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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average: 5.56%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap77.78%

2 reviews, 6 user ratings

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Texas Chainsaw 3D
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Way To Set The Bar Up High, 2013 Movie Year. . ."
1 stars

Once upon a time--1974, to be exact--a grungy little movie appeared from seemingly out of nowhere in the nation's drive-ins and grindhouses with the instantly notorious title "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and an ad campaign that asked the question "Who Will Survive--And What Will Be Left Of Them?" Many were instantly appalled by the very idea of such a thing but those who went to see it--and the title lured in as many people as it kept away--discovered to their shock and delight (mostly the former) that this was the rare low-budget horror item that not only lived up to the promise of its title but actually surpassed it by giving them one of the most unnerving cinematic experiences of all time. (With its no-star cast and sub-par production values, it could have been made by bloodthirsty psychos for all anyone knew.) Twelve years later, the film's creator, Tobe Hooper--having endured a rocky post-"Chainsaw" flirtation with Hollywood that resulted in a hit in "Poltergeist," a couple of hugely expensive flops (the delerious sci-fi vampire epic "Lifeforce" and a remake of "Invaders from Mars") and numerous burned bridges, tried to restore his fortunes with "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2" but instead of simply offering a retread of the original, he reworked it into a ghoulish black comedy that, in its darkly hilarious goofs on Reagan-era materialism, yuppies and Texas gun culture, offered up some of the most legitimately scathing political satire of the period. Alas, few people seemed to get the joke and it went on to flop at the box-office while landing Hooper in movie jail for a sentence that he is still serving to this day.

In subsequent years, that sequel would go on to be a cult favorite but the series went downhill fast with two subsequent and substandard sequels that are only remembered today because of odd ancillary matters: "Leatherface" (1990) was heralded with a goofball coming attractions trailer that was an inspired takeoff of "Excalibur" while "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1994) included the then-unknown Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in the cast, the latter unsuccessfully sued to prevent the film from being released three years later after the two became big-name stars. After that, the franchise lay dormant for nearly a decade until Michael Bay picked up the remake rights and produced a new "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in 2003, a gross and ugly turd of a film that replaced the grotesqueries of the original with gallons of gore and gave Leatherface, the hulking chainsaw-wielding loon at the center of the saga, an elaborate backstory to explain how he came to be, a move that only served to destroy the mystery. The film was an abomination in the eyes of fans of the original but between the blood and the sight of a sweaty Jessica Biel's nipples poking through her tiny t-shirt, it became a hit and inspired the prequel "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," of which I recall nothing except for the fact that I must have seen it as I reviewed it. Now, after another extended period of dormancy, the series is being rebooted again, this time with the redoubtable miracle of 3D photography, in the imaginatively-titled "Texas Chainsaw 3D," a film so bottomlessly stupid that even by the standards of useless horror sequels/remakes/reboots (and yes, it tries all three approaches), it is a doozy. In fact, there is an excellent chance that this may be the single stupidest movie ever made to feature the words "Texas," "Chain" and/or "Saw" in its title.

The film is positioning itself as a direct sequel to the original film and ignores all of the subsequent titles, including the actual direct sequel made by Hooper itself. To accentuate that, the film opens with a brief highlight reel of the most notorious moments from the original, reconverted into 3-D, before picking up the thread approximately five minutes after its conclusion as a local cop with the groan-worthy name of Hooper (Thom Burke) arrives on the scene of the infamous Sawyer home to arrest Leatherface for his numerous depravations. The entire Sawyer clan--which has grown quite considerably in size since last we saw them--is armed to the death and ready to shoot it out but after five seconds of negotiations, the clan of depraved maniacal killers agree to peacefully surrender Leatherface in order to prevent any more bloodshed. Before this can happen, a group of local vigilante yokels led by Burt Hartman (Paul Rae) arrives with guns and Molotov cocktails a-blazing and slaughter everyone in sight. While sifting through the carnage, one hick comes across a dying woman and her infant daughter and, because his wife wants a critter despite her insides being a rocky place where his seed can find no purchase, he sneaks the baby out so that they can raise her themselves. Yes, one of the key plot points of "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is lifted directly from no less a film than "Raising Arizona." Sadly, this is the most plausible aspect of the entire enterprise.

These events supposedly took place back in 1973 but when the story picks up in present time to reintroduce us to that foundling, Heather (Alexandra Deddaro), she is a belly-baring babe who appears to be in her early 20's at most. Anyway, she is working in the local grocery store as the world's hottest butcher when she receives word that her real grandmother has just passed away in Texas and no, you don't get to ask how she was tracked down after all this time. Along with a trio of friends (Trey Songz, Tania Raymounde and Scott Eastwood) and a hunky hitchhiker (Shaun Sipos), Heather ventures down to Texas to claim her inheritance--a lavish mansion that almost makes Tara look like a crap-shack--and investigate this new family history. She also receives a letter from her late grandmother that she is admonished by the family lawyer to read immediately but who has time for that when there is a party to throw. Too bad for her because there is an excellent chance that if she had, she would have learned about the house's most intriguing hidden feature--a fortified area in the basement housing her cousin, the still-kicking Leatherface (Dan Yeager) and no, the film does not explain how he managed to escape the stand-off or why he isn't a senior citizen by this point. Needless to say, Leatherface is let loose and you can probably guess what happens from this point on. Actually, maybe you can't but we will get to that later.

