Despite Tobe Hooper’s deranged, gonzo attempt to sequelize his stone cold classic back in the mid-80’s, Leatherface was a horror character that never seemed to easy to franchice. Despite being the hulking poster boy of the series, the mentally stunted, gardening tool enthusiast is no solo act like Jason or Freddy and only works if he’s part of a family unit; so to keep bringing him back for new installments means finding a new family for him to hang with.
Awkward as that may sound, that’s exactly what they’ve done for a deeply unnecessary threequel that’s high on lunatic family members but low on quality or intelligence.
The story, predictably wafer thin, is as follows: Michelle and Ryan are driving across Texas mulling over their fragmenting relationship where they pull into a dusty gas station in the middle of nowhere. Here they meet the proprietor Alfredo, a weasley, motormouthed pervert and the charismatic hitchhiker Tex who’s amusingly played by a pre-fame Viggo Mortensen adding his name to a list of Texas Chainsaw stars that include Dennis Hopper, Rene Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey. After an altercation between the two men turns violent, the couple drives off in a panic and take a bad road where they are attacked by Leatherface (who apparently has spent some time in the gym as he now resembles a pro wrestler) and after escaping, have a car accident with a survivalist naned Benny (Dawn Of The Dead actor Ken Foree). Yet another looney turns up in the form of hook-handed mechanic Tinker who also attacks them (notice a pattern here?) and eventually Michelle and Ryan end up at a typical kind of Texas Chainsaw house to find out that not only Leatherface, Tinker, Alfredo AND Tex are predictably all part of the same Sawyer clan but also meet matriarch Mama and a cannibalistic little girl who seems to go by the strikingly unoriginal moniker of: ” Little Girl”.
Eventually it all ends in a usual, sadistic dinner scene these movies contain before all hell breaks loose.
If the the above sounds increasingly episodic to you, that’s because it is. The film lurches from one poorly conceived scene to another, hurling in yet another Texan weirdo everytime the film lags while never actually settling on what you’d clearly define as a plot. The film is literally a story about people wandering around backroads while psychos attack them every once in a while and contains absolutely none of the rich metaphor of the original or the frenzied parody of the sequel. It’s just a “movie” and doesn’t actually seem to be about ANYTHING. Subplots that shouldn’t even exist go nowhere, with a side story about a traumatised victim wandering around the countryside giving out unhelpful exposition being a particular standout in it’s pointlessness. In fact this is the kind of film that you can blatantly tell that major plot points were changed in post production with blatantly dead characters returning with some minor scrapes because someone wanted a Texas Chainsaw movie to have a “happier ending”.
If the character isn’t a cannibal then they’re dull as ditch water and even then they’re only defined by their physical quirks (loves technology, has an artificial voicebox , is a raging pervert) but every now and then the actually film nails down something cool. The scene where Leatherface (acting in this film more like a moody teen than a frenzied infant; maybe his “sexual awakening” in part two helped him mature) gets frustrated with a speak and spell because it keeps correcting him that a person isn’t food and his chrome “excalibur saw” is nothing short of freaking majestic but the film is ultimately just nastiness for the sake of nastiness with no real rhyme or reason to exist in the first place. Odd considering the ridiculous campaign was so much fun with Leatherface obtaining his power utensil from a lake like King Arthur showed more wit an verve than the film it was advertising.
“There’s roadkill all over Texas.” thoughtfully intones a couple of characters throughout the film. This film is a good example.