Sam Strange Remembers: TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D

I sincerely apologize to all my friends (and ex's) who live in Texas.

They're not big on Frankenstein movies in Hollywood today, so if you want to make movies about misunderstood, mentally handicapped, murderous monsters, you can only really do it with already known characters like Jeb Sawyer or Jason Voorhees. They're not big on Jason Voorhees movies in Hollywood today, so I went with Jeb Sawyer.

You know Jeb Sawyer as Leatherface, star of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series of reboots, re-imaginings and re-prequels. I haven't seen any of them, but that's hardly important here. They have a reputation for not mattering.

I do know a thing or two about the first film: It was about a family of average Texans. Usually, Americans can keep clear of people like this, but in this film a group of teenagers don't know better, and all but one get turned into headcheese. The family has a really old guy, a slightly less old guy, a crazy young guy, and a mentally retarded giant who wears people's faces and likes chainsaws. At the end of the film, the family chases the last surviving teenager onto a freeway (it's a two lane highway, but those are called "freeways" down there) where she escapes them for good.

The moment she gets away and tells her story of death and butchery and headcheese, the town's main cop sends only himself to go take care of business. He doesn't yet know the whole Texan family is complicit and simply assumes the big guy is at fault since he's Frankenstein. The Texans (who have magically gone from three or four to a whole mini-cult) hem and haw about how important family is, then go back on all that and decide to send the big guy out to face the law. It takes a long time because he trips over all the bones and free range chickens in their living room. Plus, he made his skin mask's eyeballs too small to see through.

By the time he's ready to go outside, a whole posse of other Texas rednecks have shown up. These guys aren't interested in Yankee law and promptly burn the house down, killing everyone inside except for the big idiot, a young lady and her baby. One Texas redneck by the name of Bud Buck steals the baby and kills the mom with a kick to the face (not normally fatal, but his boots are practically high heels). As for Jeb, he runs across the yard to his grandmother's house when no one's looking.

My film takes place twenty years later in 1994. We meet our heroine, Belly Buck, while she's at work. It should be no secret that this is the stolen baby from the prologue all grown up. See, she's a Sawyer. And being a Sawyer means you have certain genetic dispositions. For instance, she works at a grocery store, but while her normal, average whore friend (Alex from LOST) is a mere checkout girl, Belly Buck is a butcher. We first see her cutting steaks while wearing only a black leather apron cut off just beneath her nipples like all her shirts. Also, when she gets home from her job, we discover she makes works of art out of chicken bones. She also lets chickens run free around her apartment and enjoys eating people.

Soon, Belly Buck gets a letter from a lawyer informing her that she is actually Belly Sawyer, and her real grandmother just died. She immediately confronts her "parents" at the Buck household, but they're no help. Bonnie Buck gets defensive and asks if Belly wants to fight. Bud Buck just sneers at her, repeatedly telling her "The wrong kid died," even though she was an only child (what he means is that when he killed her mom, he was actually aiming for the baby; the mom was to go home as a sex slave).

Along with a dead grandmother, Belly Sawyer also inherited a house, so she takes her boyfriend, the slutty friend he's sleeping with on the side, and her boyfriend, in whom she has no interest whatsoever, to Texas to see the new house. On the way they accidentally run over a hitchhiker. Luckily they're already in Texas at that point, so no one gets in trouble.

The house is huge and very beautiful. It's filled with lots of silverware and plates, but they're really nice silverware and plates. The lawyer gives Belly Sawyer the keys to the new place and a letter from her grandmother, making extra extra sure to highlight the letter's importance. Then he leaves, looking everyone in the eye and trying to size up which ass he wants a bite out of for dinner.

Belly opens the letter and reads: "Belly! Hi, this is your grammy. Listen, my house actually has another whole house attached to the ass-end. It's real gnarly down there because your mentally handicapped cousin uses it, and he likes his stuff a certain way. He's scary but nice if you just tell him you're a Sawyer. Every day, he needs to be watered and fed three times. That's all. Easy, right? Oh, he wears human skin on his face (shy, you know), but it rots. So once a month or so, you need to murder someone. TTFN!"

Unfortunately, Belly Sawyer is a Sawyer, and therefore not very smart. Reading presents a real challenge. By the time she finishes with the note, all her friends are dead and Jeb Sawyer is running after her with a chainsaw.

Having no time to explain her heritage, she just runs to the nearest carnival. She thinks the crowds will protect her from the fat weirdo with a chainsaw, but she's wrong. Nearly everyone at the carnival is a fat weirdo with a chainsaw. The only person willing to help her is a cute police officer. Jeb Sawyer gets frustrated and throws his chainsaw at the cop, then runs off into the woods, crying both because he missed and because he just lost his favorite chainsaw.

At the police station, things quiet down a bit. It's very relaxed, partly because it's a small town, but also because it's "Bring your own denim to work" day at the precinct. There's one nice cop there who gives Belly a bunch of criminal investigation material about The Sawyers. He also notes her dirty half-shirt and offers her a clean button up. She's not happy with it at first, but makes do by only buttoning the one button between her breasts.

First she reads a newspaper recounting the first film. Then she reads a newspaper recounting the second film. Then the third film. Then the first remake. Then the second remake. Then the second remake's prequel. Then a couple Rob Zombie films. And finally, she reads a newspaper clip explaining this current film's epilogue.

But she still doesn't understand what's going on. Then the mayor walks in, and we recognize him as the leader of the vigilante mob that burned the Sawyer house down. We know that, but she still doesn't make the connection. It's not until her grandmother calls from the afterlife and explains it that Belly finally understands. But by then it's way too late. Seriously, another twenty years have passed.

The mayor knows that Belly's a Sawyer, which means she witnessed the vigilante's massacre when she was a baby, which means she might end his reign as mayor if she ever reaches civilization. So he must kill her. The nice cop is less into this plan, but he's far too nice to say anything about it.

The mayor and his handsome son drive Belly out to a slaughter house to blow her brains out. Instead, they find Jeb waiting for them. See, Jeb now knows that Belly is family. And he'll be damned if anyone hurts his family because he's too stupid to know from the prologue that his family wanted to turn him in.

The two cops beat on Jeb for a while since he's something like sixty years old and overweight. But then Belly throws him a chainsaw and says, "Trick or treat, Motherfucker." With his favorite weapon in hand, Jeb makes short work of both the cops, then crawls next to Belly so she can scratch him behind the ear until his leg starts shaking uncontrollably.

The nice cop sees all this and decides he's rather let two murderers go free than be in this movie anymore. 

So Belly finds her life's role as Jeb's friend, family and caretaker. Life between them is sweet but not without its bitterness, especially on days when Jeb fucks up his mask stitching. Still, their love for each other carries them through all the hard times, especially once they put behind them society's warnings against incest.

Cut to another twenty years later. It's now 2034, and Jeb has just died of face rot. Not only does Belly miss him dearly, but her breasts are now sagging lower than any of her half shirts. Welcome to Texas, motherfucker. 

(three stars)