The best part of "Texas Chainsaw 3D," not surprisingly, is the opening compilation of clips from the original "Chain Saw" film. These are moments that even casual horror fans will have seen countless times over the years but despite their familiarity, they still retain their freaky power. Hell, even the 3D conversion utilized for these clips is surprisingly--I don't know if I would want to see the entire film redone that way but it does add an unexpectedly effective punch to the highlight reel. The problem with the film is just that pretty much everything else about it is unbelievably idiotic. The screenplay by Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms cannot decide if it wants to fail as a sequel, a remake or a reboot and proceeds to do all three. Despite the promise/threat of being a direct sequel, the film pretty much abandons that approach entirely after the first ten minutes. For maybe the next 40 minutes or so, it serves as a loose remake in the way that it deliberately repeats certain elements from the original--everything from camera angles to plot points to the appearance of a dead armadillo by the side of the road--but since it doesn't do anything with them aside from letting viewers know that the filmmakers have indeed seen the original, the whole thing takes on the feel of a reasonably well-funded version of the kind of movie that a bunch of kids might make in their backyards in tribute to one of their favorites. For the remainder, it decides to spin off in its own direction at last but does so in such a spectacularly inane fashion that it makes all that druid crap in the later "Halloween" movies seem plausible by comparison. For his part, director John Luessenhop demonstrate absolutely no flair for creating tension, suspense or even an old-fashioned gross-out moment or two--he repeats moments from the original without demonstrating the slightest understanding of why they worked and when all else fails, he has everyone act so idiotically that you will be rooting for them to die. (During one big chase scene, our heroine trips and falls so many times that it plays like a bit from one of the lesser entries in the "Scary Movie" franchise.)

As bad as the rest of the film is, it really goes off the rails in the last half-hour and to fully emphasize just how stupid it gets, I fear that there will be spoilers abound in the ensuing paragraph. After her friends are summarily dispatched (though the film is so lazy even in this respect that one of them actually gets killed via a car accident that was largely their own damn fault), the lovely Heather escapes the house and is followed by Leatherface to a local carnival, where he succeeds in killing absolutely no one before disappearing into the darkness. (Luckily, hardly anyone at the carnival seems to notice and no one shows up with a gun to take him down.) Taken in by the police, Heather finally learns of her heritage and the fate that befell her family at the hands of the vigilantes--she is quite upset at the injustice done to her family, though she somehow overlooks the whole "brutally murdering people" thing. Alas, the leader of that mob is now the mayor and decides that she has to die as well. He and his equally corrupt buddies drag her up to the abandoned but still fully functional slaughterhouse so as to toss her into the grinder when Leatherface shows up to chop her up himself. At the last second, he discovers that she is kin and instead saves the day by hacking up her redneck tormentors. The same cop from before--now the sheriff--also turns up to witness the carnage but instead of doing anything, he merely tells Heather to "clean this mess up" and walks away. We are then treated to the bizarre sight of Leatherface and Heather walking off together back to the house, where it is assumed that she will now watch over him in the name of family and protect him from outside forces. This is a touching finale, to be sure, though it never quite gets around to addressing her thoughts about her friends, all of whom are now lying in pieces in the basement. Sure, she gets a nice house out of it but it isn't that nice.

"Texas Chainsaw 3D" does have a couple of striking 3D effects and Alexandra Deddario is a head-turner possessing perhaps the most distinctive set of peepers (I mean eyes) to come along since the ones rattling in the head of Zooey Deschanel. For the most part, however, it is a dumb, crude, insipidly executed exercise in naked greed that is too flat-out lazy to be exciting, scary or even creatively repulsive. It is the type of film that seems to have been made expressly to play in cold and largely abandoned multiplexes in early January for viewers who are looking for something other than the holiday holdover to help kill a couple of hours, albeit in the most painful manner possible. It is trash of the lowest order and anyone voluntarily forking over money to see it for reasons other than professional obligations (and even that is iffy) is an idiot. The only good thing about it, when all is said and done, is that it is so terrible and so useless that it could finally kill off the entire franchise for good.

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originally posted: 01/05/13 04:06:34
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User Comments

12/31/15 Horror Girl Dumb lazy sequel. Yeager is solid though. 2 stars
8/07/14 Albert Valentin I liked it. Dan Yeager was a good Leatherface in a real sequel 4 stars
8/05/13 ALICE Sorry guys I liked it ! Acting and storyline was not bad at all 4 stars
5/19/13 mr.mike Ist half well done, then goes downhill. 3 stars
1/28/13 Dave this sucked! forget this and watch TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE-THE NEXT GENERATION the greatest 1 stars
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  04-Jan-2013 (R)
  DVD: 14-May-2013


  DVD: 14-May-2013

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