There are plenty of horror franchises out there, but the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series really doesn’t give a shit about continuity. I’m not hating on the movies, but some of them are difficult to comprehend how they act as a sequel. Most of them feel more like reboots of the original, though none are even close to recreating Tobe Hooper’s raw and dirty film. What elevated the first film was that no one in this movie (outside of the killers) looks like they’re having fun. Marilyn Burns as the final girl looks like she went through hell and back by the time credits roll. Each film since has attempted to recreate that vibe, such as the Jessica Biel remake, or simply utilize the story as a completely different experience like the original sequel with Dennis Hopper. That one worked as a direct sequel, but took the horror to comedic and outrageous heights. I admit, I love that one. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION was the original reboot of the series that never worked, but it works as a great campy slasher flick.
Scream Factory has given THE NEXT GENERATION a Blu-ray release to appease the completest collectors and even people like me, who got a kick out of this one. A group of teens find themselves going head to head with Leatherface and his flesh hungry family on prom night. This variation of Leatherface is unique as his sexuality and gender identity come into question, when he presents a unique look in the third act. Only one person in the group of teens has some resemblance of a brain so most of the second half is her surviving attack after attack.
What’s notable about this movie is the fact that it stars Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in lead roles prior to their A-list status. McConaughey looks like he’s having an absolute blast playing the batshit crazy head of the clan, Vilmer. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is probably his hottest role to date, if you’re into the psychopath lover who tosses you around. Zellweger is a bit of a head scratcher. While she’s definitely good at the whole angelic, most virginal of the bunch, she seems rather pissed off that she’s in this movie and probably needed that check. Word on the street is that she doesn’t look back on this film too fondly. Those who follow the Scream Factory message boards know that the new artwork was to feature their likeness on the cover, but some rich lawyer shut that down.
The zany, or one particularly lazy performance that I’m not going to call out, performances make this one fun to watch even with its goofy ending. This new release gives us both the director’s and theatrical cuts. Theatrical definitely shows an upgrade compared to the old DVD release while the director’s cut is in standard definition. This was my first time watching the director’s cut which has slightly different edits along with a incestual subplot that helps us get a better understanding of Zellweger’s character. This cut shifts constantly in quality, feeling more like a VHS bootleg that was cut together, but still nice to have as part of the package. There’s commentary with the director on his version of the film, along with some interviews with crew. To no one’s surprise, McConaughey and Zellweger are nowhere to be found in the special features but that’s fine. This makes for a great addition to the Leatherface Blu-ray collection that’s consistently growing.