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Bad Movie Tuesday: Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), squandering the strong final girl and slapstick bonkers violent legacy of part 2 (1986).

September 24, 2019

MY CALL: This sequel was so… incredibly… not good at all. I mean, what did you like about either of the first two Texas Chainsaw movies? Doesn’t matter. Nothing you liked will be found here. MORE MOVIES MUCH BETTER THAN Texas Chainsaw Massacre III: Well obviously you should have already seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and the ultra-zany sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986). From there I’d suggest seeing The Funhouse (1981), Motel Hell (1980) and House of 1000 Corpses (2003) before moving on to the much better The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) and perhaps Texas Chainsaw 3-D (2013).

FRANCHISE SIDEBAR: In 1974, a group of twentysomethings basically got really unlikely and stumbled across the wrong house of homicidal cannibals. After a narrated introduction linking our story to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and explaining the aftermath of final girl Sally (now deceased), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) waded into waters far more gory and campy than anything in 1974 (which was hopelessly desperate and dire). But apparently nothing from part 2 matters in part III… except for the presence of grandpa Sawyer, perhaps.

Driving from California to Florida, young couple Michelle (Kate Hodge; She-Wolf of London, The Hidden II, Silk Stalkings) and Ryan (William Butler; Ghoulies II, Friday the 13th part VII, Watchers III) find themselves in Podunk, Texas. Naturally, the gas station attendant is a perverted lunatic and a local hitchhiker (Viggo Mortensen; The Prophecy) distracts the murderous local as the couple escape down some backroads that don’t appear on their maps.

While being hunted down by local crazies Leatherface and Tinker (Joe Unger; A Nightmare on Elm Street, Pumpkinhead II) and Alfredo (Tom Everett; Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), a well-armed passerby motorist Benny (Ken Foree; Dawn of the Dead, Death Spa) comes to their aid to battle this sick family of cannibals.

Following up Tobe Hooper’s (Lifeforce, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1-2, Poltergeist, The Funhouse) first two films, director Jeff Burr (Puppet Master 4-5, Pumpkinhead II, Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre) seems simply to have made a nasty slasher flick—nothing more. And it’s a movie quickly forgotten for its complete lack of merits.

Even by its opening on-screen narration, this seems more to be a sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) than to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986). And in the opening credits Leatherface, now played by a third actor (R.A. Mihailoff; Hatchet II, Smothered, Pumpkinhead II) in as many movies, feels more like a big goon with some sick murderous habits rather than the monstrous man-child we came to know in the previous two films.

LEATHERFACE: In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Leatherface (Bill Johnson) has a slapstick yet macabre vibe about him as he chainsaws a moving vehicle while wearing an entire dead shambling corpse as a disguise. He’s extremely sexually repressed and highly foolish. This graduated him from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), in which is he more simply a hulking brute of a man-child taking orders from all others in his family. Now in part III, he has yet a third and completely different personality. What gives? At least I could see 1974 Leatherface growing into 1986’s.

This sequel seems to have defanged Leatherface of his off-kilter mystique and preternatural menace. He’s just a kinda’ big mean dude with a chainsaw who likes killing people now. I realize that Ken Foree is a big dude, but he makes Leatherface seems like a random but formidable punk in a bar brawl instead of some flesh-eating monster. Never has this iconic psychopath felt so neutered before in my eyes than in this anemic sequel. Worse yet, the violence is mostly off-screen, so we’ve traded some lame splattered blood for chainsaw gore of yore.

And what the heck was going on with the floating/motorboating chainsaw in the swamp water? And did Leatherface just get haphazardly killed by a swamp rock? Really, movie? Really?

Terrible dialogue, the violence doesn’t strike any chords, little is shocking (which is nearly unforgivable after the previous two films), lame final girl who’s trying and failing to capture the crazy of Caroline Williams (Leprechaun 3, Halloween II, Hatchet III, Contracted), very few and basic sets… it’s really kind of… boring. This feels like a weak attempt at continuing the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) lunacy. An attempt, but not very convincing so—not even close. We have a grandpa Sawyer cadaver at the dinner table, a murderous extended family ready to butcher unlucky motorists, and Leatherface swinging his chainsaw around like a sword. But none of that produced any redeeming or memorable scenes. Really, movie—what happened?

There is yet another sequel… In the end, Benny and Michelle live, and in the last scene we see so did Leatherface. Watch out for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994).

This sequel was so… incredibly… not good at all. I mean, what did you like about either of the first two Texas Chainsaw movies? Doesn’t matter. Nothing you liked will be found here. I think this movie is garbage, it should even be skipped by fans of the franchise, and I now see how I didn’t remember anything at all from the first time I saw this in the 90s.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Robert Sobel permalink
    September 24, 2019 6:23 pm

    Couldn’t disagree more. I love this film and it’s actually my favorite sequel in the series. I like that it brings the franchise back to a more darker tone from the goofy part 2. The family is a lot of fun, especially Viggo’s performance as Tex and Alfredo taking over the Hitchhiker-style role. The two leads are solid, with Benny being even better in his role as the hero. Leatherface is bad ass and acts as a hybrid between what we had in part 1 and 2. The gore could have been better but the MPAA had its way with all horror films coming out in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s just a fun flick and hits the mark for me. 4/5

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 24, 2019 6:36 pm

      Thanks for the comment! I can certainly appreciate that a lot of folks like this sequel. But to me it’s just dull–well, maybe it’s more this Leatherface. That said, the first TCM movie I saw as a kid in the 90s was part 2. So I grew up favoring the ultra-zany, wacktastic macabre iteration of LF found there accompanied by that slapstick Choptop. But for my preferences and expectations, this sequel brought nothing to the table.

      I’m also reading a lot today on FB comments about the different versions. My DVD said unrated. Normally I’d favor unrated, but some say this was (perhaps?) heavily edited.

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