Imagine, if you will, a world where “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,” “Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III,” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” never happened. We won’t even mention the remake and its sequel since they’re not part of the original canon. The slate of what many consider inadequate follow-ups to the original is wiped completely clean. This scenario is exactly what “Texas Chainsaw” asks of its audience.
Picking up immediately after the original 1974 film ended, “Texas Chainsaw” takes audiences back to the Sawyer homestead. Shortly after the police show up to arrest Leatherface (Dan Yeager), an unruly mob decides to take the law into their own hands. They burn down and kill all the family holed up in the house, with the exception of Leatherface and a woman protecting a baby. One of the townspeople kills the woman and takes the baby to raise on their own.
Years later, the girl, Heather (Alexandra Daddario), discovers she was adopted and is a member of the Sawyers. Her grandmother (Marilyn Burns), who she never knew, dies and leaves her Texas home to the girl. Heather and her friends decide to take a road trip to see what she has inherited. They soon find out she’s been left with a lot more than just an old house. She’s also responsible for keeping the Sawyer family’s secret locked safely away in the basement.
Director John Lussenhop does a great job in his first foray into the horror genre. He attempts to bring a fresh approach to “Texas Chainsaw” and not rest on the laurels laid out by past entries in the franchise. He picks little bits and pieces from the original 1974 film and inserts them in certain scenes to pay tribute to it and give fans of the original some easter eggs to hunt.
The Sawyer homestead was rebuilt from scratch based on screen captures and a visit to the original house, which is now a restaurant. Every detail of the house inside and out has painstakingly been reconstructed. It’s eerie and gives the beginning of the movie an authentic flavor.
My only minor complaints about “Texas Chainsaw” is the lack of the family dynamics seen in the first film. This movie focuses on Leatherface only. The absence of a psychotic ensemble of characters and the dark humor of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” are sadly missing. Those are both elements I believe drew audiences to the first two movies and set them apart from other slasher films.
“Texas Chainsaw” alumni play the different members of the Sawyer family. Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface in the original film), Bill Moseley (“Chop-Top” Sawyer in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”), and Marilyn Burns all play members of the Sawyer clan. John Dugan returns to play Grandpa again as well.
Alexandra Daddario shows a different side of herself in “Texas Chainsaw” than we saw in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” She gets down and dirty and commands every scene she’s in. Leatherface might have finally found a worthy guardian to keep him in line.
The DVD version of “Texas Chainsaw” contains multiple commentaries featuring Director John Luessenhop, Actor Dan Yeager, Producer Carl Mazzocone, Filmmaker Tobe Hooper, Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, and John Dugan. Seven featurettes are included entitled “‘Texas Chainsaw’ Legacy,” “Resurrecting the Saw,” “The Old Homestead,” “Casting Terror,” “Leatherface 2013,” “Lights, Camera, Massacre,” and “It’s In the Meat.” On Set Short Subjects called “Five Minute Massacres” explore the making of the film. An alternate opening is featured as well.
I really had no major complaints about “Texas Chainsaw.” I found it to be an entertaining and engaging start for a whole new series of films they’re planning to release. It was graphic and gory like we’ve come to expect, but still had a sense of suspense to keep a viewer’s attention.
“Texas Chainsaw” is available now in Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Actor Alexandra Daddario Talks ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D,’ ‘Percy Jackson’ Sequel
‘Chainsaw Massacre’ Producer/Writer Kim Henkel Gives Us ‘Boneboys’
Interview with Duane Graves, Director of ‘The Wildman of the Navidad’