Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
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|Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jeff Burr|
|Produced by||Robert Engelman|
|Written by||David J. Schow|
|Cinematography||James L. Carter|
|Edited by||Brent A. Schoenfeld|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
81 minutes85 minutes (Unrated)
|Box office||$5.8 million|
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is a 1990 American slasher film that is the second sequel to the 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and was directed by Jeff Burr. The film stars Kate Hodge, Ken Foree, William Butler, and a then-unknown Viggo Mortensen.
New Line Cinema, the distributor, experienced problems with the Motion Picture Association of America, who rated the film X. After the studio made cuts, it was re-rated R, and New Line released it on January 12, 1990. It was refused classification in the UK upon its initial release. It has since been released on home video in both unrated and R-rated versions, and a cut version was accepted with an 18 certificated in the UK.
The film was both a critical and commercial failure, grossing less than $6 million in the US box office.
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The film begins with Leatherface bludgeoning a young woman, Gina, to death with a sledgehammer before beginning the process of cutting off her face in order to make it into a mask. Gina's sister, Sara watches from a nearby window. Leatherface hears Sara outside, and after she flees, he briefly checks outside before going back to work. Some time later, Michelle and her boyfriend Ryan, a couple that constantly argues, both traveling through Texas, pass through a security checkpoint near the excavation of a large number of butchered bodies, a cop approaches them and interrogates them, shortly after they leave and reach the Last Chance Gas Station. At the station, they meet a hitchhiking cowboy named Tex and the station's perverted owner Alfredo. Tex shows Ryan a route on the map that can get them to a town. A fight soon breaks out between Tex and Alfredo when Tex finds the latter spying on Michelle while she uses the station restroom. As Michelle and Ryan flee from the station in their car, they witness Alfredo apparently killing Tex with a shotgun.
As night falls, Ryan and Michelle, having taken the route Tex recommended, become lost. As they begin to bicker, a large truck appears and the driver attacks them. Ryan pulls over when the unseen driver throws a dead coyote at their windshield. As Ryan changes the car's flat tire, Michelle hears a noise, and Leatherface ambushes the two of them. They climb into the car as Leatherface begins hacking at it with his chainsaw, before bumping Leatherface with the vehicle and driving off.
After their escape from Leatherface, Michelle and Ryan - as well as another driver, a survivalist named Benny - crash when a bloodied Tex leaps in front of the car. As Benny tends to Michelle, Ryan explains the situation to him, showing him the damage which Leatherface has caused to their car, before Michelle awakens. They decide to find Tex, and on the way, Benny discovers a hook-handed man named Tinker, who offers his assistance in setting down road flares. Benny soon realizes Tinker's real intentions after he finds a damaged chainsaw in the back of his truck. Benny then grabs an automatic rifle from his overturned jeep, retreats, and encounters Leatherface when Tinker attempts to ram him with his truck.
As Benny fights Leatherface, Sara, who had earlier escaped Leatherface, saves Benny from death by luring Leatherface away before re-joining Benny. After questioning Sara, Benny learns that her entire family has been killed. She tells him that she has failed to escape as Leatherface and his family have been watching the roads. Benny hears Michelle and Ryan calling for him and leaves Sara; Leatherface kills her with his chainsaw a short time later. After killing Sara, Leatherface stalks Ryan and Michelle, mutilating and capturing Ryan when he gets caught in a bear trap.
After Ryan tells her to run, Michelle locates a house and finds the Little Girl inside who has a room filled with the remains of various animals. The girl stabs Michelle with a knife before Tex enters the room and restrains her, bringing her into the kitchen and nailing her to a chair, introducing her to the already deceased and decomposed "Grandpa" from the two previous movies. After Anne, an elderly woman appears, Michelle begs her for help, but is ignored. Tinker appears in the doorway, dragging the badly injured Ryan, whom he and Tex proceed to suspend upside-down with a pair of meat-hooks. Michelle begins screaming uncontrollably, forcing Tex to gag her by forcing a ball of leather into her mouth and securing it with a strip of tape. When Leatherface returns home, Tex gives him a large golden chainsaw with his late brother Drayton's phrase "The Saw is Family" engraved on it, a present made by Tinker. Outside the family home, Benny finds and attempts to interrogate Alfredo as he disposes of human bodies in a bag, but he is unsuccessful, eventually knocking Alfredo into the bog and leaving him to drown.
As the family prepare for dinner in the kitchen, the little girl kills Ryan with a sledgehammer-swinging device that Tinker has made, and Leatherface prepares to kill Michelle as well. The noise of Leatherface's chainsaw attracts Benny, who opens fire on the house with his rifle, killing Anne, blowing off two fingers on Tinker's hand along with his ear, and partially destroying "Grandpa"'s decayed and inanimate body. The gunfire knocks Leatherface to the floor, allowing Michelle to tear herself from the chair she is nailed to, and to stab Tex before joining Benny outside.
