Texas Chainsaw Blu-ray Review
Directed by John Luessenhop
Written by Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms, Stephen Susco (story), Kim Henkel (characters) and Tobe Hooper (characters)
2013, Region B2, 92 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 27th May 2013
Alexandra Daddario as Heather Miller
Dan Yeager as Leatherface
Trey Songz as Ryan
Scott Eastwood as Carl
Tania Raymonde as Nikki
Shaun Sipos as Darryl
As if the title wasn't odd and awkward enough already, Texas Chainsaw 3D arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray, already shorn of its Massacre and now minus the 3D. While I'm guaranteed to hate anything with '3D' in the title, in this case it actually sounds even worse. Will anything of the title survive, and what will be left of it? Texas Chainsaw is not a good title for a movie. It's not even a proper sentence.
Taking a Superman Returns approach to sequels, Texas Chainsaw ignores everything past Tobe Hooper's original movie (including the remakes) and picks up right where The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (now that's how you construct a title) left off – Leatherface pitching a fit in the middle of the road, sulkily twirling his beloved chainsaw around him. The town sheriff is dispatched, determined to bring in Bubba Sawyer (none of that Hewitt nonsense) for his crimes. The angry mob that has descended upon the house has other ideas, though.
Years later, pretty young Heather Miller heads to rural Texas to collect an inheritance left to her by her late, estranged grandmother. Now the proud owner of a grand country mansion, what better way to celebrate than by cooking up a few steaks and throwing a party? Poor Heather is soon to realise that she's also inherited the smelly Sawyer psychopath who lives in the basement. Given the timeline, that would make Heather about forty and Leatherface a pensioner (if not dead) but that's the least of this Texas Chainsaw's problems.
What starts like a nightmarish version of Who Do You Think You Are? crossed with Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak quickly becomes something quite different. Not necessarily in a good way, either. The filmmakers' attempt to reinvent Leatherface as a sympathetic antihero never even remotely works. See, The Phantom of the Opera act only really works when you're not chopping kids to bits and wearing their faces. The writers try to achieve antihero status by making the victims and supporting cast unlikeable too, but it just results in a movie full of unlikeable people. Worst of the lot are Clint Eastwood's son (the apple doth fall far from the tree) and Trey Songz, whoever or whatever that is. Alexandria Daddario is a fine lead, it's just a shame that her character is so difficult to like. Bill Moseley brings an air of respectability to the film in his cameo as Drayton (the role made famous by Jim Seidow) and there's a welcome appearance from Richard Riehle as a cheery lawyer. There are issues with the casting, but nothing which couldn't have been rectified with a tighter story and better script.
As a Texas Chain Saw Massacre fanatic who doesn't mind the series' lesser efforts, I was more predisposed than most to enjoy it. The Next Generation aside, I've never not enjoyed a chainsaw massacre. I'd even go so far as to name the first three movies as my favourite trilogy of horror films of all time. Yes, even that one with Viggo Mortenson (incredibly underrated and a lot of fun). Even the remake and its sequel have their merits. Fuck The Next Generation though. So if anyone was going to like Texas Chainsaw, it'd be me. And, unlike most people, I didn't hate it. It's the weakest in the series that isn't The Beginning, but it still has its merits. The action scenes are quite excellent, Leatherface an imposing, impressively physical presence. The movie's highlights are a scene set at the town funfair and a later one in which an unfortunate cop decides to go exploring in Leatherface's basement. It speaks volumes that the film's very best sequence is during the credits, into which clips from the original film are interspersed.
Texas Chainsaw is an enjoyable, eccentric entry in a franchise which never did play by the rules. With the bleak torture of the remakes out of its system, it's good to see that the series has gone back to doing its own thing. That 'own thing' may be misjudged at times, but it's more interesting than a most other mainstream horror sequels and reboots we tend to get these days.
Ultimately, the film's biggest crime is that this new timeline now renders the majestic madness that is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Part 2 redundant. If you choose to accept it, that is. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre already has one of the greatest sequels of all time. It's a movie which culminates with Dennis Hopper and Leatherface in a ferocious underground chainsaw battle. No amount of 3D or 'Trey Songz' is ever going to top that.
Video and Audio:
Absolutely nothing is lost as the movie is shorn of its 3D gimmick. If anything, it's vastly improved. Without the darkening effect of 3D and the stupid glasses, the colours look beautifully, dizzyingly vivid. It doesn't sound like a Texas Chainsaw film though – it's not nearly unpleasant enough to listen to (horrible rap music aside).
There's a whole host of audio commentaries – one with director John Luessenhop and actor Dan Yeager, then another with producer Carl Mazzocone and original Chain Saw director Tobe Hooper. Finally, a commentary from Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns and John Dugan. All three are worth listening to, which is a shame, since it means struggling through the film at least three times if you want to catch 'em all. Texas Chainsaw Legacy is an enlightening series of interviews with the original director, cast and crew. It's maybe the best set of extras I've ever seen for an otherwise mediocre movie. The other impressive extras include features Resurrecting the Saw, The Old Homestead, Casting Terror, Leatherface 2013, Lights, Camera, Massacre, It's in the Meat and a (barely) alternate opening. The high quality of the special features is depressing, given the mediocrity of the film itself.