Now that Tobe Hooper’s gone off the Texas Chainsaw Massacreseries, the film had ended up landing within the hands of Jeff Burr – someone who seems so relatively unknown prior to even having his own hands laid on what would eventually grow to become one of the most iconic titles in horror movie history. The removal of Tobe Hooper is one step already for what would already become a big step down but the hole has proven itself to have become much deeper when an inexperienced director is given responsibility, as Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre IIIshows the very worst tendencies of what happens when something that started off in a minimalist manner ends up getting overblown to the point, the wrong ideas of handling it come about – and something messy is to come by.
Everything starts off on a sorely fitting note when we have Leatherface beating up a woman so that we get the origin of where his mask then suddenly cuts to a random couple who are supposedly our main focus of the story as they are trying to escape from Leatherface in the same manner that the original group had done so in the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, but the fact that these characters are more stock than anything is a part of where Leatherface ends up falling dreadfully flat. The leading characters in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the very least had enough humanity to them that would make them seem much more like genuine characters who are inside of a situation where they have no idea what is to come next, but these people are just stock. We have no reason to care for their conflict, or no reason to be affected by their deaths.
Going back towards the route of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, the film goes back down to a running time of around 80 minutes in contrast to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2‘s 101 minute running time. This never seems like a problem at first because in the first half, you’re finding some really decent pacing, but by the time the halfway point hits, it is never until then you finally reach a specific “point” that the movie wants to become something because it’s where the film feels like it actually wants to grasp onto our interest as a viewer. Almost nothing can be felt back then because the film was so visibly empty and then by the time something happens that ends up grabbing one’s interest, you start feeling the length even though the film is fairly short, and it ends up negating from the experience. When you felt the length in the first, it gave the feeling of being trapped, but here it only makes for something tedious.
Arguably the most baffling aspect of the film is the title of the film, Leatherface. For a film whose title is dedicated to Leatherface, who was the iconic face that still terrifies generations to come as a result of the first film, there is so little even being revealed about Leatherface other than what we already know because of the first film; that being the fact he’s a cannibalistic serial killer. That said, the moments with Leatherface’s family are ultimately the film’s saving grace, but these moments are so rare because of how much we are just merely retreading upon the details that formed the first film without anything new being put in. The titling of the film is already one of the most misleading aspects of the film, considering as we hardly get anything memorable to learn about Leatherface here even if the film is named for him.
It’s also rather evident the film feels much more like it has been hackneyed than anything, especially when it suffered so much compromise as a result of the rating it had received. Much likeThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III was slapped with an X rating and as a result, it never did very well. So to move away from said rating, one can already grab a peculiar feeling that the film is edited in such a weirdly nonsensical manner, and never is it put together in the way that it makes you care for the conflict that takes place, as if there even was any sense of it to begin with. It’s never particularly gory much like the first film, but unlike the original, the killings are always so dull to watch.
Really if there was any better way to describe Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, it’s the one film in the franchise that merely exists only because it does. There’s nothing it even really reveals that could hold together one’s interest in Leatherface, nor is there anything even memorable about the supposed conflict that we are watching during the fairly short running time, it’s just a film that is full of nothing altogether to the point that when it ends, you’ll only feel drained. Granted, there’s nothing especially harmful to come out of this, but knowing how much risks Tobe Hooper was willing to take with the first two films, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is quite evidently more of a compromise than anything, one that has no reason to have happened. You’ll at least get some good out of Viggo Mortensen.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via New Line Cinema.
Directed by Jeff Burr
Screenplay by David J. Schow, from characters by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Produced by Robert Engelman
Starring Kate Hodge, Viggo Mortensen, William Butler, Ken Foree, Joe Unger, Tom Everett
Release Year: 1990
Running Time: 81 minutes