Tobe Hooper created what I consider to be a masterpiece in horror cinematography history. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre hit theaters in 1974 and audiences were greeted with a movie so vile, macabre and violent that it was banned in several countries, including South Africa. What was the real problem with TCM? It could have been real.
For those of you not familiar with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family of films (yes, these people exist), the general story follows several young adults venturing into the heart of Texas, meeting a crazed family and running for their lives. You could put them into the same category as I Know What You Did Last Summer, but please don’t.
Since its initial release, TCM has spawned 2 sequels (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3), a quasi-reboot and sequel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation) and finally a full reboot in 2003 with its own 2006 prequel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning). Thirty nine years later the original movie receives another, more realistic, sequel: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D.
I’ll admit two things. One, I don’t like 3D movies – my eyes cannot handle them properly and wearing glasses over my glasses is a hassle – and have chosen to watch this movie in 2D. Two, I adore The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series and may gush, just a little (or a lot). You have been warned, also, a few spoilers to follow. First spoiler? People die. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D (we’ll call it TCM3D from here on) opens with an overview of the original 1974 film, which at least shows continuity. While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 didn’t really have any repercussions for the murderous Hewitt family (they killed and moved onto another location to continue), TCM3D opens with an overview of the original 1974 film ending with the family being subjected to the town’s mob justice. I guess you can’t get away with cannibalism, huh?
Out of the entire Hewitt family, only two members are left alive: a little girl and Leatherface. We pick up the story again three decades later. The little girl was adopted. She receives a letter from her biological grandmother about her heritage, and ventures off with some friends to claim it, but unbeknownst to her it includes her murderous relative, Leatherface. Five people in their mid-twenties should never drive through Texas in a VW Kombi. Never. Also, if a relative leaves you a will then please read it correctly. Please.
For a horror movie, the acting is decent enough, but I prefer the performances in 2003’s remake. The killable 20-somethings have a lot of forced lines, but hey they’ll be dead soon, right? While you can believe that certain characters are crazy, there’s not much else that’s believable, which is a pity considering its heritage and franchise. Leatherface is treated as a child, which is a little offensive. He was somewhat child-like in the original but still a crazed killer nonetheless. In TCM3D why is he killing? What is the actual motive behind it? 1974 had the family pegged as insane cannibals, but no mention was made of it here. Did everyone revert to the other white meat?
Leatherface is the sole antagonist (mostly), and I’m not sure if this was the best choice. What made the other movies fun were the inclusion of “the family.” Each incarnation had their own quirks and bizarre members, which added in a bit of dark comedy. Also, their entire family logic was flawed, but believable. Having a guy in a human-skin mask running though a field with a chainsaw is, well, not an effective scare tactic anymore.
The story is decent enough, but then again, horrors (slashers) don’t really have stories anyways, and the TCM franchise has never been known for plots. A few plot turns here and there keep things interesting, but the final ones make no sense. I just don’t get it. I won’t spoil that for you, but you’ll pick up what I’m talking about.
Like any good slasher, no computer special effects are used. The movie relies on prosthetics, rubber masks and buckets of corn syrup (look this up!). Each location has a unique feel with gritty undertones though more thought could have been put into these.
Overall The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D is a decent entry into the series. While it stands above 2, 3 and Next Generation, it’s not on par with the original, remake or remakes prequel film.