Thoughts Before I Hit Play: I’m now realizing that I forgot to include this segment with my previous review, though I think, judging by how that turned out, you can tell that I was prepared for it to be a lot better than it was. For this film, however, I tried to go into things with an open mind. I had been told that this series would only get worse the longer I watched it and that there was no hope for me in territory which claimed stars like Matthew McConaughey and Viggo Mortenson. So, going in I was really trying to have an unbiased opinion about what I was going to watch. Of course, you’ve noticed that this is in past tense, so I didn’t get a chance to type this out before I watched the film and can therefore not give you a proper peek into my mind before I’d watched this film. Oh well!
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY7n9IKerag (everything about this trailer is my favorite thing ever, I wish it was in the movie)
Synopsis: Platonic friends Ray and Michelle are, for reasons I don’t remember, driving down to Florida. Once they hit a road block caused by the recent unearthing of a pit full of corpses, they take a detour past a very sketchy gas station. They meet a kind black man that keeps them safe, even as they encounter a murderous family we’ve never met before that somehow has Leatherface in it even though he died at the end of the last movie.
When I first finished watching this movie, I was reeling from the fact that I had actually enjoyed what I watched.
However, after writing out this review, I realized, I disliked this movie a lot more than I thought I did initially.
At this point, I don’t know that you need me to tell you that, in this film, a bunch of people run around in the woods chased by a chainsaw-wielding oaf that is wearing the face of another person.
What I think you want, or at least hope you do, is for me to tell you what makes this movie stand out as probably the most confusing in the series thus far.
Specifically, I need to discuss the first part of this movie with someone. It’s glossed over, never mentioned ever, and is possibly the strangest part of this movie that, if left unspoken about, could cause a rift in the space-time dimension. Remember in the first and second movies, where they used this scrolling text to tell you a bunch of stuff before the movie begins.
In this film, they do the same thing, but in an attempt to connect this to the first and second movies. Here’s a summary of what scrolled past my eyes this time:
- Sally, after spending the last few years in a coma, passed away in 1977.
- A single member of the family lived to see the trial. His name was recorded as W.E. Sawyer, and he died in the gas chamber in 1981.
- The jurors concluded that Leatherface was actually an alternate personality of Sawyer’s that was activated whenever he wore his mask.
- If what Sally says is true, Leatherface is still at large
At the end of the second movie, we see Leatherface, The Cook, and his brother die or at least be fatally wounded. I don’t get how, if someone in the family that the jurors then thought had an alternate personality that was “activated” by the masks he wore, was then killed in a gas chamber, that the guy in this movie could be the Leatherface from the last.
It presents more questions than answers that I simply don’t have time to uncover. I wanted to make sure I mentioned it though, because it might explain the engima that this movie is.
As I surmised in my last review, no one seems to die in this series. what I now realize that means is that archetypes of characters don’t die.
Now, I realize this might just be me overthinking things and justifying shitty writing and poor directing choices.
I think I have something here. If we take this series from the perspective that Leatherface and the hitchhiker aren’t the same people as the series goes on, it makes more sense. There’s no ultimate goal in the end, they just exist in a constant loop to terrorize the final girls they leave in their wake.
Honestly, I’m just so tired of these horrendous masks, the fact that it’s all the same movie with no progress towards understanding the characters, and it just makes me sad, so I’m trying to do the best I can to make this review suck less.
One glimmer of hope, however, came in the form of a man named Benny.
Benny is the second black man to come out of this series. The first was that truck driver that, for some reason couldn’t just DRIVE AWAY. NO, I’M STILL NOT OVER THAT.
Benny is a survivalist that literally saves the day during and after the kerfuffle of the film itself. He’s a refreshing breath of fresh air with feelings, emotions, and acting skills.
The actor that plays Benny was also cast as the lead from the Dawn of the Dead movie, so I think that was an awesome choice for the almost main character of this one.
The characters themselves were what made this movie so awesome for me in the first place.
