The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III: Leatherface (1990)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III: Leatherface (1990)
  • Time: 85 min
  • Genre: Horror | Thriller
  • Director: Jeff Burr
  • Cast: Kate Hodge, Ken Foree, Viggo Mortensen, R.A. Mihailoff


A couple encounters a perverted gas station attendant who threatens them with a shotgun. They take a deserted path in Texas to seek help, but only meet up with a cannibalistic clan interested in helping themselves to fresh meat.

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  • It’s strange how some horror trilogies work. Most start out groundbreaking. Then the second entry just doesn’t satisfy as much as it could have. It had bits and pieces that demonstrated there were possibilities, but the advances were not taken further enough. Then there’s the third installment, which most consider to the worst with the least amount of care or effort put into the mix to make any kind of decent product. Some chapters however do step up to the plate from time to time. Some are quite obvious to what has more of the upper hand over the rest, while others however are up for more of a debate on what really was the worst. It just depends on what was found to be of better quality in the production (and that doesn’t just mean visuals).

    The story for this sequel is as copy and paste verbatim as it gets. When a couple, Michelle (Kate Hodge) and Ryan (William Butler) travel through Texas from California to get to Florida, they run into the alleged Sawyer family. It is that straightforward; there’s nothing else. Why should writer David J. Schow even get writing credits for this? Well, even though his story telling skills are very mediocre here, he still manages to draft a couple of acceptable characters but that’s about it. On their travels the couple encounters Benny (Ken Foree, best known from George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Living Dead (1978)). Of these characters, the only few that remain somewhat interesting are Michelle, Benny and some of the sick-minded Sawyer family. Hodge, like other actresses give their lead courage at certain instances and that’s commendable. Foree is praiseworthy in his role because he at least provides good support to the leads. As for some of the Sawyer family, the thing that makes them fun to still watch is how they act as a family; what makes them have a good time and how they improved their way of hunting for food. One of the creepier Sawyer family members is the mom played by Miriam Byrd-Nethery.

    As for the other actors, they are intriguing to see at such an early time but they do not provide anything worth while to the plot. William Butler (who would later be the creator behind the el-cheapo Charles Band The Gingerdead Man (2005) franchise) plays an unlikable match to Michelle and does nothing but nags and complains. R.A. Mihailoff as Leatherface is decent but doesn’t give the infamous killer any kind of personality other than trying to make a toy understand he wants food. And what’s the hair? Is that Jeff Daniels’ hair from Dumb and Dumber (1994)? Joe Unger and even Viggo Mortensen have defining roles but don’t exactly make themselves act differently from other characters before. On a production level, the only areas that look decent are the special effects, gore and cinematography. Unfortunately, with lots of the original gore being cut, it isn’t always on screen but when it is, it is still grotesque and ugly. The camerawork by James L. Carter is acceptable. Nothing groundbreaking but at least is lit in a way that conceals its antagonists rather than putting them out in bright neon lights like the first sequel.

    The only other possible credit that can be given to Schow is at least reverting the tone back from being too goofy from that of Tobe Hooper’s first sequel. However, this does not excuse the giant gaping holes in this particular sequel’s story. Like the past two films, the opening credits begin after narration explaining the events of the past. The difference for this is that this entry seems to be taking place after the first but before the second film. Yet there’s a slew of contradicting evidence to try and prove this true. At the end of the first movie, Leatherface cuts his leg so this would support it being an intermediate sequel because in this movie Leatherface has a leg brace. But then there’s issue of when did Leatherface have a totally different family and,…a daughter? But this has to be true, because Leatherface was impaled and blown up in the second film right? There’s even a scene with actress Caroline Williams (who played Stretch in the previous sequel) playing a reporter. So was Stretch initially a news anchor before a radio host? But the title to this movie clearly states the it’s the third…..well at this point it’s undetermined.

    Then there’s the issue of unexplained errors either for characters or events. This for the most part goes parallel to the time in which this film takes place in accordance with the prior films before it. Sometimes parts of this movie alone feel like it was made for a Friday the 13th film, that means including false jump scares and unreliable truths shown on screen. This film is also one of the few to not follow the cliché horror tropes but only through one of these unexplained errors, so its hard to say if it counts really. Finally, the music is an even further step down. Forget what was said about Hooper’s score from the first sequel. The musical score composed by Jim Manzie and Patrick Regan is even more unoriginal. There’s no main theme again and there’s no frantic sounding synths either. Now it’s just notes that drudge through each scene that sound more muddled than usual. Topping that off is an occasional rock anthem that’ll blast in and come out of nowhere. It’s quite jarring to say the least. This is no wrestling match.

    It still has the majority of its cast pulling the required weight, the special effects and gore are still good, along with competent cinematography. In spite of that however, its writing suffers from large continuity errors, unexplained justifications and a paper cut out of a plot. The music is also a step down from before, while including unnecessary hard rock in a couple scenes.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

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