Original Texas Chain Saw Massacre writer Kim Hinkel tried to create the definitive franchise sequel with Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Sadly, the only thing this low budget film manages to do right is showcase how nuts a then-unknown Matthew McConaughey can get and give Renée Zellweger a career springboard in one of her first acting roles. It's one in a long line of less than impressive Chainsaw sequels and spinoffs that still manages to be entertaining. Scream Factory gives this fan favorite the true Collector's Edition treatment with both cuts of the film, and the disc is fully gassed up with a solid assortment of bonus features. If you're a fan of this schlock-fest, this Blu-ray is for you. Recommended.
"Family values have gone straight to hell."
Oscar-winner Renée Zellweger is Jenny - a teen who just wants to go out and enjoy prom with her boyfriend Sean (John Harrison) and their friends Barry (Tyler Cone) and Heather (Lisa Newmyer). When the foursome gets into a car accident on a deserted Texas backroad, they try to get help. Unfortunately, help isn't friendly when the group finds themselves the target of terror by Vilmer (Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey), his remote-controlled leg, W.E. (Joe Stevens), and his fashion-challenged brother Leatherface (Robert Jacks) who loves to greet people with a chainsaw.
1996 was a bit of a watershed year for Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger. Mr. "Alright, alright, alright" hit it big with the one-two punch of Lone Star and A Time To Kill while the future Miss Jones got to follow-up her time on Empire Records with the fan-favorite Jerry Maguire. Because of those hits, 1994's little seen and quickly forgotten Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation got to enjoy a mini-resurgence due to its association with these newly popular stars. In fact, McConaughey was the reason my older sister rented the movie and made me watch it with her in the first place.
Unfortunately, casting really is about all this movie has going for it. I appreciate original Chainsaw writer Kim Hinkel's attempt at crafting the true definitive sequel in this fourth outing - but the show just doesn't work. Whether you watch the original Theatrical Cut or the slightly longer - but just as strange - Director's Cut, The Next Generation is just a bizarre film trying to delicately balance horror and comedy but never really succeeds at either genre. But maybe that's the point?
I have friends who put this up as a work of misunderstood genius. I wouldn't call it that. It's just too nuts - but I do find it oddly arresting. While the plot is basic - a group of friends wind up at the wrong backwoods Texas house - it still works. Everything else in the movie plays like a crazy game of "and then" as it continually tries to up the weirdness. "We have our killer head of the family drive a tow-truck and kill people - and then he has a mechanical leg operated by a television remote control!" "The family is torturing our final girl by killing her friends in front of her - and then some sleazy Illuminati guys show up and reveal it's all part of a big conspiracy!" - It's just weird and ridiculous and completely bonkers. I wouldn't say that The Next Generation is a good film - not at all - but I do have to say I admire that it goes for broke and holds nothing back.
While the plot is absolutely bat guano crazy and nonsensical, its energy is infectious. Zellweger, McConaughey, and a lively run from Joe Stevens give the flick their all. Everyone is playing the show straight as an arrow - particularly McConaughey who dials it up to 11 and never backs down. If you want to be impressed by an actor's commitment by pretending to crush a girls' head with his mechanical leg, Matthew "Naked Bongos" McConaughey delivers! First-timer Robert Jacks even delivers a spirited Leatherface with an ever-changing assortment of outfits and skin-masks.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is not an amazing movie. It's not even a great Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie as there actually aren't any chainsaw massacres, but it does enjoy a loyal legion of fans. I wouldn't call myself a fan so much as someone who is eternally amused by it. I have good memories of watching this movie with my sister. She wanted some McConaughey eye-candy and got something much, much more bizarre. This was one of the last movies we rented and honestly sat down and watched together before she left for college. I still remember our howls of laughter and expressions of complete bewilderment. It was a fun night, so if nothing else, revisiting The Next Generation every so often lets me enjoy that little wave of nostalgia.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation slices its way onto Blu-ray for the first time thanks to Scream Factory in a single disc Collector's Edition set. Pressed onto a Region-A BD50 disc, the movie is housed in a standard sturdy case with reversible artwork displaying the same new custom art as the slipcover and the original poster artwork. The disc loads to an animated option menu allowing you to choose either the original Theatrical Cut or the Director's Cut which then get their own unique animated menus with access to different bonus features.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation buzzes onto Blur-ray with what looks to be a fairly recent 1.85:1 1080p transfer. Details are reasonably strong throughout, allowing you to soak in all of the grizzly bits. There are some soft spots here and there but nothing too troublesome. After watching this movie again there are a number of 90s fashions I hope never make a comeback! Colors are vibrant with plenty of primary saturation - red getting a lot of play. Black levels are fairly decent, though there are a couple of places where things look a little crushed, but not terrible. Film grain is apparent without being overly noisy or intrusive, giving the image a nice film-like appearance. There is some occasional speckling or a very fine vertical scratch - but that's the worst of any damage as the source elements look to be in good shape.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre cuts its way through with a decent English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout - even when the film just gets crazy nuts and it's a cacophony of screaming, shrieking, and auditory chaos. Sound effects are well managed, including gunshots, the sounds of Vilmer's truck engine, and the squishy sounds involved in the deaths of a few unfortunate folks. That head crunch sound is particularly gnarly since you don't actually get to see it on screen. Scoring by Wayne Bell and Robert Jacks keeps the energy up and fills the mix. Atmospherics are restrained through most of the show, but the long dinner table scene plays to the tight confines of the room. Levels are spot on without need for adjustment.
Scream Factory really went to the mat for this release of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. On top of getting the full Director's Cut, fans are treated to a new commentary track as well as some great interviews with various cast and crew members. There's a lot of great stuff here with some very entertaining stories about making an independent horror movie in Texas during the 90s.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a weird movie. Part remake, part sequel, it attempts to be a true follow-up while also paving new ground into territories that just really don't make a whole lot of sense. It's famous because of its cast who have gone on to do bigger and brighter things while winning some illustrious awards in the process. While being a lesser Chainsaw film, it does have a loyal following and Scream Factory has delivered a Collector's Edition Blu-ray for those folks. With both cuts of the film, a sold A/V presentation, and a bunch of new bonus features - this disc is packed. If you're a true blood-thirsty fan of this one, it's Recommended.