Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is the second sequel to the The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and was directed by Jeff Burr (Pumpkinhead II; Stepfather II; From a Whisper to a Scream) from a screenplay by David Schow (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning; The Crow; Critters 3 and 4).
A 1989 production, the film had problems with MPAA censorship but was eventually released by New Line Cinema on January 12, 1990.
The movie stars Kate Hodge, Ken Foree, William Butler, and a then-unknown Viggo Mortensen. At first, New Line Cinema intended to produce the film as the first of several sequels in the series. However, the film did not prove a financial success, taking a mere $5.8 million at the US box office.
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Leatherface bludgeons a young woman, Gina, to death with a sledgehammer and cuts off her face to make it into a mask while Gina’s sister Sara watches from a nearby window. Sometime later, a couple traveling through Texas, Michelle and Ryan, reach the Last Chance Gas Station, where they meet a hitchhiker named Tex and the station’s owner Alfredo.
A fight soon breaks out between Tex and Alfredo when Tex finds Alfredo spying on Michelle as she uses the station restroom. As Michelle and Ryan flee in their car, they witness Alfredo apparently killing Tex with a shotgun. When Ryan and Michelle become lost, the driver of a large truck throws a dead coyote at their windshield. As Ryan changes the car’s flat tire, Leatherface ambushes them, but they manage to drive off unscathed.
Afterwards, Michelle, Ryan, and another driver, a survivalist named Benny, crash when a bloodied Tex leaps in front of the car. Michelle, Ryan, and Benny decide to find Tex. On the way, Benny discovers a hook-handed man named Tinker, who offers his assistance in setting down road flares.
Benny soon realizes Tinker’s real intentions after he finds a damaged chainsaw in the back of his truck. He flees and encounters Leatherface, but is saved by Sara, who had earlier escaped Leatherface. Benny learns that Sara’s entire family was killed, and that Leatherface and his family are watching the roads…
“The best things to come out of Leatherface were the pimped out Chainsaw (insisted on by New Line head honcho Robert Shaye) with the engraved motto ‘The Saw Is Family’ and the clever teaser trailer that referenced the Arthurian legend of The Lady In The Lake, one of the best horror trailers ever made. The movie itself, though, is fairly unremarkable. Not terrible, just unremarkable.” ComingSoon.net
“It’s just vapid deja vu . Every basic scene or plot element is repeated doggedly. This opportunistic, empty, often illogical sequel, is done without the crazy energy or stylistic volatility of its predecessors, executed with the grim wariness of an apprentice butcher who wants to keep his ax clean.” Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times
” …a relentlessly sadistic and worryingly amusing movie, which will entertain and offend in equal measure” Mark Kermode, Time Out Film Guide
“III” envisions itself as a return to “I,” but director Jeff Burr is no Tobe Hooper (director of the first installment), and even the special effects seem bloodless imitations.” Richard Harrington, The Washington Post
Cast and characters:
- Kate Hodge … Michelle
- William Butler … Ryan
- Ken Foree … Benny
- Tom Hudson … Sara
- Viggo Mortensen … Edward “Tex” Sawyer
- Joe Unger … Tinker “Tink” Sawyer
- R. A. Mihailoff … Leatherface
- Tom Everett … Alfredo Sawyer
- Jennifer Banko … Little girl
- Beth DePatie … Gina
- Duane Whitaker … Kim
- Miriam Byrd Nethery … Anne Sawyer
- Michael Shamus Wiles … Checkpoint Officer
- Caroline Williams … Vanita “Stretch” Brock
Leatherface gained a certain amount of notoriety prior to release due to a battle between New Line Cinema and the MPAA, which initially rated the film an X because of its graphic violence. It was the final film to receive this classification before the MPAA replaced X with NC-17. The studio eventually relented and reluctantly trimmed the more graphic elements. However, in 2003 it released the uncut version in VHS and DVD formats.
In the UK, the film was rejected by the British Board of Film Classification upon submission for theatrical release in 1990, and the trimmed version gained an 18 certificate when submitted for video in 2004.