This post may draw a bit of criticism, or at the very least, disagreement, but hey, that’s okay. I love this sequel, and I am proud to admit it. Yep, that’s right. I fucking love this movie! I know, I know, it’s the most hated amongst the Chainsaw films, but for me, it’s one of my favorite movies to watch, period, horror or not. Besides being kooky and crazy in a good way (unlike Part 2, which was frantic and somewhat muddled), there are three fantastic cameos, not to mention, amazing performances from Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey. On a side note, for some reason, the program I use to grab my screencaps doesn’t want to work for Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, so I will try to get it working soon, but for now, we’re going a little out-of-order!
I’ll tell ya, when I was about nine, and this was finally released on Pay-Per-View, I begged my mom to let me see it. Having seen the other films, she wasn’t sure, but since I had watched horror movies my whole life, she gave in. After it was over? We both looked at each other, like, that’s it? Because it truly is more schtick than shock, and more hilarious than horrifying, but it’s absolutely fantastic. Unlike Part 2, which seemed to have no direction it was headed in, period, this one had no direction it was going in on purpose. It was supposed to be wild and ridiculous, and make the viewer really feel like they weren’t quite sure what was going on. If not for the funny parts, I would seriously compare it to the original in that one regard.
Its May of 1996, and we meet some teens going to their high school prom. Jenny, the resourceful, cute, nerdy, girl-next-door (brilliantly portrayed by Zellweger) is dating Sean (John Harrison). Friends Barry (Tyler Cone), the jock, and Heather (Lisa Marie Newmyer), the ditzy, cheerleader type, are all decked out in fancy prom gear. Heather can’t seem to find Barry, when she comes upon him cheating on her with some other chick. She loses it, and takes off in his car. She slows down to let him in, and takes off down the road. He tries to calm her down, but basically blames her for his cheating, telling her that guys can get prostate cancer if they get blue balled. Jenny, hiding in the back seat, smoking weed with Sean, emerges, stating that it’s a lie, nearly scaring the couple half to death. Heather, startled, wonders out in the middle of the intersection, and Barry’s car is struck.
Barry’s pissed, worried that his dad will find out about the pot smoke and now the damage, but they keep driving on down the road. Jenny continues to tell Heather not to blame herself, because you can’t get cancer from not having sex. Heather doesn’t really seem to buy it, and Barry tells Jenny to shut up. He harasses her about wearing conservative clothing, and that he thinks she and Sean are just friends, and that she hates guys. Sean even tells Heather about when they were little, and he used to brag about all the boobs he’d touched, because he told girls “his father was a doctor, and they’d get cancer if they didn’t get felt up enough”. Heather’s disgusted by her boyfriend’s behavior, but not seemingly enough to do anything about it.
After the kids continue joyriding deeper into the woods, they are struck by another car, only this time, it’s harder, and the other driver is hurt and unconscious. Concerned, Jenny, Heather, and Barry decide to go call for help, while Sean stays behind with the victim. They walk along into the woods, with only a flashlight and uncomfortable prom shoes, while Heather acts paranoid that someone is following her and wants to kill her.
They reach a little business, operated by a very eccentric woman named Darla (Tonie Perensky – you might remember her as the teacher-by-day, stripper-by-night from Varsity Blues). She calls her boyfriend, Vilmer, to tell him to take his tow truck out to their crash site. She tells a joke that, of course, Heather doesn’t get (Why do blondes stick their head out a car window? To get a refill). Suddenly, a rock flies through the window, and Darla goes to the window to flash the pranksters. Striking the kids as a bit odd, they leave as soon as they can. Meanwhile, at the crash, Vilmer (McConaughey) arrives to check on the injured teen. Sean tells him he’s been talking in his sleep, but Vilmer keeps insisting he’s already dead, and Sean refutes this. So, Vilmer reaches down and breaks the kid’s neck. “Well, he’s dead now”, Vilmer says. Sean, completely fucking freaked, begins backing away from the man with the mechanical leg. He asks him what he’s going to do, to which he replies, “First, I’m gonna kill you; it ain’t no fuckin’ biggie!” He hops in the wrecker and chases Sean down the road, and eventually hits him. He also backs over him several times while listening to rock music.
