Let’s get one thing out of the way right now.
I firmly believe that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre does not need, nor should it have had, sequels.
Bold statement I know, but let’s be honest here, the original TCM is a classic of not only the horror genre, but of American film making, and due to the sheer amounts of unbridled insanity committed to film in those original 83 minutes, nothing bearing the name Texas Chainsaw Massacre could possibly live up to the pedigree laid down by the original. (I do like TCM2 but that’s another story all together).
Because of this, sequels to this franchise have been difficult, as each film subsequently follows a similar formula (IE: outright stealing elements of the original) while paying little regard to prior continuity (See: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation)
Flip the Script:
Texas Chainsaw 3D
Keep: Gunnar Hansen, “It’s a Direct Sequel”, 3D, Bill Mosley
Ditch: Everything Else
How do we fix it:
Like I already said, TCM is a franchise that should not be, but since we’ve had four sequels, a remake and a prequel to the remake, studio executives seem to think otherwise, and now I’ve got TC3D sitting here in my lap in need of a heavy makeover. So let’s begin.
Gunnar Hansen is the first piece to this puzzle. Since this is a “Direct Sequel” to the original, who better to play Leatherface than the man himself? Costs be damned, I want Gunnar under the mask and waving a chainsaw whenever possible! Grab a stuntman for the tough stuff but having Hansen playing Leatherface for the majority of the film will give the character the right movements and feeling. This is supposed to be Leatherface in his 50’s or 60’s, so the man who gave life to that character would know better than anyone how this character should act at that age.
Making this a Direct Sequel is easily the most difficult part of this process, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to tackle and one that will be explained in the outline below, however since this is a direct sequel, it gives us a better excuse to have Gunner Hansen as Leatherface.
3D is a dumb fad. I’m not a fan of it, and I really don’t care how much better it’s gotten over the years, it’s just another way for the studios to jack up the ticket prices and get more money out of us, however, I’m willing to admit that 3D is good for two genres, Sci-Fi and Horror, and while it’s a gimmick that may not save a shitty movie, it can at least make it more entertaining theatrically. Since I’m keeping the 3D element, there will a much heavier emphasis on the 3D gimmick, more chainsaws popping off the screen, more blood, whatever we can have popping off the screen, it’ll be popping!
Bill Mosley was utterly wasted in TC3D. I’ve got a plan for him this time around.
Texas Chain Saw Massacre ended with Sally (Marilyn Burns) escaping with her life, but her mind seemingly lost. As the opening crawl of that film told us, the crime (dubbed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) was discovered, but no references are made to the events of the discovery. So we pick up in 2012, and “Officially” the perpetrators of the massacre were captured and executed. Unofficially however, Leatherface and the Old Man (Jim Siedow) escaped the house before the police could arrive and disappeared into Texas air.
Over the course of the last thirty eight years, Leatherface has become an urban legend, a Texas boogeyman that parents use to keep their children in line (Don’t you go playing by that abandoned mine or Leatherface’ll getcha) and a ghost story passed around at campfires and sleepovers.
In reality, Leatherface has been hidden away while the Old Man went about living his life keeping up appearances and “Helping” the police capture the “Real” perpetrators. When the other Sawyer boy (Bill Mosley) comes home from the war, it becomes his job to keep an eye on Leatherface and keep him out of trouble while the Old Man keeps making money and keeping the townsfolk out of his families affairs.
The Old Man dies and it’s down to Leatherface and his brother to care for each other.
(Note: It’s at this point the outline splits into two different directions, each one essentially leading to the inevitable massacre that we’re all paying to see)
Version 1: A reality series (Destination Truth or Monster Hunters type of show) heads out to Texas to investigate the legends of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the masked maniac Leatherface. The crew interviews towns folk and gets mostly the same legends that have been passed down for decades. They run into the local laws who aren’t too keen to have outsiders poking around their town looking to dredge up old history. After getting the “Official” story from the police and promising to leave, the crew gets a tip from a local of where the house is, now seemingly abandoned. The crew makes a big deal about leaving, making sure the lawmen see them heading out, but of course they end up at the old Sawyer home.
Unbeknownst to the film crew, the local who sent them out to the Sawyer house has planned to make himself and his little town famous by scaring the bejeezus out of the crew by staging a little chainsaw attack.
And what happens when folks go poking around the Sawyer estate? Chaos ensues and the body count rises as Leatherface and his brother butcher the locals and the crew, but did someone manage to get a call out to the sheriff?
Version 2: Its orientation weekend at “Local Texas College” and our group of out of towners have just arrived to get acquainted with the town and school they’ll be calling home for the next four years. After getting a little time to meet and get to know our group of victims to be, the wheels of death are set in motion as our group is all bunking in the same dorm and their RA has a special way of “Welcoming” new students.
Our RA proceeds to tell our group of VTB (Victims to be) about the legend of Leatherface and the TCM. The RA makes a big deal about how as out of towners, they have to prove themselves by showing they aren’t afraid of “A dumb old legend” and are tasked to sneak out to the old “Massacre House” and snag something from the house to bring back to the RA. The RA gives them a map to a Different abandoned house where his/her friends are waiting to scare the ever living shit out of the poor freshman, but of course our out of town freshman get lost and end up at the real Sawyer house.
Our group of VTB now have to deal with the reality that Shit Just Got Real. The RA and his/her friends figure something is up when the freshman don’t show up when they should have, and someone figures maybe they stumbled on the real Sawyer house. The RA and crew head out to find the freshman and now we’ve got ourselves a healthy group of folks to get massacred.
As I said in the introduction to this column I’m only doing outlines for these films. Where do either of these stories end? Well the obvious would be that someone escapes and is saved by the police (thus leaving it open for yet another unnecessary sequel), or everyone dies in horrible ways.
It doesn’t really matter to be honest, but personally I wouldn’t mind seeing either everyone dying or a semi-reenactment of the finale of the original film in which one survivor tries to escape but is instead chainsawed to death by old man Leatherface.