In honor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s 40th anniversary restoration release, we’re taking a look at some of this classic film’s less-than-heralded sequels. Read on for my final installment where I belatedly and begrudgingly review the latest entry: Texas Chainsaw 3D.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Directed by John Luessenhop
Written by Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, and Kirsten Elms
Okay. Before we begin I would like caution you, dear readers: this review is extremely biased. So far, everything I’ve written for the Shed (I feel anyway) has been pretty balanced. I generally try to find the good in most movies I watch, even the “bad” ones. For proof of that, just check out the review I gave Uncle Sam, or the rest of the TCM sequels. I don’t enjoy trashing a creative work. It just doesn’t do anything for me. I’m more than willing to suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy a fantastical story. It’s a deal you make with the creator and 99.9% of the time, I can find something redeemable in the work, whether it be a movie, a book, a comic, or even a video game.
But this movie.
Texas Chainsaw 3D picks up a few hours after the original 1974 Massacre ends. So basically everything that’s happened since is ignored. Okay, I’ll accept that. I did enjoy most of the sequels, but they didn’t really attempt to further the narrative in a logical way.
In a nutshell, the opening scene of Texas Chainsaw 3D is pretty much the opening scene of The Devil’s Rejects. Yes, I realize that observation a bit unfair. The Firefly family would’ve never existed had it not been for Leatherface and the Sawyers. But it’s like some sort of Inception of movie tropes, where the thing that influenced the other thing ends up being re-influenced by that thing that it influenced. Are you still with me, or have you completely lost consciousness? Oh and Bill Moseley (Chop-Top in TCM 2 and Otis Driftwood-Firefly in House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects) stands in for the unfortunately deceased Jim Siedow as Drayton Sawyer. Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, and John Dugan (cast members of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are also present in this film, but in different roles (well, except for Dugan’s two second cameo as Grampa).
After Sally Hardesty escapes the Sawyer’s clutches, she gets to town and tells the authorities about the horrors she’s just been through. So the angry townsfolk of Newt, Texas come for the Sawyers. And initially, Texas Chainsaw 3D shows a bit of promise. I’m all for revisiting a story and it is rather interesting to return to that infamous house of horrors. But things begin falling apart almost immediately. A couple of armed rednecks, who look much less inbred than the Sawyers arrive at the house, just ahead of the Newt posse, and head inside. We never get to find out who they are. I guess they’re Sawyers too? Eventually, the posse (led by future Newt Mayor Burt Hartman) opens fire on the house, killing everybody inside (even poor Grampa). Or so they think. Then they burn the place to the ground, even though Newt’s Sheriff Hooper is standing right there. He voices his opposition to the posse, yet literally does nothing to stop them. Leatherface somehow gets away (although it isn’t revealed how). Oh and Loretta Sawyer (who we’ve never ever even heard of manages to crawl out to the barn with her somehow unharmed baby girl, Edith. Where the hell was this woman in the original? What did Drayton do? Invite his entire extended family over to get riddled with bullets? Makes. No. Sense. Well, one of the good ol’ boys ends up killing Loretta and stealing the baby for his wife because that’s something people do.
Now here’s where shit gets really ridiculous. We cut forward an undisclosed number of years and Edith Sawyer (now named Heather Miller), is working as a supermarket butcher, unaware of her sordid, Sawyer origins. Okay, listen: Heather is played by Alexandra Daddario (Woody Harrelson’s mistress in True Detective). And this girl is beautiful. There’s just no way generations of inbred Sawyers could have produced such a gorgeous specimen. The least they could’ve done is given her a hare lip, or a gimpy arm. And she’s also like fucking twenty-three. If you’re an infant in the early ’70s than in 20-whatever you’d be edging into your forties. And Texas Chainsaw 3D is most definitely set sometime in the 2000’s because a Facetiming smartphone makes an appearance. Usually stuff like this doesn’t get on my nerves too much, but this is just so blatantly ham-handed. Incidentily, the scene involving the smartphone is completely idiotic.