As the teens make their “about a mile” trek back to the crash site, Heather wants Barry to carry her, but he refuses. A car drives by, and the couple attempt to flag it down, and follow it. Jenny goes on another way by herself. Heather sort of drops the stupid act, revealing that she only acts that way because that’s what’s expected of her. She tells Barry she’s a bitch, and just like her mother. She also begins to defend Jenny, saying she’s shy because her stepdad(s) always hit on her, but she has a body to die for. Soon, Heather and Barry reach an old farmhouse, thinking they can pay someone for a ride into town. They knock, but no answer. Barry goes around back to check, and Heather sits in the porch swing. Leatherface soon sneaks up behind her, completely silent, and one of the few times in the whole series that he gave me the creeps. He begins touching her hair, but she swats him away, thinking it’s a bug. Meanwhile, out back, a man pulls a shotgun on Barry, as he attempts to explain that they just need a ride. The man, W.E., begins reciting the first of many historical quotes, and forces him around to the front of the house. Heather gets up to walk away, since she is annoyed with that “bug” that keeps fucking with her, and she sees Leatherface. She screams bloody murder, and tries to run, as he grabs her. She puts up a hell of a fight, but he drags her in the house, and stuffs her in a freezer. Leatherface begins screaming his loony scream, as W.E. forces Barry to go inside. He says fine, that he needs to use the bathroom anyway. He has no idea what he’s walking into.
Once inside, he uses the bathroom, still calling for Heather, not knowing she’s been attacked. He comes across a decaying, nasty corpse in a bathtub, and freaks. As he runs, Leatherface pops out and bashes him in the head with a sledgehammer, and kicks him repeatedly. Heather attempts to get out of the freezer, so Leatherface picks her up, and impales her on a meat hook. Surprisingly, I do feel bad for her character, because though she’s a bit ditzy, she was a good person, and a good friend. Back on the road, Jenny flags down the wrecker, and asks Vilmer where Sean is. She finally gets in the truck, and he begins telling her how it’s not good getting in a car with strangers these days. Jenny nods, making polite conversation, and he adds that he heard about a guy who picked up a hitchhiker, cut both her arms off, and threw her in a culvert (It’s likely that he’s referring to the Mary Vincent case – a real crime that happened to a 15-year-old hitchhiker. She was raped by an older man, who afterward hacked both her arms off, and threw her in a ditch. Thankfully, she lived). Jenny gets really scared when, after telling the story, Vilmer says, “That sorry son of a bitch didn’t have shit for an imagination! How fuckin’ simple can you get?” She wants him to let her out, but he tells her if she really wants to be scared, to look in the back of the truck. She finally does, and to her horror, sees the injured teen, and boyfriend Sean dead, strung upside down like deer carcasses. Vilmer tells Jenny he doesn’t care what happens to her, that it’s her life, so she leaps from the moving vehicle.
Apparently, he does care a bit what happens to her because he begins chasing her through the woods in his truck. Eventually, she runs into a cluster of trees the vehicle won’t reach, and he tells her she doesn’t know what the hell she doing, and to ‘live and learn’. He turns off the truck’s spotlight, backs up, and drives away. Suddenly, a chainsaw-wielding Leatherface bursts forth, and starts chasing Jenny. Zellweger really shows off her true athletic ability, especially in this chase sequence, which I found to be my favorite amongst the Chainsaw films. She makes her way to the farmhouse, where she runs upstairs and finds a gun. Leatherface begins sawing his way through the front door (he has no regard for doors or decency, clearly he was raised in a barn), and Jenny fires the gun, but there are no bullets. So, she chucks the gun at him, and runs back upstairs and flings herself out the window, onto the roof.
Jenny manuevers around the roof, running from Leatherface, and climbs up the antenna. He hacks that down just as she jumps on a wire. Well, he cuts that down too, and she falls into the old greenhouse. Dazed and stunned, she begins running again just as Leatherface revs up the chainsaw’s engine. Another really cool chase scene ensues, ending as Jenny finds herself back at the business they used the phone at earlier. Darla tells her to calm down, and that is was probably just a prank. Jenny insists that the dude had a chainsaw, and Darla uses the phone, telling someone to get there “mucho quicko”. W.E. arrives with a cattle prod, and Darla tells him he should’ve brought a gunny sack or something, and he replies, holding out a garbage bag, “What’s this look like to you – green eggs?” She tells him to tie her up, and Jenny freaks, realizing they’re in on the whole thing. W.E. knocks her out by continuously beating her with the cattle prod, as well as zapping her with it, much like The Cook did in the original with a broom.
Darla calls to order pizza, as W.E. stuffs Jenny in the trunk. She goes to pick up the pizza, and is nearly caught by a police officer who notices her talking to someone in her trunk. Jenny tells Darla she can’t breathe, so she pokes a hole in the bag covering her head. As she gets her food, the police watch her suspiciously, and follow her for a while. They move on, and Darla continues driving home. She comes upon Heather laying in the middle of the road, having escaped somehow. She begins beating her ridiculously with a stick, and tells her not to go anywhere. Darla has Leatherface grab Jenny and bring her inside, as he is shocked by W.E. with the cattle prod. Leatherface appears to be scared of him, but listens to Darla and Vilmer. W.E., holding pieces of wood, states to Vilmer, “Look what your brother did to the door!” (Another obvious homage to the original. That’s part of the insanity I love in these films – they kidnap and kill people, but they’re concerned about a fucking door!) Once inside, Vilmer sits her down, and removes the trash bag. She’s terrified to see the same man who killed her boyfriend, and he proceeds to taunt, tease, and torment her. Once they bring Heather back inside, Vilmer says he’s in the mood for love, and bites the crap out of Heather’s nose and face, his mouth dripping with blood as he laughs maniacally.
Cut to the next scene, and Darla is attempting to comfort Jenny in the nasty, filthy bathroom. Jenny wants her to help her escape, but she says she’s not allowed to. She also tells Jenny that Vilmer works for a group of people who are always talked about, but no one knows who they are (“Who do you think killed Kennedy??”) It’s presumed that this so-called group is the Illuminati, which is on the side of Vilmer’s wrecker, though it’s never mentioned. Darla, for a psycho, is actually being pretty nice, but Vilmer bursts in, throws her out, and pins Jenny up against the door, stating, “I’ve got a mind…..to slit your goddamn throat!” as he raises a knife to her neck. He tells him she has ten seconds to give him a good reason why he shouldn’t do it. As he counts down to one, she says, “You want me alive for some reason”, and Vilmer thinks it’s a good enough answer. He even kisses her on the cheek. As they leave the room, Darla attacks him for “embarrassing” her “in front of company”. He gets her on the floor, with his boot on her throat, when Jenny grabs the shotgun, pointing it at all of them. With all the madness going on, Jenny tries to coax an unconscious, dying Heather to get up, but she can’t, and falls back asleep in a pool of her own blood. Jenny tells everyone to get on the floor with their hands up, and they all comply, even Leatherface. Vilmer tells her it isn’t loaded, to which she replies, “Maybe it’s not loaded, but maybe it is, so fuck you!” Vilmer goes crazy and begins cutting himself with a razor, and Darla attacks him again, yelling and screaming. Jenny tells Vilmer to leave her alone, and he turns around and sticks the gun in his own mouth.
Jenny closes her eyes and pulls the trigger, but nothing happens. Vilmer grabs the gun, points it above her head and shoots. He begins cheering and hollering for some reason, and Jenny runs outside. She gets in the car and backs up, but Vilmer jumps from the window onto the vehicle. He tries attacking her from the windshield, when she brakes, and he falls. As she drives on, however, the hood flies up and she cannot see. She ends up crashing, and Vilmer takes her back inside. The family is getting ready for dinner, which by now, would probably be really gross and not safe, but Leatherface dresses in drag, and puts on lipstick, and admires himself in the mirror. Darla, now dressed in some kind of S&M looking outfit, begins flirting with Vilmer in the kitchen, and fucks with his mechanical leg by pressing all the buttons on his remotes. They begin heavily making out, before she kicks him with her heel. Well, now it’s time for dinner, but I’m sure the pizzas are cold by now, despite what Darla says.
