Review: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
Director: Jeff Burr

Released in 1990, Leatherface is the first movie of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series to lack any involvement of the franchise’s creator, Tobe Hooper. The story follows a young couple played by Kate Hodge and William Butler who are driving across the country to Florida where it is implied that they will break up. That was how the conversation was heading at any rate and I quickly asked myself why I should give a shit about these two people. One is trying to start a conversation and the other is just moping like a poor sap.

While the two are getting some gas, the owner of the station makes some rape-y remarks to the woman and a character by the name of Tex, who just hitchhiked his way over, puts the situation at ease. Tex asks the couple for a ride, and they refuse. Tex then tells them of a road they can use as a shortcut to their destination, and that’s when the owner of the gas station comes out with a shotgun and scares off the couple where they promptly take the abandoned road.

You see where this is going. While being harassed on the deserted road by an unknown truck, the couple crash into a survivalist named Benny and the three of them encounter the Sawyer family, with Leatherface as their hunter.

I was somewhat surprised by the movie’s decision to get right into the action only a few minutes in, but what surprised me more was just how boring it was. It had no problem cutting right to the boredom.  There are some movies that take a while and try to build tension only to leave you hanging sometimes, but with this one, they get to the action, and I was still yawning. It was efficiently banal, because we had seen all of this before. The first TCM was gritty, eerie and savage, whereas the second movie kept that same air to it for the first half of the movie but gave way to a strange bit of humor to the family, while still being exceedingly gory and disgusting. This third movie fails at all of these attempts and adds nothing new to the story.
Let me walk you through a quick three minutes and what I was doing during it:
They capture the woman and nail her hands to a chair in the kitchen (yawn). They hit the boyfriend in the head with a hammer (scratching my crotch). The family talks about eating people and the brothers squabble among themselves (doing my taxes). The survivalist they had an accident with, Benny, he shows up and just starts shooting the hell out of everyone (picking my nose, studying the findings).

[SPOILER] The ending of the movie was something that would have gotten a lot more flack if people cared at all. We see Benny get his head cut open by the saw that was somehow turning itself on despite the fact of being underwater and with no one to pump gas into it, but that’s fine. The only problem is that Benny shows up at the very end to escape with Kate Hodge. And I wasn’t paying too much attention, but enough to notice that getting your head placed against a revving chainsaw would cause a bit more damage than the small cut on the side of Benny’s head at the end of the film. [/SPOILER]

Do any of you guys remember Jaws: The Revenge, where we see Mario Van Peebles getting eaten by the shark, only to show up at the end of the movie just floating around the water with a flesh-wound? The same thing happened here. I did a bit of research and found that the Benny character tested well with audiences, so they decided to keep him in there for the end.

Now, do any of you guys remember when one of your friends would pressure you to go see his band or poetry reading, and you don’t really want to do it because you know it’s going to suck, but you feel bad, so you go anyway and watch the performance, and while it is going on, you try to pick out one single solitary thing to compliment your friend on so you can sound supportive, but all you really want to do is get the hell out of there and go to Denny’s? I think that’s what happened with this movie. I think the director showed this to his friends and afterward he eagerly asked them, “So, what did you think?”
And someone went, “Ummm….well….the black guy was good!”
“Yeah,” another one said, “I really liked him! What a great character!”
And so on and so forth, and before you know it, the director is saying to his crew, “Guys! We have to do some re-shooting. The fans really dig Benny, let’s try to have him escape in the end.”
And someone probably said, “But we sliced his head open…”
But the director is probably just shaking his hand at the guy, as if it were a minor detail that can be circumvented.   

This movie surely set a perfect precedent for the slippery shit-slope this franchise would take in the coming years.

- Michael Jenkins

1 comment:

  1. Another perfect review. My favorite part of this piece of shit was when the armadillo got run over in the beginning. that was a tense and riveting scene. By the way why the fuck were you doing your taxes in august? -Phil