I really enjoyed how deep they all were, even down to the escaped girl, Sara who’s been evading Leatherface for days. They all brought something to the table and made the movie watchable.
It’s no different for the final girl in this movie, Michelle, played by Kate Hodge. She was tenacious, although a little bit of a bitch, she ran and attacked when she could, even though she also barely screamed, and she fucking learned something, which is more than I can say for 90% of the characters in this franchise so far. She goes from being unable to kill a suffering armadillo to shooting a man with no hesitation. That is organic growth if I’ve ever seen it.
Not to mention the tiny sidebar that is the un-credited cameo by Stretch in this film. Thanks to the journey she went through in the second film, she’s now revealed to have done exactly what she wanted to and become a reporter, getting out of the radio business. This movie gave her what she should have gotten at the end of the last movie, rather than a strange scene where she waves a chainsaw in the air for no reason.
Finally, I want to talk about Leatherface as a character. In this movie, he is a more well defined version of the character that he was in the first. He’s still uncommunicative, child-like, and clumsy, but he’s embraced that about himself and made adjustments to combat them. For example, in this movie, rather than running aimlessly through a forest with a chainsaw, he chases his prey into traps he’s set.
I loved the small scenes with the headphones and the scene with the speak n’ spell in his garage. I thought that was just adorable and I wish there had been more like that, especially with the addition of the little girl character.
That reminds me, in this movie, Leatherface has not only adjusted to a life that now includes sex and playing with lady parts, but he also has a fully fledged child.
They never explain this, as a matter of fact, the actor that played Leatherface wasn’t even sure that’s who the little girl was supposed to be. On one hand, the writer stated in a documentary that the family Leatherface is now a part of is comprised of a bunch of individual weirdos, on the other, they make a point to show that Leatherface kisses this little girl on the lips.
I’m assuming this was more of a cultural thing than anything, but because of the conversation that followed it, it created a dark cloud of unknown over the head of Leatherface. Was he the same guy from the first movie, or was he a pedophile now? I don’t even want to get into the psychology of that because it makes my skin crawl.
In the movie, there was no reference to suggest that was a theme, so forgive me for suggesting it, but it made me upset and confused to see Leatherface given the responsibility of caregiver in such a sloppy way.
To me, Leatherface seems like the kind of guy that should have some kind of friend that he doesn’t want to murder. In the second movie, they tried (and failed) to make that friend a love interest. I think it should be a kid, if anything. He might be able to relate to that child more than anyone else, after all, if moviegoers are being fed the tale that Leatherface was inspired by Ed Gein, that would make perfect sense, his best friend was a neighborhood boy he would hang out with all the time.
They really missed an opportunity to explore that aspect of him and instead, made the look we get into his psyche in this film a private moment with a speak n’ spell.
The last thing I want to briefly mention is the gore in this movie. I really liked the level of gore in this one. You get brief, dark glimpses that let your imagination fill in the blanks, but you also start off with a scene that’s gross and disturbing so it sticks with you through the whole film.
Year Released/Director: 1990, Jeff Burr
Favorite Death: Tex’s death was pretty cool. Not only did it lend to Benny’s character, but it also incorporated the lighter Sarah had given him, involved pretty dope special pyrotechnic effects, and was a good, hearty action scene that actually had me worried for a little bit about Benny’s fate.
Funniest Part: Definitely the chainsaw in the water bit. When Benny and Leatherface end up in the body bog, they start wrestling in the water. The giant chainsaw, however, swims around the pair, not getting water logged at all and instead acting as a floating fountain/ death machine that adds no real danger to the fight because no one can see what’s happening.
How I Would have Done It: I would have completely re-written the movie. Not a single detail would be the same except for maybe how interesting the characters were. Here’s what my third movie of this series would look like if I were working with what the sequel gave me:
Leatherface, bandaged and haggard, lies alone in a hospital bed. He’s restrained with leather cuffs and outside the door, he can see two armed men guarding the entrance to his room. Machines beep and hiss around him. He’s unable to move and doesn’t dare make a sound.
