Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

Look, I have watch so many movies for my own entertainment, and since I started this whole writing thing I also watch more than a few for your entertainment, but....I have never seen a movie this bad before. Troll 2? Pffft. Devil Times Five? High art. Even Leprechaun: Origins seems better in comparison to this movie. But, before I get into the deep dark mire of this beast, let's talk about the history of this series. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series began in 1974 with a film that became an instant classic, causing controversy and leaving audiences divided about whether or not they should be offended or delighted.

Well, she certainly appears to be delighted. Or insane due to trauma. It's a fine line.

Regardless of where people fell, it was clearly a successful film. It even garnered two sequels that I personally loved. The second film trailed off into more comedic areas with its horror, but still kept the horrific tone going through. The third film went back to straight horror but failed to recapture what people loved about the first film, but I felt it still did a good enough job (despite the many edits made to it) and I loved Ken Foree as the survivalist hero. After that though it was a long time before anyone tried to bring Leatherface and company back to film. In comes Kim Henkel, co-writer of the original film. He decided it was time to bring his vision of the franchise to life and he was going to do all the writing and directing himself. This resulted in the movie known as Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (or The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as it was also known). I don't know, that other title makes it sound too much like the movie itself is a creature you can't escape from.

Oops, maybe that analogy was a little too close to home.
The movie begins with a short recap of the classic film where the previous two films are mentioned as "two minor, yet apparently related incidents". Yes, I too find that better films involving massive killing sprees across parts of Texas that involve a popular radio personality nearly dying and Aragorn burning alive aren't really important. Our film here focuses on a girl named Jenny, played by Renée Zellweger, who is rather quiet and mousey. We even see her wipe off her lipstick when someone calls for her after she puts it on because I guess lipstick itself is too exciting. I'm not a huge fan of it myself, but dammit, don't be afraid to wear it. Wear it however you want. If Linnea Quigley can wear her lipstick like she did in Night of the Demons and still pull it off, then anyone can. Anyway, it seems it's prom night and instead of a good slasher/revenge movie involving Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen we're stuck with Jenny's annoying friend, Heather, and that friend's asshole boyfriend, Barry. And is it just me or does Barry strongly resemble Matt Dillon...if he were a lot less attractive? But they're not alone, as Jenny's prom date, Sean, is also in this movie apparently.

I bet he wishes he wasn't.
Anyway, Heather finds her asshole boyfriend cheating on her outside of the prom, because the night just wasn't magical enough, and she jumps in his car to leave him there. Until she lets him in a few seconds later, thus negating the whole logic of stealing his car. It turns out that Jenny and Sean were in the backseat too, for some reason. Barry hypothesizes it was because they were toking up, but me? With my unique understanding of proms I think I know the real reason. Awkward handjob. So they go driving along to...the plot, I guess, and eventually end up colliding with another teenager out in the middle of nowhere. Remember, if you're in the middle of nowhere and your car is fucked up, you're probably in a horror movie. The other guy is pretty concussiony and Jenny decides they need to go get help while someone waits with him. Sean volunteers by not going with the other three, and they go wandering off into the darkness where they eventually encounter a lady at a real estate office who calls them a tow truck and seems friendly enough.

She even flashes her tits, which I imagine is a big part of her sales pitch.
But, poor dumb Sean soon finds out that it's not just any tow truck driver, it's Matthew McConaughey. He plays Vilmer, a man so crazy that he has a bionic leg that he controls with TV remotes. No, that's not a joke, he literally uses remotes from televisions to make his leg work. He snaps the injured kid's neck and Sean runs from him until he stops to taunt him, which prompts the kid to run the other way rather than doing something smart like running into the forest and climbing a tree. Seriously, if you're being chased by a killer then climbing a tree and being quiet could easily save your life.

"You can't outrun this movie, boy. None of us can."

So, Vilmer backs over the kid several times and the remaining three can't seem to find the cars, likely because they're gone. Heather and Barry wander off on their own, leaving Jenny to look for the car on the road. They find a house that has some lights on and a Leatherface who looks like he ate the previous Leatherfaces. While Leatherface subtly messes with the oblivious Heather, Barry is held at gunpoint by Vilmer's brother, W.E., a man who loves to quote famous authors and philosophers. Eventually she notices the man in the skinmask playing with her hair and screams and...he screams too. I mean, sure, he grabs her and locks her in a freezer, but he screams the entire time like he's trying to beat her as the movie's scream queen.

