Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TCM At 40 Retrospective: Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The Next Generation (1994)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
Director: Kim Henkel
Starring: Academy Award Winner Renee Zellweger, Academy Award Winner Matthew McConaughey
Rated: R myyyyyy world!

Yeah, Naptown Nerd is now at this movie.  Believe it or not, back around 1993-94, I was pretty damn excited for this movie.  I was a hardcore Fangoria reading horror fan, and this was franchise horror so I was definitely intrigued.  Plus, this movie would mark my first chance to see a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie on the big screen at my local theater!  I couldn't wait for the next chapter in the Leatherface saga, but I would have to.  I'd have to wait many more years for this movie in fact.  What was the hold up?  Why couldn't they just release this damn thing?  The business and distribution thing was something that I really didn't understand at my age back then.  They were keeping the movie from us horror fans! 
The film sat on the shelf for a better part of 3 years.  In that time, it only makes the demand and desire to see a film even greater.  You want so bad what you can't have.  If the mainstream or studio doesn't want the movie or can't handle a horror movie, its gotta be something terrific right?  It was an awesome discovery that night at the video store when I saw the 2 copies on the shelf on new release Tuesday.  Yes, this movie was so hotly anticipated a new release, there were a whole 2 copies.  Most new releases back in the day (especially something with a brand name recognition) got AT LEAST a full row to themselves.  I finally had this movie i had been desiring to see for 3 years...
...and it fucking sucked.  Bad.  I knew this was terrible waste of space back then even.  What the hell was even going on in this movie?  The Illuminati involved in making people see "this horror" through a cannibal family the backwoods of Texas?  The movie moves at a sluggish pace, looks pretty cheap, has crappy annoying characters and is lacking in the creative kills/gore department.  I've seen this film more times than is likely healthy to do, each time hoping that it somehow came full circle in the time since we'd last met and became a "so bad its good" classic.  But it falls flat even in that territory.  The only thing that helps this damn movie at all is McConaughey's big grand fully committed overblown performance.  This movie is just lame, gets you restless from boredom and then winds up hurting your brain in the end.  It's not fun, its an unpleasant experience.
The one thing this film has for a legacy is that it employed Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger before 1996 hit and they both struck it big and hit the road to stardom.  Apparently this movie tried to hit a wide release in theaters around the time each of them's movies hit, but according to research, McConaughey's "people" did everything they could to sink the movie and keep it from surfacing.  If true, I don't think they were doing this on Matthew's behalf, I think they were looking out for the wellbeing of the cinemagoing public.  In final, it wound up playing at festivals in 94-95 and its theatrical run went on 20 screens for a couple weeks in 1997 before hitting home video.  In this process there also became different cuts of the film and a title change.  It was originally title and reported on as The Return Of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  So, now we have 4 separate cuts under 2 different titles for the movie, but I believe it may only be available for purchase under the Next Generation iteration.  But, honestly who would give a shit to see any more of this film.
I've seen a lot of fanboy disdain for this movie mad about Leatherface and his cross dressing in the film.  Honestly, its one of the only interesting angles this thing takes.  And I hate to break it to them, but Leatherface cross dressed in the original and sort of went in a woman role in that family structure we saw at the dinner table.  This is nothing new.  Even if not, I really REALLY don't see the big deal with this.  Was there a problem with Buffalo Bill when he did?  Speaking of the original, the first film's writer both writes and directs the film.  He even has the audacity to trash talk the previous 2 sequels in the opening crawl and act like this piece of crap is the "true" sequel.  Comedy, horror or whatever he says he's going for it doesn't work either way and the movie fails.  Its sad too because it even features cameos from some of the original cast members.
Guess what?  I don't like this movie.  Its not surprise this franchise died after this entry.  It was ripe for going away forever or heading straight to video.  And it falls into that early 90s trap of having to explain away "the evil" with this stupid Illuminati nonsense.  Did any of those "truth finally revealed" movies ever warrant good cinema?  While we may enjoy a movie or 2 of the ones that did, I think we all don't hide the fact that these are pretty stupid unknown til now backstories.  Yeah, this is Leatherface's Curse of Michael Myers/Jason Goes To Hell/Freddy's Dead.  This movie may entice you because it has two A-list Academy Award winners...but man...good luck sitting through it.  It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth for the series too, if the sequels all lead to this bullshit.  
Surprisingly, there ARE actually defenders of this movie I have found when perusing the interwebs.  And they are out of their damn minds.  I've seen this movie called "ahead of it's time" and "Cabin in the Woods before Cabin in the Woods existed".  No...just no.  Do not give these assholes who made this movie credit for something they clearly were not doing.  This movie is a mess and has no idea what it is.  I'm sure people that hate every modern remake think this junk is better just out of spite too (really?  REALLY?).  There's even a point in this movie where I think it apologizes to us.  To which Renee Zellweger says "Fuck you" and I couldn't share her feelings any more than that.  I wish I could find something of merit from this film aside from McConaughey's performance to discuss or praise, but in my quest all I found was a headache.  And that's it.  I'm done talking about this movie.

Next Time:  Jessica Biel and friends head to Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, but soon find that R Lee Ermey is not Ronnie Van Zant.

Oh yeah...check out this moment with Grandpa.  He's just sitting there at the dinner table, motionless as always...and then just does this and leaves the movie.  

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