01 October 2014

October 1st

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (Original Cut) (1994) directed by Kim Henkel
Released, for some reason, on DVD by Lionsgate only in Canada, this was the version of the movie originally called The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and still called that in the end credits). Infamous both for starring pre-fame Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, and for its Illuminati subplot.

The opening text for this movie acknowledges all three of the previous movies and sets itself five years after part 3. Meek Jenny (Zellweger) is attending prom when she, her date, and another couple end up in a car accident in the middle of nowhere. They soon run into the cannibal family, which includes Leatherface, famous quote-spewing W.E., Texan beauty and real estate agent Darla, and crazy tow truck drive Vilmer (McConaughey). Vilmer has a homemade robotic brace on his bum leg -- complete with hydraulics and what appears to be a vacuum cleaner tube -- which is controlled by TV remote controls. If that alone doesn't tell you the tone the movie is shooting for, I don't know what will.

What follows is lots of standard TCM stuff: screaming girl jumps out window, Leatherface revs up a chainsaw in the woods and gives chase, girl thinks she's found help only to be captured again, etc. This would be tedious -- as it was in part 3 -- but the goofiness of the film makes it fun. McConaughey gives the part of Vilmer his all. He's energetic and insane and volatile. He defiantly shoves a shotgun barrel in his mouth when threatened by Jenny, cuts himself when frustrated, and has a ridiculous remote control duel for control of his own leg. Hell, he even spits thrice in Zellweger's face at one point. I loved watching him in this.

And then there's the Illuminati. Vilmer's boss is the mysterious Mr. Rothman. The suit-wearing, limo-riding Rothman bursts into Vilmer's house when the dinner scene doesn't quite go as planned. He yells at Vilmer, declaring events appalling and telling him "I want these people to know the meaning of horror." He later apologizes to Jenny, lamenting that this was supposed to provide her with a "spiritual experience." Henkel was way ahead of his time. There are shades of both The Cabin in the Woods and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, here. It's implied that all four TCM movies were the work of the Illuminati, who are spawning these cannibal families in Texas in order to give the "final girls" life-changing terror. Or, perhaps, there's something even darker going on, given Rothman's weird row of pierced belly nipples and his penchant for licking victims. It's hard to say. Had Henkel made this vision a little clearer, it may have worked better. As it is, it feels like twist for the sake of a twist and pretty easily pissed off the serious TCM fans by attempting to retcon the whole series.

We've already got the perfect, serious Texas chainsaw story in the original movie. There's never going to be another serious TCM that'll be worth a damn (that reminds me, I'm watching the remake next). Slasher series, as a rule, always trend towards self-parody the longer they go on. I say, bring on the Illumanti and bring on the future A-listers acting like maniacs!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997) directed by Kim Henkel
How's that for stamina? I popped the Theatrical Cut in immediately after finishing the Original Cut. Frankly, I was expecting there to be greater differences between the two versions of the movie. Surely, all of the Illuminati stuff gave Sony execs headaches and they cut around it? Nope, every drop of that remains in the film.

The only two differences I noticed were that the scenes with Jenny's asshole stepdad at the very beginning were gone and most (all?) of the music was completely different. Apparently, according to IMDb, there are also some trims to some dialogue scenes and some color tinting going on, but I didn't notice. There's definitely no extra gore, so neither could be called "uncensored." The excised stepdad stuff, though, hurts Jenny's character development and the new music sucks, so I'll never be watching this version again.

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