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Diagramming a Massacre – A Review of Texas Chainsaw 3D and Where it Fits in the Chronology.
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Jan. 4, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Chainsaw 3D bills itself as a direct sequel to the original 1974 The Texas
Chain Saw Massacre. As this is the seventh film in the series that can be a
very confusing claim. The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre already has an official sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, released in 1986 and even
directed by the writer/director of the original, Tobe Hooper. Next the
franchise rights went to New Line who released Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3. Despite the subtitle,
this film ignores the events of the second film and places itself as an
‘unofficial’ follow up to TCM. After that came Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, finally released by
Columbia pictures after sitting on a shelf for years. Allegedly, it was only distributed
to cash in on the appearances of Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, who
were becoming famous at the time. Again part 4 disavowed the existence of parts
2 and 3, bringing the count of direct follow-ups to the first film to three.
reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
and its own prequel, The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre: the Beginning can be completely discounted because they recreate
an entirely new chronology, borrowing elements from the original. Both these
films were produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes. After The Beginning grossed less than half the amount of its predecessor;
PD announced that they would not produce a third sequel. Finally, the franchise
rights were purchased by Lionsgate (the house of Saw) who now bring us direct
sequel number four.<>
time the filmmakers have taken the term direct sequel literally; picking up
moments after TCM left off with the police showing up at the Sawyer farm. The
house, the yard, and almost every other physical detail are painstakingly
recreated. The Sawyers have called in more kin with shotguns and a standoff ensues.
Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface in the original, has a cameo as Boss
Sawyer and Bill Moseley (Choptop Sawyer from TCM part 2) fills in for the
deceased Jim Siedow as the cook Drayton Sawyer. This piece of recasting is the
first slightly jarring moment of the film because it feels like a reenactment in
an episode of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’; something is not quite right, but
unsettlingly familiar. <>
standoff is settled by an angry mob of locals who start shooting and then burn
the Sawyer house to the ground; killing everyone inside except for baby girl Heather,
who is abducted/adopted by two of the angry locals. Flash forward to 2012,
Heather is now grown and only becomes aware she was adopted when her biological
grandmother (who knew she was abducted but made no effort to retrieve her) dies
and leaves her a huge mansion in Texas. This is where the film comes up against
its first major problem. The movie begins in 1974 – it is now 2012, Heather
should be at least 38. The actress playing her is 26 and they dress her and all
her friends in the movie like they’re 21 (a personal pet peeve with modern
American horror films – all her friends are models). The film seems to be
hoping very hard that no one will do the math and even goes so far as to try
and cover the problem up. Newspaper headlines appear onscreen with the date of
the original massacre and deliberately cut the year out of frame.<>
gathers her boyfriend and two other friends to drive to the Texas
mansion and rediscover her roots. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker (also a model in label clothes) and decide to take him along, all the way to their destination. Once there it turns out that her inheritance includes her cousin, Leatherface, who has been living in
grandmother’s basement for decades. In spite of his past troubles, Grandma has allowed Leatherface to keep his arsenal of chainsaws, hooks, and other assorted cutlery. Once Leatherface appears, the movie begins
to crib liberally from the earlier films. The main group travels in a microbus
meant to echo the van in the first film, the first two kills take place by the
exact methods and order as in the original, and there’s even a ‘face peeling
while still alive’ ala what happened to L.G. in TCM part 2. The plot then
shifts from slasher to family feud drama as Heather learns that the Mayor led
the shootout that killed her family and Leatherface is recast as her protector.
The film tries very hard to show his noble side but it’s an ill-fitting mask
for an infamous chainsaw murderer.
The bottom
line is that in spite of the assertion that this is a direct sequel, Texas Chainsaw 3D is part 7 in the
series. If you’re a horror lover that has stuck by horror series as they got past
about part 4; you know what you’re signing up for. I’m a big fan of the series
(the great lenticular poster really had me looking forward to this movie) and Texas Chainsaw 3D is far from the worst
sequel, but unfortunately its silly moments and unaddressed logic gaps largely
spoil the terror. Casual horror fans will find a few good 3D moments with a
chainsaw, but not much else in the way of gore or scares to hold their
attention. <>

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