Halloween Endurance Test: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Next Generation (1994)

I can actually remember when they were making this film. It got a huge write-up in Fangoria ‘cuz it was attempting to breathe life back into the Texas Chainsaw franchise that had been dead awhile. Dead, really, since the first movie, ‘cuz none of the sequels ever did add much to story. Like those cash-ins before it, this film also falls flat on its face.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Next Generation falls flat because it fails to implement the same factors that made Jason X a success. (In my mind at least.) Instead of ramping up the original Massacre‘s tension, gore and uh, well tension; they decided what the franchise really needed was bickering in-laws and the lamest robotic leg you’ve ever seen. So lame it’s controlled by television remotes! Yes, television remotes. Not to mention Leatherface, the killer of the series, is changed into a cross-dressing whiner. (S)He barely even kills anyone!

It’s as if they wanted to make another Texas Chainsaw Massacre but all they had in terms of scripts was one of Rosanne‘s Halloween episodes. So they bolstered it it by taking parts out of Repo Man. (You’d think credentials like that would win me over, and most of the time you wouldn’t be wrong. Which just goes to show you how big a mess this is. Matthew McConaughey doesn’t have an ounce of the presence Tracey Walter has onscreen.)

Looking at the era that the film comes from provides us with a rationale for these rather ‘interesting’ story decisions. The film comes to us from the end of the 90s; when horror films (as mentioned in the 28 Days Later write-up) were still verboten in Hollywood. The X-Files was king, and, wile it was a science fiction show, it was also something that horror fans could gravitate to. After all those ‘psychological thrillers’ had killed the genre dead, horror fans swarmed over anything vaguely scary.

The X-Files occasionally has monsters? Well, that’s good enough for us!

Unfortunately ‘the Next Generation’ in the title (as well as being another sci-fi aspect of that era) should actually read as ‘Reshoot.’ Since story wise this film uses all the same character types, situations and scares of the original. Only, surprise!, they’re not quite as scary the second time around. Even disregarding all the misplaced sci-fi elements.

Now these rehashing of elements starts to make a little sense once we look at the guilty parties involved. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s success create unrest in its creative core; much akin to the splintering that happened after Night of the Living Dead took off to super-stardom. There creators George Romero and John Russo to split; each taking the zombie invasion back story in vastly different directions.

Feeling that director Tobe Hooper (later of the Funhouse fame) had misused, abused, and finally ripped off the cast and crew of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, story/script writer Kim Henkel decided to reuse his original story, and possibly make some cash off of it in the process.

Seeing how Henkel actually wrote the scripts to both films I guess we can’t blame him for cannibalizing the first in service of the next. He also directs the remake/sequel, making his intentions clear: he wants to tell his story in his own way. I can respect that.

What I can’t respect is foolishly noodling with a classic. Shouldn’t one’s writing become better the longer you do it? (That’s my hope with these blogs at least.) I can expect juvenile, spastic genre-hopping from a first-time writer (see Roth’s Cabin Fever for an example), but your scripts are supposed to tighten up as you write more of them! (My blogs, on the other hand…)

It appears that Henkel’s writing ability also regressed when he looked to the past for inspiration in future endeavors.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Next Generation stars the then unknown Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger. So the next time one of your co-workers act like Zellweger’s a master thespian because she was in Jerry Maguire, you can throw this bomb in their faces!

McConaughey has actually been the least successful of the two. His acting in this film will show you why. He went on to star in such classic films as Fool’s Gold; and to impregnate Brasilian models who should really know better. Hell, one of them should have known better!

True to form, Matthew still lives in a mobile home. The tabloid papers find this strange, but looking at his track record, what else could he afford? It’s not like he’s sitting on Jerry Maguire money here.

Not even McConaughey’s mother watched this film!

Mere weeks after posting this review, can you imagine my surprise at finding this on the web?

Check it out!  You might’ve learned something reading this crap, I know I have!  The lovely folks at Mental Floss have created a bazillion quizzes about various topics.  One such is actresses who made their start in flicks slightly less illustrious than Scarface or Sweet Movie. 

You’re welcome for all the help I inadvertently provided!

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