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Jeff Burr
Kate Hodge, Viggo Mortensen, Ken Foree
David Schow
A California couple and a survivalist encounter Leatherface and his family.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 2/13/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Jeff Burr, Screenwriter David J. Schow, Production Assistant Mark Odesky, Special Makeup Effects Supervisor Greg Nicotero, and Actors RA Mihailoff and William Butler
• “The Saw Is Family” Documentary
• Deleted Scenes/Alternate Ending
• Trailer


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Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III [Blu-Ray] (1990)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 26, 2018)

Give me “Confusing Movie Titles” for $400, Alex! A 2017 prequel to 1974’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre went with the title Leatherface.

That made sense since “Leatherface” acted as the original movie’s most enduring and compelling character. However, 1990’s Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III already used an obviously similar title, so potential confusion results.

As noted, the 2017 movie takes place before the 1974 original, whereas the 1990 Leatherface offers a more traditional sequel. College students Michelle (Kate Hodge) and Ryan (William Butler) drive from California to Florida.

Along the way, they find themselves detoured from the main highway and they wind up threatened by psychotic cannibal Leatherface (RA Mihailoff) and his crazy clan. Along with survivalist Benny (Ken Foree), they attempt to survive this onslaught.

While it took 12 years for the original Massacre to generate a sequel, at least 1986’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 boasted the return of Tobe Hooper, the first flick’s auteur. As far as I can tell, Hooper didn’t involve himself in Leatherface at all – not even as a token executive producer.

Jeff Burr replaces Hooper as director, which doesn’t seem like a fair trade. A look at Burr’s filmography reveals a wholly undistinguished career that focuses on a slew of forgettable – and forgotten – horror sequels.

Does Leatherface demonstrate talent beyond the level one would expect from the director of classics such as Pumpkinhead II and Puppet Master 5? Nope – while not an incompetent affair, the sequel seems lackluster at best.

Some of the issues relate to pacing, as Leatherface tends to take a leisurely path toward its horror. During the film’s first act, we get overtones related to the drama but the tale progresses in a sluggish manner that seems likely to create viewer impatience.

Part of the problem stems from odd choices made by Burr, as he exacerbates the movie’s flaws. The film really does progress in an awkward manner, as too many shots linger longer than necessary for no apparent purpose.

Granted, the script doesn’t give Burr a lot of room to move, as it delivers little more than random mayhem in search of a plot. That seems like a shame, mainly because the presence of Benny adds intrigue.

Unlike the hapless kids of the original Massacre, Benny shows the ability to fight back against Leatherface. Every once in a while, he brings actual promise and potential to the proceedings.

But then we head back to dishwater dull Michelle and Ryan and I find myself nodding off. They’re less overtly annoying than the grating characters in the first movie, but they go too far in the opposite direction, which means they present flat, boring personalities.

While I find myself tempted to blame the actors, I won’t – mainly due to the presence of Viggo Mortensen as “Tex”. A legitimate talent – one with multiple Oscar nominations – even Mortensen can’t create a lively character here, so his Tex seems just as random and bland as most of the rest.

That said, Foree almost manages to deliver a decent performance. Best-known for 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, his experience with the horror genre shows, as he gives Benny more impact than otherwise might be the case.

Unfortunately, we don’t get enough of Foree to make a real difference. Instead, Leatherface offers a mix of banal tedium punctuated with shots of graphic gore that never coalesces into anything interesting.

Note that this Blu-ray includes an unrated cut of Leatherface. As discussed elsewhere on the disc, the movie encountered MPAA issues and needed to lose about four minutes of content to earn an “R”. The unrated edition restores those scenes.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not great, the image seemed more than satisfactory.

Sharpness was largely positive. A few interiors appeared a little on the soft side, but the majority of the movie came across with good accuracy and delineation.

I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and the image lacked edge haloes. With decent natural grain, I didn’t sense any intrusive digital noise reduction, and print flaws were absent.

Colors seemed adequate. Leatherface went with a blue and amber-influenced palette, and the hues appeared fine within those choices, though they could seem a bit dense at times.

Blacks were fairly dark and tight, and shadows showed largely appropriate clarity, albeit a little on the dim side. I felt the transfer held up pretty well.

I also thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Leatherface worked fine, though, the forward channels dominated. They showed good stereo imaging for the score and also offered acceptable ambience.

Not surprisingly, the movie kicked to auditory life more actively during its occasional action scenes, and those offered decent use of all five channels. The elements seemed appropriately located and they blended together pretty well, though I never thought this turned into an especially involving affair.

Audio quality appeared solid. Dialogue came across as fairly natural and warm, though the lines did occasionally suffer from iffy looping. Music seemed bright and vibrant, as the score presented clear highs and tight low-end.

Effects packed a good punch, so those elements appeared distinct and vivid. They lacked problems related to distortion, and they demonstrated reasonably deep bass response. Overall, the soundtrack of Leatherface seemed more than acceptable given its age and origins.

Despite the movie’s low-profile, the Blu-ray comes with a nice array of extras, and we launch with an audio commentary from director Jeff Burr, screenwriter David J. Schow, production assistant Mark Odesky, special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero, and actors RA Mihailoff and William Butler. All sit separately for this edited look at the project’s origins and development, cast and performances, story/characters/sequel concerns, budget issues, sets and locations, effects, editing and ratings problems, music and connected domains.

The commentary gives us a pretty terrific overview of the production. It traces the film essentially from beginning to end and does so in a frank, informative manner. These factors make it a consistently engaging and enjoyable piece.

Next comes a documentary called The Saw Is Family. It spans 27 minutes, 58 seconds and includes notes from Burr, Nicotero, Schow, Butler, Ordesky, Mihailoff, and producer Robert Engleman.

“Family” looks at real-life roots for Leatherface, aspects of the original Massacre and the first sequel, and the development of the third chapter. It also discusses story/character/script areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, various effects, controversies during the shoot, ratings/editing issues, and the movie’s release.

With “Family”, we get a brisk examination of the film. Given that it concentrates on the same participants in the commentary, repetition becomes inevitable, but “Family” still delivers a pretty solid overview.

In addition to a surprisingly clever trailer, we find an Alternate Ending (5:20) and a Deleted Scenes documentary (9:45). The “Ending” kills off a character who survives the released version and offers a different fate for another role. It’s neither better nor worse than the “real” ending.

As for the “Scenes Documentary”, it mixes cut footage with comments from Burr and Nicotero about these sequences. The excised sequences feel minor and largely forgettable, but the filmmakers’ remarks and some behind the scenes footage add value to the compilation.

Don’t expect much from Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, as it provides a horror experience devoid of quality. Outside of a chance to see Viggo Mortensen pre-fame, the movie lacks memorable elements. The Blu-ray brings us generally positive picture and audio as well as a reasonable roster of supplements highlighted by a strong commentary. Leatherface fails to live up to even the most modest hopes and expectations.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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