I know, I know, I skipped TCM Part 3 – truthfully, I haven’t seen it, but I’m working on it! Renee Zellwegger and Mathew McConaughey are now two big movie stars, but take a trip down memory lane to see what they had to do in order to get their foot in the Hollywood door. Call me crazy, but now’s as good a time as any to check out perhaps the most entertaining movie either has ever been in, and definitely the best performance of McConaughey's career. The movie is TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION. I should add that I am in the minority on this one – many hate this film with a passion (it’s #49 on IMDB.com’s bottom 100 list). But maybe I’m seeing something different, I thought it was a hoot.
First off, let me say that this TCM film is not really a sequel to the original series, but more a re-make of the first. It uses a slightly different set-up, but the results are very similar. Zellweger and her cronies are driving from the prom, when (surprise surprise) their car breaks down. How convenient! After seeking the help of a real-estate agent, numerous twists bring them quickly in contact with that crazy family of freaks who have a knack for using chansaws – the Sawyers.
McConaughey is sort of the head of this family in this one - a totally insane man with a hydraulic leg built out of vacuum tubes and TV remote controls. His brother is a skinny, cattle-prod using maniac, and another sibling (I don't know if it's a sister or brother) is everyone's favorite lumberjack: Leatherface. This new Leatherface really emulated the performance of the original Leatherface and captured the subtle shadings of that masterful performance. This is particularly evident in the many minutes of the film filled with Leatherface running around screaming with a chainsaw buzzing in his hands (what a waste of gas!). There's another family member who shouldn't be too hard to pick out, but in case you don't figure it out, I don't want to ruin the surprise for you.
Anyways, there's not much plot to describe. Most of the prom gang get mutilated one way or the other. Ultimately Zellweger is invited to sit at the dinner table of the family and, much like the original film, we are privy to the almost indescribable ongoings of this meal. This then leads to numerous scenes of screaming, people beating each other, random zombie-looking dinner guests, and oddly enough, an elegantly-dressed British man who pulls up in a limo! The climax makes even less sense, and please, whoever figures it out, tell me who's flying the plane that makes an appearance in the final minutes!
Nevertheless, this film is enjoyable precisely because it is so crazed. It's not particularly scary, but it is really funny at times and never ever boring. Equally entertaining is McConaughey's completely manic performance. He's always fun to watch and much more convincing as a homicidal patriarch than as a priest in CONTACT. This film is really a tribute to the original. It's an insane film that takes its inspiration from Tobe Hooper's original classic TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and pushes the envelope to see how far it can go. It's not a horror masterpiece, but for those familiar enough with the original series, you will enjoy THE NEXT GENERATION.
Rating: *** (out of a possible 4)