Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

If looks could kill he woudn't need a chainsaw.

Year of Release: 1994
Also Known As: The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Genre: Horror/Comedy
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 95 minutes (1:35)
Director: Kim Henkel


Renee Zellweger ... Jenny
Matthew McConaughey ... Vilmer
Robert Jacks ... Leatherface Slaughter
Tonie Perensky ... Darla
Joe Stevens ... W.E. Slaughter
Grayson Victor Schirmacher ... Grandfather
Lisa Marie Newmyer ... Heather
John Harrison ... Sean
Tyler Shea Cone ... Barry
James Gale ... Mr. Rothman
John Dugan ... Cop At Hospital
Paul A. Partain ... Hospital Orderly
Marilyn Burns ... Patient on Gurney


When a helpful family invites two lost couples in for a good ol' down home massacre, the prom night teens find themselves all dressed up... with no place to escape.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4, remindin' us to always keep at least one ear free of tongue obstructions if you plan to cheat on your girlfriend in plain sight in a location where you've previously agreed to meet. That should be obvious, but I've got this theory that Texans' ear canals're embedded in the palms of their hands, so if they've got a coupla handfuls of hooter, the nipples could conceivably be pluggin' 'em. But it's only a theory at this time. An speakin' of people with biological deformities, we (Duke Tankersley, Cleave Furguson, Billy Hilliard an I) solved the mystery of the frightened cattle at the drive-in this past week, after we spent 12 hours drivin' around every dirt road in the county startin' at 4 in the mornin'. Go ahead, ask me if I'm happy. We figured it was just varmints, so we started out in Scat Flats. Shot about 15 coyotes, includin' one real cranky guy that was missin' one front leg an one back leg from chewin' his way outta snares. Then we split up an Duke went out to Sumac Ridge an spent a few hours trackin' some bear prints that lead into an old mine shaft before crawlin' inside with a Bowie knife in his teeth an... now that I think about it, Duke's kinda scary. Meanwhile, Cleave managed to run over a bobcat crossin' the road out on Bearcrack Mountain, and Billy an I took out about a half dozen badgers on Skunky's ranch along with this hawk that had a real attitude problem. Kept circlin' over us like we were a coupla buzzard tacos an it was really startin' to tick us off. Anyhow, we met back up at Skunky's place around 2pm an decided to look around the area where the stampede first started an found some really gnarly footprints that looked like somethin' eccentric old men take plaster casts of. So Duke went home an got Gank (his old blood hound), an we tracked the perp all the way out to Duke's place. By that point we just assumed Gank'd lost the trail an headed for the hubcap where Duke pours his kibble, at least until Silas came outta the house an the dog went apeshit. So after a whole lotta yellin' an a coupla punches bein' thrown, Silas finally confessed to strippin' down to the fluff an snarlin' like a rabid doberman til the cattle went plowin' through the fence. For those of you who dunno the Tankersleys, they've all got hypertrichosis. Which means they're almost as hairy as the bench seat out in the yard where Apollo likes to sleep. Apparently, he didn't like us showin' Moon of the Wolf a few weeks back after readin' my review of it over at Walleye's Topless Dancing & Bait Shop, cause he felt it might incite violence towards his kinfolk. I guess he didn't like the "American Werewolf in Dockers" crack either. But anyway, Silas promised to walk upright in the future an keep his clothes on at all times on drive-in premises, so we opted not to tell Skunky about all this since it'd just start a buncha Hatfield/McCoy bullstuff. So basically, I flushed my Saturday down the toilet an hadda work the projection booth at the Grime Time that same evenin', but at least we know the drive-in is safe again. I mean, as long as you don't eat the food.

After all that nonsense I needed somethin' to help me relax, so I figured since it was approximately 200 degrees out, I'd pop the next chapter in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre saga into the VCR. Kinda my way of showin' respect for Tobe Hooper an the cast of the original for the conditions they hadda endure to make the greatest horror movie of all time. An yeah, I realize there're a lotta people out there who'd consider it blasphemous to even mention this sequel in the same paragraph with the original '74 version, an that's fine, so long as those people don't also sing the praises of the Scream franchise. Cause when you get right down to it, TCM 4 is really a precursor to the spoof formula Scream popularized, which everybody seems to love. But anyway, because this was Kim Henkel's first an only shot at directin', an because the man tried his damnedest to bring us his own vision of what the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 shoulda looked like, I think he deserves to have his art held up an scrutinized by somebody who won't rag on it because they're too damned stupid to realize Leatherface was a transvestite from the get-go. So, with that in mind, I'd like to present just a few of the things that I learned watchin' Chainsaw Part 4. You might wanna stash these away in your memory banks for safe keepin', cause ya never can tell what kinda weaponry the criminals'll resort to if Hillary Clinton takes all our dad-blame guns away. First, pot may not really be the "gateway drug" that the D.A.R.E. officers claim while tryin' to scare kids into obedience, but it still makes it tough to outrun the Ted Cruz votin' bloc when they start chasin' you in a tow truck. Second, in Texas, throwin' rocks through people's windows is considered a form of courtship, an will result in mammitary gains in the form of flashings. An third, people're a lot less gracious than you'd expect when offered a seat in the meat freezer as a means of escape from the blazin' Texas heat.