As a singular nurse enters, her badge is scanned by one of the men and a green light indicates she is allowed through the door. She greets the man in bed with a wide smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. The slight shiver in her hand as she writes the time of her checkup on his chart at the foot of his bed makes it obvious she regrets coming here on her own.
From the bed, through bandages that cover most of his face, save his eyes and those teeth we all know and love, he looks into her dark eyes. She approaches the bed and grabs a blood pressure cuff from a nearby table.
“How are you doing today, Mr. Sawyer? We’re glad to see you awake again today.” she says. Leatherface runs his tongue across dry, cracked lips and eventually over the jagged edges of his teeth, he doesn’t make a noise, but his eyes never leave hers. She’s beautiful.
The nurse winces as she watches this unfold. Wrapping the cuff around his upper arm and pressing the button on it’s attached machine, she takes a hurried step back from the bed, making space between her and the heavily guarded patient.
The cuff begins to tighten uncomfortably around Leatherface’s arm. He begins to panic as he realizes it might never let go. He pulls wildly at his restraints, moans, and screams. One of the leather cuffs break free from the chain securing it to his bedside. The nurse shrieks and runs out of the room, fearing for her life.
The armed men enter the room and attempt to restrain the wild man without the use of weapons that could disturb the other patients on that floor. Their attempts fail, and Leatherface breaks free from the final cuff. Pulling the blood pressure cuff from his arm and the IV’s from his skin, blood spurts here and there, fluids moisten the floor from ripped IV bag, and Leatherface rises from the bed. A catheter painfully slips from beneath his hospital robe as he takes a step towards the armed men. A howl of pain and his towering build forces the men to take pause. One uses his Walkie- Talkie to ask for backup.
Though they try, can’t catch the enraged man as he speeds past them across the small room. Leatherface raises a wooden chair above his head, and smashes it down on both of them at the same time.
With the armed guards unconscious and his room shielded by curtains, Leatherface searches their belts for a tool he can use to make his escape. He finds a tactical knife. It’s no more than the width of his palm, but it’s better than nothing.
He stumbles from the room, open hospital gown flowing around his naked body, searching the corridors for an exit and any potential victims that might try to get in his way.
Then some running and whatnot goes down. Thing is, this time he doesn’t have a chainsaw or his masks to keep him safe and secure. He’s lost without his family, doesn’t know where he is, has never stepped foot in a hospital before, and feels naked without proper clothes and his masks. I’d probably also include him finding Sally, because according to the scrolling text from the second film, she’s in a coma at a hospital.
God, the possibilities were truly endless for this film and they just…SOILED IT.
Thoughts from Interviews:
There is an entire “making of” documentary on this film that I found on YouTube! Of course I watched the entire thing in lieu of the three or so interviews that cropped up with my very basic YouTube search.
Let’s start off with the first two sentences uttered once the title card flashed across the screen:
“Ed Gein was one of the most notorious serial killers of the 80’s”
“Ed was like the 4 star guy before Manson.”
Both are false, one is false two times over! Manson was never a serial killer, he was a mastermind behind a cult.
Gein wasn’t a serial killer either! He robbed graves and was only ever said to have killed two people, not with any kind of pattern, but rather after becoming so emotionally connected to them that it was the only option left to get close to them. I know things and feel it necessary to set the record straight here because I did a shitload of research on the guy to write the fictional story that appeared in Aphotic Realm’s Gruesome edition. this year.
Ed Gein has been said to be the main inspiration for this franchise, but according to an interview I found with the OG Leatherface, Tobe Hooper was only tangentially inspired by him. Leatherface was never meant to be his clone.
Moving right along.
According to producer, Robert Engleman, who also played the gas station attendant, he said they prepped the movie before they had a director. They wanted Peter Jackson to do it, but settled for Jeff Burr.
The movie was supposed to reference the first movie, but not replicate it.
