Wednesday, July 20, 2011

30 Day Horror Challenge Strikes Back Day 29: Least favorite character.

I know, I know. I can hear the collective gasp now. How could I possibly hate on Leatherface? Have I turned my back on my brother? What happened to "the saw was family?" If you missed it you can read about the sibling status of Leatherface and I at this link: 30 Day Horror Challenge Strikes Back Day 7: Favorite villain (human). Why him then? Why not any random pale, black haired Japanese horror ghost child, the Gingerdead Man, that irritating kid from Childs Play 3, Kelly Roland in Freddy vs Jason, Busta Rhymes (well, the entire cast actually) in Halloween: Resurrection, or any other horror character I’ve bitched about being annoyed by over the years? It’s precisely because Leatherface is normally in my top tier of favorite horror characters. They absolutely screwed the character up in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, however, to the point that I felt the need to pick this character in order to, in some small way, avenge the mistreatment of my brother.

This is by far the worst version of Leatherface ever. I had SERIOUS issues with his portrayal in the remake, mainly stemming from the fact that Jessica friggin’ Beil could take his arm off and he couldn’t start a saw one handed. At least there, though, they kept the spirit of the character consistent with the cannibal butcher we all know and love. This guy in TCM:TNG, however, is not Leatherface as we know him. Not by a long shot. Leatherface is a seasoned killer, a manic, violent psycho, and a generally frightening dude. In this film he’s incompetent at capturing prey, seems uncomfortable with violence, and is an absolute non-threatening doormat.

First of all, Leatherface’s incompetence in this flick completely goes against everything we know about the character. In one scene, he snatches a girl, carries her through the house, places her in a freezer, and turns to walk away. Then he acts surprised and panicked when she opens the door back up. Then he does the same thing again before placing a heavy item (it’s tough to tell what it is) on the door to keep her in the third time. Look, I know Leatherface is supposed to be mentally deficient, but come on. He’s been around this block a few times. Trapping and killing is what he’s good at. He would definitely know that if you place a kicking, screaming, hysterical person in anything without a lock, they will try to reopen it. He’s mentally challenged folks, not stupid. See, I said mentally challenged, not retarded. I’ve already been accused of being racist and sexist, I might as well not be accused of being prejudiced against the disabled too. Jeez people, chill.

Anyway, in TCM:TNG, pardon my French, Leatherface is a straight up pussy. The entire family assaults him repeatedly. Sure, he was on the bottom of the totem pole in the family all along, but he took it like a little brother would; he just kinda growled at them and went on. Here, he cries, whimpers, and cowers. What? Leatherface is basically playing the role of an abused housewife. At one point he gets up to attack Renee Zellweger’s character and she tells him to sit down and shut up. He does it! Even with Stretch, the one girl he loved, he never let his victims call the shots. Here, everyone calls the shots but him. He’s an absolute wimp. That is not how one of the greatest killers in cinema history is supposed to be portrayed. Leatherface always had the air about him that you didn’t want to mess with this sick freak whether he had his saw or not. In TCM:TNG, when he’s holding the damn saw is the only time he’s even remotely menacing.

Which brings me to the fact that he’s hesitant to be violent. He has never had a problem destroying anyone’s personal physical being at the drop of a hat. Here, he whimpers and cries when performing any act of violence. When one of the victims is assaulting Vilmer, Leatherface’s brother, he just stands there, saw in hand, watching nervously, and doesn’t do a damn thing. I don’t think so! Leatherface would have been all over her the second she laid a hand on a family member. When she runs out of the house, Vilmer has to order Leatherface to go get her before he will chase her. BULLSHIT! When she kills a family member, he gives up the chase and starts sobbing and wailing instead of chasing her down and making her pay. That’s not Leatherface type behavior!

Oh yeah, and what’s with this sneaking around crap? Numerous times in this movie Leatherface sneaks up on someone. Leatherface is not a stealth killer. Leatherface is a giant brute who comes at you full force. He’s supposed to be a manic lunatic too. His whole demure behavior at the dinner table is completely out of character. He’s downright dainty for crying out loud! The shrieking is another thing. All throughout the series, Leatherface has made guttural noises, sometimes a shriek, that made him that much creepier. In this one, other than at dinner, he shrieks the whole freakin’ movie. Imagine that you are telling a friend about a woman who constantly screams, but you are overemphasizing the shrillness and annoyance factor to the nth degree to really get the point across. That’s what he sounds like in this flick. It takes about a minute of him being on screen before you just want to yell “For the love of god, would you please shut the hell up?!” Seriously, he’s almost as annoying as Franklin was in the first one. It’s that bad.

I’m not even going to go into how incredibly lame his masks in this one are either. Well, maybe a little. In the first movie, Leatherface had three masks: the killing mask, the grandmother, and the pretty lady. This is them…

All three of them are creepy as hell. In this flick they use the exact same three “characters” for the masks (grandmother, pretty lady, and killing), but look at the masks themselves in the pics from this movie. Not even close. Is there anything even remotely scary about those masks? No. They suck. The images speak for themselves, however, so I’ll leave it at that.

I differ from the vast majority of my movie reviewing peers in that I don’t think that Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a bad movie. In fact, I like it a lot. The members of the new family (other than Leatherface) are all interesting characters. Matthew McConaughey plays a very good over the top psycho. It’s one of those whacked out movies where you just never know what kind of weirdness is coming next. The flick also has a fun, twisted, brutally sadistic streak running through it. The whole concept of who is controlling the family (don’t worry, I won’t give it away) is a fascinating idea that I’d love to see explored further. The ending has a cool call back to the original classic. I can even forgive the bad acting by some of the younger cast. In fact, the one thing they messed up on was the character of Leatherface; and boy did they screw him up royally. This is the character that the whole damn franchise is based on and they decided to abandon almost everything audiences love about the character. Bad move guys. When I watch this movie, I can only shake my head and be disgusted thinking about how great the flick would have been had they stayed true to the character. What a missed opportunity. If I didn’t love my brother so much, this characterization of him wouldn’t have pissed me off so much. Don’t worry Bubba, I’ll always love ya, and I know that wasn’t really you in this movie. He is one of my favorites, but his mishandling here makes Leatherface in this film my least favorite horror character. You have no idea how much it hurts me to say that.

1 comment:

Cash Wampum said...

Can I also point out that no one dies by the saw in this movie. Let me repeat that just one more time one, in the movie titled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, does anyone lose their life to a saw. Doesn't that contradict the whole premise of the title? I mean, there are Nightmare movies where no one dies by the glove. I believe Freddy's Dead has that distinction (though Freddy does get run through with it, it certainly wasn't fatal). Regardless, the series isn't called The Razor Glove Massacre. I was saddened by this trash movie as well.

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