a Primal Root review
“Do your thing, cuz!” -Heather, Texas Chainsaw 3D
Taking up directly after the events of the very first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, literally the very afternoon after Leatherface, Hitchhiker, Cook and Grandpa, mercilessly terrorized poor young Sally in their decrepit old farmhouse over supper, The Sawyer household is descended upon by a gang of pick-up truck driving, rifle wielding, vigilantes out for blood. Before you can say “I thought you was in a hurry!” the Sawyer clan, now numbering in the dozens (huh?) is struck down in a bloody, brutal one sided battle waged by beer swilling rednecks. So much for that whole family of Draculas being such fierce opponents. But one little baby Sawyer survives to be raised by an unloving, alcoholic white trash couple…sigh.
Almost 40 years later and that little Sawyer baby is now in her early twenties and a burgeoning art student who likes to use dead animal parts in her work, lives in a trendy, spacious loft with her live in unfaithful boyfriend (*spoiler alert* he’s fucking her best friend who is dating a crepe chef or something). The survivng Sawyer baby has been given the name Heather Miller. She’s a strikingly pretty, pale skinned, shapley young thing with jet black hair, a penchant for flannel and the standard issue emo hipster hairstyle. Who knew the Sawyer clan’s backwoods, inbred, hillbilly genes could produce such a sexy thing?
Heather receives a mysterious message in the mail informing her she has just inherited the estate of a long lost relative who has just recently passed away. You know where this is headed, don’t you? Yep, she is now the proud owner of the Sawyer estate which has undergone some pretty drastic renovations since we last ventured out that way for dinner. Now it’s a two story mansion with a pool table and a Better Homes and Gardens makeover. Oh, and with plenty of room in the basement for the only other survivor of the Texas NRA Massacre, ol’ Buzzsaw Billy himself, Leatherface!
Heather and her dead bodies, I mean, best buddies, road trip it out there, inherit the estate and begin getting acquainted with the townsfolk. All of which seem wary and trigger happy that there’s so much hubbub going down at the Sawyer house. That very first evening, as Heather pokes around the house (and her boyfriend heads off to the nearby barn to have his man utter milked by Heather’s best bud) Commando Crepe ventures down to Leatherface’s lair unleashing the maniac’s special brand of down home house warming. Nothing says Southern Hospitality like a man wearing someone else’s face and wielding a chainsaw, am I right?
That’s right, it’s intestinal coleslaw city! Next thing you know, people are getting slammed on meat hooks, getting cut in half, having their faces re appropriated as fashion accessories, etc. And once all the teen character’s are out of the way, the movie is only half way to the finish line! We still got a whole town of blood thirsty, Coors swilling, Glen Beck fans to obliterate! You know that subtle gore the original Tobe Hooper “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was known for? Yeeeeeah, don’t expect such restraint here. There’s gut spilling in this flick that would make Jigsaw blush. It’s a smorgasbord of splatter along the lines of Tobe Hooper’s sequel, the cleverly titled ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2″. Of course, I am saying this about the movies gore level. Because the intelligence and wit of the original Chainsaw franchise (well, the first and Part 2) is missing in action.
Texas Chainsaw 3D is about as dumb as they come, you don’t just have to suspend your disbelief for the action that takes place in the film to make sense, you gotta whack your disbelief over the head with a crowbar and ship it to Abu Dhabi for this sucker to pass muster. The fact that the surviving Sawyer girl is only in her early twenties, that Leatherface has been just chilling in a basement for the past 30 some odd years, that even after being bound with her arms over her head and having her shirt torn open Heather’s gorgeous heaving breasts would stay totally covered…It’s all very stupid. Almost like… Almost like… *GASP* AN OLD SCHOOL SLASHER SEQUEL!