When Leatherface drives towards them in Tinker's truck, Benny tells Michelle to run to the woods. He tries to shoot Leatherface, but realizes he has run out of ammunition as the truck hits him. Benny is stunned, and Leatherface exits the truck, grabbing his chainsaw before going after Michelle. As Leatherface stalks Michelle, Tex and a recovered Benny begin fighting, a battle which ends with Benny soaking Tex in fuel and burning him with a lighter. Benny rushes to Michelle's aid, stopping Leatherface from murdering her, and knocking the killer into the bog. The pair begin fighting, and Benny appears to die when Leatherface forces his head into the blade of the chainsaw. He then turns his attention to Michelle, who grabbing a nearby rock, beats him over the head with it, leaving him unconscious under the water.
As dawn breaks, Michelle reaches the main road and rests on an abandoned tire, before Alfredo's pickup truck, driven by Benny, stops in front of her. As Benny helps her into the truck, Alfredo appears and attacks him from behind with a sledgehammer. Benny avoids Alfredo's attacks, and Michelle shoots Alfredo in the chest with a shotgun before the pair drive away, unaware that Leatherface is revving his chainsaw some distance away.
- Alternate ending
Leatherface kills Benny in the bog. As Leatherface submerges himself to sneak up on Michelle, Tex is revealed to have survived the flames, albeit terribly charred. Michelle manages to kill Tex by pushing him into a spike trap. Shortly after, Leatherface attacks Michelle again, and she kills him by bashing his head with a large rock. She then sings a prayer before resting for the night. The next day Michelle is seen stumbling onto a dirt road where a police car is driving past. The car stops to reveal that the little girl was retrieved from the house. The girl taunts Michelle from the backseat with her skeleton doll before the car drives off, and Michelle is left kneeling on the ground, laughing in hysterics as she realizes that the sadistic Sawyer clan will never really die off.
There's a second alternate ending in which the heroine escapes the swamp and keeps running throughout the night and eventually stumbles upon a police station. Once she makes it inside, the sheriff pretends to want to help her. After a few moments, it's revealed that he's hiding a chainsaw under the desk and attacks her with it. It was implying that the whole town is involved with the Sawyer family.
- Kate Hodge as Michelle
- Viggo Mortensen as Edward "Tex" Sawyer
- Ken Foree as Benny
- William Butler as Ryan
- Toni Hudson as Sara
- Joe Unger as Tinker "Tink" Sawyer
- R.A. Mihailoff as Leatherface "Junior" Sawyer
- Kane Hodder as Leatherface (stunts)
- Tom Everett as Alfredo Sawyer
- Jennifer Banko as Little girl
- Beth DePatie as Gina
- Duane Whitaker as Kim
- Miriam Byrd Nethery as Anne Sawyer
- Michael Shamus Wiles as Checkpoint Officer
- Caroline Williams as Reporter (cameo)
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After the success of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, New Line bought the rights to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from The Cannon Group with the intention of turning it into a new series. New Line began scouting locations in July 1989. In a statement, they said they were "going back to hard-core horror". Shooting took place in Valencia, California, later in that month.
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- "Leatherface" (Lääz Rockit) – 4:10
- "Bored" (Death Angel) – 3:27
- "When Worlds Collide" (Wrath) – 5:42
- "Spark In My Heart" (Hurricane) – 4:56
- "Power" (SGM) – 4:05
- "One Nation" (Sacred Reich) – 3:20
- "Monster Mash" (Utter Lunacy) – 5:31
- "The Gift Of Death" (Wasted Youth) – 8:50
- "Methods Of Madness" (Obsession) – 3:24
- "Psychotic Killing Machine" (MX Machine) – 3:22
The band Utter Lunacy was a one-off project made of musicians Happenin' Harry, Ron Armstrong, C.C. DeVille, Marq Torien, Doane Perry, Ron Keel, Tony Palamucci, Claude Schnell, Robert Sarzo, Leah Aldridge, Tommy Bolan and Steve Ishman. Background vocals are by the bands The Killer Dwarfs, Black and Blue, as well as a group of waitresses from the Rainbow Bar And Grill. This track also features a rhyme from the duo "The Tarantula Twins" as the end of the song.
The film gained a certain amount of notoriety prior to release due to a battle between New Line Cinema and the MPAA, which initially rated the film an X because of its graphic violence. It was the final film to receive this rating before the MPAA replaced X with NC-17. Burr cited as issues involved that the studio was independent, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 had been released unrated, and the film's grim tone. The studio eventually relented and trimmed the more graphic elements. Burr said that the film's negatives themselves were cut to maintain the film's release deadline. The film was rejected by the British Board of Film Classification upon submission for theatrical release in 1990, and the trimmed version gained an 18 certificate when submitted for video in 2004. A total of 4 minutes and 18 seconds was cut in order to gain MPAA approval.
