The Texas Chainsaw saga is famous for a lot of things – convincing people that this nonsense actually happened (it didn’t, don’t hit me with Ed Gein links),popularizing the dead skin mask/summer dress combo as the go too look for spring ’74 and being remembered as a much gorier affair than it actually was are just a few examples. The list goes on for a while. Texas Chainsaw: The Next Generation attempts to add to that list, but thankfully manages to be barely a footnote in the history of the series. It’s actually a sequel to the 1973 movie, co-written by the Ken Henkel who also helped write the original and if the strange cameo’s at the end are anything to go off of (and they are apparently ) this is technically canon. Despite it’s footnote status, this movie effectively shut down interest in the series through a period of the nineties and early aughts that wasn’t known to be kind to the bigger franchises in the genre, which may have ultimately worked to everyones benefit. We ended up with this questionable at best Platinum Dunes remakes some years later but I still think it could have ended up much worse, at least if this sequel is anything to go by.
This is the movie I’m pretty sure both Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger most wish the world would forget. Part of me wishes we could all forget we ever watched this movie but I believe in learning from one’s mistakes. I also believe in really terrible movies being highly entertaining so there’s also that. Renee Zellweger plays one of four teenagers (who happen to be played by 25 year olds because horror movie casting) who fall victim to probably the most mismatched version of the Chainsaw clan committed to film. Formally given the surname Sawyer in the previous Hooper helmed sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, we find the family’s name changed to Slaughter in this iteration because apparently you can never be to on the nose when it comes to maniac rednecks and their names. Mchaugny, playimg a character by the name of Vilmer Slaughter, is the leader of these particular maniacs and, for reasons left unexplained, has a backwoods exoskeleton thing attached to his leg that’s controlledby television remotes. If you guessed that these remotes would come into play later in perhaps one of the alternately lamest yet amusing climaxes you’d be correct.
Most “rednecks gonna getcha’ “ movies have a lure character, someone that the rednecks use to get thier victims into better hunting grounds and off the main stretch of poorly maintained road the movie is inevitably set near. The Next Generation is no different, except that instead of a child or a teenager like it usually is, the lure appears to be an real estate agent, who hangs out in an office on the side of what seems to be a fairly deserted road. I mean, she seems be an effective enough lure in this particularly shitty TCM universe that Next Generation exists in (I refuse to accept it happened in the main continuum. No way no how), but that’s only because it needs to work; without it we wouldn’t have a movie.
Unlike most redneck revenge flicks however, this one attempts to connect the Slaughter family and their seemingly aimless capture and torture of travellers to loftier and far more sinister ends. And everyone knows that sinister ends means puppet masters sitting in the shadows. Well, The Next Generation wants us to accept that everyones favourite council of skin wearing reptilians – The Illuminati – are both in charge of and directly benefiting from the work that the Sawyer/Slaughter clan do. Two men in suits show up near the end of the movie to lean on Matthew McConaughey and remind him, and thusly us, of the families true purpose. The more I think about this movie the more it hurts my head. How they manage to cram exo-skeletons, Illuminati, cannibals and cross dressing all into the same movie using a preexisting license is actually kind of impressive, in a watching the world burn sort of way.
There aren’t really any arguments to be made for absolutly needing to see this movie; someone could (and probably should) go their entire life never knowing this exists and be better for it. That said, if you do find yourself watching this version of the cannibal clan you can be sure you won’t be bored, just confused.