DIRECTOR: Jeff Burr
WRITER: David J. Schow
A couple from California who are driving through Texas take a wrong turn when they are advised of a quicker route by a wandering hitchhiker. Left shaken after an incident with a perverted gas station attendant. Things only go from bad to worse as they are run off the road by a chainsaw-wielding madman and his family of cannibals who live in the backwoods of Texas. They will need to fight to survive or perish like the many others who have fallen victim to this evil clan.
As I began to watch the third instalment of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. I realised that I had never actually seen the movie. I was however excited to see where the third film would go after the brilliant original and its bat-shit crazy sequel. So now with the man who was responsible for the original as well as the sequel gone from the iconic series. I had to wonder where this latest film would take the mythology. I think Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is where the decline starts for this series.
Looking at the poster for this third entry. It's best not to believe the huge statement that's plastered across the poster. The most controversial movie ever made is about as misleading as the 'true story' thrown on the original or inspired by 'true events' on the remake. While a great marketing ploy for the movie, this is nowhere near being a controversial movie. The film may be controversial solely based on the fact that this is one huge disaster of a film. Getting it to the screen was no easy feat.
Reading trivia for the third film, you get a sense that this wasn't an easy task for the director and herein lies the problem. The original script called for and was said to be extremely gory and brutal. The producers of the film objected to a lot of the violence in the film. The movie then had to be submitted to the MPAA eleven times before they would release it into theatres. Watching this sequel, you get a sense that this movie has been cut to ribbons. Just watching it, you can feel that the movie is two different visions and we've been given the clean version.
When the movie opens with a human face that's been carved off, and you witness the Leatherface hacking at it with scissors while the credits roll, you get a sense that this is going to be a brutal experience. The movie opens on a rather grisly note. So when every single death scene in the movie feels edited to the point that there is no blood. You sense that Jeff Burr and New Line didn't see eye to eye. You give this director a chance to make a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, and you decide it be bloodless, you have made a grave mistake.
After writing six paragraphs of my review. I discovered that I had watched a highly edited version of this movie. Rewatching the longer uncut version with all the gore in the film doesn't change the movie all that much. While we get some more bloodshed and a child committing murder. It's still pretty tame for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. The extra gore doesn't add all that much to the film because it just isn't a great story. It just doesn't feel like it adds much of anything to the franchise. It's something we've seen before.
The third Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn't just have problems with the vision for the final film. We also have an entire cast of characters who come across as completely unlikeable. Our heroine feels like a bargain bin version of Sally or Stretch. While she has fight in her, it feels entirely forced. This may be because this was Kate Hodge's first film role. The family is a mismatch of characters but what they do right here is make Leatherface the main threat. He isn't the scared, handicapped villain this time around. He's made to be more clever which feels like a step in the right direction for a sequel where we've seen him as the side-piece.
The addition of a survivalist played by Ken Foree, it didn't make the movie any more enjoyable for me. In fact, I thought it took away from our couple characters. Halfway through, we switch gears and suddenly start following him, and it goes back and forth between the two. I think Ken Foree was added to give Leatherface a foe or a threat, it ultimately didn't work for me. He's not Dennis Hopper, and he's certainly not the big action star of someone like Arnold or Jean-Claude who I think would've suited the role better. It would've probably made it camper, but anything is better than what we had with this sequel. I think they hired Ken Foree for his Horror Icon status.
When it comes to being a suspenseful horror film. I think it fails in part with trying to deliver the scares. Unlike the sequel taking a completely different route and adding a heavy dose of comedy. They've decided to take this sequel back to its roots and give us something dark and scary. It's just a shame that it doesn't successfully pull off the scares or suspense. The best moment in the movie comes towards the end when we have a fight in the swamp with a chainsaw swinging back and forth. It's probably the most suspenseful scene in the film.
Lastly, we come to the acting. While the movie has some well-known actors in early performances such as the great Viggo Mortensen who is the standout as the sinister hitchhiker is a lot of fun. It's nice to see him take on a villainous role. Ken Foree isn't such a bad actor, but his performance here feels like he was only added to be a foe and the cut and uncut versions of the film played very differently for his character. I actually enjoyed his character more in the uncut probably because he ends up dying. Kate Hodge is alright in her first lead role, but when compared to Marilyn Burns and Caroline Williams, she falls short of leading a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is hit in the head with a hammer.
- Someone's face is carved off and prepared to be a mask.
- A man's hand is put into a gas oven fire.
- A man is hit in the face with an automatic weapon.
- A woman has a chainsaw slammed into her stomach.
- An armadillo is run over by a car.
- A man is set on fire.
- A man is hung upside down and bled like a pig.
- A man is shot in the chest with a shotgun.
- Lots of body parts are found in a mass grave.
- A dead coyote is thrown at a car.
- A man's foot is caught in a bear trap.
- A man is attacked with a chainsaw.
- A woman is shot in the chest.
- Someone's severed head is thrown into a swamp.
- A little girl stabs a woman in the hand with a piece of bone.
- A man's head is pushed onto a chainsaw.
- Someone has their leg cut with a surgical saw.
- A woman's hands are nailed to a chair.
Much like Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. My review will appear a little erratic and uneven. I had almost finished my review yesterday and spent quite a bit of it explaining my distaste for the mostly bloodless Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. It turns out, I got my hands on an edited version of this movie. Watching the uncut and unedited version, the extra blood and gore don't add much to an already terrible film. A fun performance from Viggo Mortensen can't save a movie that you can even feel had a lot of studio interference, MPAA problems and just a hard time getting to the screen. A missed opportunity and the first nail in the coffin for this franchise.