Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre:
The Next Generation
Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The Next Generation (1995) poster.jpg
Theatrical re-release poster
Directed by Kim Henkel
Produced by Robert Kuhn
Kim Henkel
Written by Kim Henkel
Based on Characters created
by Kim Henkel
Tobe Hooper
Music by Wayne Bell
Robert Jacks
Cinematography Levie Isaacks
Edited by Sandra Adair
Genre Pictures
Return Productions
Ultra Muchos Productions
Distributed by
Release date
  • August 29, 1997 (1997-08-29) (limited)
Running time
94 minutes (original cut)
87 minutes (re-release)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $600,000
Box office $185,898[2]

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (originally The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre)[3] is a 1994 American independent slasher film written and directed by Kim Henkel, and starring Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, and Robert Jacks as Leatherface. The plot follows four teenagers who encounter Leatherface and his murderous family in backwoods Texas on the night of their prom. It is the fourth installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, and also features uncredited cameo appearances from Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, and John Dugan, all stars of the original film.

Writer-director Kim Henkel had previously co-written the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) with Tobe Hooper; the events of the previous two sequel films are addressed in The Next Generation's opening prologue as "two minor, yet apparently related incidents" which happened after the events of the original film. It was shot on location in rural areas outside of Austin, Texas in the summer of 1993.

The film was screened as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1994 and 1995 before being shelved by Columbia Pictures. Two years later, it was re-cut and released under the title Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation on August 29, 1997, after Zellweger and McConaughey had both become major Hollywood stars, but was a critical and financial failure. Though a full soundtrack was never released, a companion single featured in the film performed by star Robert Jacks and Debbie Harry was released on compact disc in 1997.


In 1996, four Texan teenagers: Jenny, Sean, Heather, and Barry, attend their Senior Prom. Jenny and Sean take some photos, before they head back to Barry's car to smoke marijuana. Heather storms out of the dance after having discovered Barry cheating on her with another girl. She attempts to drive away in his car with Jenny and Sean, but Barry catches up to them and they leave the dance. The group argue over Barry's recent behavior, such as cheating on Heather and abandoning his friendship with Sean for more popular friends. Heather takes a detour off the highway, which takes them into a remote wooded area where they get into an accident with another vehicle. While the four teens are fine, the other motorist passes out in the ensuing confusion.

Jenny decides to search for help, with Barry and Heather accompanying her, while Sean stays behind to watch over the unconscious motorist. Jenny, Heather, and Barry eventually come to a rural real estate office, occupied by a trashy woman named Darla, who calls her tow trucker boyfriend Vilmer to the sight of the wreck. The three leave the office and begin to make their way back to the sight of the accident, but become separated in the process.

Meanwhile, Vilmer shows up to the site of the wreck and murders the motorist by breaking his neck, before chasing Sean in his truck. Heather and Barry come to a derelict house in the woods and the couple are confronted by W.E. and Leatherface. W.E. holds Barry at gunpoint, while Heather is attacked on the front porch by Leatherface, who chases her inside the house, before stuffing her in a meat locker. Barry locks W.E. out of the house and goes to use the restroom, but discovers human remains and is bludgeoned to death by Leatherface with a sledgehammer. Heather is then impaled on a meat hook by Leatherface.

Jenny, now on her own, makes her way back to the wreck, where she is picked up by Vilmer. He taunts her, before forcing her to look at the corpses of Sean and the injured motorist. Jenny leaps out of the truck and runs for the woods, where Leatherface attacks her with a chainsaw. A chase ensues, and Jenny runs towards the farmhouse, where she locks Leatherface outside. She takes shelter upstairs and discovers the preserved corpse of a Texas Ranger. Jenny takes his pistol and goes to confront Leatherface, who has forced his way into the house. She fires the pistol, frightening Leatherface, who subsequently chases her upstairs. Jenny jumps out of a window and onto the roof to escape him. She climbs up a television antenna, before leaping onto a clothesline to escape, but Leatherface snaps the cord, sending Jenny plummeting through the roof of the Sawyers' greenhouse.

Leatherface chases Jenny through the woods back to Darla's office, where she seeks refuge. However, W.E. arrives and beats Jenny with an electric cattle prod, before tying her up and putting her in Darla's trunk. Darla goes to pick up some pizzas for dinner, before returning to the house, where Jenny and Heather, who is barely still alive, are tortured by the family.

