Texas Chainsaw 3D Blu-ray Review: Wither Heatherface?

Yes, it's good to be bad. But this is much worse.
  |   Comments

While I was never a "huge" fan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre series (the ones that started with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in '74), I must confess that one of my favorite LPs in my record collection is that of the soundtrack from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 from 1986. Of course, any motion picture soundtrack that contains Concrete Blonde, Oingo Boingo, Timbuk3, and The Cramps simply demands to be taken seriously - and there's even an offering from The Lords of the New Church (a group that, interestingly has a new singer named Adam Becvare) entitled "Good to Be Bad" - which was inspired from a line of dialogue from the film, and recorded solely for the album.

My point? Well, a few years ago in the summer of 2011, a group of filmmakers decided to launch another reboot of the famed horror movie franchise - which apparently had fizzled to a halt when the 2006 prequel to the 2003 remake failed to garner enough interest to potential filmgoers (though both titles proved to be hits in theaters). Or maybe they just decided to change up the whole routine of things. Either way, they seemed to take the title of the aforementioned Lords of the New Church track a bit too seriously - as they apparently thought making a crappy film would be an effective approach to winning over an already-established fanbase. Amazingly enough, they managed to completely screw up a franchise that had previously been rebooted at least two times - over the course of six films - with just one try.  Now that's impressive!

And so, Texas Chainsaw 3D (because the inclusion of the word "Massacre" in the title would surely dissuade filmgoers looking for a gory horror film) begins: picking up directly where the very first Tobe Hooper film from 1974 left off. Yes, everything you saw between then and now has been a waste of your time. But then, so is this movie, so I guess we're all 0-for-0 at this point! Anyhoo, here, we are introduced to a whole clan of Sawyers (a name the nightmarish family was jokingly given in the sequels), who were all presumably gone the day of the original massacre (oh, we can't use that word, can we?) but who arrive just in time to be wiped out by an angry lynch mob. Well, save for a young baby Sawyer girl, that is - who is subsequently adopted by two of the lynch mob members and grows up to be twenty-something Heather (Alexandra Daddario) despite the fact that nearly forty years have passed by since the post-Massacre bloodbath (maybe she was born on a leap year?).

One day, Heather learns her blood-grandmother she never knew existed has passed away - leaving her a sizable estate in Texas. And so, off Heather goes to discover the past she was never privy to - taking with her the required assortment of stereotypical-but-still-politically-correct-and-more-importantly-good-looking friends: a slut (Tania Raymonde), a hipster douchebag (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), a thieving hitchhiker (Shaun Sipos), and the token black guy. The latter fellow is played her by rapper Tremaine "Trey Songz" Neverson, who was hired on the notion that casting a recording artist of such high esteem in a modern horror film is a surefire way to win over the gorehounds in the audience - just like in that one really awful Halloween sequel that was made shortly before that franchise found itself having to start over due to a lack of quality.

Fortunately, it doesn't take long from there for our timeless, mentally-challenged villain - the great Leatherface (Dan Yeager) - to appear and start butchering the people we have barely had a chance to properly despise. Neither Heather or Leatherface know they are related to each other, of course - so we are treated to an anti-climactic chase that leads to a local carnival (and it is there that we discover our heroine's debilitating weakness: she doesn't know how to climb in a Ferris Wheel gondola) - which ends with a bloodless chainsaw-thrown-at-the-camera 3D money shot effect. Wait, did I mention this movie is a 3D gimmick flick? Well, it is - so that should give you an idea of how much ingenuity to expect overall.

Anyhoo, it is a bit later on in the strangely-lengthy 92-minute feature that our adopted protagonist and her orphaned antagonist of a cousin unite, and (wait for it) Leatherface - who is referred to throughout by his real name, Jed (for reals, kids) - becomes the film's abused and misunderstood [anti] anti-hero (or something like that)! Yup. That's right. The fellow whose daily routine consists of slaughtering, skinning, and simmering human beings is now the good guy.

