Halloween Horror Fest 2015: The mess that was the ‘Texas Chainsaw’ franchise

To those who’ve followed my work, it’s no secret that I love “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” I find it to be one of the best horror films ever made thanks to its style, detail, setting and more. I also admire its sequel for being a legitimate attempt at a horror-comedy which focused more on humor than downright scares.

Following the original two, though, the series took a complete nose dive with two more films that may or may not have been sequels to the original. Now, with all fairness, there was a reboot in 2003, and for all its faults, I think the 03 film comes close to at least trying to recapture the original film. I don’t consider it a horror classic and still think it pales in comparison to the original, but it’s an OK horror picture.

The same can’t be said about 2006’s Texas Chainsaw the Beginning or the absolute trainwreck that was Texas Chainsaw 3D released in 2013. So, while normally I like to focus on good films, let’s take a gander at the terrible sequels to Texas Chainsaw Massacre flicks.

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III


While this film has a 3 behind its title, the movie tries to sell itself as a direct sequel to the original. The problem, like the other sequels/prequels/whatever the hell else they can be classified as, is that it doesn’t capture the spirit of the original film. First of all, the movie wasn’t even filmed in Texas, instead it was shot in California. It’s also obvious watching the picture that the filmmakers were more going for an 80s style film rather than a true follow up to the original. There were a few attempts here and there to add some dark humor to have some connections to the first one, but they mostly fall flat as well.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation


This film, was released back in the mid 90s, is considered the last of the “original” Texas Chainsaw movies, even though just like part 3, it has little to do with the original. The movie does attempt to go off the whole idea that Leatherface takes on the personality of whatever mask he’s wearing, the problem is that it takes it way too far. Here’s a prime example:

Yeah, that’s Renée Zellweger, who’s supposed to be playing the victim in this flick, telling the supposed big bad of the film to basically sit down. Who thought this was a good idea? On top of that, the film introduced this random subplot about the Illuminati, alluding to that the entire film was set up by the New World Order or… something. If this had been part of the series from the start, it could (maybe) work, but it comes out of left field.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning


So now we fast forward about 20 years or so into the future. TCM “The Beginning “was released in 2006 as a prequel to the 2003 reboot film. This was a film that really wasn’t necessary at all and the only redeeming factor is  R. Lee Ermey. Besides his performance, there aren’t many redeemable factors. In the same way the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre III seemed like a forgettable 1980s slash picture, “The Beginning” comes off like a forgettable 2000s flick.

Most of it focuses on the blood, guts and gore, and if anyone watches the original, they would know that the gore wasn’t actually a huge focus of the original. The 2003 film was OK as a reboot, but this one wasn’t needed.

Texas Chainsaw 3D


For all that has been said about all three of those movies, though, they don’t even come CLOSE to the terribleness that is “Texas Chainsaw 3D.” The movie marketed itself as a direct sequel to the original and the first few scenes of the movie make it seem that way, picking up right after the first left off. Upon first seeing this, I was pleased since I’m a fan of the original. Things went downhill fast, though.

On top of the bad acting and filming, the movie right off the bat is filled with plot holes and other story elements that just don’t make any sense. The characters make stupid decisions (even for a horror movie) and as the movie goes on it gets worse and worse. For example, the film actually tries to paint the evil maniac family with a sympathy brush… What?

Looking back at all these films. It’s easy to see what went wrong. The first two tried to recapture the whole crazy family aspect but added too many other elements and failed. The 06 film was nothing more than a 2000s slasher picture and the 2013 edition was a film made with ideas that belong in a trash can. In the end, I think this is a case of lightning in a bottle. The original was so good that it’s too difficult to replicate.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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