It goes without saying that Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) is one of the greatest horror films of all-time. In fact, it is one of my favorites and was responsible for a formative memory as my mom forced us to shut off the VHS when we watched it. (Yes, she rented a film with that title, but then somehow got offended by the content.) My sister and I snuck it out later to watch it. Hooper’s sequel THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2 (1986) also provided another memory as a theater manager refused to sell my mom tickets for us to see it. (Yes, apparently mom forgot all about the VHS incident.) I eventually saw that one on video and loved the ever loving hell out of it, with its wit and general insanity only improving over time. So when New Line announced they were doing a third entry in the TCM series, I was revved up. Ah, boo yourself.
Also at the same convention was a young filmmaker pimping another sequel, THE STEPFATHER II (1989). The director was Jeff Burr and by June 1989 he would be signing on to find himself in the director’s chair for the Sawyer clan’s third go-round. This was great news for me as I had seen (and loved) Burr’s anthology THE OFFSPRING (1987). I figured if he could make a great movie with minimal funds that given millions he would make a fantastic movie. Ah, so naïve of studio/film world politics in my youth. (Sadly, Burr also saw his STEPFATHER sequel get into the hands of the Weinsteins, who proceeded to mangle it.) Thankfully, after Burr was signed, New Line gave him plenty of time to develop the LEATHERFACE project. Haha, just kidding, he was literally given a few weeks. As evidenced by their super-rushed production of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5, New Line had adopted a “release date first, filming very fast later” policy and had already penciled in the third CHAINSAW film for a fall release date. Filming took place in July 1989 and by most accounts it was a stressful shoot. I’d highly recommend Schow’s articles on the film (and un-making of his script) in Fangoria issues 88 & 89.
While the film didn’t perform up to expectations, some good did come from it. It gave genre icon Ken Foree another theatrical feature and it helped launch the career of Viggo Mortensen. Perhaps the best thing from it though was an amazing teaser trailer attached to ELM STREET 5. One has to think this came about as a response to Paramount’s JASON TAKES MANHATTAN trailer (hell, both of them unfold in nearly the exact same manner), this clever trailer shocked me when I first saw it due to the surprise factor alone. Remember, kids, this was the ‘80s before every frame of a trailer was spread worldwide on the computer. Dammit, where did I put my Geritol?