Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
|Texas Chainsaw Massacre:
The Next Generation
Original 1994 poster
|Directed by||Kim Henkel|
|Produced by||Robert Kuhn
|Written by||Kim Henkel|
|Music by||Wayne Bell
|Edited by||Sandra Adair|
Ultra Muchos Productions
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (also known as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is a 1994 independent American horror film written and directed by Kim Henkel, and starring Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey. The plot follows four teenagers who encounter Leatherface and his maniacal family in backwoods Texas on the night of their prom. The film is a loose remake of and quasi-sequel to the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), which Henkel had co-written with Tobe Hooper. It has only loose connections to the previous two sequel films, which are mentioned in the film's opening prologue as "two minor, yet apparently related incidents" which happened after the events of the original film.
It was released at several film festivals under the title The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1994 before being shelved for three years. The film was re-cut and released under the title Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation in late summer 1997, after Zellweger and McConaughey had both become major Hollywood stars.
The film begins with four teenagers at their senior prom: Jenny, Heather, Barry, and Sean. Heather begins to look for her boyfriend, Barry, who is making out with another girl in the darkness. Heather discovers them and attempts to drive away in Barry's car, alongside Jenny and Sean, who are in the backseat. Barry eventually gains access into the car, where Heather scolds him angrily. Heather does not pay attention to the road and ends up wrecking with another driver, who passes out in the ensuing confusion.
The four teens decide that Sean should look after the unconscious driver, while Jenny, Heather, and Barry go look for help. While Sean looks after the driver, Heather, Barry and Jenny discover a rural real estate office occupied by Darla, a trashy insurance agent, who calls up her tow trucker boyfriend, Vilmer, to help out at the scene of the wreck. Meanwhile, Heather and Barry leave with Jenny, who loses them.
Vilmer, a backwoods man with a robot leg, eventually arrives at the scene of the crash, where he snaps the unconscious driver's neck and chases Sean in his pickup, eventually running him over. Meanwhile, Heather and Barry come across a dilapidated farmhouse, where Barry looks for a way inside to use the bathroom while Heather waits on the porch. Barry is discovered by W.E., Vilmer's brother. While Heather waits on the porch, Leatherface appears, playing with her hair and then chasing her. After Leatherface catches her, he stuffs her inside a meat locker. While Barry is using the restroom, he discovers human remains in the bathroom, and Leatherface bludgeons him to death with a sledge hammer. After killing Barry, Leatherface removes Heather from the meat locker, hanging her on a meathook in midair.
Jenny arrives back at the wreckage, only to find her boyfriend and the driver absent. She meets Vilmer, who shows her the bodies of Sean and the Driver. Vilmer then chases her in his truck, only for her to escape into the woods. After hiding in thicket, Jenny is attacked by Leatherface, wielding a chainsaw; he chases her through the woods, and back to the Sawyer house, where Jenny locks the door, but Leatherface begins to break it down by sawing through the wood panels. Jenny then discovers the remains of a Texas Ranger after taking refuge upstairs. She takes the Ranger's gun, attempts to shoot at Leatherface, but discovers that it has no bullets. Leatherface chases Jenny back upstairs, where she jumps out a window, and onto the roof. Jenny tries to use a telephone cable to escape, but Leatherface cuts the cable and Jenny crashes through the roof of the Sawyers' greenhouse. Jenny retreats back into the forest and arrives back at Darla's office, begging for help.
Walter shows up and it turns out that Darla and W.E. are in cahoots. Walter beats Jenny with an electric cattle prod, stuffs her in a gunny sack and then into Darla's trunk. W.E. leaves Darla to go pick up some pizzas she ordered earlier with Jenny in the trunk of her car. After getting the pizzas, she returns home with Jenny.
The family terrorizes Jenny, who escapes into Darla's car, but is subdued by Vilmer, who jumps on the hood of the car. Jenny wrecks and is dragged back inside the house where she is treated by Darla, who gets her ready for dinner time. Jenny falls unconscious, but awakens in the early morning hours at a dinner table, clean and redressed in a skimpy pageant gown, with a cross dressed Leatherface, the family's apparent Grandpa (possibly an elderly Drayton Sawyer), and a family of stuffed corpses. Jenny screams in terror and soon the family is joined by a mysterious Agent Rothman, who tells the family that they aren't doing their "jobs" correctly. Rothman makes an idle threat to Vilmer, and then takes his leave. After Vilmer crushes Heather's skull in anger, Jenny tries to escape, but is held down by Vilmer as Leatherface revves his chainsaw, preparing to behead Jenny.
