Wednesday, March 21, 2012


It has recently been announced that Lionsgate, the distributor of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D, has pushed the film from an October 2012 release to a January 2013. This is, by no means, a good sign - to push any movie back is usually foreboding, but to push a horror movie from a Halloween seasoned release to the post-Holidays "dump month" raises some red flags. All in all, after everything I've heard about the production of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, it seems like we might have another really lousy entry to the franchise ahead of us (let's not forget this same franchise gave us LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION).

It has been nearly six years since the last film in the franchise, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING, was released. Wow. It really doesn't seem like that long ago, but in retrospect a lot has changed in the past six years... just in my life alone, I've graduated high school, graduated college, and moved across the country to begin a career in the entertainment industry.

Speak of the entertainment industry, in 2006 that world was different; Chris Nolan had not released THE DARK KNIGHT or INCEPTION. INDIANA JONES was still a trilogy. No IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, or THOR movies. TWILIGHT was a recently released book, and HARRY POTTER still had six more movies to go. Classic horror had not yet been "rebooted", like HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, or A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The SAW movies were at their peak, and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY did not yet exist. No one cared about Snooki or the Situation, and shows like "THE WALKING DEAD", "MADMEN", and "MODERN FAMILY" were not yet in production. And legends like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston were very much alive.

The world, too, has changed. America was not yet in its recession, and George W. Bush was still an office. Probably less than 25% of the population knew who Barack Obama was. Both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were still alive. Japan had not been devastated by a tsunami. Facebook was still in its beginnings, and MySpace was at its most popular. Twitter didn't exist. YouTube was still fresh. And neither the iPhone or iPad existed.

Yes. That was the last time we saw Leatherface and his crew. In 2006. And I remember how hyped I was about the prequel's release. I had seen the 2003 TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE in theaters and loved it. It was my first venture into hardcore horror films (not just HALLOWEEN and SCREAM movies, but truly disturbing stuff). I saw the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE shortly after. And then its sequels (all of which I hated). And the time finally arrived on October 6, 2006 to see The Beginning.

Much of my anticipation was built around my intrigue into the other victims and their stories in dealing with Leatherface and the Hewitt clan. So, I did a really geeky thing: I wrote a fan fiction screenplay, and called it THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE LEGACY. My fan fiction was set between the events of The Beginning (which took place in 1969) and the remake (which took place in 1973). So, I chose a year directly in the middle - 1971.

The story revolved around six childhood buddies (yes, all male) who have gone their separate ways in life; some served in the Vietnam war while others protested it. In a last-ditch effort to reclaim their friendship, the boys set out on a bachelor party weekend of camping, but tensions rose quickly within the group. It isn't long before the boys offer a lift to a sickly hitchhiker and her son, and as events unfolded the group landed face-to-face with the chainsaw-wielding maniac Thomas Hewitt.

They were Henrietta (Heather Kafka in the 2003 version) and Jedidiah (David Dorfman). I took a lot of creative liberties with these two characters, as they did not appear in The Beginning and the purpose of their characters were never fully disclosed in the remake. In The Legacy, Henrietta returns after years of pursuing a career as an actress in California. She now has a bastard son, Jedidiah, as well as a horrible cancer that makes her weak. She hitchhiked until she met up with the boys, and she led them to her now-psychotic family (you see, Henrietta had no clue what kind of monsters they had become).

Other returning characters included the obvious Thomas Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski) and Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey), both of which are the same that you had come to expect after the remake and The Beginning. Luda Mae (Marietta Marich), Old Monty (Terrence Evans) and the Tea Lady (Kathy Lamkin) also return, with the Tea Lady kicking a little ass this time! All the major locations - the old Crawford mill, the Hewitt house, the factory, the rest stop - were brought back, too.

To spice things up, a new family member was added: Edwin, modeled between the Edwin Neal's Hitchhiker in the 1974 original and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2's Chop-Top (William Moseley). In The Legacy Edwin is a Vietnam veteran who was absent in The Beginning because he was at war, but has been sent home for undisclosed reasons. And he's more than happy to take his part in the family's murderous ways. Of course, Edwin does not appear in the remake, so you can use your imaginations as to what happens there...