But right now, I'd like to take this moment to draw attention to somethin' a lotta folks might miss while enjoyin' this fine piece of Texan art, an that's Kim Henkel's darin' an compassionate decision to offer Matthew McConaughey the role of Vilmer, in spite of the fact that he ain't actually a cripple. Some folks'd say he shouldn't get that part because he's takin' away work from the handicapped, but I say that's a buncha malarkey. These're the exact same people who say the Ghostbusters can't be female, that James Bond can't be black, an that Peter Pan can't be straight, but I ask you this; does not bein' a gimp hinder Matt's performance in this movie in any way? Cause despite havin' full use of his knee, with no legitimate need for the remote controlled hydraulic bionic cyborg patella, Matt is the guy who rises above his structural integrity an delivers the performance of a lifetime. Sure, things kinda went to Hell for 'im after this flick, but Matt, if you're readin' this; you'll always have Chainsaw Part 4. So I say: lay off with the rigid castin' standards an give everybody an equal opportunity. Specially us non-disabled types. Those alleged castin' "experts" never even give us folks with all our skin a tryout when they're holdin' auditions for the Shriners Hospital ads. Somebody aughta sue those jerks for prejudice an really take 'em to the cleaners. Take the shirts off their backs an the fezzes off their heads, that'll learn 'em.

The movie begins with this narrator who obviously didn't listen to the narrator from the third movie, talkin' about how no suspects were ever apprehended after the events of the first flick or either of the two "minor" events that followed, an that every now an then Dr. Leatherface starts acceptin' new patients to his Poulanoscopy practice. Then we open up at Renee Zellweger's house where she (Jenny) is tryin' to get ready for prom, only 'er sleazebag stepdad comes into 'er room an starts actin' like the movie aughta be called West Virginia Chainsaw Massacre an generally acts like the Lifetime network slimeball of the week til 'er date (Sean) shows up. Meanwhile, Jenny's bimbo (Heather) an himbo (Barry) friends're already at the prom, but pretty quick Heather catches Barry twistin' the knobs on some fallen-from-grace rodeo queen's transistors. Heather's P.O.'d, so she takes off in Barry's car until he's able to catch 'er an explain that he wouldn't hafta do that kinda thing if she didn't have an igloo between 'er legs, which makes 'er feel a lot better. Then Jenny an Sean pop up in the backseat like a coupla gold investment ads on a right wing blog site an cause Heather to shear the bumper offa some dejected Rangers fan. This leaves Heather with no other option but to peel outta there like glue off a teenage girl's palm, an take a detour down one of those country roads that're too narrow to pass on without losin' your driver's side mirror. Then they get t-boned by some rube drivin' a Dodge Aspen, forcin' Jenny, Barry, an Heather to go for help when the other driver flops down on the ground like Vlade Divac after bein' struck by a 2 mph wind gust. Eventually they make their way to a real estate office that specializes in sellin' endangered jackalope habitat to guys with toothpicks in their mouths lookin' to open up shootin' ranges, an ask the realtor (Darla) to call the cops. Mostly she just talks about the perks of gettin' snap-on breast implants while flashin' passing goat ranchers, but does eventually make a call. Elsewhere, Matthew McConaughey (Vilmer) is out at the scene of the wreck where he pronounces the flopper dead after swivelin' his neck around just to be sure. He tries to reassure Sean that it's better'n leavin' his body to be accosted by degenerate armadillos, but ends up havin' to chase 'im up an down the road in his wrecker an run 'im over 10 - 12 times to make sure his tires've still got enough tread to get 'im unstuck the next time he swerves into a ditch tryin' to avoid the Donkey Lady of San Antonio. How anybody can get run over by a vehicle with this many lights on it is an impressive feat of stupidity, cause Matt's truck is so brightly illuminated that Richard Dreyfuss an Teri Garr once tried to rendezvous with it at Devil's Tower. But anyway, while that's goin' on, the rest of the kids start headin' back towards the crash site, only Barry an Heather end up chasin' some guy's truck like a coupla old ranch dogs an find themselves at the house from the "Home" episode of The X-Files.

