Friday, November 3, 2023

Leatherface: The best massacre is the third massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was always more terrifying as a concept than an actual movie. There's no denying that Tobe Hopper's film is a dead-set, stone cold masterpiece, but there is a part of my redneck soul that will always think Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is a better film.

The original Massacre was the epitome of the video nasty around my part of the world. Local video  stores didn't even have it, but a tape circulated amongst the adults around town. When my dad got to finally see it, he expressly barred any of us kids from watching a single frame.

As someone who loved The Omen, I thought this was drastically unfair, although if I stopped raging for a second, I could see his point. Even the cover of that grotty video getting passed around looked terrifying. In the end, he said it was pretty average, but he wasn't exactly a huge cinephile.

So the first Chainsaw I actually saw was the third, as part of the regular Friday night video sessions with my mates. Too young for booze, too old for toys, we'd pool our money together enough to get a shitload of hot chips, vast amounts of carbonated beverage, and a $3 weekly hire from the video store.

So that's how I got introduced to the Sawyers and their murderous ways, with the Leatherface, The Saw was family, and I fucking loved it.

I've seen most of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films since (although I seriously lost track two or three reboots ago). And of course I love Part Two, and its gonzo refusal to take it down a notch, until the dueling chainsaws at the end seems like an appropriate escalation.

And when I did finally get to see the original, it was as good as I'd always dreamed -  the sudden shutter, the chainsaw twirling in the sunset at the end.

But I still, in my heart, like part three more. You've got the mighty Ken Foree saying 'You're toast, fuck!', and wondering why these cannibal dickheads can't just order some fucking pizza; and a very young Viggo Mortensen oozing absolute charm as he nails a hand to the chair.

It was slick, where the original was grimy, and followed all the usual beats, when the original sawed out its own path through the high and dry Texas grass. But you never forget your first Chainsaw, no matter how many legends it spawned.

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