If looks could kill he wouldn't need a chainsaw.
First there was Tobe Hopper's original vision The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Then the studio said "Hey Tobe, you wanna make more films with us? Then you gotta make a sequel first." Behold, we were given The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. THEN Tobe said "That whole Poltergiest directing thing smarts, I'm hangin' out on my own in Montana for a while" and someone else took over the reins on Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 3. Now, after almost 20 years, the fourth adventure of Leatherface and his clan begins with the release of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Starring a pre-Hollywood Renée Zellweger (Jerry Maguire, Nurse Betty) and Matthew McConaughey (Contact, The Wedding Planner) and directed by original Texas Chainsaw Massacre writer Kim Henkel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is terror…times…ZERO!
Facts of the Case
Note: This film is actually a comedic/horror remake of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Not that it matters, as it still sucks like two bit John.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is not a pretty movie. Unlike other un-pretty movies (such as the original) this one has no redeeming qualities such as good acting or a kooky yet interesting script to fall back on. No, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is just plain ugly, and no amount of makeup will cover up the fact this is a stinker of epic proportions.
The film opens with a bunch of kids (what a shock) going to their high school prom, including Zellweger playing the school nerd (at one point a character tells her no one will date her because she's so ugly). The teens leave the prom and take off in a car to the middle of nowhere for no real reason (so much for something I like to call "character motivation"). While tooling along, Barry (the film's most obnoxious character) argues with his "girlfriend" that her decision to not having sex with him could have dire medical consequences for him (he quips "My Dad's a doctor, so I think I know what I'm talking about"). And she agrees with him. "What if he gets cancer and all his hair falls out just because I won't have sex with him?" she asks.
What the…?!? Do kids actually talk like this in high school? I have a hard time believing that anyone over the age of 16 doesn't know how the whole procreation thing works.
While en route they're hit by another driver and forced off the road. They see the driver of the other car is hurt and decide to walk in the middle of the night and go for help. One character even says, "Something bad is going to happen, I can feel it." I can too…and it has a name: the script. Most of the teens go looking for help. While they're gone, one teen (and I'm not naming names because, hey, do you really care?) is bumped off by a wacky tow truck driver (played by McConaughey, who looks like he was freebasing before the start of each scene). Through a series of small and pointless events, the rest of the teens end up among the Sawyer clan.
I'd like to take a moment and point out how horrible the acting is in this film. I have seen all the Ghoulies movies plus Battlefield Earth.
I think that I am qualified to expound upon acting in Z-grade flicks. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation takes the cake (until my next review). I haven't seen acting this phony since I tried to convince my mother when I was seven that I had the chicken pox by using a blue marker on my body. All the characters in this film make choices that even simpletons wouldn't make. Can you imagine? The director of this film actually clapped the slate and then decided that these scenes were KEEPERS. Apparently, this whole film was shot under a heavy cloud of marijuana and ammonia.
Back to the story (what there is of it). Of course, the general lot of kids are dispatched in various ways (on par with the genre). Zellweger's character is the heroine who must escape the clutches of Leatherface (Robert Jacks) and the Sawyer family. They're made up of kooky characters that aren't very interesting, doing things that aren't very eye-catching.
How will she escape? Who will survive? Who cares?
Tobe, oh Tobe, where have thou art gone?
What a crappie little movie this is. From what I understand this was made and then lingered on a shelf for a few years before finally being released (due to money troubles). When it was released, no one cared and it went quickly to video with about as much fanfare as a parade in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Who thought this would be a good film? Huh? I know that there are a lot of fans of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre out there, and they're more than happy when they hear a sequel is on its way. But who really thought a comedic remake of the original was in order? And by the writer of the original, no less. I hope she is able to sleep at night knowing that this sludge clutters video and DVD shelves (and don't think I don't realize that I am being hypocritical. I own the entire Nightmare On Elm Street collection. And The Toxic Avenger. I know I've got my head up my butt).
The script is weak. Really weak. The structure of the original is there (if you want to call this a "remake"). Teens go looking for trouble in the woods, get picked off, face off against the evil forces. Okay, so that's the structure of every horror film. Still, the fact this movie got the structure right doesn't excuse the lack of characterization, plot, or decent horror elements. Though not one of my favorites, at least Scream understood where its humor was coming from. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation doesn't have a clue how to mix in elements of humor, satire and horror together. It goes from one extreme to another unsuccessfully. Director/writer Kim Henkel should be smacked with 56 wet noodles for making this movie. Zellweger and McConaughey act as if this is their first time on screen (and it's not far from it). I am shocked…yes, shocked that Renée and Matthew went on to other big budget Hollywood films. The movie gods do have a sense of humor, and this film proves it.
At this point, you might have noticed that I haven't mentioned the main villain much. Well folks, there's a reason for that. In the first three movies Leatherface is insane, scary, and weird. In this one he's just plain weird. He dresses up like Minnie Pearl sans price tag, gibbers like a five-year-old who lost her Barbie, and is about as frightening as "Mini-Me." A far cry from the original character who terrified audiences in the previous movies. Like Freddy Krueger, Leatherface has lost his appeal in this fourth outing. He's just a joke, and a bad one at that. Just like this film.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (for such a cheesy horror film this is shocking in and of itself) and pan and scan on side B. The picture tends to be generally dark, though this may be the way the filmmakers intended it to be. Either way, it's annoying and makes for a bad viewing experience. I spotted no edge enhancement or digital artifacting, and only the slightest bit of grain. Audio is Dolby Digital 2-channel surround and is okay…nothing great. It does the job giving a relatively clear mix of effects, dialogue and music. But what's it matter? The movie's a bomb, so everything else tumbles downhill as well. And it's a long way down.
For supplements we're given some production notes, where director Henkel is actually quoted as saying "I had the good fortune of having a great cinematographer, Levie Isaacks, who shot Children Of The Corn II: The Final Sacrifice." Oh yes, nothing says quality like having on board someone who shot the sequel to an equally shitty movie. What a ringing endorsement Mr. Isaacks gets. I'm sure he went on to other fantastic films, such as Lawnmower Man VII: Lawnmower Man In Love.
Also included are some theatrical trailers to some Scream rip-offs such as Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and the nauseating I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, notable for the fact that Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts actually acquired their own agent after the shoot.
Finally, we get some talent bios, which, not surprisingly, are very, very short.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
What, like you need more reasons why this film bites?
Sucks. As a sequel it sucks. As a film on its own it sucks. As a container to bury your kid's dead hamster in it sucks. I bought it on discount for $5.00 and it still wasn't worth the price. Don't even rent it unless you plan on drinking heavily and taking barbiturates.
Guilty as charged! GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY !!!! So bad that I need some Tylenol…
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Scales of Justice
• Production Notes
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