Quick-Thoughts: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

Sorry Franklin, but I’m more convinced that Michelle is your blood-sibling than Sally. Like is it just me or do they look weirdly alike? 

Really shocked by how competently made this is for a slasher sequel, yet that may be precisely it’s downfall. Sure, it’s all put together cleanly — solid momentum, surprisingly mature performances, shots aren’t randomly jumbled together at the unplanned inconsistency of your usual b-rate production — but that doesn’t quite strike the core of what made the first two Texas Chainsaw Massacres alluring; really it was the uncertainty of their claustrophobic environments and villains that made them the high-brow horror they’re seen as today. 

There is an admirable attempt going on here though to switch appearances up, mainly with how the new Leatherface family is presented; strangely enough, I almost got Funny Games (1997) vibes from the collected manner in which they went about their business. The whole concept of a meticulous set of killers that have carefully booby-trapped and claimed one long road for themselves is gnarly, and at first I thought I was all up for the change even if it didn’t exactly insight the chaotic realism of the sociopathic family from the first two films. The scene where Leatherface makes Tinker grab the cassette tape from the oven is sick, and following it up with Leatherface playing an electronic spelling game made it all the funnier. Also, this is the first time we actually get to see one of these killers as a kid being raised to this kind of lifestyle, which makes the family’s sinister presence all the more surreal. Then again, however, the argument could be made that the plot-lines where the killers disguise themselves as normal people are just an uninspired retread of the original, especially since that familiarity of formula abjures us from being that shocked by their true colors. 

Aside from these character alterations though, this film really has nothing else to offer as an expansion of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre timeline. The central cat-and-mouse hunt feels like a retread of the 1974 original but with an unappealing commercial tint to it that completely drains all the hands-on tension that the last two movies made us feel. The greatest downfall of this sequel is that a majority of viewers have probably already been exposed to the hell rollercoaster of Hooper’s classic, so the textbook tactics here in regards to slasher execution feel akin to something like Friday the 13th or Halloween more than its own franchise, except there’s no cool score to back it up. That raw sense of hysteria feels virtually lost in part three aside from its outspoken efforts to show us that characters have gone through change. The last two scenes also seem erratically thrown together for what came beforehand.

Verdict: C-

The Texas Chainsaw Massacres Ranked

“Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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