Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997) aka The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994)

directed by kim henkel
ultra muchos, inc./river city films, inc.

All right, so retconning this flick to be the sort-of “sequel” to the 1974 original makes sense. It’s at least half great: the first 45 minutes of this black horror comedy work well as a pastiche of the first go-round, with the added amusement of more modern horror motifs … which are basically updates of the original’s template anyway. Both unsettling and darkly humorous – much as the debut was meant to be, and Part 2 purported to have been – first-and-only-time director Henkel outdoes his former writing and production partner Tobe Hooper’s juvenile second chapter with a bit more sophistication. The latter half of the picture, meanwhile, spirals wildly out of control, plot-, production- and performance-wise. Becoming kind of a mashup of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The X-Files, with a passel of other film references tossed in haphazardly, it retains a tinge of the on-edge emotion of the original. It lacks in the hazy, disturbed intensity, of course, and also for any slaughtering on behalf of whoever these people are and however they’re allegedly related to the clan this time around. Oh, and this time around, Leatherface is a cross-dressing (wo)manchild.

why did i watch this movie?

Gawd, I made it this far, I had to.

should you watch this movie?

C’mon, now.

highlight and low point

Once again, there isn’t any real reason “Leatherface” even needs to be in this movie, especially as he doesn’t do much of anything except throw an extended hissy fit. And he’s the only plausible link to the first film! (Well, okay, Bernie Lomax Grandpa’s at the table, too.) Strange continuity note: In Leatherface, the generic third installment, “Bubba” has an unexplained leg brace, and in this picture, Matthew McConaughey’s character has a remote-operated battery-powered lower appendage. Yep.

rating from outer space: B

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