Then Barry goes pokin' around lookin' for old license plates tacked to barn doors an runs into this weirdo (W.E.) who looks like he got rewired wrong the last time he was abducted by aliens, who holds 'im at gunpoint an peppers 'im with a barrage of tobacco spittle an quotes from famous historical figures. But back around front, Heather's adjustin' 'er tiara on the porch swing, when Leatherface sneaks up on 'er an starts pickin' at 'er hair tryin' to figure out how she manages to avoid gettin' split ends. Eventually, she finally notices the 300lb man who smells like Satan's ball-sweat, an the two of 'em have a screamin' contest til Leatherface's ears start gushin' out blood like a bulimic leech an deposits 'er in the freezer on toppa the chicken pot pies. Course Leatherface keeps forgettin' she can still open the lid so long as she's still kickin', an hasta plop a big washtub fulla automotive parts down on top of it so she'll keep 'er cool. Meanwhile, W.E. leads Barry into the house through the front door, cept Barry slams it in W.E.'s face an locks it so he can take a leisurely piss in private without havin' to hear anymore profound insights into rural American culture. Unfortunately, when he turns around, he notices the corpse of some rubeonic plague victim rottin' away in the bathtub, an when he exits the can Leatherface clobbers 'im with a blacksmithin' hammer. I think we can all agree that Barry deserved this, if for no better reason than his shirt havin' more ruffles in it than Nancy Grace's couch cushions. Unfortunately, they won't both fit in the freezer cause everybody in the house refuses to throw away leftovers, so Leatherface hasta pull Heather out an hang 'er rack of lamb on a meat hook. Elsewhere, Jenny gets picked up on the road by Matthew, cept when he strikes up the kinda conversation you'd expect to hear between Ed Gein an Jeffrey Dahmer in the prison rec room an shows 'er what he's done to Sean's rent-a-tux, she rejects his southern hospitality an jumps outta the truck like a bird dog chasin' a pheasant. Then Matt pops in his favorite mix tape an chases 'er through a cow pasture til she escapes into a stand of trees an he decides he didn't really wanna waste his hag tag on somethin' with so little meat on it anyway. Leatherface ain't so picky though, an sides that, he really appreciates a woman who includes Proactiv facial products as part of 'er beauty regimen, so he revs up the ole buzzsaw an chases 'er into a creek where she durn near gets Poulan'd on the river, follows 'er up to the house an promptly ruins the door like a damn fool. Then she gets cornered upstairs an hasta go crashin' through the window like a brick-loaded Bernie Sanders bobble-head doll at Debbie Wasserman Schultz' house, an the two of 'em crawl around on the roof until Jenny scales the TV antenna an completely destroys the family's reception of the Country Music Awards.

