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Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III


Directed by Jeff Burr
Released in 1990
Starring Kate Hodge as Michelle, Ken Foree as Benny, William Butler as Ryan, Viggo Mortensen as Tex, R.A. Mihailoff as Leatherface, Joe Unger as Tinker, Tom Everett as Alfredo, Miriam Byrd-Nethery as Mama, Jennifer Banko as Leatherface's Daughter, Toni Hudson as Sara and Caroline Williams as Reporter (Stretch)

This is maybe the last of the good Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, while also being the beginning of the end. Possibly I might revisit the fourth Chainsaw film soon -- that one that stars Matthew McConaughey and Rene Zellweger (before she became Leatherface herself and put on a different face to wear). I don't think very fondly of that movie, though. Nor do I think fondly of the 2003 remake and the others that came after it (though, I remember liking the sequel to the remake - The Beginning). But Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III? It's a decent movie and its heart was in the right place for the most part, but it doesn't completely blow me away.

I remember when I first saw the trailer for the movie, which took me by surprise so much that it kinda scared me. I was a little kid - not even in school yet, but about to be - it was 1989 and I was in a movie theater watching Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. This trailer came on before the film started and as you can see if you watch it, it starts off like it's going to be a trailer for some other kind of movie. I dunno, it always looks like a fantasy film to me, and I think I even thought that as a kid. But soon the man with his back to ya is revealed to be Leatherface and the chainsaw appears and everything. Took my breath away in the theater. I had no idea a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie was coming out. A third one! I had already seen the first two movies and loved them.

A few months later, I remember seeing the end of an ad on TV for the movie announcing it was coming out. Got all excited. Then it came out in theaters and I DIDN'T GET THE CHANCE TO SEE IT. I'm not sure why. School, maybe? It didn't stay in theaters long. In fact, I think it was only at the movie theater for ONE WEEK and then GONE. I couldn't believe it. I can still remember seeing the outdoor marquee of the theater reading "TEXAS CHAINSAW 3." Anyway, I didn't get to see it until, I believe, I ordered it off Pay-Per-View. Pay-Per-View was my whole world when I was six years old. Like Movie Forums is practically my whole world now at 32, Pay-Per-View was my whole world when I was 6.

And I had the soundtrack to this movie on cassette. I need to get a CD of it sometime if I can -- I don't have that cassette anymore, unfortunately. Of course I only really listened to one song off it -- "Leatherface" by Lz Rockit -- it was a very heavy metal album. Bands like Death Angel, Hurricane, The Wraith, Sacred Reich, Obsession, Mx Machine were all on it -- whoever they are. I also used to have a Leatherface mask and it was based on Leatherface's look from this movie.

But anyway -- THE MOVIE. So in this movie... it's kinda hard to say if this is a direct sequel to the last two movies. I want to SAY IT IS... because Caroline Williams has a brief (and I mean brief!) walk-on role as a reporter... and she's supposed to be Stretch, her character from Texas Chainsaw 2. But what's so different about this movie -- and this is the beginning of a trend that continues and continues with each new sequel/remake -- is that Leatherface now has a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FAMILY. In fact he now has a wheelchair-bound mother who has a voice box speaker thing in her throat, perhaps because she was a smoker (or God knows what - I'll explain later). She's played by Miriam Byrd-Nethery (whatever kinda name that's supposed to be).

And he has a DAUGHTER. A little blonde nameless girl (yet her skeleton doll that she plays with has a name - Molly, I think it was). Apparently Leatherface is now into having sex with his victims before he kills them, forcing them to become impregnated vessels living with the sole purpose of breeding his leatherfaced offspring, kinda like Mad Max: Fury Road villain Immortan Joe, but meaner and nastier because as soon as they're done birthing his child, the mother goes straight into the oven to be prepared for supper. Something like that. It sounds like a praying mantis lifestyle -- use somebody for sex, eat them right afterwards.