As Vilmer holds Jenny down, and Leatherface makes pathetic attempts to decapitate her, she manages to snatch Vilmer's remote to his cybernetic leg and uses it to dislocate his knee as an advantage to escape, which she succeeds in doing. Jenny escapes to the main road, with Leatherface in hot pursuit, where she is helped by an elderly couple, but the couple's RV is soon turned over by Vilmer and Leatherface. Jenny climbs out of the wreckage, barely harmed, and Leatherface and Vilmer pursue her on foot. An apparent "Order of the Illuminati" airplane operated by one of Rothman's colleagues, swoops over head and the blade grazes Vilmer's skull, ultimately killing him. Jenny watches as Vilmer finally dies while Leatherface screams in horror and frustration, grieving the loss of his elder brother.
A black limousine appears, and Jenny enters it only to discover Rothman inside. Rothman tells Jenny that her experience was supposed to be spiritual, but that it went awry and that Vilmer had to be stopped. She is dropped off at a hospital, where she sees a mysterious blonde woman being wheeled down a corridor as police question her.
Meanwhile, Leatherface swings his chainsaw in frustration, where the screen cuts to black and the credits roll on.
- Renée Zellweger as Jenny
- Matthew McConaughey as Vilmer Slaughter
- Robert Jacks as Leatherface
- Tonie Perensky as Darla Slaughter
- Joe Stevens as Walter Slaughter
- Lisa Marie Newmyer as Heather
- Tyler Shea Cone as Barry
- John Harrison as Sean
- James Gale as Rothman
- Vince Brock as "I'm Not Hurt"
- Chris Kilgore as Rothman's Chauffeur
- Susan Loughran as Jenny's Mother
- David Laurence as Jenny's Stepfather
- Grayson Victor Schirmacher as Grandfather
- Jeanette Wiggins as Woman Eating Chocolates
- John Dugan as Cop at Hospital*
- Paul A. Partain as Hospital Orderly*
- Marilyn Burns as Patient on Gurney/Sally Hardesty*
- Debra Marshall as Cop in Bud's Pizza*
In developing the film, Robert Kuhn stated:
I wanted to go back to the original, and [Kim] did, too. We agreed on that right off. And the first major thing was getting him to write the script. I raised the money to get it written, and for us to start trying to put this thing together. Then we went out to the American Film Market in LA and talked to a bunch of people about financing. At that point I'd raised some money, but not nearly enough to make the film, and we looked at the possibilities of making a deal with a distributor. But I knew there wasn't any hope of us making one we could live with. There never is. Kim would say, 'Hey, so-and-so is interested, and it might be a deal we can live with.' So we'd talk to 'em and I'd ask three or four hard questions, and I'd just kind of look over at Kim and he'd say 'Yeah.' Then I'd go back and start trying to raise some more money. I just started going to everybody I knew and I got it in bits and pieces, wherever I could.
The movie was filmed on location at an abandoned farmhouse in Pflugerville, Texas and nearby Bastrop in 1994 on a budget of $600,000. The majority of the cast and crew were locals from Austin, aside from David Gale, a stage actor from Houston.
The film had a very rough and complicated release history, including re-editing and re-issue into cinemas (thus the film has different versions and alternate titles). The process occasioned disputes between the filmmakers and distributors at Columbia Pictures.
After a lengthy post-production—wrapped up in 1994—the film screened at the South by Southwest Film and Media Conference in 1995. Prior to this, during the film's post-production stage, Columbia Pictures reportedly signed to distribute the film theatrically (along with its home-video release) in October 1995, and agreed to spend no less than $500,000 on prints and advertising. The company subsequently had the film re-edited numerous times, and changed the title from its original production-title, The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. According to producer Robert Kuhn, Columbia Pictures pushed the film back to await the release of star Renée Zellweger's new film, Jerry Maguire (1996), which the filmmakers had no problem with. Matthew McConaughey's agent then purportedly put "pressure" on Columbia Pictures to not release the film theatrically, which caused complications between Henkel and the company. The film-makers had also considered releasing through Cinepix Film Properties back in 1993.
