What do you get when you take a touch of horror, a dash of Illuminati, a pinch of cross dressing, and mix it with two A-List Actors? You get Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation. Written and Directed by Kim Henkel, who did help co-write the original 1974 classic, this is one strange film. Loved by some, hated by some, and confusing to many. Shot in 1993 and not released until 1997 this is definitely a well discussed film. It starred Matthew McConaughey, and Renee Zellweger before they became huge stars, and added a new take on the legend of Leatherface.
The film follows a group of teenagers who when driving back from their Senior Prom crash into another car. Three of the kids head off to get help, while one stays behind with the car and end up in the office of a woman named Darla who tells them her boyfriend Vilmer (McConaughey) is a tow truck operator who can help them. He gets the call and heads to the site of the crash. Once there he kills both parties.
As this is going on the 3 kids leave the office, and two of them chase after a car leaving the 3rd girl, Jenny (Zellweger) on her own. The two who ran off end up at on old farmhouse where they are quickly killed by Leatherface. Jenny after a brief run in with Vilmer where she discovers the body’s at the accident makes a run for it but is caught by Leatherface and dragged to the farmhouse. She escapes but is caught again when she returns to Darla’s office. Turns out Darla is part of the family who, she informs us works for a secret society.
What follows is completely nuts. Leatherface is painted in woman’s makeup, a man named Rothman shows up to show off his body piercings and it’s implied he works for a secret division of the government. We then even meet more secret agent types who help wrap the film up.
Does this review seem completely strange? Well it is because the film is as well. It makes little to no sense in parts, but moves like a standard horror film. It’s full of secret society innuendo, but mixed with normal slasher elements. Is it a good film or a bad film? The answer is yes. McConaughey is great. He’s completely over the top and plays his part to perfection. Zellweger does ok as the girl in peril, who keeps escaping and getting caught again. Robert Jacks is Leatherface, who is serviceable even though people keep escaping from him and he tends to scream like a woman a lot. The cross dressing aspect never bothered me as if you watch the original closely you can see Leatherface wearing makeup. The adding of the Illuminate elements is ok by me as its trying to add something new to series. And let’s face it the series at this point was a mess. The original was groundbreaking horror, the sequel was essentially a comedy, and 3 was just a mess. I feel as if this had a proper sequel that examined more of the secret society story as well as more backstory on how the family ties into them the series could have taken a new direction. Sadly this was not to happen.
Shelved for 2 years, given a limited theatrical run, and panned by critics who only talked about McConaughey and Zellweger’s involvement and cut by close to 7min the film was doomed from the start. Fans waited for years to see it and when they saw the new elements they were disappointed. Over the years however more and more people have started to re-watch and appreciate it. Unfortunately only the R-rated version was released. Uncut copies were floated around on bootleg VHS tapes but they looked awful. Now thanks to the great people at Scream Factory Texas Chainsaw Massacre the Next Generation is coming to Blu-ray with both R-rated and uncut versions included. The transfer is fantastic in both looks and sound. Please note the uncut footage is inserted into the HD print but those scenes are standard definition. It’s loaded with special features
Two Cuts Of The Film – The Theatrical Cut (87 Minutes - HD) And The Director’s Cut (93 Minutes - HD With Standard Definition Inserts)
NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Kim Henkel (On Director's Cut)
NEW The Buzz Is Back – An Interview With Director Of Photography Levie Isaacks
NEW Marked For Death – An Interview With Actor Tyler Shea Cone
NEW If Looks Could Kill: The Return Of A "Chainsaw Massacre" – An Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist J.M. Logan And Production Designer Deborah Pastor
Personally I dig the film. It’s something different that works better in today’s day and age then it did back in the 90’s. It’s definitely different. The acting is good, the horror elements work great, and its just a fun insane way to spend an evening. If you have never seen it give it a try. If you saw it and didn’t like it watch it again.
Overall 3 out of 5 Stars