So this movie is about a college gal and a college boy driving from California across the country together. As a kid, I used to always believe these two people were brother and sister for some reason. Turns out they're friends and I think ex-lovers or something. The theme of Leatherface is all about how the world is nasty and brutal and you better deal with it or it might just kill you. Michelle, the heroine, is afraid of things -- she accidentally hits an armadillo on the road and can't bring herself to kill the poor injured armadillo with a big rock, so Ryan, her ex-boyfriend/brother takes the big rock and does the job for her. Later, at the end of the movie, Michelle comes full circle and takes a big rock to Leatherface's head in an attempt to kill him. You get the picture. Girl learns how to defend herself after dealing with Leatherface's macabre, perverted family.

It's a movie about survival. The couple stop for gas and meetup with family members of Leatherface who don't have good intentions for them. After a creepy dead-eyed gas station attendant named Alfredo spies on Michelle taking a leak in the filthy ladies room (this was before unisex bathrooms), Viggo Mortensen pops up and shows her boyfriend a map, pointing to a route they should take that'll get them to where they're going faster. Of course, that route is actually THE BAD ROUTE... the route to Leatherface's home... and off they go into the woods that are littered with booby traps, ready to catch them and grab them and contain them until Leatherface shows up with his big chainsaw. Ken Foree of Dawn of the Dead shows up as a survivalist/soldier-on-the-weekends guy and he ends up trying to help Michelle and Ryan out of their predicament, which he is also now in. It's a dark night out in Leatherface's woods. Watch out for the traps. We even meet a girl who's lasted in these woods for an entire week. She seems to be losing her mind, and she's even had to fend for herself by eating a raw rat and berries that taste like someone already ate them and threw them up (so that's where Whole Foods gets them).

Michelle (sans Ryan, who fell into a trap) eventually wanders into Leatherface's house (WHY did she assume the great big house on the hunting grounds she just stumbled into would be owned by innocent, helpful people?) and before you know it, she's being nailed to a chair and listening to Mama Leatherface talk about how she cut out her own sex organs (YEARS BACK), as well as her dead husband's. This is why I'm not sure how Mama Leatherface got the voice box thingy in her throat -- she might have done that on purpose.

By the way -- Ryan (William Butler), the boyfriend character, was really cute, I thought. Never thought that about him before. And I suspect he might be gay, judging by a film in his IMDB credits.

Oooh, but he got all fat later in life -- well, that's okay.

What's my biggest beef about Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III? It's this -- for a movie called Leatherface, it sure doesn't really focus much on him. The first movie introduced Leatherface and made him somewhat of a more shadowy, background character in a way. Who was he? What was his story? You know he's the crazy man running around with the chainsaw, but WHY? The second movie... sort of allowed us to explore more about him. He related with the main character -- Stretch (who, by the way, appears here in Chainsaw 3, if I haven't already mentioned that) -- and felt feelings for her, danced with her, ran his chainsaw up her leg as she seduced him to save her life (don't ask, just see the movie). But in the third movie... Leatherface isn't that interesting anymore. All I really wanted to know was why he was now wearing a leg brace over his pants. Apparently it's because of the accident he suffered at the end of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 -- but whatever that was shouldn't be such a big deal since Leatherface got a CHAINSAW THROUGH HIS STOMACH AND BACK in that movie -- how did he survive that???) The leg brace over the pants thing just looks like a strange Michael Jackson costume circa the 1987 Bad era.

This is perhaps the most "redneck" of the Leatherface movies. And I don't really have much else to say about that except that it just seems the most "redneck." But I dunno, maybe it isn't? It seems like it is to me. If Captain Spaulding hasn't seen this one already, he might wanna check it out.

Okay, well it's time to wrap this up and colorize my review. I'm getting tired of writing. I hope I've said everything I needed to say. Did you like it? My review, that is.

I give Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.....

That feels right. I really can't rate it highly, but it definitely doesn't deserve something too low. I was really hoping to like the movie even more by rewatching it... and all I really discovered was.... I appreciate it more, but I don't really love it more. It's a nice effort for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie... the last really good one, I'd say, before culture changed and everything went to Hell. It's worth seeing if you're into Leatherface. Or horror movies in general.