With the release of the divisive Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) on Netflix and the impending arrival of the new documentary The Legacy of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it seems an opportune time to revisit the entire very mixed franchise, so here’s our contributor David Flint’s (The Reprobate) ranking of each movie:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The original and best – a film that still has power and intensity today, perfectly building the audience to the point of hysteria before exploding in a still-unmatched level of madness and delirium.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Tobe Hooper’s belated follow-up to to the original film is a cocaine-fuelled, constantly demented re-interpretation, pushing everything up to 11 and having Dennis Hopper as a lawman only slightly less insane than the killers. It’s a mess, but a magnificent one.
Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
Jeff Burr’s troubled movie sees a new family and has a certain 1980s slickness to it – but by the standards of horror films of the period, it’s pretty strong stuff and maintains the intensity of the previous two films. It also boasts a strong cast. Post-production issues mean that many versions are compromised, but the director’s cut is worth seeing.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Emerging during a flood of remakes and reworkings, this new version of the story is a tad too slick – but still manages to push the limits for what we might expect from mainstream horror, making it a respectful variation on the story.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Much-hated by critics, this is not actually that awful despite a messed-up timeline– it picks up from the end of the first film and at least tries to take the story somewhere new. With some intense gore scenes and an intriguing development of Leatherface as a character, this is worth a second look.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
We didn’t need an origin story for Leatherface – sometimes, what you don’t know is more interesting and in the case of this enigmatic character, the mystery is everything. But if the story did need to be told, then this is a fairly decent attempt to flesh out a deliberately obscure monster.
Did we really need another origin story? Hardly. If the 1974 and 2003 films exist in parallel universes, then this is the ‘74 origin tale – so even less necessary. It’s not entirely awful – but seems a bit of a backward step in all senses.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
The TCM for the Instagram generation, this has a few interesting ideas but is hard going and is too busy trying to be edgy. In the end, it feels like a compromised attempt to mock Gen Z wokeness while also pampering too it. It’s cookie-cutter horror and will be quickly forgotten.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
If misguided Kim Henkel wanted to show who the creative genius behind TCM was, well done – Tobe Hooper must’ve been pleased to see this half-baked, amateurish rehash of the original movie, notable only for the presence of two future big-name actors – Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey – who apparently tried to stop its belated release. You can’t blame them. This is unbearably awful.
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