Finally, we have the protagonists. These boys are all different people, dealing with different issues. But at their core is a bond that is unbreakable, as each of these characters would give their lives for one another. Their leader is Dan, a Vietnam veteran who is the polar opposite of Edwin or Hoyt - he is still horrified by what he did and saw in war, yet he is trying to start a new life. His fellow-veteran and best friend Justin also just returned from the war, but as a broken man. He hates himself, and indulges in alcohol to cope.

Also in the group is everyday guy Sean who is about to get married. Sean is like the glue to the group, as he's the one member who wants to stay in touch with everyone and who cares enough to do so. Casey (originally named Zeke, but changed in re-writes) is the young, witty, and somewhat spoiled "little brother" of the gang who is about to enter college. Chris is a preppy college dude who is starting to think for himself, and attending college protests in return. Rounding out the crew is Taylor, a stubborn hippie with a drug problem. Taylor's a perfect internal opposition to Dan and Justin.

Of course, while the internal struggles of the group always add a good dynamic, people want to see a massacre. And I was sure to give them that. Aside from the usual shootings, slicings, choppings, and mutilations, this group is subjects to various types of torture - from being strung up on meat hooks to being locked in rooms with rats who eat at their flesh, to a re-creation of the original film's infamous "dinner scene" (head-over-a-bucket part and all) to doing push-ups on glass. You see, for characters like Edwin and Hoyt, killing the boys is not enough. They need to be humiliated and tortured.

There are many chase scenes, most of them involving the young Casey or the battle-minded Dan. He gets chased through the Crawford mill, the factory, and the Hewitt house, but his most impressive chase comes from his sprint through an abandoned row of small houses where factory workers used to live before the town died. I had wondered, after seeing The Beginning, where the rest of the town used to live. This scene gave us a glimpse into the answer to that question.

Casey became a fan-favorite character for his witty remarks and cool one-liners, where he would bust his friend's chops while also delivering nasty send-offs to the Hewitt family. Some comic relief is needed, and that was found not only in the villains like Hoyt and the Tea Lady, but in one of our protagonists as well.

The six boys - especially Dan and Justin, who are trained for battle - are really better opponents to the Hewitt family than some beautiful girl like Jessica Biel, Marilyn Burns, or Jordana Brewster. While their heroines were great for those movies, it's kind of nice to have an all-male slasher film that isn't about homosexuality, like HELLBENT. While the Hewitt's are a threat, these guys do have survival skills. It's like Eric (Matt Bomer) from The Beginning, only multiplied.

Of course, everything boils down to the ending. Which is where I believe The Legacy pulls ahead and is a different kind of prequel from The Beginning. Our hero, having witnessed all his best friends get tortured and killed for no apparent reason, finally escapes... only to be hit by a car full of three yapping girls. The girls go to get help, believing the hero is dead, and they go to the Hewitt family, all of whom are themselves grieving over the death of one of their own. Hoyt hops in his car and drives to the road, approaching where the hero was hit, only to discover... he's gone. Moments before, a trucker came by and rescued the hero. But here's the trick - the hero has suffered a concussion on top of all his other traumas, and can't remember anything. Not even his name. He has no idea what happened...

The ending also leaves room for another fan fic script, dealing with those three yapping ladies who now have become unknowing targets of the angry - and hungry - Hewitt family. While The Legacy was a an all-boy adventure, could its follow-up be an all-girls event?

Overall, there's a lot surprises in The Legacy that even I had forgotten about. I remember after I first wrote it, I started a thread on IMDb to see who wanted to read it, and asked for feedback. The feedback was overwhelming, and hundreds of people have read this very fan fic. It was my first success as a writer, and a story that - while extremely gruesome - I will always cherish.

With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D looming for release, it is officially time to say goodbye to The Legacy. That story, surrounding the Hewitt's, has ended. Years from now, I think that people will look back on this chapter in the franchise with appreciation. The 2003 remake and The Beginning are certainly not groundbreaking classics like the 1974 original, but they are certainly the next-best-thing.

So I am hanging up The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Legacy once and for all. If you would like to read The Legacy, feel free to contact me for a copy.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Saw (2004)

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