Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Case It's Based On

Do it to Me One More Time

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
Video cover: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

In 1990, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III was released. A short film, less than an hour and a half, it was revised considerably, with ten minutes cut, to get an R rating. In 2003, the unrated version became available on DVD, with a few more features. And there were new characters. Back in 1990, Viggo Mortenson, known to many today as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, was apparently willing to be identified in film as a bad guy. He's part of this new cannibal family, insisting that the others call him 'Tex,' and there's a mother (or grandmother) as well, with grotesquely veined legs and a speaker box for a voice. Grandpa, too, is back, waiting to drink up the gore, as is Leatherface and another brother. There's even a young sister (or daughter) now to complete this Addams Family portrait.

Actor, Viggo Mortensen
Actor, Viggo Mortensen

This time the hapless victims are a girl, Michelle, and her boyfriend, Ryan, traveling across Texas to deliver a car to her father in Florida. They're redirected at the Last Chance gas station after getting a glimpse of a gruesome exhumation project along the way. Dozens of bodies have been found buried in a bog, raising past tales about Leatherface and his chainsaw. The film reminds you that the only survivor of that original massacre (Sally) died four years later in a mental institution. It's a set-up to the treatment this new couple can expect and when a supposed hitchhiker is shot, they flee down the "shortcut" to which Tex had directed them.

Jeff Burr directed this version and, like TCM2, it lacks a documentary feel; TCM has become a simple gorefest with the most superficial plots. As the couple struggle to stay alive after being attacked on the open road by a man in a truck, as well as a chainsaw-wielding monster, they encounter Benny, a survivalist on his way to a weekend training session. He crashes, losing the use of his SUV, and now he, too, must ward off the blows.

Michelle and Ryan make their way to a lone house, which is, of course, the home of the cannibal family. Tex shows up here, nailing Michelle to a chair while they string up Ryan, who'd been caught outside in a trap. Many of the scenes are familiar, but Michelle manages to get free, reunite with Benny, and drive away, leaving a pursuing Leatherface behind on the road with his saw.

While some critics believe this was a fine sequel, and several countries banned or edited it just as vigorously as they had with TCM, there's nothing remarkable about it. One might think it would have died from lack of creativity, but in fact, the next installment was on the Texas horizon.


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