I had heard a lot of negative press for the latest entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Negative, scathing press. So much in fact, that I wanted to like this film, to see something in it that the detractors didn’t. At the very least I wanted to come away from it thinking, “hey, it might not have been the TCM we wanted to see, but you know what, it wasn’t half bad.” Well, that’s what I wanted. It’s hard to be disappointed by something that you have little to no hope for in the first place. Congratulations, Chainsaw 3D for accomplishing this task with such astounding ease that I’m near convinced it was done solely for me. In fact, if Chainsaw 3D had set out with the intention to be a bad film its might just have been misguided enough to give us something a little worthwhile. Alas, Chainsaw in its latest incarnation, is just bad.
I love Hooper‘s original film. It was shot in such a fashion that we felt as though we hiding just behind that tree, just under that porch or just far enough away in a field watching the events unfold, but powerless to help those hapless victims as they fell prey to the atrocities that hunted them down and ultimately undid them. It was unrelenting, merciless horror and it earned its place as one of the most horrifying movies ever made. Hooper’s follow up was an LCD laden fever dream that was part satire, part dark comedy and, strangely enough, part parody of the original. The result was a bizarre trip into a funhouse of insanity and delirium that left some fans divided and others giddily delighted. Even the poster was a sendup of popular cinema at the time and hinted of the subtext of the head-in-the-sand yuppie delusions of the “me generation” and the lurking horror of madness that betrayed the glitzy shiny consumerism that characterized the US during the 80s. TCM 2 is in fact, one of my favorite “non-sequels” and one that I never approach after downing too much Nyquil.
Chainsaw 3D opens with images of the original and quickly we are led to believe that it is intended to be a direct follow up to the first film. This, had it been handled with even the slightest respect to Hooper’s masterpiece would have set well with me. I would have welcomed a sequel that played homage to the original. Unfortunately, this attention to detail stops abruptly after the opening credits and we are treated to tired conventions and ridiculous inconsistencies galore. So many in fact that as a fan, its more a slap in the face than just an exercise in bad writing.
So, here is the gist of 3D’s premise: After the events of the first film local law enforcement make their way to the Sawyer family household to bring the cannibalistic clan to justice. We are treated to a parade of family member’s simply not present in the first film (including Bill Mosely in button down shirt and khakis that make him look more like a first tier AT&T support representative than a maniacal murderer) complete with a new mother and her baby that is plucked from its mother’s arm after, get this… a lethal kick to the head… I am not joking… the Sawyer family are hard to keep down, unless you plant a size 10 1/2 in their noggin apparently. We fast forward to what I can only guess is present time (which would make our heroine and her group of plucky expendable stereotype friends in their late thirties, but of course that wouldn’t appeal to the always looming target audience and demographic now would it?) and the adopted Sawyer baby learns of her real origins as she is left the house that her grandmother Verna Sawyer imparts to her in her will. Apparently the best way to blend in to rural Texas is to bring along your black thug boyfriend, your promiscuous, outspoken and scantily clad best friend and her bland but decidedly not rural boyfriend. Sounding familiar at all kids? yes, the familiar trappings are all here and by the time the actually body count starts we are all checking our watches and popping no-doz by the pill-full.
The missing Sawyer runs around amidst the massacre of her friends seeking help from local law enforcement (remember, time works differently here in rural Texas) who remarkably are the same group of good ole boys that sent the family to their messy demise. Here is where 3D commits its worst offense. Leatherface, despite his stunted intellect, bloodlust and decideldy edgy fashion sense, has become a dark brooding vigilante hell bent on avenging his family, taking out the group of original misguided redneck rabble rousers. Do I really have to continue? Is saying that I watched this in its entirety going to hurt my Mensa standing? Oh, what the hell… our lost lil Sawyer girl finds an equally attractive young cop to help her..umm… ok, they do actually attempt a twist here… yawn. For those of you that might attempt this one and fail to heed my warnings I’ll stop here as lil girl Sawyer starts to embrace her heritage and what started as a silly attempt to capture lighting in a bottle and capitalize on the success of the original film devolves into an even worse display of non-sensical writing and downright disrespect of the subject matter. This one was a labor, kiddies. AVOID.