Eventually, Vilmer knocks Jenny unconscious when she attempts to escape in Darla's car. She later awakens at a dinner table redressed in a skimpy evening gown, surrounded by the Sawyer family, including their supercentenarian grandfather and a transvestite Leatherface. Vilmer reveals that Leatherface plans to use Jenny's face to make a new mask of human flesh. She attempts to leave, but is stopped by Vilmer, who lights Heather on fire, before a mysterious man named Rothman arrives. He angrily berates Vilmer for keeping Jenny alive for so long; Leatherface restrains Jenny, as Rothman reveals an array of scarring and piercings and licks her face. Rothman leaves, and Vilmer crushes Heather's skull with his cybernetic leg, killing her. Vilmer begins to sob and mutilate himself, and the whole family erupts into chaos. Jenny takes the opportunity to escape again, but Vilmer captures and restrains her, while Leatherface attempts to decapitate her with his chainsaw.

Jenny grabs the remote which controls Vilmer's leg brace, distracting him long enough for her to escape the house. Vilmer orders Leatherface to chase after Jenny, who makes it to the road. She attempts to flag down an elderly couple in an RV, while Leatherface appears and attacks again. The elderly couple pull Jenny into the RV, but Vilmer appears in his truck with Leatherface, and they run the RV off the road, causing a turn over. Jenny emerges from the wrecked RV unharmed, and Vilmer and Leatherface chase after her. An airplane swoops down overhead with one of the wheels slicing Vilmer's skull, killing him. Jenny watches as Leatherface screams in agony over Vilmer's death.

A limousine appears to help Jenny and she quickly jumps in the backseat. She discovers Rothman inside and attempts to exit the car, but he assures her that he does not plan to do her any harm, stating that the whole ordeal was meant to be a spiritual experience which went horribly awry. Sometime later, Jenny is left at a hospital, where she is questioned by a police officer. She becomes distracted by the sight of a catatonic patient being wheeled by on a gurney. The film ends as Leatherface dances wildly in the road with his chainsaw in grief and frustration over Vilmer's death.




In developing the film, Robert Kuhn stated:

I wanted to go back to the original, and [Kim] did, too. We agreed on that right off. And the first major thing was getting him to write the script. I raised the money to get it written, and for us to start trying to put this thing together. Then we went out to the American Film Market in LA and talked to a bunch of people about financing. At that point I'd raised some money, but not nearly enough to make the film, and we looked at the possibilities of making a deal with a distributor. But I knew there wasn't any hope of us making one we could live with. There never is. Kim would say, 'Hey, so-and-so is interested, and it might be a deal we can live with.' So we'd talk to 'em and I'd ask three or four hard questions, and I'd just kind of look over at Kim and he'd say 'Yeah.' Then I'd go back and start trying to raise some more money. I just started going to everybody I knew and I got it in bits and pieces, wherever I could.[5]

In a 1996-released documentary on the making of the film, Henkel stated that he wrote the characters as exaggerated "cartoonish" caricatures of quintessential American youth.[6] Henkel cited the murder cases of serial killers Ed Gein and Elmer Wayne Henley as influences on his involvement in both Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.[6]


The movie was filmed on location at an abandoned farmhouse in Pflugerville, Texas and nearby Bastrop.[5] The majority of the cast and crew were locals from Austin, aside from David Gale, a stage actor from Houston.[5] Most of the filming took place at night, and was described by makeup artist J.M. Logan as "very, very rough for everyone."[7]

Renée Zellweger reflected on the film in a 2016 interview, and said: "It was very low-budget, so we all shared a tiny Winnebago that the producer of the film — it belonged to him, it was his personal camper. So, you know, makeup was in the front seats and there was a table in the middle for hair, and there was a tiny little curtain by the bathroom. That was where you put your prom dress and your flower on. [...] It was ridiculous. How we pulled that off, I have no idea. I'm sure none of it was legal. Anything we did was a little bit dangerous. But what an experience. It was kamikaze filmmaking."[8]


After a lengthy post-production that wrapped in 1994, the film screened at the South by Southwest Film and Media Conference in 1995,[9] and received "glowing reviews" at the time.[10] The film was purchased by Columbia Pictures, who reportedly agreed to distribute the film theatrically (along with its home-video release), and agreed to spend no less than $500,000 on prints and advertising.[11]

However, the film was shelved for the following two years, until in 1997, when Columbia re-edited and re-titled the film Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation,[12] slating it for a late August release.[13] According to producer Robert Kuhn, Columbia Pictures had deliberately pushed the film back to await the release of star Renée Zellweger's new film, Jerry Maguire (1996), which the filmmakers had no problem with. Matthew McConaughey's agent then purportedly put "pressure" on Columbia Pictures to not release the film theatrically, which caused complications between Henkel and the studio.