It is here that I would like to invoke a Monty Python reference: "So much for Pathos!"

I mean, who wouldn't want him as their crazy cousin, right? As you can imagine, the film concludes with Heather and Leatherface living happily ever after - making one wonder if they'll make some joke in the sequel about "Heatherface." Oh, shit: I probably just gave some idiotic hipster douchebag screenwriter an idea. Sorry 'bout that, boys and girls!

Interestingly, aside from a slew (heh, pun intended) of continuity errors, a heap of bad acting, a truly lousy attempt at something the filmmakers must have jokingly referred to as a "script", and the fact that two characters (one of who is slightly important to the god-awful CGI-laden finale) flat out disappear without a trace, the whole cannibalism aspect of the Sawyer family seems to have been ignored here. Why, it makes me wonder if Texas Chainsaw 3D's writers (of which there probably more than the four credited) even bothered watching all of the original film. It certainly was implied then. Here, however, one of the Sawyers in the beginning (a cameo by Gunnar Hansen - the original Leatherface) simply says Jed isn't right in the head even as far as their family goes - and there's nary a human barbeque to be seen, heard, or smelled. Wait, 3D movies do have smell effects too, right? Or is that foul odor I'm detecting just the movie itself?

Worse still, the closing credits contain a contemporary slaying of a classic Louis Prima song. Ugh.

Also featured in this tepid mess of a massacre are Scott Eastwood (Clint's boy, who fell very far from the tree), Thom Barry, Paul Rae, and Richard Riehle, who evidently left his Jump to Conclusions Mat behind at the office). Additional cameos from TCM alumni (besides the previously mentioned Gunnar Hansen) are provided courtesy Marilyn Burns, Bill Moseley (who takes over the role of Drayton "The Cook" Sawyer - a part originally inhabited by the late Jim Siedow), and John Dugan - who reprises his role of the grandfather from the first film. The mostly unknown (and untalented, by the look of things) John Luessenhop directs, Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel - creators of the original story - co-produced this mess (with at least ten other [credited] people, including Avi Lerner and Robert Ortiz), and gore gurus Robert Kurtzman and Greg Nicotero provide the more believable special effects (while some truly shoddy CGI takes over for the lesser ones).

The folks at Lionsgate Films present this undercooked turkey (which failed to impress even the really jaded, die-hard horror aficionados around the world) to us in a Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/Digital Copy/UltraViolet Combo set via a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer that is pretty durn nice-lookin' all-around. A more-than-decent English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack accompanies the feature film, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix (which has been optimized for late night viewing - so you can watch it without waking up the parents, kids) and a Spanish DD 5.1 audio option also included. Subtitles are provided in English (SDH) and Spanish.

Well, as is usually the case with Blu-ray releases, the less-interesting the movie, the more bountiful the bonus features. And Texas Chainsaw 3D is no exception, as it includes three audio commentaries (one of which features the stars of the original movies: Hansen, Burns, Moseley, and Dugan), nearly two hours worth of behind-the-scenes and making-of stuff (and I do mean "stuff"), an alternate opening (which, frankly, should have been used), the film's original theatrical trailer, and credits for this release. The disc also bombards you with previews for about twenty-five other horror movies available on home video - some of which have been around since 2005.

Suffice to say, Texas Chainsaw 3D is a bad movie. More importantly, it was a bad call. I read that, originally, the filmmakers of the new series had hoped to make a trilogy that would begin with the third chapter, and work its way back to the beginning. This, of course, would have been an even dumber attempt at retelling the tale that really needs no further telling. However, since the crew mention the fact that this reboot is the start of a proposed sextuplet (!), one has to wet themselves wondering how sloppily they'll try to write themselves out of the corner with any later entries. Heck, they might just stoop so low as to sawtheir way out.

Look, if I had to suffer through this movie, you can suffer through my stupid puns, alright? In the meantime, I'm going to go cue up my prized soundtrack to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. At least they knew how to be good at being bad!

Follow Us