The legacy of Leatherface continues with the series’ appropriately titled, but somewhat overlooked, third installment: Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.
Our favorite chainsaw wielding, human-skin wearing maniac has a new look, but with a more childlike personality as he goes by the name “Junior” by his new cannibalistic family that doesn’t deliver that “sadomasochism” feel that radiated from the first sequel. But Junior has a sweet new toy to finish his dirty work in this moderately gore filled, decently acted, but tacky third entry.
The story kicks off with a couple from California driving cross-country to drop off a clasc Mercedes to a relative in Florida. But their relationship isn’t the only thing about to hit a rough patch as they make their way through the infinite miles of rural Texas. Making a pit stop at the cliché gritty gas station, they are met by the perverted owner Alfredo where we see homage to the original TCM with the spontaneous Polaroid-for-cash scene that’s more annoying than funny. But after meeting the enlightening, but deceiving, Tex (Viggo Mortensen), and entangled in a shootout that ensues, the frantic couple end up getting into a car wreck fleeing for help.
But only to their benefit does a survivalist, Benny (Ken Foree, Dawn of the Dead, The Devil’s Rejects), stumble upon the endangered protagonists to fend against the eventual Leatherface and his sadistic clan.
Director Jeff Burr, who is also known for such films as Stepfather II and the fourth and fifth entries in the Puppet Master franchise, places at least half of the film’s setting within the woods. This leads to many dark scenes, including one of the more grotesque in the beginning when we see the excavation of the body pit. The casting of Foree gives a nice touch from a veteran who has experience in a horror clasc, although the “water fight” finale between himself and Leatherface may be a bit over the top. But somehow we see Benny still awake and alive in the end after it was already perceived that Leatherface finished him off.
With R.A. Mihailoff filling the shoes of Leatherface this time around, he does a stable job with the spontaneous movements and frustration that his character makes up for from the absence of actual dialogue. The brothers Tinker and Tex provide a credible sense of madness, but to more of a comic-relief approach. But ultimately the look of the characters just don’t give off that peculiar feel like the first two films, especially the daughter who seems far too ordinary and out of place.
Although it was on Tobe Hooper’s agenda to be involved with the film, he eventually decided on the contrary due to scheduling conflicts with his latest film at the time Spontaneous Combustion. Slasher-honcho Kane Hodder even granted a helping hand as stunt coordinator for the film.
Overall, I can say this was somewhat of a fun movie. It doesn’t live up to the acting or thrills of part two, but at the same token it definitely is not the worst of the franchise (Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger as hints). Although the engraving on the chainsaw sums it up perfectly: The Saw Is Family