The dinner guests include, besides Leatherface, Darla, W.E, and Vilmer, three dead individuals, the dead-looking grandfather figure, an unconscious Heather, and a very terrified Jenny. She is now in a completely different dress, a very strange black, silver, and red get-up, and is seated at the head of the table. Once she looks around her to see who her dinner companions are, she begins screaming hysterically, while Vilmer begins screaming at the top of his lungs in her ear. She begins having a panic attack, and Vilmer mocks that, as well. Darla gives her a paper sack to breathe into, and she calms down a bit. Jenny asks if Darla’s going to help her or not. Darla says she cannot, because Vilmer put a chip in her head, and all he is to do it is push a button, and she makes an exploding noise. Jenny finds this hysterical, so Darla repeats it, to which Jenny replies, “There’s nothing in your head”. W.E. states, “Girl, you just said a mouthful”, and Jenny finds this hilarious as well. I fucking love this scene, because, well, it’s just perfect. It is hilarious in a darkly comical way, the way part 2 tried to be but wasn’t. Jenny is finally realizing these people are insane, and that to stay sane herself, she must defend herself, and separate her mind from this bunch of misfits.
Vilmer tries to grab Jenny, but she slaps him hard across the face, twice, and tells him never to touch her again. Thinking she could very well just walk out the door of this madhouse, she states that she’s going to leave, and no one will stop her. Leatherface stands up and begins screaming, to which Jenny hilariously replies, “You sit the fuck down! And shut up!” Haha, wow, I love that part, and among the many fantastic lines of the movie, this one just really struck me funny. I always look forward to that part. After her defiant act, Vilmer returns to the dining room with lighter fluid, pours it on Heather’s back, and sets her on fire. Jenny screams and begs him not to, and that she’s sorry for acting up. Heather runs into the wall, where Darla uses a fire extinguisher and puts her out. She complains about never getting that smell out of her clothes. Heather, however, is not dead yet. Suddenly, the doorbell rings, and in walks a strange man in a business suit named Rothman. He stares at Vilmer, disapprovingly, and makes his way through the house. Once he reaches the dining room, Jenny runs to him, asking him to help her. Leatherface, however, grabs her and makes her sit back down. Rothman corners Vilmer, and asks him what the hell is going on, and that he knows he’s here because he wants these people to know the true meaning of horror. He proceeds to take off his shirt and walk toward Jenny. She is disgusted when he reveals his stomach is covered with scars and piercings, and he begins licking her face.
As he buttons up his shirt, and turns to leave, she wipes his nasty saliva off of her face. Vilmer, upset by that Rothman guy, walks over to Heather, puts his boot on her head, and proceeds to slowly crush her skull, while Leatherface holds back a crying Jenny. It sounds really gross, and like I’ve said before, sometimes sounds are worse than what you’re actually seeing. After he kills her, Vilmer starts repeating, “Why?”, as he cuts himself in the arm and his chest with a razor blade. He’s crying, and Darla tries to stop him from hurting himself. During the chaos, Jenny takes off running, but Vilmer grabs her again as Leatherface starts his chainsaw. Vilmer tries to hold Jenny down so Leatherface can kill her, but she grabs the remote to his electronic leg, and begins pushing buttons. After a long back and forth of the two of them trying to gain control of his leg, Jenny gets the upper hand, and takes off running out the front door. Vilmer stands on the front porch telling Leatherface to “get that bitch”, and yelling his own name.
By now, its early morning, and a recreational plane flies overhead. Jenny is still running from Leatherface, and on a dirt road, comes across an old couple driving in an R.V. She runs out in front of their vehicle, yelling for them to stop. The woman, Mrs. Spottish, tells her husband not to stop, until she sees that the girl is being attacked and that there’s a “monster chasing her with a chainsaw!” She gets in the vehicle, and along comes Vilmer in his wrecker right alongside them, and Leatherface hitching a ride in the bed of the truck, still trying to get Jenny. This causes the RV to crash, and land on its side. We don’t know if the old couple is killed or not, but all we do know is that Jenny is still running. She hops off the wrecked RV and runs down the dirt road, with Vilmer on her heels. As if by fate, plan, or coincidence, that recreational plan flies just low enough to hit Vilmer in the head with one of its wheels. He’s finally dead, with his head oozing an amount of blood that seems just about right for what just happened to him. Jenny stares at the body with disgust, as Leatherface begins crying, screaming, and wildly swinging his chainsaw. A limousine pulls up, and honks for her to get in. She does, but the kind-hearted stranger turns out to be Rothman, sitting quietly, reading a newspaper.
