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          A pair of students driving coast to coast are lured off the main highway and on to a deserted Texas road. Here they are stalked by the menacing Leatherface and his demented family... a bizarre cannibalistic clan with blood on their hands and a feast on their minds. Their only chance for escape is a survivalist with enough firepower to blast Leatherface and the rest of the grizzly predators to hell. A depraved shocker of intense terror from the gruesome beginning to the bloody finish.

"There's road kill all over Texas."
                 - Michelle

          At the end of Texas Chainsaw II, there was something of a variation on the ending of the original film. The girl who spends most of her time trying to escape the family of crazed maniacs with her life ends up holding the chainsaw herself, swinging it around like a lunatic exactly like Leatherface did at the end of the original film, which led me to believe that it would suggest a general direction that the movies would take in any further sequels. Instead, Texas Chainsaw III, one of the more controversial entries in the series, seems to be unaware of its predecessors.
         I hesitate to condemn the entire film just because it is seriously lacking in the quality department, if only because I watched the 'Making Of' featurettes on the DVD and found that the cast and crew actually went through some serious trouble getting the thing made, and the cause of a lot of the drops in quality was some things that they had to cut or change in order to get an R rather than X rating. You would think that all they have to do is cut out excessive blood or guts or nudity to tame the rating a bit, but they had to completely change scenes in order for the blasted MPAA to allow them to release it. Wes Craven went through similar troubles in some of his earlier films, like Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, and when you learn what they deal with it's not so hard to figure out why the MPAA is not popular with horror filmmakers.

          One thing that had to be changed, for example, was the ending. This is why you see a character show up grinning at the end of the film, despite the fact that we watched him get his head chainsawed in half earlier in the movie. Before you yank the DVD out of your DVD player and try to stick it in the wall, take a few minutes to watch the making of documentary, which essentially is 30 minutes of the cast and crew trying to explain why the movie was so bad.

          One verbose reviewer who calls himself Duke De Mondo writes a hilarious review in which he asserts that the Texas Chainsaw sequels all seem to pay homage to the original film as though it were some kind of urban legend, constantly reshuffling everything except Leatherface, the only character who is expected to be in any Texas Chainsaw movie. Hence, in part III, Leatherface is the only returning character, and as the director explains on the accompanying documentary, everyone else is some sort of surrogate family brought together my similar deviations from sanity. Still a pretty weak explanation for the little blonde girl, I should think.

          Speaking of which, it should be mentioned that at one point in the film, two people get chainsawed to death minutes apart, and it is not until I saw that little girl standing at the top of the stairs that I was even slightly apprehensive. What is it about little kids that makes them so scary? It's the worst when they are dressed in cute little outfits that just clash so strongly with their surroundings, like the little girl in this movie or, probably most famously, the twin girls in The Shining, who I still think are some of the creepiest kids ever captured on film. This girl turns out to be an aspiring member of the family, eager for her turn to put the meat hooks and sledge hammers to good use, and who decorates her room not with flowers or Barbie's or anything even remotely pink, but with human bones and skulls, presumably left over from the original Texas Chainsaw and, subsequently, The Hills Have Eyes. And this is to say nothing of her doll. You know, Jodie Foster had to undergo counseling in preparation for her role as a 12-year-old prostitute in Taxi Driver. I really wonder if there were similar concerns for this girl, whose film-making ordeal can't have been much less damaging.

          As far as the gore, Texas Chainsaw III is famous for being disappointing, but this is explained by the whole ratings fiasco. On the other hand, there was much talk about death scene of the girl who had already been running from the crazed family for five days or so when this movie started. Supposedly she was sawed in half from the stomach up, but this is simply not true, even in the unrated version that I watched. Yes, there is a vast quantity of blood in the scene, and yes, she does get brutally killed with the saw, but no, she does not get sawed in half and then her body peel off in two directions, having been split down the middle. It just doesn't happen.
          Nevertheless, I should think there is sufficient gore in the movie to satisfy all but the most depraved horror and Chainsaw fans, especially considering the sledge-hammer scene (which is based on a real police photo of Ed Gein's basement, and is one thing that the movie deserves at least some credit for), the above-mentioned chainsaw scene, and the scene where one character gets his head sawed almost in half at the ear level, although, as we later find out, does not kill him. If this is not enough for you, watch Day of the Dead.

          Viggo Mortensen, although he almost didn't get the part because his audition just didn't go very well, was outstanding as Tex, who is essentially the character that Matthew McConaughey plays in Texas Chainsaw 4, which is by leaps and bounds the worst of the series, including the 2003 remake (which I have not seen at the time of this writing, but it is physically impossible that it was worse than that ridiculous mess). There is one scene where Tex nails the heroine's hands to a wooden chair, and then casually asks her how she likes Texas. Pretty disturbing, but it doesn't make you want to slap your forehead, as McConaughey does from start to finish in part 4.

          Well, I'm sure she's having a blast, although the movie was filmed in California. I was also impressed with the heroine in the movie, the obligatory girl who is the last to survive running from Leatherface (although this movie makes a slight variation on this trend at the end of the film). She manages to walk the fine line between sufficiently expressing her terror and not screaming mercilessly to the point where you just want her to get killed so she'll shut the hell up, and that is not an easy line to walk. I hope I'm not being misogynistic, but there is nothing worse in a horror film than the hysterical woman who simply screams and moans and won't respond when someone is trying to help her. I hate that. 

          I have to admit that I was disappointed that the fancy new chainsaw, inscribed with the infamous quote 'The Saw is Family' and the most famous thing about this movie, was put to so little use. Not only is it not introduced until the majority of the killings are already done with another, much less shiny and interesting, chainsaw. And to make matters worse, not only is it underwater when it does its flesh-hacking (I guess the ability to run underwater was another of its special features), but the one character that it is allowed to sink its teeth into turns up not dead at the end of the film.

Cast & Crew   |   Pictures  |   Coroner Report   |   Trailer

          - The original script was much more brutal with explicit gore sequences. The producers objected to many of the scenes (one of which had a nude man being split down the middle while hung upside down) and demanded extensive changes to the script to reduce gore and violence. Further cuts had to be made to avoid an X-rating after the film was finished.

          - The only Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie not filmed in Texas.

          - Tobe Hooper, director of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was originally going to be involved in the film. He had submitted a treatment to New Line execs, but bowed out of the project due to scheduling conflicts concerning his film Spontaneous Combustion.

          - There was also supposed to be a brutal "unmasking" scene, which would reveal Leatherface as horribly disfigured. That scene was scrapped (despite an obvious buildup) and saved because New Line wanted to use it in the next sequel. It was eventually used in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).

          - Kane Hodder, who played Jason in four Friday the 13th films - was the stunt coordinator for this film.

          - Among others, one of New Line's first choices for director was Peter Jackson.

          - The ranch where most of the filming was done is so close to the Disney Ride "Space Mountain" that director Jeff Burr swears you can hear screams from the Roller Coaster during some takes.

          - It was decided that Ken Foree's character should live after he gained high favorability ratings during early test screenings. The new ending was subsequently shot, in which somehow Ken pops up in the final frame with a tiny flesh wound on his head (even though we all saw him get torn apart in the finale).




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