Eventually she ends up gettin' dumped onto the lawn like a bag of cheap fertilizer an chased all the way back to the real estate office, cept when she runs inside, Darla calls W.E. up on the Sawyer for Hire hotline an he hot foots it on over an starts jabbin' Jenny in the hinder with a Hot-Shot until he can get a Hefty bag over 'er head. Then Darla loads 'er up in the trunk like an illegal immigrant an heads for home, only by now Heather's managed to pull 'erself offa the meat hook an crawl down the road a piece like a gut-shot Javelina hog. Darla ain't really wearin' the right shoes to deal with that, so she pulls up to the house an tells W.E. to go get 'er while Leatherface (who's now lookin' a lot like Mrs. Doubtfire) carries in the groceries. Then Matt unbags Jenny an uncorks a speech so crazy it'd make Alex Jones call the guys in white coats, at which point Leatherface dumps Heather on the kitchen floor like a block of rat poison an... well, next thing you know the Matt's got 'er tongue. Not surprisingly, the public education system hasn't nearly prepared Jenny for dealin' with this kinda situation, so she an Darla hafta have a little heart to heart talk where Darla explains that Matt an the resta the guys work for the Illuminati an get paid to act like Rhesus monkeys that're high on battery acid. Then Matt drags Jenny to the dinner table an starts slappin' Darla around like Chris Brown at a self-esteem seminar, til Darla gets P.O.'d an tries beatin' Matt to death with 'er spiked high heels, causin' Leatherface to be further traumatized by watchin' Mommy an Daddy fight. But in the confusion, Jenny manages to get ahold of Dubya E's dubya barrel an force everybody but Matt down onto the floor cause he's too busy chuggin' a beer an steppin' on Darla's neck til 'er eyes start bulgin' out like a high schooler's jock strap durin' girls' volleyball practice. Jenny does eventually pull the trigger, but the gun's emptier'n the plus-sized discount underwear bin at Walmart, so she ends up tryin' to drive off in Darla's car while Matt smooshes his face up against the windshield til he looks like a half gallon of Silly Putty, causin' 'er to plow into a tree. Then Matt drags 'er back to the house an butts 'er with his shotgun so he won't hafta worry about 'er sneakin' off while Darla's screwin' around with the remote control to his cyborg kneecap an makin' 'im dance like the frog in the Warner Bros. cartoons. By the time Jenny regains consciousness, Leatherface's gotten dressed up like an extra from Rocky Horror an the entire family's been assembled for chow time, only Darla keeps havin' to try calmin' Jenny down while Matthew hocks loogies all over 'er party dress. Then Matt just about burns the place down after startin' a Malibu Barbie-que on the backside of Heather's evenin' gown, an the next thing you know this Limey Judd Nelson shows up in a limo an he's P.O.'d. I don't wanna ruin the endin', but the Judd Nelson guy's part of the Illuminati or somethin', an he's payin' Matt an the rest of the psych ward to keep the rural legend mill operatin' by terrorizin' pretty white folks, an he's none too pleased with what passes for "terror" around these parts. It starts to get kinda weird after that.

Alrighty, well, I already know what most people think about this one, and you might not wanna hear what I have to say next, but I'm gonna say it anyway; holding a sequel to the same standard as the greatest horror movie in history is just not rational. Seriously you guys, how many of you really think this thing ain't worth more than a 3/10 on the IMDB, when not factoring in what a disappointment it is in comparison to the original? Don't get me wrong, it's the worst one in the original series (I need to rewatch the remake at some point, but I might actually rate this one above it at least) by a huge margin, but that doesn't mean it has no redeeming value. First thing I'd mention in its defense is that a movie made for $600,000 in 1994 would have been fairly low budget. Not bargain basement, but that's still pretty damn cheap for the time. Second thing I'd like to point out is that without it, there'd be absolutely nothing for burnt-out writers to throw back in the faces of Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in an attempt to embarrass 'em in front of their peers. We need that kinda low hangin' fruit sittin' around so we'll know never to pay attention to anything those particular writers say. They're like cinematic slut-shamers, and I ain't havin' that kinda crapola in my house. And third, this was Kim Henkel's first and only directorial effort. Now I'm sure most of you already know Kim, cause he's the guy who wrote the screenplay on the first movie with Tobe Hooper, and it's clear to me that his heart was in the right place, bein' as how this movie pretty much plays as a greatest hits highlight real from the previous movies. I mean, you've got scenes that're just about shot for shot homages to the original (even down to the camera angles), such as Leatherface chasing Renee with the chainsaw, Leatherface sawing up the front door, Renee running upstairs and jumping out the window, the hammer scene, the meat hook scene, the freezer scene, the dinner table scene, that iconic camera snap-shot sound effect from the original, the name W.E. being reused, the three different masks worn by Leatherface, and several other things that occur after I cut the description off. The man just wanted to go home again, so let's cut him a little slack already. This was kinda Kim's attempt to make the sequel he thought Part 2 should have been instead of going off into comedic territory the way it did, and in doing so, he not only got three of the original cast members back in cameos, but he tried to get even more than that. He tried to get Jim Siedow to return, and also offered Bill Johnson the opportunity to reprise the Leatherface role he played in Part 2, but things just didn't work out, unfortunately. And while technically speaking, the opening narration does acknowledge the 2nd and 3rd movies, it refers to them as "two minor, yet apparently related incidents." There's really no acknowledgement, other than said narration to suggest that this is the fourth movie in the series, and it more or less ignores the events of Parts 2 & 3. Including the opening narration from Part 3 that states W.E. Sawyer was the only member of the family that was apprehended, and that he died in the gas chamber in 1981. But, it is what it is.

