Quantcast

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Not surprisingly, the last film of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre brand to release onto Blu-ray is the rightfully maligned Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. I’ve long wanted this film to land on Blu-ray, not because its deserving or I secretly like it, but because I felt with the right distributor, maybe we could get an entertaining story through retrospective interviews about this utter mess. Unfortunately, we are likely to never get the thoughts of the two people we want to hear from most (Who apparently took immediate issue with likeness being shown on the original cover art for this film). Scream Factory is an ideal home and they have brought it with two cuts of the film and some interviews which seems way more than we could have expected from the film. As bad as this movie is, its a pretty attractive title as its Leatherface, people want a complete collection and its a cinematic oddity/dumpster fire that despite its failings is still appealing. You’ll be able to scratch that weird itch on December 11th.

Film 

Originally published as a part of the Naptown Nerd Texas Chain Saw Massacre Retrospective (April 2014)

After leaving their prom early, innocent Jenny and three other teenagers crash their car in the backwoods of Texas. In their search for help, they run into Vilmer Slaughter, a vicious psychopath with a mechanical leg, and his twisted family, including the serial killer Leatherface. As the group of friends struggle to survive the maniacal methods of torture, Jenny discovers the secret origins behind the family’s lust for human blood.

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 a 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.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p – Theatrical / 480i – Director’s Cut

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation debuts on Blu-ray with what is likely just an HD master of the film culled for this release. Its not a pretty image at all. Details are all right and its not a DVD upconvert. This one just might naturally be ugly looking in appearance. Close ups can look pretty marvelous, but many inside the house scenes are hazy, grainy and don’t feel quite as sharp. It should be noted that the Director’s Cut is presented in standard definition only.

Depth:  This one probably naturally looks flatter, but in the more grainy sequences it has a more 3-dimensional look to it. Movements are smooth and cinematic in appearance with minimal blur/jitter issues in rapid moving sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and things a more grainy when darker. There were some moments with noticeable crushing in a few spots.

Color Reproduction: This is a real dingy looking movie. Colors are decently saturated. The purple dress, red carnation and some lighting in the more city areas look pretty good.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Detail and facial textures are solid, plenty visible in close-ups and varied in medium shots and beyond.

Noise/Artifacts: There are some little specs of dirt in places and little bit of noise in a couple minor areas.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Next Generation comes with a pretty legit 2.0 track. When the chainsaw revs up this thing gets pretty deep and loud. The sound effect intricacies and saturation of volume is pretty solid. This isn’t changing the world or anything, buts a better sound presentation than I was expecting.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art for the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Kim Henkel (Director’s Cut only)

The Buzz Is Back (HD, 11:42) – An interview with Director of Photography Levie Isaacks. He talks his uncredited work on the original film, keeping in contact with Tobe Hooper over the years and being excited to work on this film following his work on Tales From The Crypt coming to an end. Isaacks is rather pleased with most of the film, though goes over his frustration with the films Illuminati twist.

Marked For Death (HD, 16:01) – An interview with actor Tyler Shea Cone. He very seriously goes over his role in the film, the shoot, working with Robert Jacks and more.

If Looks Could Kill (HD, 19:03) – An interview with special makeup effects artist J.M. Logan and production designer Deborah Pastor. Finally some honesty, “A terrible, horrible experience but I wouldn’t trade it for the world”. This is a matter of fact couple of interviews, but they focus on trying to do the brand good “Its chainsaw, there’s not way we can fuck this up”.

Trailer (HD, 1:38) – Titled “The Return of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

Summary 

Nope, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation has not improved with age and both cuts of the film are bad. Its mostly oddly watchable and a lot of that has to do with being a slasher at the core level, McConaughey’s ALL IN performance and the sheer weirdness of it. Scream Factory has brought it to Blu-ray with a pretty serviceable transfer on the Theatrical cut and good audio. The interviews and inclusion of the Director’s Cut make for some nice extras, but I was kinda left wanting more. But, that’s out of their hands, as I’m sure they probably shot for the moon, but in the end can only do what they will with what they have and I’m sure many have wanted to move on and forget this movie.

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments