Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

Written by renowned "splatterpunk" author David J. Schow and directed by Jeff Burr, "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III" came out in the wrong time. At this point, theatrical horror wasn't the force it once was, the second one confused some fans (though I love that movie), and then there's the MPAA, who cut the thing to hell and hated it from the get go. So, how does the movie fair as a whole?

Michelle (Kate Hodge, in her acting debut) and her boyfriend Ryan (William Butler) are in Texas, where a body pit has been found, and they are threatened by a perverted gas station attendant. Before you can say "rev my chainsaw and call me Bubba", Leatherface (R.A. Mihailoff) is back, and this time, his family is made up of "Tex" (Viggo Mortensen), Mama (Miriam Byrd-Nethery) and a psychotic, unnamed little girl (Jennifer Banko), who may be Leatherface's daughter. Can survivalist bad ass Benny (Ken Foree) help save the day?

"Leatherface" fortunately keeps up with the sadistic humor of the prior two movies, though the satire of yuppie-era America and consumerism of "Part 2" is not here. Nope, it's back to satirizing the dark side of the nuclear family, and for the large part, that works thanks to the fine cast, who manage to make it feel like you are watching a family bond and biker. The rest of the cast is also game, with Foree making for a great tough guy, and Hodge going through hell and coming out tough (naturally.) Burr also has a good eye for detail, as little things like Leatherface's abode brought to mind the bone based sets of the original. Plus, there's some fine one liners here ("There's roadkill all over Texas") that didn't hurt the least.

Problems? Well, one that's not the fault of the filmmakers is the way the MPAA handled the movie, as even in it's unrated format, it feels cut to hell. That didn't bother me too much though. What did however, were Leatherface's family and the killer himself. Except for ol' chainsaw and the little girl, none of the family is all that scary, and just feel like refugees from another redneck horror movie. Then there's the fact that Leatherface is a bit of a backwoods rapist/impregnation machine here. What made him so frightening in the original was that he was a sexless slaughtering machine. Here, he's a killing machine, but by adding a newer aspect, he feels a bit demystified.

So, is this one worth a look? As a rental-and especially as a curiosity-it's worth watching. That out of the way, even without some of the cuts, I can't help but feel they should have done a few things a little differently.

Rating: 6/10

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