Film Review - Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

Starring - Kate Hodge, William Butler, Ken Foree, Viggo Mortensen, R.A. Mihailoff, Tom Hudson | Directed by Jeff Burr | New Line DVD WS Unrated/R 85min/81min 1990

Review By Xmortis

The killer known as Leatherface and his family are at it again making city folks' lives shorter in the great state of Texas. This film turns the series more toward being a full fledge slasher film. WARNING: this review does contain some spoilers, and I am reviewing the unrated version of the film.

Michelle and Ryan are driving cross-country and made the mistake of driving through Texas as another Sawyer body pit has been found. It throws them off the normal highway and to the Last Chance Gas Station run by a pervert named Alfredo Sawyer who gets into a fight with a hitchhiker named Tex after he catches him peeping on Michelle as she uses the restroom. Before Tex is "gunned" down for being a hero, he tells them to take a back road that leads to a run-in with Leatherface and an accident with a survivalist named Benny. With no cars and no hope, the three along with a crazy young woman who has escaped the Sawyer clan become the prey as Leatherface and his brothers Tinker (a hook handed technology lover and tow truck driver), Tex (the hitchhiker) and Alfredo (the gas station owner) hunt them down and kill them for meat. Michelle is alive after the others are killed and taken to the Sawyer farm were she gets to meet Mama Sawyer, Grandpa and Leatherface's young daughter. But when Benny, who's not dead, comes to her aid the two must kill or be killed to stay alive. Do they make it out of Texas alive, and if so, what is left of them? Watch the film and find out!

I found the third in the series to be very underrated. While it has many flaw, it's still is a fun horror film that brings Leatherface one step closer to being a full fledged slasher killer and away from the simple minded, confused one as built up in the original. While I like the original concept of Leatherface better, I am also fine with a more mean spirited man that goes out of his way to kill his human cattle. The plot is your typical slasher film story: a fighting boyfriend and girlfriend are being stalked by a madman killer and must use their wits to survive. Throw in a Rambo like hero and lots of blood and gore and you have this film. The storyline is kind of scattered and fits very oddly with the previous films. For the most part, it acts as if part two never happened. R.A. Mihailoff plays Leatherface this time around and is much taller and sadistic then the other portrayals but still maintains a little bit of the simple minded, child-like nature. The look of the skin mask is just okay and lacks something I just can't put my figure on. Over all I enjoyed Mihailoff's version of Leatherface even if its very much different then those that came before and after. Viggo Mortensen plays Tex and is a good strange addition to the Sawyer family. He is smooth talking one moment and a raving loony bird the next. Mortensen is a great actor, and he makes this character work. Another great addition to the family is Tinker played by Joe Unger who seems to have taken over the role of the brains after Drayton's death in part two. It was also nice to see Grandpa even if he is a corpse in this one. The other additions of Mama and the daughter seemed a waste and only add a little to the overall film. The backgrounds once again work, and the lighting also is eerie adding to the downbeat mood of the story. While bloody, the film is still clearly trimmed down from what they intended even in the unrated print. It's a shame that the MPAA was so keen on trimming horror films in the 80's because I know we all missed out on some great special effects. The film's score is filled with heavy metal that helps add to the new feel of this Leatherface and family. While not perfect, this is a fun no brainer sequel that is sure to please some fans and turn off others.

This DVD has some cool extras that include both R rated and unrated prints of the film, commentary, subtitles, deleted scenes, a documentary on the making of, trailers and alternate endings. New Line Cinema did a great job on putting this DVD together, and it helps add to the horrific experience. Plus the DVD cover is a nice port over from the classic VHS cover, very nice work on this one.

This is certainly not in the same league as parts one and two but is better than what followed. Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is one of New Line Cinema's classic movie slashers that bomb at the box office, received bad reviews from critics and was judged too harshly by horror fans. I know we all love the rawness of part one and the over all black comedy of the second film, but nothing will come close to getting that magic back with this franchise. If you want to see a hammer blow to the head, machine gun fire into the Sawyer house, a person burnt alive, Leatherface's new 80's look and a body pit filled with rotten flesh, then look no further then this second sequel to the 1974 classic. It's worth having in your collection.

Up next is a look at the weirdest film in the series, 1994's Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, a film that was shelved for a little under four years and took the Sawyer family in a totally new direction. So want you join us and take a trip to Texas once more.