Leatherface is back, Jack! Or perhaps he’s just getting started. Two brothers are heading across Texas with their girlfriends in order to report for Vietnam (or are they?). On the way they are taken captive by a sadistic family led by Hoyt and his nephew Leatherface. Can they escape the mayhem before it’s too late? Find out in… Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.
How?! We open with the origin of Leatherface, from his tragic birth to his even more tragic start as a murderer, when the meat packing plant he works in closes down and he chooses to murder the owner. His uncle Hoyt helps him escape the law and takes on the guise of the local sheriff. A short time later, a gang of youngsters are roadtripping across Texas, this time in order for Eric and Dean to report for duty for Vietnam. Dean is planning to draft dodge, but before he can fully admit it to Eric they tangle with an angry biker resulting in a car crash. When Hoyt shows up he kills the biker and thus we begin hours of on screen torture that I’m sure someone out there enjoyed. Anyway, they are all packed up and taken to the family home while Chrissie, Eric’s girlfriend who was thrown from the crash, climbs into the wreck when it’s towed to the house. She quickly realizes that her friends have been taken captive and she heads for help. She finds a biker and convinces him to come help while Eric, Dean, and Dean’s girlfriend Bailey attempt and fail to escape. Returning with the biker, Chrissie finds Eric, but he’s murdered in front of her by a chainsaw. Leatherface, well… takes his face all while the biker is killed like a dope. This is all very graphic and unpleasant. Chrissie then tries to save Bailey but is captured and joins the family and her friends for dinner. She and Dean manage to escape and head to the meat packing plant. There Dean saves Chrissie’s life and she manages to get away… except we know she doesn’t because this is a prequel. Leatherface pops out and kills her and everyone dies. Sad. THE END. Big Question: There must have been an audience for the neverending gore, torture, and lack of scares or else they wouldn’t have made it… right?
Why?! We do get a better picture of the motivations expressed in the remake. In that one they made it seem like the family is motivated in part by revenge against those that insulted them. In particular those that bullied Leatherface due to his skin condition. In this film, though, they make it seem more like Hoyt was driven insane from his time in the Korean War as a POW and then uses the perceived insults of society against the family to rile them up to murder and/or accept murder and cannibalism… a little zag there.
Who?! I’ll take this opportunity to highlight another movie monster actor. Andrew Bryniarski is interestingly the only actor to ever portray Leatherface twice in both the remake and this film. He was a former bodybuilder who broke onto the scene as Butterfinger in Hudson Hawk. He drummed up some controversy after making some insensitive remarks upon the death of Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface. Not a good idea if you want to keep raking in that Leatherface money.
What?! These films generally lack much for this category given the horror genre (which spooks advertisers) and the fact that they’re generally set in the past. Obviously there are a huge number of props out there for the film, given the horror market on these things, but interestingly not many for sale at the moment.
Where?! Gotta love the series that has given us so many A+ settings. It’s interesting that much like the temporal setting of these films, it’s probably impossible for them to ever stray from the Texas setting. It’s in the name and would be real weird to release The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Takes Manhattan… but I’d be there for it.
When?! The reboot was more specific with the time, but this still is pretty close. It’s set in July 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War, and that plays a prominent part in the plot. Probably not prominent enough to boost it up into A territory, but enough to get it to a B, despite not having an exact date.
While I could see the interesting choices made in the remake, while also admitting that it just wasn’t the type of film for me, this one really doubled down on the stuff I didn’t like from that one. They let R. Lee Ermey run wild and then upped the gore to the extreme. This must have been in some kind of apex of this type of horror film or something because in the 2003 film they cut Jessica Biel’s pregnancy storyline and removed the scene when a kid was murdered by Leatherface because that crossed a line. Here that was all out the window. It is tough to watch and almost laughably not scary. They aren’t even really trying to scare you until near the end of the film. That’s all without even mentioning the fact that they somehow still managed to rehash everything in the 2003 film for this film. If you’re going to make a torture movie then at least do something different with it. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Just when we caught up with BMT we get sucked back into a bad horror franchise. This does mean we will only be two films away from completing the entire series. Well … I’m impressed, so whatever. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – After watching the first film and reading the preview I would assume that this is basically the same as the first except that they did everything wrong instead of most things as right as you could (given it is a remake of a classic horror film). So let’s see: they’ll redo the dinner scene and up the ante on the gore. I hope I’m wrong. What are my expectations? Now this one I fully expect to despise. Otherwise I’ll have to declare myself immune to gross-out gory horror.
The Good – Not much! I guess you have to give credit where it is due: this has by far the most chainsaw action and kills of any of the six films in the series. If you like prequels riddled with callbacks this is your movie as well. Like if you watched the remake and thought “I wonder how Hoyt had his teeth knocked out,” then guess what? You’re going to be pleased to know you find out. Also if you like frequent call backs to the original classic film they dole out those in spades as well.
The Bad – Nearly everything? I started this film and all of a sudden I had an overwhelming sense of deja vu. At first I thought “wait … this is the same story as the remake!” But guess what? If you think about it, five of the first six films have the same goddamned story! And with that my brain rejected the film. I hated this film. I’m going to declare it dog poo in my face. So there, take that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning! It is grosser, and weirder, and … if this is your style of film (it isn’t mine) then this really cranks the formula up to 11. And for me that made it a very unpleasant viewing experience.
The BMT – I hope to almost immediately forget this film exists in the coming weeks, but it’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with the Friday the 13th series as far as film series we somewhat illogically decided to watch all of the entries for (eventually, still two Massacre films to go). Unlike Friday the 13th I think I’ve liked each subsequent entry less than the previous one except for the remake. My ranking is basically: 1, 2, 5, 3, 6, 4. And my defense for liking the second is that at least it had a new and kind of amusing story. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, although I expected to hate it just for the gore, but ended up hating it because it was a retread as well, so it has that going for it.
Roast-radamus – Another Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, another A+ Setting (Where?) for BMT. Also I like that there all end up being weird Period Piece (When?) entries because for whatever reason people feel like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has to take place in the 70s? I do think this has a decent shot at the Bad entry at the end of the year as well. I’ll leave it at that, while there was a bunch of twist-y callbacks, that was mostly to service the prequel formula.
StreetCreditReport.com – This manages to be perfectly in between the time in which big publications were doing worst of lists and when the more consistent lists (like the AV Club) started being developed. I can’t find it anywhere, but I think by the time this came out the critics who didn’t feel like seeing the prequel to the 2003 version just ignored it. But if Ebert did review it, it would have gotten a thumbs down I’m sure. Its cred comes from its predecessor anyways.
You Just Got Schooled – Naturally for a two film series why not watch two good films in a series: Happy Death Day 2U. I’m actually a bit surprised this got almost the exact same critical reception as the first. I found this one to diverge too much from the horror formula to be interesting. It is, instead, a sci-fi alternate dimension comedy. To be frank, that’s not what I signed up for. Initially I was excited because it seemed like maybe they were going to focus on another character in the film (Ryan Phan), but then they just went back to Tree again and with that my interest waned. I kind of just wished it was a bit better because the writer-director clearly loves time travel films, so it would have been fun to explore more horror-comedy versions of those types of films. I don’t like genre mash-ups in general, and here they tried to mash up three genres into one. Guess what? That’s two too many genres. C+.