Well, Edith/Heather returns home to the apartment she shares with Trey Songz (woof) where she receives a letter informing her that a grandmother she never knew has passed away and left her a fortune. When she asks her parents what’s going on, they tell her she’s adopted and that she’s actually a Sawyer. So Heather, Trey, and their two friends (who we’ll call Pointless Idiot Victim 1 and Pointless Idiot Victim 2) set off for Texas to get Heather’s money and check out the house she inherited. And guess who lives in the basement? Yeah. You guessed it. Senior citizen Leatherface.
The foursome picks up a hitchhiker en route (who turns out to be a real dick, naturally). They finally get to the house which is where everybody starts dying after discovering there’s an inbred, cannibal murderer hanging out in the basement lo these many years. Apparently, Heather’s grandmother had been taking care of the big lug and keeping him hidden away so he wouldn’t murder any wayward travelers. Heather somehow manages to escape the bloodbath, even though she trips over every goddamn thing in the world, and she loses Leatherface in the middle of a carnival. She ends up at the police station where Sheriff Hooper leaves her in a room with a box of evidence concerning the Sawyer murders and the vigilante mob. So Heather discovers the truth about her family: the townspeople of Newt killed them. Keep in mind that she’s only known she’s a Sawyer for – at most – a few days, but for some reason, this miscarriage of justice pisses her off and she flees the police station. This doesn’t sit too well with Mayor Burt Harper, who apparently runs everything in the whole town and is a real asshole. He doesn’t want the town’s “dirty laundry getting aired.” Look man, it’s far too late for that. A family of inbred cannibals used to live on the outskirts of your town. Burning their house down is the least terrible thing that’s happened in Newt for a long time.
Astonishingly, the movie climaxes with Heather actually teaming up with Leatherface and “getting her revenge” on Mayor Harper and the rest of his cronies. At one point, when it looks like Leatherface is done for, she actually tosses him his chainsaw and says, “Do your thing, cuz.” Jesus. Christ. They attempt to justify this with some half-assed explanation about how “family’s really important.” This guy just murdered all your dumb friends. Oh but he’s your cousin (Uncle? Which is it?) so… whatever. Go ahead and help him. And Sheriff Hooper just stands there and let’s Leatherface kill a bunch of people. He’s the worst sheriff ever.
At the end of the movie, Heather returns to Leatherface’s house and actually becomes his caretaker, like her grandmother before her. The. End.
Excuse me for a moment. I feel like I just threw up.
Okay… ahem. This is a bad movie. There’s just no way around it. I can’t think of a single worse horror film I’ve seen in ten years. “Why?” you ask. “I didn’t think it was all that bad.”
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a masterpiece of deranged horror. Even though its subsequent sequels and remakes didn’t live up to its reputation, they still tried. But what we have here with Texas Chainsaw 3D is a story that utterly fails, barely directed by someone who shouldn’t have been allowed to get his hands on the franchise in the first place. I haven’t seen Luessenhop’s other films, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they have to be better than this one. Because Texas Chainsaw 3D is truly as bad as it gets.
Luessenhop and the three writers it took to churn this thing out obviously have no respect for the fans of this series. Otherwise they wouldn’t have produced a film so filled with glaring missteps and unbelievable stupidity. Why would anyone attempt to turn Leatherface into some kind of sympathetic hero? He’s a murdering cannibal psycho. He’s a bad man. His relentless pursuit of his victims and the unsavory ways he disposes of them is what makes him so scary. The viewer isn’t supposed to feel empathy for him because he is a monster.
There isn’t a single likeable character in this whole film and not one thing anyone does is believable or scary. The creators attempt to cover this up by throwing in some gore and a few cheap jump scares, but it’s just wasted effort. I guess they thought it would be edgy to show Leatherface meat hook a guy and saw him in half. Bush league. The original didn’t have to show any of that because what it implied was truly horrifying, not gross. There’s a huge difference.
I can’t recommend this movie to anyone because it is literally not worth seeing even once. Take it from someone who finds the good in even the wackiest horror films: skip this one. It will only disappoint you. Luessenhop has brought the series down to its lowest common denominator and as a true fan of horror, I honestly think we all deserve a formal apology for this travesty.
You may have noticed I didn’t even get around to talking about the 3D aspect of Texas Chainsaw 3D. That’s because it’s not worth mentioning.
No stars. No knives. No nothing.
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