What the Hell Were They Thinking?!

This must be the one where Leatherface fights Captain Picard and Data. Academy Award winners Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey star in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre the Next GenerationCast of Characters:
Jenny – Renee Zellweger
Vilmer – Matthew McConaughey
Leatherface – Robert Jacks
Darla – Tonie Perenski
Walter – Joe Stevens
Heather – Lisa Newmyer
Barry – Tyler Cone
Sean – John Harrison
Rothman – James Gale

Director – Kim Henkel
Screenplay – Kim Henkel
Producer – Robert J. Kuhn & Kim Henkel
Rated R for demented mayhem and torture, and for strong language

Four high school friends – Jenny (Renee Zellweger), Heather (Lisa Newmyer), Barry (Tyler Cone) and Sean (John Harrison) – are on their way home from their senior prom. While arguing over another girl she saw her boyfriend Barry making out with in secret, Heather loses sight of the road and ends up in a car wreck with another driver.

Concerned about the other driver, who’s now unconscious, Jenny, Heather and Barry go look for help while Sean stays behind with the driver. The three soon find a rural estate office run by slutty insurance agent Darla (Tonie Perenski) who calls up her tow trucker boyfriend Vilmer (Matthew McConaughey) to help out at the scene of the wreck.

Unfortunately for the four, Vilmer and Darla are not the helpful couple they appear to be and the high schoolers’ misadventures lead them to the Sawyer house where a llama shrieking, tranny version of Leatherface (Robert Jacks) awaits them. It’s there that they discover the true sinister intentions of the demented clan – they belong to an ancient order of alien Illuminati agents bent on spreading terror to create a spiritual experience.

… Uh…

Once in a while, Hollywood stumbles upon a lucky little starlet that manages to hit a home run with their debut, but for the most part, every celeb has that one movie early on in their career that they look back on and think – well, this segment’s name sums it up exactly. You’ll find these movies typically in the bargain section at any store’s electronics/entertainment section. They’re the kind that usually say on the cover “4 BRAD PITT FILMS FOR $1.99!!!!”, but then your excitement at the prospect of a steal is immediately crushed when you realize they’re four shitty movies from like 1985 that no one’s ever heard of, and he barely has any screen time in any of them, but since Pitt is who he is now, they’re gonna pimp the hell out of his name and image on the DVD case.

While not all of them are, most tend to be awful horror flicks. Jennifer Aniston had Leprechaun, Naomi Watts had Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering, George Clooney had Return of the Killer Tomatoes and Return to Horror High, Paul Rudd had Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Leonardo DiCaprio had Critters 3 and Viggo Mortensen mumbled his way through Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3.

And speaking of films involving the chainsaw wielding Leatherface, that brings us to Oscar-winners Matthew McConaughey and the squintiest of all squinters Renee Zellweger and their gem – Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which isn’t to be confused with a crossover between the slasher film and Star Trek.

Shame too. That probably would’ve been a better film.

The fourth entry in the horror franchise was first released at several film festivals under the name The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1994, before being shelved for a couple years. In the summer of 1997, after McConaughey and Zellweger became big stars, it was re-cut and released again under the name Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Normally, these bottom of the barrel sequels to horror staples have some no name guy attached as director. Kim Henkel, however, is not some no name guy, at least not to fans of the 1974 original who’d immediately recognize him as the film’s co-creator along with Tobe Hooper.

From a cult classic and landmark of the slasher genre… to this incoherent drivel.

I’m not sure why Henkel decided to veer a little bit off the story’s path before driving right off a cliff with all this alien Illuminati crap. You’d think he’d be content with giving us a family that’s crazy simply ’cause they are like he did with Hooper in the original. The FBI surveillance and “Who really killed Kennedy?” talk sounds confusing at first, but you kinda figure the Sawyers are loopy people, so whatever. But then when some multiple chest-ringed agent shows up and starts spilling the beans about what’s really going on – secret government agencies, alien lifeforms and spiritual awakenings – that’s when you’re convinced Henkel jumped not one shark but an entire school of them.

It’s as if the characters from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre got mixed up with those from Men in Black and Oliver Stone’s JFK.

Jesse Ventura probably thinks this is a documentary.

But the film’s problems only begin with Henkel’s bizarre story treatment. You also have characters ranging from the most annoying villains to the dumbest victims. Not a good combo. Leatherface has been turned into a whiny bitch – and I mean a very, very, very whiny bitch – Walter’s some nut that talks only in famous quotes, which definitely doesn’t get old after the second or third one, and McConaughey’s Vilmer is crazy angry all the time probably ’cause he has to go so long without taking his shirt off.

Then there’s the dingbats they’re terrorizing, or at least trying to; judging from how unaffected they are at the sight of dead bodies, the villains are doing a horrible job at it. Also, this marks the first time I’ve seen a victim lock themselves inside the killer’s house and another actually stop while being chased by the killer so he can calmly talk it out with him.

“Hey, c’mon man. Can you maybe not kill me? What do I need to do?”

If he somehow succeeds, he has officially rendered cops, rape whistles, mace and the entire U.S. military obsolete.

Renee Zellweger plays quite an irritating protagonist. In Jenny’s mind, repeatedly telling the killers “Stop it.” or “Don’t.” in a shrill whiny voice will get them to stop abusing her. Plus, she has got to have the most matter-of-fact delivery I’ve ever heard used in saying things you typically would expect to be voiced with a little more urgency. For example, this would be my reaction…


And this would be hers…

“He’s out there with – like – a chainsaw. Yeah, he was – like – chasing me with a chainsaw… Like – oh my God, he ran over Sean with a truck… Stop it… Don’t hurt her.”

As for McConaughey, give him credit for going all-out here. I’m not sure if it’s pure, genuine acting talent or the mountain of blow he probably snorted before each take, but either way, you expect nothing less than the highest level of crazy from a man who loves spending his free time playing the bongos naked while high as a kite.

By the way, he begged his agent to convince Henkel and co-producer Robert J. Kuhn to not release this movie.

I can’t imagine why.

To say Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation pales in comparison to the original classic would be such an understatement it’s almost a sick joke. No, this sloppy excuse for a film drops so far down past the original it pales in comparison to 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D – yes, the masterpiece that showed us the power of familial “Do your thang, cuz!!” love extends to even cannibalistic whack jobs like the Sawyers. If the previous two sequels weren’t enough to convince you that some horror films are better off left as a standalone and not a franchise, this part sequel, part remake, part reboot, part steaming splotch of shit on both McConaughey and Zellweger’s resumes should do the trick.

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