Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
Director: Kim Henkel
Stars: Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Jacks
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
It’s the movie that Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey tried like hell to have you never see it. It’s the movie that Kim Henkel, the director of this and one of the writers and producers of the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, says it the “true” sequel to the earthshaking original. Uhm no, Kim, just no. To say this movie wasn’t well received by…well, anyone, would be putting it mildly. Critics hated it. Texas Chainsaw fans hated it. I’m both of those and yeah, I hated it too. And its own studio must have hated it, too, for they shelved it for years until the two stars of it (Zellweger and McConaughey) both had their stars rise, then it was all too quick to cash in on their new found fame. So yeah, this is the black sheep of the franchise and I haven’t bothered to give it a watch since it first came out, but I’m willing to give it a second chance to win me over, so let’s get to it.
Renee and her friends are out on prom night, one thing leads to another and the four of them get stranded on a lonely dirt road. They meet some “colorful” characters, including a quote-spewing yokel, a helpful lady in a trailer, and Matthew McConaughey as a way, way, WAY over-the-top psycho tow truck driver with a remote control robotic leg. Because why not? Oh yeah, somewhere in that mix is Leatherface, and that’s one of this movie’s greatest flaws. Ol’ Leather doesn’t play second fiddle here, he’s more like third or fourth fiddle. Yes, TCM should be about more than just him, but in no way should he be so underutilized and pushed aside as he is here. He’s a joke, nothing more.
Other missteps? Kim follows the original’s playbook far too closely with the plot, except for the few instances he deviates from it, and then those times are so utterly ridiculous that it leaves you going, “why?” Chief among them is an unwanted addition that the Chainsaw family is actually agents of the Illuminati, headed by a face-licking Euro-sleaze with grenades (I think) sewn into his belly. Again, why?
Renée Zellweger is okay, if bland, in this as the Sally stand in, but Matthew McConaughey is dialed up way past 11. Sometimes his oddball antics are funny, most of the time they’re just annoying and teeth-grating. He doesn’t just chew the scenery, he obliterates it. I can fully understand why he didn’t want this movie to ever come out. Ever. As for direction by Kim Henkel, it’s workmanlike and fine, but he’s a pale shadow of Tobe Hooper. So yeah, still not a fan of this one after a second watch, But on to the extras that Scream Factory has done for this disc.
First it must be pointed out that there are two cuts of the movie here. There is the original and there is the little-seen director’s cut under the title The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is a version I had never seen, so it is a welcome addition here. For that director’s cut there is an audio commentary with writer/director Kim Henkel and actor Joe Stevens, who played murderous W.E. in the film. There is a nearly 12-minute retrospective featurette called “The Buzz is Back” and there is a 16-minute interview with actor Tyler Shea Cone who played detestable victim Barry in the movie. Yeah, believe it or not Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger don’t show up for any interviews here, nor any commentary tracks. Imagine that. Anyway there is a 19-minute collection of interviews with some of the folks behind the look of the film, such as J.M. Logan who did the special make-up effects on this and Deborah Pastor who was the production designer. Last but not least there is the ubiquitous trailer that I always like to see. Production companies take note.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is not a great movie. Or even a good movie. But everything has its fans and I am sure there are some out there for this movie. If that’s you then I can highly recommend this new Blu-ray. You get both versions of the film, looking and sounding better than ever, with a ton of extra features. For everyone else, consider this a pass.