Wayback Wednesday: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995)

What the fuck did I just watch?

Lately I’ve been watching a ton of American Horror Story (2011 – present) and the plethora of scariness has had me itching to dedicate an upcoming Wayback to a horror movie. With a new addition to the The Texas Chain Saw Massacre series (1974 – present) being released this Friday, I decided that it would be cool to check out one of the entries from the long-running horror franchise. Now, I have never seen a single movie from this franchise. Though I could have watched the original movie and been blown away by one of horror’s most acclaimed hits, I thought it might be more fun to watch the critically-panned mid-1990s cheesy reboot, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995). I mean, it’s a teen slasher movie starring Academy Award winners Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey! I just had to see this at some point! While I was expecting this movie to be pretty bad, nothing could have possibly prepared me for the chaos and madness I was about to endure. 

Credit: imdb.com / Cinépix Film Properties / Columbia Pictures

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation follows a group of teenagers who after leaving their prom early and getting into a car accident, find themselves wandering the woods searching for help. Eventually they come across the home of the maniacal murderer Leatherface and his family of equally psychopathic relatives. What was meant to be a night of fun turns into one of terror as the teens must fight to save their lives.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is unlike any other horror movie I’ve seen. I’m no stranger to campy, silly and shocking horror movies like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987) and Sleepaway Camp (1983) – check out my review, here – but those movies at least had a baseline of clarity and comprehension to them. As ridiculous as things get, you can still make sense of the story that’s at the centre of all the wackiness. This soft reboot of an iconic movie series however, is thoroughly baffling from beginning to end. From a narrative standpoint, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a boring and confused clusterfuck. But from an enjoyment standpoint, some fun can be gleaned from this awful and chaotic mess. As bad as things got, and boy, did they, I couldn’t bring myself to tear my eyes away. I guarantee that as clichéd as this movie is, you’ll never guess where the heck it’s going to go. Looking at the packaging for the VHS and DVD it looks like they spun it so that writer / director Kim Henkel was intentionally making a horror-comedy. If that’s actually true than congratulations Henkel, you succeeded because Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is laughably terrible. Yep, unfortunately this is a movie you laugh AT and not WITH. McConaughey has a cybernetic leg for Pete’s sake!

The first 15 minutes of this movie are a whirlwind of nonsense and bizarreness. I swear, I got tonal whiplash from how often this movie shifts from attempting to be scary to straight up just being a parody of horror movies. Like, tell me why when a rock goes through her window a woman flashes the vandals who did it? Or why after witnessing a deranged trucker snap a man’s neck, one of the teens replies, “please mister, you’re scaring me?” Or why after being chased by a villain through his murder house, a victim would nonchalantly decide to use their bathroom?  I’ve seen a lot of dumb characters make ridiculously bad decisions in dozens of horror movies, but the idiots in this one are hands down the most egregious. It’s as though each of the four teens are actively trying to get murdered. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is bonkers and I don’t think it ever truly realizes that it is. Some scenes are such strong parodies of the horror genre that they feel like they easily could have been lifted from the Scary Movie series (2000 – 2013). If Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation leaned into how odd it is than this could have been the very best version of what the movies in that aforementioned franchise were going for. Instead this is a chaotic mess filled with one disappointing scene after another, the intensity of which range from tame to maddening. No matter how you slice it, this movie is a disappointment. And apparently this is the edited and fixed cut of the movie! 

Serious question: Do you think think either Zellweger or McConaughey remembers being in this movie? Maybe Zellweger does because this is actually her first starring role! Shocking that it’s only a year before her acclaimed performance in Jerry Maguire (1996).  Apparently the movie was first screened in 1995 as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then shelved, recut and rereleased in 1997 after both she and McConaughey had become huge stars. Honestly? I wouldn’t put it past this movie to do such a thing. Despite the talent involved, the performances in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation are expectedly abysmal. It’s as though each character knows they’ve been cast as the dumb friend n a horror movie and are determined to be the Meryl Streep of playing that part. Whiny, annoying, and seemingly punctuating sentences with how much they hate each other, I cannot think of a less endearing group of movie characters. This is the first time I’ve actually been annoyed by screaming in a horror movie because it is relentlessly irritating. Girl, how are you going to see the lifeless body of your boyfriend while his murderer laughs in your face and then elicit the most monotone response imaginable? At least McConaughey is playing a psychopath so his cuckoo banana pants performance makes some inkling of sense. 

This movie is a fever dream. I challenge you to watch it. Go ahead. It’s free to stream on ctv.ca . I feel like I can’t watch another one of the movies in this franchise because there’s no way they can live up to the unbridled madness and confusion. I’ll inevitably be let down. A cheap imitation of one of horror’s masterpieces, congratulations Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. I dub thee, Pleatherface. 

Have you seen any of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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