Minute by Minute columns are a time-consuming task, but they're usually fun, and I can get through it in one or two sitting. But Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation took me FIVE sittings to finally reach the end. Once was just time-based - I had to go elsewhere. But the other times, I actually had to walk away and give myself a break. The movie was not only terrible, but so poorly paced and edited that I found myself writing the same things over and over, turning this into a chore.
Hopefully it's not as excruciating for you guys though! And if you are in some way a fan of this one, please by all means explain why in the comments. It'll all be worth it if I can hear someone explain why this movie is actually a reasonably decent followup to the original masterpiece by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel. Or why Henkel, who served as this film's writer/director, seemingly had no idea what people liked about the original film.
Let's get it over with...
(Note - I've seen this movie twice, once in 1996, and again in 2005 or so. Both times I was appalled with how bad it was, but that's pretty much all I remember beyond a few key points. So "forgive" the vagueness for many entries.)
00:00 The usual Texas Chainsaw opening text, this time in a card instead of a crawl. Also, it's not John Larroquette or even someone that has a good voice. It DOES mention the events in the other sequels, though, so there's something as continuity isn't this series' strong suit.
01:00 Matthew McConaughey's very cheap-looking screen credit.
02:00 A closeup of lipstick being applied. Whoever the woman is, she... uh... could use an upper lip wax.
03:00 Jenny's (Renee Zellweger) stepfather smacking her around. Apparently this subplot and a few other scenes were cut from other versions of the film. Ordinarily I'd be opposed to this sort of thing, but with this movie, I wish I had the cut down one. If I were to watch the whole thing, that would be 7-8 minutes less suffering.
04:00 Some guy running past the camera as we get a credit for the supervising sound editor. It's nice of the credits to suggest that this is a real movie.
05:00 An endless shot of two girls (neither of them Zellweger) talking, ironically with the editor's credit over it.
06:00 One of the girls, Heather, running toward her car. Don't worry, it's not Leatherface related, she's pissed at her boyfriend or something.
07:00 Jenny pops up in the backseat of the car.
08:00 The hateful male lead, Barry, telling someone to shut up.
09:00 My favorite line in the movie! I'll have to break MxM rules a bit because obviously the line goes beyond one second: "What if we got into a wreck and we crashed into a car in front of us and we all died? They can write a song about it!"
10:00 Barry: "Girls have tits."
11:00 Jenny talking to Heather.
12:00 Jenny wandering around in the woods. I guess I'll screenshot it since it's the closest thing to a cinematic image so far.
13:00 Barry and Heather walking through the woods.
14:00 The group entering the office of Darla, who we're supposed to believe is on the heroes' side.
15:00 Darla on the phone.
16:00 Sean the stoner (and Jenny's date for the prom, if memory serves) waving down a tow truck.
17:00 Sean backing away from Vilmer (McConaughey). If nothing else, this movie doesn't waste much time getting our group into danger. If only there was a reason to give a shit about any of them.
18:00 Vilmer egging the kid on from his tow truck.
19:00 The tow truck, revving up for a pursuit (I assume).
20:00 Barry and the girls looking at a gas station.
21:00 Guess the gas station didn't pan out, they're back on a road waving down a truck.
22:00 Zellweger's flashlight dying.
23:00 She's still walking on this path, but the flashlight's back on. At least one of them has an arc.
24:00 Barry and Heather walking along and bickering. Apparently they managed to get incredibly separated between 22:00 and 23:00.
25:00 Still walking, still arguing.
26:00 Jesus Christ, we're in a fucking time loop!
27:00 Barry and Heather walking up to this film's version of the Sawyer house. If my memory of it is accurate, it's actually not too different from the one that was in Leatherface.
28:00 Barry looking for a way into the house.
29:00 Heather sitting on a porch swing. I assume this is a nod to the original, which had a similar swing in the front yard. The shot from under it as the girl walks toward the house is one of my favorites in the original, which I bring up because I like saying positive things and THIS movie isn't providing me anything to be positive about.
30:00 Barry with his hands up.
31:00 Leatherface (finally!) grabbing Heather through a door. The movie's most unforgivable sin is how the big guy is depicted here. The mask is terrible, the overt cross-dressing thing just a giant miscalculation (there's a reason that it was kept to the barest of minimums in the original film), and his constant whined grunts - again, something only rarely used in the others - are just plain annoying. I guess they figured it was funny, but treating the film's iconic villain like a clown and making him about as threatening as Grandpa is impossible to accept.
