Plot: After the man believed to be Leatherface was executed, it was believed the rural Texas murder spree would be over, though it seemed like more and more bodies were still being unearthed. Michelle (Kate Hodge) is driving cross country and passes through the area, even delayed as traffic slows while police officials explore yet another cache of dismembered corpses. She and her boyfriend just want to get the trip over with, but an ill fated stop at a rural gas station puts a crimp in those plans. After a run in with a creepy attendant, the couple winds up in the middle of a violent confrontation between the attendant and a police officer, which in turn forces them onto a side road and some car troubles. As the night takes more and more dark turns, is Leatherface really gone or is his family still lurking in the isolated Texas darkness?
Entertainment Value: For this review, I revisited the 85 minute version of the movie, which is often referred to as an unrated, uncut version. This film went through an exhaustive process with the ratings board, cutting a lot of dark, violence footage, some of which ended up lost forever. So fans have to wonder what the original, darker version of the movie would have been like. The movie followed a genre classic and a wild, cult classic, so it had a lot to live up to and while it doesn’t manage to earn a place next to the first two movies, it is a solid horror flick. I appreciate the colorful hicks, who provide some dark bursts of humor, while there’s also some good atmosphere and blasts of practical bloodshed. I also like some of the performances, such as Viggo Mortensen as a hayseed lawman, an eerie little girl, and a host of other vivid, creepy family members, while Ken Foree is a capable presence as well. But Kate Hodge is weak here, I didn’t care if she survived or not and that defuses a lot of the tension. I also wish the movie wasn’t so restrained, as it clearly wants to showcase some horrific horror elements, but almost always averts the camera. I think the movie has improved with age, especially compared to some of the Leatherface installments that would follow, but in the end, this is a middle of a road volume in the series.
No nakedness. As I said before, the movie does tend to shy away from the violence involved, but we’re still given some fun bursts of bloodshed. The credits play over some careful tailoring work involving human flesh, then we have a stretch of mostly off screen violence, but we do see the aftermath and that involves a fair amount of blood. Then the fun kicks in again and the movie delivers a wild shoot out, as fingers, ears, and more are shot off in vivid fashion, followed by some aquatic chainsaw ballet and a some nice rock to the head percussion. I love the massive, bad ass chainsaw used in this movie, but it is rarely used to carve up anyone, which is a shame. But the scene where the saw patrols the water like a shark, that is awesome. I just wish we could have gotten the full, dark vision this was supposed to be. The dialogue is fun, with some creepy hick talk, one liners, and sexual innuendos, plus an O.J. Simpson that is removed in some versions, for some odd reason. The tone isn’t as manic as the second film, but there’s some fun lines to be had here. As for craziness, the general imbalances within the family add some score, but the movie never goes for broke, sadly.
Overall Insanity: 2/10