Directed by Jeff Burr [Other horror films: The Offspring (1987), Stepfather II (1989), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993), Puppet Master 4 (1993), Puppet Master 5 (1994), Night of the Scarecrow (1995), The Werewolf Reborn! (1998), Phantom Town (1999), Straight Into Darkness (2004), Frankenstein & the Werewolf Reborn! (2005), Devil’s Den (2006), Mil Mascaras vs. Aztec Mummy (2007), Resurrection (2010), Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre (2018)]
Finally, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie I can enjoy.
Keeping things simple, this flick is basically a more polished version of the first movie, and drops the atrocious black comedy tone of the second, much to it’s favor. While I’ve only seen it twice now, I find it a very enjoyable movie to just sit back, relax, and watch.
The Sawyer family here is far more functional than they were in the first two movies (how the family got anything done in the second is utterly beyond me), and more so, the members themselves are more enjoyable. Leatherface (R.A. Mihailoff) is pretty much as he always is, but the additions of Tex (Viggo Mortensen) and Tinker (Joe Unger) were strong indeed, Tex especially for his strong charisma. Alfredo (Tom Everitt) was the weak point, being this film’s answer to the first film’s Hitchhiker and second film’s Chop Top, but he was still infinitely less annoying than the earlier renditions. In short, the family felt more functional, and that really helped with enjoyment.
More important, though, is Ken Foree (of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead fame), who plays a survivalist named Benny. Benny is a badass – he knows how to fight, shoot, and come out ahead. I was pleased with his presentation and his story throughout the film, and Michelle (Kate Hodge) should feel quite lucky he popped up when he did.
The gore in this film is slightly muted, I feel, but there’s still some decently good stuff (such as a painful scene where Michelle tries to free her nailed-down hands from a chair), and though it’s not made a priority, the implication of more gore is always there (an off screen head-smashing, some chainsaw action, etc.). Apparently much of this was because the producers wanted to avoid an X-rating, so screw them.
While this film went back to the basics, it wasn’t able to catch the same level of grittiness the original movie had (though, to be sure, I think it’d be close to impossible for any 90’s movie to match the grittiness of a 70’s flick), which has it’s pros and cons. That said, there’s little to complain about here. You have a good setting (that bog of bodies was beast), occasional action, some amusing lines (“You never heard of pizza?”), solid suspense and acting, and lastly, Ken Foree. A very solid movie, and perhaps one of the best this series has been able to make.