Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

Director: Jeff Burr (1990)
Starring: Kate Hodge, Ken Foree, Viggo Mortenson (!)
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

They all had their moments of true brilliance, but my favourite of the big four franchises (the other three being Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm St and Friday the 13th) has always been The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. In memory of the great Dennis Hopper, I rewatched the second of the massacres last week. Chainsaw Massacres are like pringles though - you can't just stop at one. The first and third movies followed in quick succession. And (to push the Pringle metaphor) in the case of the later movies, too many will make you fucking sick.

Like the first sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 is an often and unfairly maligned movie. True, it suffers in comparison from the original piece - but don't all sequels? Leatherface is actually a very very good movie when taken on its own merits. And merits it has lots of. Ken Foree, for instance. And Viggo Mortenson, less depressed than he was in The Road, and not-so against cannibalism either. There's also an enormous chainsaw, outstanding actings and lots and lots of blood n' guts. Leatherface is by far the nastiest in the series, a far cry from the bloodless antics of Leatherface's first massacre.

As has become something of a mainstay in the series, Leatherface and his Grandpa have relocated to a different Texas, where they're now living with another lot of relatives. Before Hitch-hiker, Cook and ChopTop all got themselves killed, family get-togethers must have been a hoot. Although I'd imagine no-one invited Vilmer McConaughey, since that character was an annoying cunt, even by Sawyer standards.

Travelling through Texas, bickering couple Michelle (Hodge) and Ryan (William Butler) happen across the remaining Sawyers during a horrible car crash incident. Luckily, mental survivalist Benny (Foree) is on hand to take some of the strain with his M-16. He's no Dennis Hopper, but its good to see the Sawyers meet yet another force they can't quite defeat. One does get the feeling that Hopper would've eaten the lot for breakfast though. Especially Viggo Mortenson, who plays things in an inexplicably quite camp manner.

No Dennis Hopper and no overacting Bill Moseley means that none of the performances go overshadowed. Kate Hodge impresses both as damsel-in-distress and tough-as-nails final girl. Viggo Mortenson is both fun and menacing, as are all of his onscreen family members. Ken Foree is inevitably the best of the bunch, simply by virtue of being Ken Foree. A little of the enthusiasm he shows here surely wouldn't have gone amiss in Dawn of the Dead and might have made the outcome a little less grim. He clearly has a ball playing Benny, and the scenes in which he dessicates the remaining Sawyers are amongst the best in the movie. Leatherface is the hardest he's ever been here. He looks mean and pissed off throughout, and the leg brace he wears only makes him seem more intimidating. None of that phallic-chainsaw-lovey-dovey nonsense that troubled TCM2. I guess seeing so many of his relatives murdered by idiot teenagers and Dennis Hopper finally made the big fella grow up a bit.

Alas, Leatherface was to be the last legitimately good TCM movie. What followed in the series was a transvestite Leatherface, Matthew McFucking McConaughey, an overrated Sheriff Hoyt, pointless prequelisation and a total dearth of inspiration. I daresay there'll be more Massacres further down the road, but the original trilogy will always hold a very dear place in my heart.


  1. Love this movie.
    Another excellent review man.

  2. Though I'm a fan of the original (who isn't?), I've never been a fan of this franchise. You deserve a pat on the back for a well written and entertaining post, though!

  3. This film had the best teaser trailer of all time!