In a 1997 interview with The Austin Chronicle, Robert Kuhn stated that:
|“||Well, we definitely feel that Columbia/TriStar has not done what they agreed to do in terms of trying to market this film in the best possible fashion. They have not tried to exploit this film to monetarily benefit us as they should have. They've just low-keyed it. They don't want to be guilty of exploiting Matthew because of their relationship with CAA, which is the strongest single force in Hollywood these days. You get on the wrong side of them, you're in trouble. So I understand their problem, but at the same time, they should have either given the film back to us or they should have done the best release they could have done. And they haven't done that.||”|
Eventually, the film reached the big screen in a limited release in under 20 U.S. cities under a collaboration of Columbia Pictures and Cinepix Film Properties on August 29, 1997, in an edited version, and under the title Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. The subsequent home-video releases also occurred through Columbia Pictures. The film was released by Sony Pictures on VHS in September 1998, and did not receive a DVD release until July 13, 1999. The original Columbia/Tristar DVD release has since been reissued with alternative cover art.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation received mostly negative reviews. Mike Clark of USA Today called it "The kind of cinematic endeavor where you suspect both cast and crew were obligated to bring their own beer," while Owen Gleiberman wrote in Entertainment Weekly that the film "recapitulates the absurdist tabloid-redneck comedy of the great, original Chainsaw without a hint of its primal terror." Janet Maslin of The New York Times said: "It was way back in 1995 that this schlocky horror farce, then known as "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre," first appeared with the unknown actors Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in starring roles. But even in a film whose principal props include litter, old pizza slices and a black plastic trash bag, it's clear that these two were going places."
The film did receive some positive reviews, however: John Anderson of the Los Angeles Times referred to the film as "[a] giddy mix of gruesome horror and campy humor," while Joe Leydon of Variety said the film "manages the difficult feat of being genuinely scary and sharply self-satirical all at once... it is adept at keeping its audience in a constant state of jumpiness." He also lauded Zellweger's performance, calling her "the most formidable scream queen since Jamie Lee Curtis went legit." The Austin Chronicle also gave the film a positive review, stating: "Writer-director Kim Henkel penned the original Chainsaw and this effort shows that he still has a felicitous grasp of the things that cause us to shudder in dread."
The original, unedited cut of the film features a few differences from the re-issued 1997 cut of the film, including:
- a subplot that involves Jenny's stepfather abusing her in the opening scene
- more dialogue between Heather and Barry in the car
- a longer conversation between Jenny and Darla in the bath-room
The original cut also featured different musical effects, a handful of different transitional shots, as well as a few scenes tinted different colors.
The most widely available cut of the film, titled Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, does not contain this footage. The Canadian DVD release of the film through Lions Gate Entertainment remains the only known home-video release as of 2009[update] that includes all of the cut footage from the original version of the movie. The version titled The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre runs for 95 minutes, while the version titled Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation runs for only 86 minutes; a nine-minute difference.
The versions of the film available differ from country to country, but Herald Videogram released the original Return cut on Laserdisc in Japan.
The film's sound-track featured many local Texan bands, and never got a full CD release. However, star Robert Jacks, a friend of Blondie's Debbie Harry, produced a song with Harry titled (in incorrect German) Der Einziger Weg (English: The Only Way; the correct German title would be "Der einzige Weg")—a single written for and featured in the film. The song was released by Eco-Disaster Music in 1997 as a single on Compact Disc, featuring Debbie Harry on the cover with a portrait of Jacks as Leatherface, featured in his three costumes, on the wall behind her.
- "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- Wooley, John (September 1994). "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Cuts Deep". Fangoria (136).
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at the Internet Movie Database
- "Houston Movies - Time to Kill". 1997-08-27. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- Austin Chronicle- Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation 20 October 1997 (article retrieved from AC FilmVault 10 July 2009)
- "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Austin Chronicle. 1997-10-20. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- Clark, Mike (1997-08-30). "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". USA Today.
- Gleiberman, Owen (1997-09-05). "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- "'Texas Chainsaw Massacre': 'Heather, You OK? Uh, Oh'". The New York Times. 1997-08-29. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- Leydon, Joe (1995-03-19). "Review: "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre"". Variety. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- Baumgarten, Marjorie (1997-10-17). "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- "1997 20th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at the Internet Movie Database
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at Rotten Tomatoes
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at AllMovie