The writer stated that he wanted Leatherface to have adopted a new, nuclear family and do away with the family he’d had in previous movies. They’re not supposed to be actually related, but rather, are misfits that found each other and bonded over their love of killing and eating people.
Even the actor that played Leatherface wasn’t entirely sure that the little girl in the film was supposed to be his daughter.
Jeff Burr mentioned that in this movie, rather than a child, as he has been in other films, Leatherface was more of a rebellios teen in this movie.
It was shot in 30 days, which, according to Jeff, was a short shoot. I wonder if he knew much about the first two…
There were planes flying overhead at all a times and at some points in the movie, you can apparently hear screams from a nearby amusement park.
There was drama behind the scenes between the cast and the director because Jeff wanted to go over time, over budget, and over the heads of production to make the movie the way he wanted it to be. He was even fired at one point for two days because they couldn’t find anyone to replace him. He was re-hired, made compromises, and finished the film.
Once the first screening had finished, the crew was told that it would likely have been banned everywhere if they went forward with making the movie. It had an X rating when it was initially made and they had to continue to go to the ratings board back and forth with edits, until it was granted it’s R rating. They even missed their release date due to that.
Viggo Mortenson actually messed up his audition when trying for the role of Tex. He initially wasn’t cast at all. But 2 or 3 days before shooting, they called him and because he was willing to do anything for the movie, he agreed to be cast at the last second.
This was the first movie not shot in Texas. They shot in California because it was easier on their budget.
The shooting time was only about an hour and a half, all organically at night.
Tobe Hooper got the idea for Leatherface from his time in medical school. One of his colleagues wore the face of a cadaver to a Halloween party. He said it was the singular most disturbing thing he’d ever seen.
The chainsaw in the film weighed 80 lbs and was designed using the biggest chainsaw available to buy.
The movie itself was protested once it came out
This was the first film that the writer had ever written.
There was no mirror in the dressing room of the actor that played Leatherface so he didn’t get to see what it looked like until finished scenes had come out.
Gunnar Hansen was asked to reprise his role for this movie, but refused. At least Burr had the decency to ask before casting someone new.
Summary: I thought it was an interesting choice to give Leatherface an entirely new family. it makes me wonder if the idea of Leatherface and his kin are just archetypes with new actors filling the roles with each new iteration. If that’s the case though, it doesn’t make sense to have had the same characters in the second film, even though one of them had clearly died.
Now, in this case, Leatherface had died, or at least been wounded to the point that major, possibly life-threatening surgery would have been necessary at the end of the second film. Getting a chainsaw shoved into your stomach and being within mere feet of a grenade in a small underground space is kind of a recipe for death, you know? The only “survivor” the finale of the second film could have produced would be the hitchhiker or Stretch. for literally two seconds of this film, we see that Stretch has become a reporter, however, there’s literally no other mention of that fact besides the split second we see her, and she’s not doing anything related to anything important in the movie. She’s not even credited for her cameo for god’s sake!
That all seems a bit confusing, but moreso is the fact that not only has Leatherface become part of a new family, but also has a child now and it seems the franchise has fully embraced the inbreeding that has only been hinted at up until now.
I don’t like the fact that the mommy issues Leatherface had been toiling over for his entire existence were basically laughed at in this film. They confused the childlike mindset he’s had this whole time with the maturity it takes to raise a child of his own. It doesn’t make sense for what they were trying to do. Plus, seeing as the movie is called “Leatherface” In the title, he gets little to no screen time and is the but of nearly every jump scare.
Now that I’m getting into detailing the process of how this movie went, I dislike it more than I did when I initially finished watching it. I think I was just so desperate to experience a plot I could follow that I let that cloud my judgement as the film went on. In reality, the movie is strange, confusing, and doesn’t make sense within the context of the other films.
It would have been better off being it’s own movie, not listed as a sequel.
Last Post: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Love what I do here? Consider supporting me on Patreon
Did this neglect to satiate that horror bug chewing away at your brain? Try one of my horror stories.
Don’t feel like reading? Listen to my podcast every other Thursday!