The sex appeal in the new movie about Leatherface is just about the only thing that works. The film, titled “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D,” is the latest in what had been a horror movie series outrider.
Since Tobe Hooper’s 1974 chiller, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” based, reportedly, on the same rural killer who inspired “Psycho,” we’ve seen “2” in 1986, “Leatherface” in 1990, “The Next Generation” in 1994, Michael Bay’s 2003 re-make of the original, and “The Beginning” in 2006. In some ways the first movie was trend setting. Even the weaker sequels have been weaker in original and low-budget ways, always seeming a little more like west Texas than like Hollywood.
But the new movie is really just another back-lot cricket, something the Scream movies have already commented on. Heck, there are more listed Producers of one sort or another than there are speaking roles.
Oh, there are a couple of little nice touches here. The girl in the off-the-shoulder striped shirt, Heather, is the baby forcibly adopted by one of the vigilantes in the film’s flash-back scene. The torch-bearers shot all but a couple of the Sawyers who were protecting their serial killing cousin Jed. Then the avengers burned down the family house.
Now Heather has grown up without knowing her family history. And she has ironically become a supermarket meat cutter. The Sawyers used to work at a packing plant, and Jed uses a chainsaw to attack strangers, then butchers them, sewing their peeled off faces over his own. Thus his nickname, Leatherface.
Toward the end of the new movie, the six foot five Leatherface is chained to a mechanism which draws him along the floor of the old packing plant toward a giant cutting machine, a sort of garbage disposal. This is a lot like little Nell being chained to a log as it rides the conveyor toward the lumber saw. Surrender, calls Snidely Whiplash. Here comes Dudley Do-right to the rescue.
But wait. That makes Leatherface the victim here. And this is one of the mindless Hollywood things that “3D” does. Always before McCullough boy has been the predator. Now he only kills those who have smoked marijuana or had sex, acts slasher movies always repay with death, or those who are bad (one of his victims here is a silverware thief) or who interrupt him mid-dismemberment.
And he’s actually been living quietly with a rich, little old lady cousin in a remote mansion until the woman’s death brought the clueless stripy Heather, her red hot-pants wearing checker friend, a couple of beaus, and the spoon-stealer into the big house. And heck, Leatherface figures out that Stripes is his relation before her lawyer gets around to giving her life-preserving information and before the professionally impotent Sheriff can accomplish anything.
Poulan pusher knows who Heather is when her blouse is torn open by a villain. Through the eye slits of his new mask, Leatherface sees the Sawyer “S” emblazoned on her chest by a house-fire warmed family necklace. But in this not-at-all scary horror movie, viewers will probably be enjoying a peek at his cousin’s chest more than they are this studio cliche of a sequel.