The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1995) - Kim Henkel
Shot in Texas for the small sum of $600,000, Kim Henkel's remake of the movie he co-wrote 21 years before is vastly underrated and criminally ignored. Henkel had been trying to produce a new chainsaw for some time (opening at a prom was a rejected idea from Henkel for New Line’s Part 3). Yes, it goes a little awry towards the end and becomes a kooky imitation of the original, but The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre has become somewhat of a cult favourite of the series.
Like TCMIII, "Return" acts like no ordinary sequel. When originally released Return was promoted as the "real" sequel, and a straight out remake. The latter is more on the money as the whole thing plays out like a parody of the original. Even twisting original scenes on their heads and recreating them in various different ways. Instead of Sally only jumping through a window, here Jenny and Leatherface face-off on the roof. The Hitchhiker isn't run over by a truck, but hit by a plane! It's so over the top and very rarely makes sense, it's incredibly entertaining!
The family is recreated from the original with the added character of Darla. Vilmer's (Hitchhiker?) girlfriend, of whom Vilmer has inserted an explosive chip in her head, which will detonate if she ever tries to leave!
W.E fills in the role of the Old Man that Jim Seidow portrayed in the first two movies (this time with an electric cattle prod as opposed to an ordinary broom handle) and the late Robert Jacks plays a screaming frantic version of Leatherface, who wears the same (if badly executed) three masks as the original. Hangs victims on meat hooks, and stuffs them in freezers (another over the top nod to the original!). The only real difference here is that the cannibalism is played down completely and the family elect to order pizza instead.
I should mention this is the ONLY TCSM movie with nudity in it! Albeit brief and provided by a double for Toni Perenski. It seems the producers of these films are as repressed as the family themselves. That being said, the relationship between Darla (Perenski) and Vilmer (McConoughey) is as highly sexually charged as it is violent.
Re-cut and re-released as Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation by Columbia in 1997 (long after the original release by the filmmakers themselves in 1995), The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is available in its original uncut form in a number of ways. Aside from the Japanese Laserdisc and the Canadian DVD release by Lions Gate Home Entertainment, Producer Robert Kuhn produced 50,000 copies of the movie himself in a exclusive deal with Blockbuster Video which never happened due to the Columbia agreement (he should have gone with Blockbuster!), and a number of these are still available on eBay to this day.
There's not a whole lot of differences overall between each version, but "Return" feels more like an independent and highly effective cheap jack horror thriller more akin to the first one. In the end if you prefer the "Next Generation" title, maybe that one is for you. If your looking for a grainy indie horror title in the same vein as the 1974 classic, stick with the "real sequel" The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is reviled as the worst sequel in the "Chainsaw " franchise. Maybe if it had a disclaimer at the beginning stating "It's okay to laugh" more people wouldn't have been so disappointed.
For hard-core fans only.