He tells her not to be frightened, and that everything that happened to her was intended to be a religious experience. He rambles on about his inferiority, and the things he’s done, to which Jenny simply replies, “Fuck you”. He asks her if she wants to go to the hospital or the police station. At the hospital, a policeman is talking to her (Cameo #1 – John Dugan – The Original Grandpa), telling her it’s not the first time something like this has happened, and that they’ll look into it. As he talks, an orderly (Cameo #2 = Paul A. Partain – Franklin) walks by, pushing a patient (Cameo #3 – Marilyn Burns- Sally Hardesty) on a gurney. The two stare at one another, as if they know exactly what the other is thinking and feeling. The woman on the gurney continues to stare, as does Jenny, while the policeman tries to get her attention. The film ends with the officer asking, “What the hell’s goin’ on around here?”, as we get a final shot of the sun, and Leatherface swinging his chainsaw down the dirt road.
I have to start off by saying I don’t know why so many people hate this movie. Seriously. I know tastes are different and all, but people like the second one, but not this? But that’s just me. I just hope I’m not the only one out there who loved this movie! The soundtrack is fantastic, utilizing a mixture of rock and country, definitely giving the movie a backwoods feeling at times. My favorite song, though, was definitely “Blue Moon at Dawn” by The Coffee Sargeants. To me, this really is like a cheesy 80s movie, because it has all the elements of the ones we love; Sleepaway Camp, Motel Hell, Return of the Living Dead, movies like that. Of course, I am not comparing this movie to those classic greats, I’m simply saying that it is possible to do horror and comedy right. Vilmer’s character is so wildly insane at times, and so eerily calm at others, that I feel this makes him a very worthy villain. Plus, you’re never really sure if he is some kind of secret agent acting, or if there is some society out there using him and his fucked up family to do their bidding. I always sort of loved the conspiracy theory aspect, because when one thinks back on all the incidents over the years of the Chainsaw films, it seems too good to be true that no one was ever discovered, apprehended, or brought to justice (well, except for whoever the introduction mentioned in a prior film, but I don’t count that). All we’re ever told is that the victims are brutally killed in the middle of nowhere, the killers seem to vanish in plain sight, and the survivors are left dazed, catatonic, or fucking insane themselves. I think, like many people might, that the idea of the films is better than the actual presentation of them (i.e., for me, Part 2). Zellweger did a fabulous job, and this is one of my favorite roles of hers. She really has the qualifications of a scream queen, and genuinely looked terrified. McConaughey was remarkable – he sure can play a psychopath well.
John Dugan, Marilyn Burns, and Paul A. Partain
That’s why I found this one so refreshing, because, let’s see: we get two amazing actors who have gone on to have two of the biggest careers ever, three cameos that only a horror fan would have caught unless they’d been made aware of it, gruesome kills, funny yet menacing characters, a sympathetic final girl, a believable premise (prom night), and a lovely soundtrack. Oh, yeah, and Leatherface is dressed in more drag than I’ve ever seen him in before. He even puts on lipstick and admires his body in the mirror like Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs! Have I convinced anyone yet?…..No? Well, maybe I never will, but I will always enjoy this sequel, semi-remake, whatever people want to call it. I call it a sequel, because other incidents are referenced, and I always took the patient on the gurney at the end to be Sally Hardesty, no matter what the prior sequels said about her dying in a private care facility. Bullshit. W.E.’s character was another favorite; I loved all the quotes he spouted in the film (“Discretion is the better part of valor”, “The woman’s a whore, and there’s an end on it”, “I have not yet begun to fight”). I mean, seriously, the guy’s really smart, and he doesn’t seem as crazy as the others, so it makes me wonder what the fuck he’s doing there! Plus, Kim Henkel directed this, bringing back three actors we all know and love from the 70s film, so if you still don’t like it for whatever reason, you should at least respect that it had some throwback to the original predecessor throughout. It’s a lot better than it’s given credit for!