Originally slated for a November 3rd, 1989 release, the release date was soon pushed to January 12th of the following year.
Home Media Release
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The film was released on VHS and laserdisc by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video the same year. In September 1996, New Line Home Video re-released the film on VHS in a widescreen, unrated version.
In 2003, New Line Home Entertainment released the film in both R and unrated versions on DVD. The DVD's special features include an audio commentary with Jeff Burr, Gregory Nicotero, R.A. Mihailoff, David J. Schow, William Butler, and Mark Odesky, a featurette entitled "The Saw is Family: The Making of Leatherface"; as well as a compilation of unrestored, raw and deleted scenes, along with an explanation from Jeff Burr as to why these scenes did not make the final cut; the original ending of the film was also included on the DVD.
The uncut, unrated version released by New Line Cinema runs 85 min. (4 minutes longer than the theatrical cut.)
The laserdisc version with all the extras is available on video and also has a different epilogue.
First banned in Sweden in 1990, running time was 76 min. Passed 1 month later with 2 min of distributor cuts.
The 85 min version was rejected (banned) in the UK, though it has been screened several times uncut on the cable/satellite channel 'Bravo' in the UK. Just as the first two had ratings problems (TCM was made for the "PG" rating but was given an "R", TCM 2 was made for "R" but was given the "X" and then released unrated), this movie was intended for an "R" rating and the Ratings Board insisted on "X", but with sufficient cuts it received the "R".
The unrated version featured on New Line's Region 1 DVD has the original version of the sledgehammer scene put back in the movie where the little girl is shown participating in the murder. The unrated laserdisc had this scene as an extra in poor quality from a workprint.
Some versions of the unrated version of the film still contain the reference to O.J. Perhaps after time the cut was reinstated or it was just changed for distribution in some areas.
Passed uncut in the UK on 18 March 2004, running 84 mins and distributed by Entertainment in Video Ltd. Quote from BBFC's website (www.BBFC.co.uk): "This is the full version previously rejected on film in May 1990."
The UK R2 DVD release has both the "director's cut" (DC) and "R Rated" (RR)versions as well as an alternate ending and various deleted scenes. The DC runs 4 minutes longer than the RR. About 2 mins of this extra footage is the build up to the murder of the guy by a wired-up sledgehammer. In the RR, "Tex" describes the device and then there is a rapid cut to a close-up of a hand pulling the rope setting the sledgehammer off. In the DC after Tex describes the device the little girl appears and asks the others to let her use it; they agree and Tex puts her on a counter and talks to her and then she pulls the string. There is also footage of her draining blood from the victim into a cup and taking this to Leatherface who is seated at the table. The rest of the additions consist of various gore shots - especially (a) the RR deletes all close-ups of the screws which have been nailed into Kate Hodge's hands including the extended shot of her freeing one hand by pulling it through the screw (b) several shots eliminated when Ken Foree machine-guns the cannibals including a shot of fingers being blown-off (c) several shots removed when Leatherface kills his first victim up against a tree. The deleted scenes section of the DVD reveals that this scene was intended to be more graphic but the special effects shots didn't really work (d) footage of Leatherface marking a "x" with lipstick on Kate Hodge's forehead prior to him reviving up his chainsaw is missing from the RR (e) close-up of the stabbing of Kate Hodge in the leg by the little girl also removed from the RR (f) footage detailing the skinning of William Butler have been removed from the RR as well as a couple of shots when he is strung up. (g) when the gas station attendant pulls a severed head out of his bag and throws it in the swamp the DC has additional footage of him kissing it (prior to him spitting at it). The alternate ending is the one described above (in which Ken Foree is killed and Kate Hodge sees the little girl in the back of the police car).
The film's distribution rights were transferred to Warner Bros. in 2008.
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III received mostly negative reviews upon its initial release. It currently holds a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. Richard Harrington of The Washington Post blamed the failure of the film on the edits that were made to get the film an R-rating, stating "They shot an X film, but edited it down to an R to satisfy the MPAA ratings board. Whether that was just a publicity ploy or not, the lack of hard-core gore in this latest installment is quite noticeable." Chris Parcillian of Film Threat called it "Just another generic slasher flick with nothing beyond the Leatherface connection to recommend it to discerning fans." Mark Kermode of Time Out called it "a relentlessly sadistic and worryingly amusing movie, which will entertain and offend in equal measure". Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times called it "vapid deja vu". Ryan Turek of Shock Till You Drop called the film unremarkable but fondly remembered by horror fans who were starved for theatrical releases. Bloody Disgusting rated it 4/5 stars and wrote, "As you may have guessed the movie has its flaws, but besides that I think it’s damn entertaining."
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