32:00 Leatherface struggling with Heather, who is inside of a freezer.
33:00 W.E. (this movie's version of the Joe Unger character from Leatherface) listening to the other side of a door. I always liked how these two entries just had other family members join the team out of nowhere.
34:00 Barry opening a door.
35:00 Pretty much the exact same shot as 33:00.
36:00 Jenny sitting on the road.
37:00 Vilmer's truck.
38:00 McConaughey and Zellweger in their first scene together! It's really the only card this movie has to play; lots of old low budget horror movies have a future star, but TWO? Very rare.
39:00 Same thing.
40:00 Jenny being chased by Vilmer.
41:00 Jenny looking off to the left. If 42:00 is just her looking t0 the right I'm going to break the disc in half.
42:00 Nope, now she's just running again.
43:00 Jenny, now inside the house, being spooked by a mannequin (stuffed corpse?).
44:00 Leatherface chasing Jenny around on the roof of the house.
45:00 Jenny lying on the ground.
46:00 Leatherface running out of what looks like a greenhouse.
47:00 Darla pretends to check out the alleged danger Jenny is talking about, in a scene copied from the original (with Darla in the role of Drayton). Apparently this movie was created as a half sequel half remake, but I suspect that they realized how much they copied from the original and just said that to cover their own asses, because even the actual remake didn't copy the 1973 film this closely.
48:00 Darla talking on the phone. I like how nearly every entry in this column is repeated.
49:00 W.E. slapping Jenny with a flyswatter.
50:00 Darla getting into her car. Interestingly, while House of 1000 Corpses was an admitted homage to TCM, it seems like Rob Zombie was drawing a lot from this specific entry; Darla's character is nearly identical to Baby in Corpses.
51:00 A cop placing an order at a fast food drive-thru.
52:00 The guy at the window of the same fast food joint. I'm sure this sequence had a point (or at least what passes for one in this thing), but it escapes me.
53:00 Darla encountering Heather lying in the road.
54:00 A trunk opening.
55:00 W.E. talking to Leatherface.
56:00 W.E. arguing with Darla, in a piss-poor attempt to recreate the humorous "domestic squabbles" from the other films. The joke was already wearing thin by the 3rd entry, but got by because the actors were terrific (Viggo Mortensen, Joe Unger) and the heroes were just baffled by it. But I don't even see Jenny around, so it's just two assholes we don't know/like yelling at each other.
57:00 Vilmer torments Jenny.
58:00 Darla and Jenny watch as Leatherface drags Heather around. How is she still alive?
59:00 Darla fixes Jenny's hair. Some of this stuff actually works in a creepy/quirky way, but it's too little, too late. When you fuck up Leatherface in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, everything else has to be perfect to even come close to being acceptable overall.
60:00 Darla explaining that the Illuminati killed Kennedy. Sure, why not.
61:00 Vilmer throwing Darla out of the room.
62:00 Vilmer terrorizing Jenny.
63:00 Vilmer smirking at Jenny, who has a gun trained on him.
64:00 Darla hitting the floor.
65:00 Same as 63:00. If I took out all of the duplicated minutes this would be a very short column.
66:00 Vilmer shoots a window. The window is probably grateful to get out of the movie.
67:00 Jenny driving a car.
68:00 Vilmer hitting Jenny with a gun. They're back in the house, so whatever 67:00 was about, it was short-lived and probably could have been edited out entirely, since they're back in the same place they just were less than 120 seconds ago.
69:00 Vilmer and Darla chat.
70:00 Yet another short of Vilmer smirking. The role is such a ripoff of Viggo's from Leatherface - it's really pathetic.
71:00 Jenny at the dinner table, because no one in this movie was smart enough to NOT have a dinner scene and thus remind us even more of how bad this movie is in comparison. It's akin to Jaws 4 showing flashbacks to the original - just salt in the wound, really.
72:00 Same thing, more or less.
73:00 Wider shot of the table as Vilmer grabs Jenny and shakes her around.
