Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

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‘If looks could kill, he wouldn’t need a chainsaw.’

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a 1994 American horror feature film, co-produced, written and directed by Kim Henkel (Butcher Boys). The movie stars Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, before they became mainstream stars.

The film is both a loose remake of and quasi-sequel to the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1973), which Henkel co-wrote with director Tobe Hooper. It only has loose connections to the previous two sequel films, which are mentioned in the film’s opening prologue as “two minor, yet apparently related incidents” which happened after the events of the original film.

The film includes a perplexing subplot about a supposed secret society driving Leatherface’s family to terrorise civilians in order to provoke them to a level of transcendence; in a retrospective interview, Kim Henkel confirmed that the basis of the subplot was influenced by theories surrounding the Illuminati.

Filmed at an abandoned farmhouse in Pflugerville and in nearby Bastrop, Texas, on a budget of $600,000, the movie was shown at several film festivals under the title, The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The film was purchased by Columbia Pictures for $1.3 million. The studio agreed to distribute the film theatrically (along with its home-video release) but shelved for three years.

It was subsequently re-cut and released under the title, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation in late summer 1997, after its two lead actors had both become major Hollywood stars. Despite their names draw, the belatedly released movie took a mere $185,898 at the US box office.

On December 11, 2018, Scream Factory issued Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation as Collector’s Edition Blu-ray with the following 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
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

Plot:

Having left their prom night early, Jenny (Renée Zellweger) and three other teenagers have a car crash in the backwoods of Texas. In their search for help, they run into Vilmer Slaughter (Matthew McConaughey), a vicious psychopath with a mechanical leg, and his twisted family, including the serial killer Leatherface. As the group of friends struggle to survive the maniacal methods of torture, Jenny discovers the secret origins behind the family’s lust for blood…

Reviews:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre:  The Next Generation is more of an oddity than anything else. The movie isn’t scary, it isn’t edgy, and it isn’t good.  Stick to the original and skip this movie.” Basement Rejects

…The Next Generation is almost universally derived. So what happened? Let it be submitted that Henkel – a film professor – deliberately wrote and directed an inferior sequel in order to say something about the perceived state of the horror.” (sic – a word missing at the end of this sentence), Justin Yandell, Bloody Disgusting

“Henkel’s idea of an imaginative stroke is to put [Leatherface] in red lipstick and black widow drag. No thanks, Julie Newmar.” Betsy Sherman, The Boston Globe, September 18, 1995

” …I think by the time this came out audiences just weren’t used to there being much humor mixed with their horror. Plus this has the fact of it’s being the third sequel more than 20 years after the original, so all it can look like it a cheap cash-in. All that said, one also has to observe that the people who dismiss this outright also aren’t looking at it for what it is, but judging it by circumstances.” Cinema de Merde

“Leatherface, the fat butcher-boy demon, is, by now, about as scary as a 9-year-old in a Leatherface Halloween costume. The movie recapitulates the absurdist tabloid-redneck comedy of the great, original Chainsaw without a hint of its primal terror.” Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“Zero scares, zero nudity, lots of talking, stupid people everywhere, zero chainsaw deaths(!!!), Mr. Spottish stepping on it, terrible 90’s rock music playing during the chase scenes, Leatherface chainsawing down a brick smokestack, Grandpa literally just standing up and walking off in the middle of the movie… Not a bad film, just a strange one.  In the right frame of mind it can be really funny.  Hell, it might actually be a comedy.” Happyotter

“Without much wit of its own, Kim Henkel’s tyro film is just what the polished Scream makes fun of. (“Heather, you O.K.? There’s some crazy guy outside with a shotgun. Locked him out, though!”) Its own efforts to be tongue-in-cheek, as with a backwoods gunman who quotes Emerson and Machiavelli, fall seriously flat.” Janet Maslin, The New York Times

” …The Next Generation just feels like that drunk, somewhat lovable uncle that stumbles by every now and then; by no means can it even be argued that it isn’t one of the worst horror sequels ever (and, by proxy, easily the worst of this particular series), but it somehow feels like such a harmless affront. Maybe it’s just so stupid that picking on it feels a little too easy…” Oh, the Horror!

” …the tone is very odd, dangerously close to campy, without being all that funny. Take McConaughey’s villain, for example: Freddy Krueger has his glove as his trademark, Jason Voorhees has his hockey mask, so what does Vilmer have? A robot leg. Which occasionally stomps his victims. Henkel mistakes hysteria for, well, having his cast wail and shout a lot, and a bizarre conspiracy angle arises which may be an innovation of a sort, but is a needless complication.” The Spinning Image

“There are plenty of harks back to the original, which serve only to remind us how much more raw it was, as the junky action clunks along with horrendous continuity problems, and portrayals of psychosis that rival the drag angle in terms of high camp.” Vegan Voorhees

“The film has it’s moments (like the rooftop chase) and for about an hour or so, it’s a fairly decent flick.  Until the Iranian businessman with odd body piercings shows up that is.  Then everything pretty much goes out the window.  The scene where Zellweger turns the tables on McConaughey by fiddling with his remote control and making his leg twitch uncontrollably is a classic though.” The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

  • Renée Zellweger … Jenny
  • Matthew McConaughey … Vilmer Slaughter
  • Robert Jacks … Leatherface
  • Tonie Perensky … Darla Slaughter
  • Joe Stevens … Walter Edward Slaughter
  • Lisa Marie Newmyer … Heather
  • John Harrison … Sean
  • Tyler Cone … Barry
  • James Gale … Rothman
  • Debra Marshall … Cop in Bud’s Pizza [uncredited]
  • John Dugan … Cop at Hospital [uncredited]
  • Paul A. Partain … Hospital Orderly [uncredited]
  • Marilyn Burns … Sally Hardesty [uncredited]

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