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John’s Horror Corner: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), the origin story of the iconic killer.

January 31, 2021

MY CALL: Featuring one of my favorite depictions of Leatherface, this is also among my favorite TCM movies. Incredibly gory, abruptly brutal, and unrelenting in its indecency. MORE MOVIES LIKE Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning: Well obviously you should have already seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), and then perhaps Texas Chainsaw 3-D (2013) and Leatherface (2017). Then there were the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and the ultra-zany sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), though I was not a fan of Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990). From there I’d suggest Wrong Turn (2003), House of 1000 Corpses (2003), Wolf Creek (2005), The Hills Have Eyes (2007) and Charlie’s Farm (2014).

FRANCHISE SIDEBAR: This is a prequel of the 2003 remake of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). It is only directly linked to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).

Many viewers found The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) to be needlessly mean shock cinema. But I always found it truly appropriate for the inherently cruel story and characters. They were meant to be insidious psychopathic cannibals, right? So following in the same shocking vein, this prequel opens with a viscerally graphic birth scene complete with a slimy animatronic fetus on the floor of a slaughterhouse. That visual alone ought to inform you if this film is for you. Clearly, it’s trying to push the limits of the 2003 reboot.

The unsightly baby is rescued from an offal dumpster and taken to the old Hewitt house; the opening credit sequence is littered with visuals of lacerated flesh and the sounds of wet chunks of meat being squeezed between fingers; and the language describing Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mother’s Day) is not just culturally insensitive, but brutal.

In current day 1969 two twenty-something couples are driving across the country. After a car accident, Bailey (Diora Baird; Night of the Demons, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days), Chrissie (Jordana Brewster; The Faculty), Eric (Matt Bomer; American Horror Story, The Sinner) and Dean (Taylor Handley; Bird Box) are picked up by the sheriff and taken to his home. A glowing example of psychopathy, “Sheriff Hoyt” (R. Lee Ermey; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Rift, The Frighteners, Up from the Depths, The Watch) takes every opportunity to rattle our senses as the most vile entity we meet in this story. Leatherface is an animal, but Hoyt is a true monster.

The pacing is strong. True to its 2003 and 1974 source material, this movie’s violence is jarringly abrupt and abundant. From roadkilled cow and dispatched bikers, to hammer homicide and peeling off entire faces, the action starts right away and takes few breaks from shocking us. For example, Leatherface’s hammer game is strong in this movie! Not since Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990) have I seen someone so brutally hobbled, making bone meal out of a poor guy’s knees.

This Leatherface is also among the grossest (although not so perverted as in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), with a degenerative skin disease and his arms seem perpetually discolored in dry oxidized blood. He’s always sweaty, he’s always filthy, and his presence feels the most menacing of any TCM film (1974-2017).

We see heads get blown apart, horrendous beatings, someone getting chainsawed in half, legs are amputated on screen, and skin get flayed before our eyes. We also enjoy (I think) the most chainsaw deaths and attacks of the entire franchise from originals to reboots. Personally, I’d say director Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls, Battle Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) did well by TCM fans, and his amped up brutality really just seems to follow the trend in TCM movies leading up to this.

This movie is a blast for gorehounds! I haven’t seen 2003 recently enough to say for sure, but this and 1986 might just be my two favorite TCM movies.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 4, 2021 1:35 pm

    Great review. I enjoyed this movie and it was one of my top ones too.

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