THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Year of release: 2006
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 92 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Taglines: "Every legend has a beginning" and "The only thing more shocking than how it ended, is how it all began".
Esitmated budget: $16 million
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: As the title suggests this film acts as a prequel to the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. Things begin way back with the birth of Leatherface along with some quick details of his early years spliced in over the opening credits. From here the main story kicks off in the year of 1969, a few years before the events of the remake with Leatherface now much older at age thirty. With the country in recession Leatherface finds himself jobless after being laid off from his position at the local slaughterhouse. The entire town has fallen into destitution in fact with most businesses closing and families moving away. The Hoyt family however, of which Leatheface is a part remain behind. With the town almost entirely deserted the sinister Hoyt’s pretty much have the run of the place.
Meanwhile a couple of young men recently drafted into the Vietnam War are making their way through this patch to reach their base camp. Bringing their girlfriends along with them for one last road trip before army life they are accosted by some unsavoury bikers on the road. Fighting amongst themselves the whole group is suddenly under attack from a bigger threat in the form of the Hoyt family. With key members of the party abducted by the Hoyt’s it’s up to one of the young women to try and rescue her friends.
Good points: *There are a number of returning characters with Andrew Bryniarski coming back as Leatherface along with several of the others from the remake also on board such as Uncle Monty and Luda Mae. Then of course we have Sheriff Hoyt who has a bigger role this time around really taking centre stage together with Leatherface and to a lesser extent final girl Chrissie. It’s nice to see effort made to get a good number of actors to reprise their roles. I personally really enjoyed the Sheriff character last time out so it was a big bonus to see even more of him here.
Spoiler: Regarding Chrissie she’s a very welcome addition herself coming across as both brave and sympathetic. Although ultimately failing she really goes above and beyond to try to save her friends at the risk of her own well-being. In a similar way the two brothers (Eric and Dean) also come across as courageous as the story goes on.
*Things get very visceral at times with the film really delivering at several key moments on the gore front. Particularly notable bits include a particularly nasty looking throat cut, something involving someone’s legs, a face being cut off as well as numerous chainsaw type impalements. Real quality is delivered at times in this area.
*I liked how they related this to the remake by explaining how things on show in that actually happened initially. Monty in the wheelchair for example as well as how Hoyt became a Sheriff and what happened to his teeth. Good continuity but in the reverse sense if that makes sense.
*I think the 2003 remake really put the series back on the right track especially in putting a bit of the menace back into the Leatherface character. This continues here with him being quite terrifying at times with actor Bryniarski excelling in the role. This instalment has a darker and more gritty feel to it which if anything adds to a further aura of malevolence for the Leatherface character. It’s a far cry to how he appeared at times in a coupler of the earlier films which went someway to diminishing his presence in the wake of the Tobe Hooper original.
Bad Points: *Despite being billed as the beginning not all that much is revealed about the origins of Leatherface other than a few bits and pieces early on. The lions share of the film follows an adult Leatherface just a few years prior to the start of the remake so the title is misleading to some extent. It’s only a small gripe however as the story which is told was something I definitely found to be very exciting at times. I can’t shake the feeling though that it’s a shame they didn’t linger a little longer on the tale of the very young Leatherface and how he came to be taken in by the Hewitt’s back in the day.
*Much like with the 2003 effort the four protagonist characters (as in the youngsters) don’t really look to me as if they are very authentic in being from the 60’s/70’s era. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about them but maybe they’re just too glossy and glamorous looking. That said Chrissie did have slightly more of an old school vibe to her I thought, something in her facial expressions. I think she was a better fit for the era than her final girl counterpart Erin from the 2003 remake.
*Spoiler: During the scene showing the removal of Eric’s face which is then used for a mask there is a brief sight of some sort of weird circle shape as the face/skin is pulled away. My notes on this aren’t very clear as it was ages ago that I last watched the film and wrote up the review plan. From what I’ve scribbled down though it seems like the way its shot is trying to imply Leatherface pulls off more than just the skin as in perhaps the muscle and bone as well but then he only has the skin in his hand? I’d have to watch it again as it doesn’t make much sense to me reading my notes back but potentially there is a small issue here in terms of the special effects for this kill. Elsewhere though everything is top notch when it comes to the blood and gore as previously stated. They’re so good in fact that some may find them a bit too much to the point of being overly brutal and upsetting.
*Mild spoiler: A very small thing but it comes across as copying the remake a bit too much at the end using the slaughterhouse backdrop once more as a chase ground area for Leatherface & the final girl.
Verdict: I remember really enjoying this entry and so far it’s been by far and away my favourite film from the franchise. In some of my previous reviews for older entries I’ve been critical of seeing too much of the family members as villains instead of just focusing on Leatherface himself but here I really liked the Hoyt family and found they actually greatly enhanced the experience. Leatherface is also back to being a truly intimidating beast. On the opposite side Chrissie makes for a great courageous final girl with the two brothers bickering over the Vietnam draft having some decent depth to them as well. It’s a shame it doesn’t go into as much detail with the very early years of Leatherface as I was expecting but that aside the story plays out in a compelling and exciting way helped along by buckets of blood.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Sloane: Dies while giving birth.
2)Slaughterhouse owner: Beaten/bludgeoned with sledgehammer.
3)Sheriff Winston: Killed with shotgun by Hoyt.
4)Female biker: Again killed with shotgun by Hoyt.
5)Holden: Cut in half with chainsaw.
6)Eric: Killed with chainsaw on table in basement.
7)Bailey: Throat cut with scissors.
8)Dean: Impaled through back with chainsaw.
9)Chrissie: Impaled through the back with chainsaw as she is driving.
10)Policeman: Hit by Chrissie’s car as it crashes when she’s killed.
11)Citizen speaking to cop: Same as above, killed by out of control car.
Review added on the 8th of July 2020.