74:00 Same shot! Jenny's loose though. I mean, maybe I'm missing something in between these minute shots, but she seems like an incredibly passive heroine - even now, with less than 20 minutes to go (and the others long gone), there's very little fight to her, and what little attempts she makes to escape seem pretty half-assed.
75:00 Darla spraying a fire extinguisher at Heather, who I guess is STILL alive.
76:00 Our first shot of Rothman, a new character who was seemingly in charge of the family and their activities. I'd accuse them of taking cues from Halloween 6, but this nonsense actually came first. If memory serves, it's a half-assed, go-nowhere subplot, and I pray that the upcoming Leatherface 3D makes no mention of it (if you're unaware, the film actually takes place in original continuity, and is not part of the new series from Platinum Dunes).
77:00 Rothman talking to Jenny.
78:00 Rothman talking to Vilmer. I love how they just completely grind their own movie to a halt during its final reel. But whatever keeps the camera away from a whiny Leatherface is preferable, I guess.
79:00 Rothman straightening his tie. Pacing!
80:00 Rothman bending down to pick something up.
81:00 Vilmer cutting himself. I forget why. Maybe Henkel just showed him a rough cut?
82:00 Some action! Leatherface swinging his 'saw around as Vilmer and Jenny scuffle next to some corpses.
83:00 Leatherface exiting the house in pursuit.
84:00 Jenny running down a runway.
85:00 A tipped over RV. There was a chase scene in between this and the previous minute mark. Can you fucking believe it? 5 straight minutes of Rothman yammering on and on but when they have an RV chase they keep it under 60 seconds.
86:00 Jenny reacting to a deus ex machina.
87:00 Fucking Rothman again.
88:00 SAME. GODDAMN. SHOT.
89:00 An orderly wheeling a cot down the hall of a hospital. If you know your Chainsaw trivia, you'd recognize the girl in the bed as Sally Hardesty (an unbilled Marilyn Burns), the survivor of the first film. And the orderly isn't supposed to be anyone, but he's played by Paul Partain, the original film's Franklin. It's the first time Sally has been seen since the original, and a rare film performance from Burns, who only appeared in four other films in the 20+ years between these two.
90:00 Credits! Finally, something that they can't fuck up. These in particular are for the aforementioned original Chainsaw stars (original Grandpa John Dugan also popped up, I guess) as well as the film's extras, who are all probably sad that they didn't go unbilled like most background players.
91:00 Credits for the set carpenters and art aides.
92:00 Song credits, including one from Daniel Johnston. If you haven't seen the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, I highly recommend it. Unlike this, it's a good use of your time.
93:00 Special thanks. Don't recognize any of the names but I like that the last one is someone named Brandy Collins.
And that's it; this thing finally ends at 93:08. Oddly those thanks were the end of it, the movie has no legal language at the end. So I guess it's OK to sue them if your name is the same as any of the characters, as they don't point out that it's coincidental and unintentional.
Granted, my memory is hazy and I only watched 93 seconds of the damn thing, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a worse entry in one of the big "Horror Hero" franchises of the 80s and 90s (Jason, Michael, Freddy, Chucky, Pinhead, Leatherface...). Maybe some of the later DTV Hellraiser films were as bad or worse, but at least they were competently made and usually had some rudimentary idea of what made the original (and previous sequels) work. And that's from filmmakers who had nothing to do with those movies, usually! Kim Henkel was part of the original's creative team, so by doing this one on his own, he was basically saying "Tobe Hooper was the one who knew what he was doing". It's actually remarkably similar to George Romero and John Russo on Night of the Living Dead; not to discount the latter's contributions to their masterpiece, but it's pretty clear from their solo efforts that Russo needed Romero a lot more than Romero needed Russo.
I know I've championed the Saw series for respecting continuity while damning the others for ignoring sequels, but I'll change my tune in this particular case. I truly hope that the upcoming film completely ignores this one - even if it's somehow just as bad, at least it'll be so on its own terms, not because they were beholden to this wretched piece of shit.
Final note - I love how the movie's complete lack of effort is reflected on the DVD itself - no art or any information, and they can't even bother to list the entire title. This is the Lions Gate release, which again has the longer cut of the film, but the other version from Columbia/Tri-Star has an anamorphic transfer and thus presumably looks better. Since most of the cut material is worthless, if you absolutely must own this movie I'd opt for that one as this one often resembles a bootleg.