I don’t know how it happened but I genuinely enjoyed Texas Chainsaw 3D. Sure, it was about as dumb a sack of entrails, but it did tap into that exact same level of absurd stupidity as the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels. It’s just mayhem for mayhem’s sake and feels like some kind of missing 1980’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel! Sure, they try to humanize Leatherface a bit more in this entry, but that’s kind of the plight of the sequel. They always try to show you more of what makes these monsters tick, and in the process, unintentionally end up make them less scary.
Texas Chainsaw 3D is a bad movie. It’s just plain BAD. Like my spelling. But you know what, I still had a blast sitting back and letting the movie do it’s business despite the near infinite dumbshit creative decisions. Probably the coolest segment of the whole damn movie was the opening credits which featured retrofitted sequences from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre now rendered IN 3D! The final chase where Sally is pursued by hitchhiker and Leatherface was quite a sight to behold in the third dimension, especially after having seen the film several dozen times over the years, it gave the classic a fresh perspective. Hell, they should just re-release the original in 3D like Titanic! If I paid money for this slice of undercooked headcheese I sure as Hell would pay money to see one of the greatest horror films ever made in 3D!
But, I digress…
Texas Chainsaw 3D eschews everything that followed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as if those events never happened and plays almost like a fan film. With cameos by series cast favorites (and horror convention circuit staples) as well as copious tips of the hat to the franchise, it’s obvious that this flick was made by people who have a deep admiration for the series. Which makes me scratch my head and wonder why they didn’t make it their concern to write a Great, Hell, even a GOOD screenplay for what is essentially supposed to be the sequel to the landmark original? Instead, they created this greasy piece of scrapple that’s enjoyable, sure it’s fun, but it doesn’t exactly feel like direct lineage to the original. Not exactly direct blood but a far of distant second cousin in law that shares the same name.
Gorgeous actress Alexandra Daddario steals the show as Heather, the long lost Sawyer girl who is grappling with her family connection. Seeing her go from a lost soul to Leatherface’s keeper is pretty cool. She also has great crazy eyes that are hidden behind a sweet, inconspicuous gaze. Seriously, when she embraces the killer inside and starts hacking and slashing while quipping like Freddy, her crazy eyes might just be the most unsettling aspect of the whole damn film. She widens those puppies, grins like the Cheshire Cat, sinks her pitchfork into folks and I ended up with the strangest boner…I still think they really missed an awesome opportunity to create a female Leatherface here. Seriously, how fantastic would it be to see some buxom young woman in a grue spattered apron, wearing someone else’s face while revving up a chainsaw and doing the infamous Leatherface shuffle? Am I alone on this? Bueller? Bueller?
Dan Yeager as Leatherface is…he gets the job done. Neither the best nor the worst Leatherface to cross paths with the franchise. Leatherface sure is getting up there in age though, but as evidenced by Heather’s age, the basic rules of space and time need not apply in the Chainsawniverse. Leatherface can still chase after prey with the best of them. Never running out of breath or breaking his hip. It’s gotta be those Centrum Silvers he’s been taking. Probably his best moment is at the very end of the film when Heather interacts with him at the Sawyer dining room table after one VERY long night. It’s both oddly touching and even almost suspenseful. We finally get an extended look at Leatherface’s eyes and we can almost imagine he’s emoting. Great stuff.
I was expecting the absolute worst walking into Texas Chainsaw 3D and, while not very good, I thought it was passable schlock fun. Sure, they turned Leatherface into much more of an anti-hero than he ever was originally, and made the whole Sawyer clan WAY more sympathetic than I feel anyone could ever try and take a family of murderous redneck cannibals, and there are plot holes so big you could speed a big rig right through them, but it is a nice big helping of bad movie fun. It plays it straight with no post-modern jabs at slasher movie conventions and is thick and heavy with the red sauce. It doesn’t spend it’s time trying to be witty or clever, it just wants to give us it’s story and serve us up a nice big bowl of splatter film love.
This movie is terrible, but for those looking for an old school, brain dead, slasher flick to gnaw on a bit, look no further. Now get me a female Leatherface!