Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

Synopsis: He Puts the Teeth In Terror

A pair of college students driving coast to coast are lured off the main highway and on to a deserted Texas road. Here they are stalked by the menacing Leatherface and his demented family…a bizarre cannibalistic clan with blood on their hands and a feast on their minds. Their only chance for escape is a survivalist with enough firepower to blast Leatherface and the rest of the grizzly predators to hell. A depraved shocker of intense terror from the gruesome beginning to the bloody finish.

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Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III 4.25

eyelights: Kate Hodge. its straighter tone.
eyesores: its divergences from the previous films. its performances. it its lack of excitement.

“So, how do you like Texas?”

Seriously, I honestly don’t know what you can do with the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ franchise to keep it fresh.

I’ve (sorta) wracked my brains over it.

I mean, it was possible to extend ‘Halloween‘ and ‘Friday the 13th‘ into full-fledged series, but it was usually to the detriment of the original material; they would add supernatural elements or camp up the proceedings.

Even ‘Psycho‘ (which, like ‘TCM’, is based on the story of serial killer Ed Gein) was successfully followed up with ‘Psycho II‘ – though it faltered afterwards with ‘Psycho III‘ before making a bit of a comeback afterwards.

With ‘Psycho’, what made (most of) its follow-ups work was that it focused on the killer instead of his victims; watching a bunch of disposable characters get taken out one-by-one can get tired fast. What’s the point?

But what can you do with ‘TCM’?

The villains aren’t really that interesting, though they are unusual (and, thus, a tad intriguing). But, who’d want to follow a bunch of demented cannibal rednecks, get to know them, and find out what makes them tick?

It’s hard to sympathize with them.

It’d be equally impossible to throw in some supernatural elements to the mix, because that would just be weird: we know that they don’t have any powers and their madness certainly doesn’t come from some external force.

So what can you do with them?

Well, with ‘Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III’, the filmmakers decided to give audiences more of the same. Though they named the film after its iconic chainsaw-wielding psychopath, it’s not at all about him.

Released in 1990, the picture follows Michelle and Ryan, a young couple who are driving across the United States to bring home her father’s car. Naturally, on their journey through Texas, they encounter raving lunatics.

And get stalked by them.

What’s interesting about this particular picture is that it was made by New Line Cinema with the intention of starting a new horror franchise to replace ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, which was about to wrap up its run.

Perhaps they had planned on taking the series in a different direction, after sort of rebooting the basic idea, but it was not to be: ‘Leatherface: TCMIII’ was a failure and they let their rights on the property run out.

So we’ll never know.

Unfortunately, what did come to be is a sloppily-conceived effort that isn’t scary, holds no surprises, makes little sense, and, worst of all, is pretty dull; it isn’t harrowing like the original or campy like its sequel.

It’s just… meh.

And a bit ridiculous. In fact, I started to make a list of everything that doesn’t make sense and got discouraged. I don’t think that this picture deserves as much sweat and labour as that. It’s not even worth a laugh.

(Though I must mention Tink’s claw hand, which is visibly much longer than his other arm – and you can see his real hand hidden beneath. It’s so stupid – it’s worse than Luke Skywalker’s hand in ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘!).

Frankly, it’s not at all surprising: ‘Leatherface:TCMIII’ was a troubled production, which found Jeff Burr fired early on (and then rehired!), the picture was censored many times and the ending was completely reshot.

‘Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III’ is a redundant mess; it doesn’t bring anything new to the table aside for re-imagined characters and, despite its simplistic plot, it doesn’t hold an ounce of sense.

You know how people like to say that “everything happens for a reason”, as though this was some sort of deep wisdom? Well, in ‘Leatherface’, “everything happens for no reason”. There’s nothing deep about it, it’s just true.

No wonder New Line gave up on the series.

Nota bene: To get an MPAA rating, the film was trimmed multiple times for a total of nearly five minutes of footage. It doesn’t amount to much other than extra gore (see here for details). Completists will be happy to note that both the R-rated and Unrated cuts are available on the same DVD.

Story: 4.5
Acting: 6.5
Production: 6.5

Chills: 2.0
Violence: 5.0
Gore: 3.5

Date of viewing: August 29, 2017

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