Anyhow, let's dress this thing out and see if it's got any guts, or just a chest cavity fulla marshmallow fluff. The plot must be acknowledged as asinine, even by those of us who don't hate the movie the way a lot of people do. The Illuminati angle comes across as a twist just for the sake of having a twist, and completely changes the simplicity that made the original flick so great. Not only does it take the plausibility out of these sorts of freak incidents, but implies that these simple monsters are doing what they do for some greater purpose, which is not only ridiculous, but also unwanted. That aspect, and that aspect alone, is why so many people loathe the movie, and even I as someone who doesn't cannot blame them. Although I do feel that flushing it down the crapper based upon one screw up is unwarranted. The acting, on the other hand, punches far above its weight. Not just because of Zellweger and McConaughey (although McConaughey's insanity is brilliant in a way that's completely different from Chop Top or the Hitchhiker), but because of the supporting cast as well. Tonie Perensky is excellent as the brainwashed masochist, Darla, and Joe Stevens is equally entertaining as W.E. Slaughter. Leatherface gets back-burnered a little bit in this one, and while he isn't as big a part of it as he was in the first three movies, Henkel has him acting very much like Gunnar Hansen played the character in the first movie, which is a plus. The supporting protagonists are little lackluster at times, particularly Lisa Newmyer during the scene where she gets hung on the meat hook, but at no point would you consider their performances to be amateurish or poor.

In any event, here's who matters and why, less Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger, who're the only reasons half the people who've seen this have done so. I decided to include Marilyn Burns' resume on the basis that while many people may know her, they only know her for the one role. Robert Jacks (Scary Movie 1991), Joe Stevens (Hoboken Hollow, My Boyfriend's Back), James Gale (Haunted), Grayson Victor Schirmacher (Horror Hayride), Bill Wise (Laser Team, Butcher Boys), John Dugan (Belly Timber, The Hospital 1 & 2, Bite School, The Boogeyman 2014, All Sinners Night, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Butcher Boys, Hell-ephone, Shudder, Monstrosity, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Paul Partain (Race with the Devil, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Marilyn Burns (Sacrament, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Butcher Boys, Future-Kill, Kiss Daddy Goodbye, Eaten Alive 1976, Helter Skelter 1976), Ryan Wickerham (The Walk with Darkness, Untitled Horror Comedy). As far as the mainstream credits go, Joe Stevens played Deputy Travis in Lone Star, Angee Hughes was Wanda Gilmore on the TV series Wishbone, and the movie also features Debra McMichael of WCW/WWE fame in a small role before she started making a living off of her knockers.

As for the special effects, well, if you think Chainsaw III was butchered, this one is even more disappointing. Of course, that problem is softened slightly by the fact that this movie was intended to emulate the formula in the original and, as we all know, that movie didn't have hardly anything in the way of gore. It was just so visceral that it made you *think* it was a gore fest. That said, this sequel is severely lacking in the special effects department, and does not have the same level of violence, or even implied violence, that the first movie had. You never see Leatherface do any carving, the sledgehammer blow that was reenvisioned here doesn't show the moment of impact, and the new meat hook scene also lacks the bite of the original. Basically you can condense it down to minor amounts of blood, which is pretty pitiful when you consider what Part 2 did with its gore. The shooting locations are pretty good, and while it's impossible to live up to the iconic house from the first movie and all its myriad macabre interior decorating touches, they did an alright job on this new one. Far better than the house from Part III. The thing that still surprises me, though, is that they didn't recreate the bone room from the first movie when they took the trouble to duplicate so many other aspects. The scene where Teri McGinn stumbles into the room fulla bones in the original is one of the best scenes in the movie, so why no recreation here? In any event, the house interiors are still well done. You've got the wall of keys indicating the family has been at it for quite a while, the taxidermied people, the corpse in the bathtub, and the human skin on the hook in the bathroom, so all in all, its a pretty good recreation. The outdoor scenes not filmed near the family house were shot in Austin, Texas, though they really don't bring too much to the movie because they're not really integral to the plot. The wooded area outside the house, on the other hand, serves the movie well, and generates a decent amount of atmosphere. That said, the cinematography in this movie doesn't come anywhere close to that of the original. The soundtrack is mostly comprised of country music performed by local musicians, with a few generic instrumental tracks. The use of country music is definitely appropriate, but I feel like it would have been better had it been creeping in the background, rather than being the focal point of certain scenes. It's also got a few rock tunes that are fair, but not as good as the ones from Part III, so in general, the soundtrack really doesn't add much to the movie, and is neither memorable nor pleasing to the ear. Overall, it's a bit of a mess, and it doesn't make a lick of sense, but between the superb acting and all the homages to the original, it does have its moments. I still can't bring myself to pass it, but if it's been a while, try watching a dozen or so movies made post 2010 and then give it another look, your appreciation for it just might increase.

Rating: 55%