The Official Portal to the Madness of Dark Fiction Author Patrick C. Greene


Whether you’re a fan or not, you have to admit; the original THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is a milestone of modern American cinema. It’s gotten the remake treatment, (twice!) multiple sequels, and a prequel, not to mention numerous imitations. Having now found its way into the hands of Lionsgate, the production company that brought us the SAW series, the franchise is getting the 3D treatment. 
Due for release in January, this latest murderous adventure of the series’ unique main character are teased in a trailer that arrived just last week, which can be viewed here:
I’m not a reflexive hater of the remake trend; some decent ones have come along and the originals get a little attention during the cycle, so it’s all good in my eyes. I don’t have to watch the remakes of PULSE or BLACK CHRISTMAS, films that are already damn near perfect-and I haven’t. TC3D, as I’m sure it will come to be known, appears to fall into the re-boot category -as opposed to a full-on remake or sequel; which means our friends at Lionsgate would have had to walk a line at some point between staying true to the expectations held by fans of the original, and crossing over into the expectations of today’s casual horror moviegoer. Success is based on ticket sales, after all, and not the opinions of hardcore fans.
As one of the aforementioned hardcore fans of the original -and yes, some of the other entries- I have certain expectations of my own; cherished notions of what a TCM movie should be, you might say. Looking at the trailer, I mostly like what I see–mostly.
Tobe Hooper’s “Bubba Sawyer” Leatherface, whose first appearance in the original is easily one of the most intensely terrifying moments in horror history, is a different kind of slasher, if he can even be called that. There are characters who kill because they enjoy it, and there are killers who kill because they have to-that voice in their heads you know, or that compulsion from a sinister source outside themselves. Leatherface -in his truest incarnation- kills because he sees it as a job. In his childish mind, he seems to have no more interest in what his victims are experiencing than any other butcher. We are food, ingredients for the chili and sausages and whatever other meat-based recipes his family might be cooking. Witness the dementedly poignant scene in TCM 3, in which a frustrated Bubba, engaging, perhaps, in some homeschooling on his See-and Spell, tries again and again to identify a picture of a boy , hunting and pecking the little keypad with his meaty fingers to spell F-U-D, over and over.
Even the 2003 remake and its prequel, with Leatherface pointedly made over as a different character with a new name (Thomas Hewitt) and different family, kept those elements of his personality that made us feel an odd sympathy for him–as though he was a hopelessly rabid dog who should be put down as a matter of mercy.
The TC3D trailer seems to paint a different picture. One telling scene has Ol’ Leathy coming up behind a bound and seated captive, resting his chainsaw across her shoulder as if to mock her and instill terror, like one of the torture-happy villains of the Hostel films. Hardly something a butcher just putting in his daily hours would do with the unfortunate livestock sent to the slaughter on his watch. Perhaps I am reading the scene wrong. Time will tell. But the trailer, together with its synopsis, implies that our old meat-loving monster is sort of squatting in the film’s requisite mansion, unattended by the also deranged but more functional family members who both cared for and manipulated the old Bubba–a manchild so unstable that it’s doubtful he could have made it for long on his own; another reason he was of the “tragic monster” ilk, like so many classic horrors.
Now I have no problem with the notion that Leatherface could change, grow–even become more self-reliant to some degree. In TCM 2, we find our favorite hulking cannibal smitten with the film’s Final Girl, even gifting her with the freshly-removed face of her dear friend, and coming to realize on some level that his beloved power tool is a surrogate phallus. If that’s not character maturation I don’t know what is.
However, reducing Leatherface to a silent, lumbering thrill killer seems a bit…generic, considering all that’s come before. 
Lionsgate has almost always been good to horror fans. Let’s hope the film is so packed with amazing characterization that a brief trailer simply cannot do it justice-or that director John Luessenhop and the numerous writers have come up with a delicious twist that fits perfectly with Tobe Hooper’s vision. 

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