Friday, September 10, 2010

LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III (1990) - the saw is still family, and power tools are still dangerous in the hands of inbreds

here is the teaser for TCM III, back in the glory days when trailers didn't have to have anything whatsoever to do with the film

My original encounter with Leatherface was viewing the incredible teaser trailer in the theater as a young, popcorn huffing degenerate. It shows some hefty fella peering into a lake, and we see a souped up, stainless steel chainsaw come straight out. The mysterious hand of a lady tosses the saw into the hands of the dude standing there, and lightning strikes the chainsaw, infusing this already massive weapon with vague electrical powers. He turns around and the camera zooms into his face, and, lo and behold, it’s Mr. Leatherface (I guess I should’ve seen that coming). This is, of course, an appropriation of the lady in the lake sequence in Excalibur. It's a wonderfully exciting teaser, albeit ludicrous and nonsensical, and everything the movie is not: balls laced with class.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is probably my favorite horror film of all time. I’m not even going to bother extolling it’s virtues, except to quote Joe Bob Briggs: “the saw is king”. Although flawed, TCM2 is an interesting, over the top comedic variation of the original. However, TCM III had most of it’s violent content removed in the script and editing stages, and suffered heavily as a result. The film may have worked as a tame thriller rehash of the original if it was constructed as such wire to wire. However, it seemed like it was conceived as an ultraviolent reinvigoration of the franchise, and the scene hacking not only destroyed the effectiveness and tone of the film, but also the editing and the narrative. The result is, for all intensive purposes, a dumb T.V. movie of the week version of the original.

However, this jumbled script and editing process does yield a wonderfully ludicrous dues ex machina ending, accidental as it may be. Local survivalist Ken Foree gets:

1. Run over by a truck.
2. Pummeled by Leatherface.
3. Cut in half with a chainsaw.
4. Hit in the back of the head with a sledgehammer.

Yet, he saves the day with nary a scratch. I guess Ken ain’t fucking around when he’s coming with that survivalism stuff. It could also be that Ken died in the original cut, but intimated the test audience enough for them to complain about the ending on those preview cards, insisting that he live to be the hero. Since the spineless suits are deathly afraid of preview cards (let alone Ken Foree), the ending was changed appropriately, logic be damned.

A similar fate befell Jaws the Revenge with the Mario Van Peebles character. He clearly gets eaten by the shark, yet at the very end of the movie, he pops out of the ocean right on cue (actually a big swimming pool with a sky background), a bit haggard but alive and intact. Supposedly, the ending was changed when a preview audience complained about Mario dying, as they had grown to like the character and his shitty Jamaican accent. Thanks morons. You managed to make Jaws the Revenge even more retarded than it already was.

Kevin Pollak once told a story about Barry Levinson when they were working on Avalon. Apparently, the studio suits insisted on doing audience previews, but Barry refused. To make his case, he showed them a card from a preview of Rain Man, a smash hit and best picture winner, mind you. Referring to the Dustin Hoffman character, an audience member wrote “so…why didn’t the little guy just snap out of it?”. Let’s just say that Avalon got to theaters without any preview screenings. You know, movies would be great if it wasn’t for the fucking audience.

1 comment:

  1. The thing that really bothers me about TCM 3, is that it bungles the oppurtunity to actually do something cool.

    Ken Foree shows up and goes, "Hey, I've got a whole bunch of crazy ass survivalist friends who live over that hill, how about I bring them over here, raise the stakes, and show something that's genuinely never been seen in a horror film before!!!"

    And then its like the movie just completely forgets that it set up something awesome.