D’ is gonna kick major ass at the box office as long as no other high-end movies come out at the beginning of the year.

    By doing that, they’re going to lose millions alone, because the first week of the year has never really been that profitable for the cinema industry, but hopefully Texas 3D will exceed expectations and set a new record! =)

    • Masked Slasher

      I despise the remake.

      It’s a poser horror film, with fake “grit” that feels forced and overproduced. Not a single, honest moment in that piece of crap.

      Couple that with the hilarious “motivation” given to Leatherface (skin condition, seriously?) and the fact that these bad guys AREN’T cannibals (WHY?) and it’s a massive failure.

      Oddly, I like TCM: THE BEGINNING. It has the pitch-black humor I loved in Tobe Hooper’s movies, and I was actually happy to see the focus turn toward the family (and not just Bynarski’s boring Leatherface). It’s not great, but I did enjoy this prequel … much, much more than I thought I would.