He's really only screaming because he misses his bad teeth.
Barry gets in the house and locks W.E. outside, where instead of searching for his girlfriend, he decides to take a piss. Boyfriend of the year right there. The plot rears its ugly head though and Leatherface sledges him to death in a scene I'd say was desperately trying to mimic the original, but that comes a moment later when he then hangs Heather from a meat hook. I'm sorry, but is Kim Henkel's directing style just to copy more successful movies that he had a part in? Because that's going to limit him to just copying one movie for the rest of his career. Moving on past that, Jenny finally encounters Vilmer and she figures out that he's crazy, choosing to run away from him. What? All he did was force your face against the back window of his truck so you could see your dead prom date and that other kid who got one line in. Leatherface then chases her back to the real estate office where, GASP, it turns out that Darla, the tit-flashing real estate lady who called Vilmer, is in on this.

Don't worry though, she's still got time to feel up the lead.

W.E. throws her in Darla's trunk and she goes to get them dinner. Oh, what? Did you expect them to be cannibals like they are in every other film in the series? Sorry, no, this time they eat pizza. After we see some real great police work where a cop doesn't look in the trunk that Darla was just having a conversation with, and she gets home where Jenny is brought in and sees the stupidest show on Earth as the group desperately tries to out-crazy one another. Eventually, she grabs a shotgun and threatens them with it, so they all react accordingly...except for Vilmer, who practically fellates the damn thing.

I'm still waiting for him to fondle her balls.

She doesn't shoot, of course, and ends up getting knocked out only to wake up to dinner where we see dead people seated around the table and a much younger grampa is seemingly a lot better after being shot in the face in the last film, but is still not very talkative. Vilmer goes on another crazy tirade until Jenny decides she's done and starts telling them all off, even scaring the shit out of Leatherface when he tries to be threatening. A weird businessman shows up who Vilmer apparently works for...doing this shit, because who fucking cares anymore, and he proceeds to lick Jenny a lot. Eugh. I'm sorry, but I didn't order fetish porn with my chainsaw based horror film. That guy exits about as quickly as he entered and Vilmer crushes Heather's annoying head. It's just as well, she was acting more like a drunk girl than someone who was hanging from a meat hook earlier. Jenny escapes, running down the road where she eventually gets saved by two old people in a RV. Then Vilmer and Leatherface show up and make the RV wreck, so Jenny got two more people killed. A cropdusting plane kills Vilmer, for some reason, the creepy licking man shows up again to drive Jenny to the hospital, and Leatherface screams some more while attempting to make the ending scene from the original film more intense via spinning even faster. The end.

"Ma'am, it sounds to me like you just survived a really shitty movie."
This movie was blindingly, maddeningly, and blisteringly bad. The acting was either stiff and amateurish or so over the top that it felt like it jumped the moon rather than the shark. It was badly written, had annoying characters, antagonists who weren't even scary, a Leatherface who looked more like an extra from Pink Flamingos than a credible threat, a lead who was supposed to be smart but made the girl from Leprechaun: Origins look intelligent by comparison, and overall it was just a really terrible movie. The cherry on the shit pie that is this movie is that it started off treating the previous two films as unimportant, like it was going to blow them out of the water, but it instead makes those movies look like Citizen Kane. Dennis Hopper's acting in Part 2 is Orson Welles compared to anyone in this movie.

He gave a better performance with three chainsaws strapped to him than everyone in this entire film.
I have watched so many bad movies, but I swear to you, this movie is by far the worst thing I have ever seen. Many bad movies have a certain charm to them, allowing you to appreciate them in a way. Movies like Birdemic, Foodfight, and The Room all manage to appeal to lovers of bad films because they end up being hilarious with how bad they are. This movie though? It's so bad that I spent most of it just saying "what?" every single time anyone did anything. I cannot suspend disbelief with this movie, because it asks too much. It asks me to accept that somehow a rich guy hired the Sawyer family to kill people. It asks me to believe that Matthew McConaughey is somehow threatening. It asks me to believe that this is Leatherface.

This is clearly John Travolta in the Hairspray remake, not a chainsaw wielding cannibal.
I refuse to ever watch this movie again. It was an incredibly grueling experience and it frankly makes want to take a chainsaw to my own head. If you're new to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, do yourself a huge favour and skip this one. It makes no sense, isn't entertaining, doesn't fit in with any of the other films, and haunted Renée Zellweger so much that people are hypothesizing that she changed her face so she'd no longer live with the shame of having her face in it. Watch the original, it's two sequels, the remakes, and even the new movie, but shove this movie into the same place as The Karate Kid Part III and pretend it simply doesn't exist. So, until Ken Foree shows up in a beat up truck to save me from movies like this, I'll be here suffering for your amusement. Later days, bleeders.

Seriously, someone needs to burn all copies of this movie. Kickstart that & I will gladly throw my money your way.


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