In a 1997 interview with The Austin Chronicle, Robert Kuhn stated that:

The film was released theatrically as Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation in a limited release in under twenty U.S. cities on August 29, 1997[14] under a co-distribution deal between Columbia Pictures and Cinépix Film Properties. The theatrical release featured the re-cut version of the film, which excised a total of seven minutes from Henkel's original cut.[15] The film earned $53,111 on 23 screens between August 29 and September 1, 1997.[16] It would go on to gross a total of $185,898.[2]

Critical reception

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation received mostly negative reviews.[17] Mike Clark of USA Today called it "The kind of cinematic endeavor where you suspect both cast and crew were obligated to bring their own beer,"[18] while Owen Gleiberman wrote in Entertainment Weekly that the film "recapitulates the absurdist tabloid-redneck comedy of the great, original Chainsaw without a hint of its primal terror."[19] Janet Maslin of The New York Times said: "It was way back in 1995 that this schlocky horror farce, then known as "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre," first appeared with the unknown actors Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in starring roles. But even in a film whose principal props include litter, old pizza slices and a black plastic trash bag, it's clear that these two were going places."[20] Margaret McGurk of The Cincinnati Enquirer also remarked the film's narrative, writing: "The script, such as it is, establishes a new benchmark for incoherence. Something about some teens who wander away on prom night and run up against a family of psycho-cannibal-thrill-killers... Of course, there is no point to any of it, either the humor or the creepy (though relatively bloodless) mayhem—except maybe the permanent embarrassment of poor Matthew [McConaughey] and Renée [Zellweger]."[21]

The film did receive some positive reviews, however: John Anderson of the Los Angeles Times referred to the film as "[a] giddy mix of gruesome horror and campy humor," while Joe Leydon of Variety said the film "manages the difficult feat of being genuinely scary and sharply self-satirical all at once... it is adept at keeping its audience in a constant state of jumpiness." He also lauded Zellweger's performance, calling her "the most formidable scream queen since Jamie Lee Curtis went legit."[22] The Austin Chronicle also gave the film a positive review, stating: "Writer-director Kim Henkel penned the original Chainsaw and this effort shows that he still has a felicitous grasp of the things that cause us to shudder in dread."[23] Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation currently holds a 16% rating on review aggragator Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews.[24]

The movie was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for "The Sequel Nobody Was Clamoring For".[25]

Home media

In late 1995, the film saw its first home video release in the form of a LaserDisc released in Japan under its original Return... title.[26]

The subsequent home video releases also occurred through Columbia Tristar Home Video: It was first released on VHS in September 1998, and on DVD on July 13, 1999. The original Columbia Tristar DVD release was reissued with new cover artwork in 2003.[27]

In 2001, Lionsgate, who purchased Cinépix Film Properties shortly after the film's 1997 theatrical run, released the film on DVD in Canada; the Canadian release featured the original 94-minute cut of the film.[28]

Scream Factory announced a collector's edition Blu-ray release of the film slated for September 25, 2018.[29]


The film has been noted for its implementation of a secret society subplot driving Leatherface's family to terrorize civilians in order to provoke them to a level of transcendence; in a retrospective interview, Kim Henkel confirmed that the basis of the subplot was influenced by theories surrounding the Illuminati.[30] Commenting on the film's ominous Rothman character, Henkel stated: "He comes off more like the leader of some harum-scarum cult that makes a practice of bringing victims to experience horror on the pretext that it produces some sort of transcendent experience. Of course, it does produce a transcendent experience. Death is like that. But no good comes of it. You’re tortured and tormented, and get the crap scared out of you, and then you die."[30]

Other references to the Illuminati are made in the film's dialogue, specifically in the scene in which Darla tells Jenny about the thousands-years-old secret society in control of the U.S. government, and makes reference to the Kennedy assassination.[31]

Henkel also deliberately wrote themes of female empowerment into the script, specifically in the Jenny character: "It’s her story. It’s about her transformation, her refusal to shut up, to be silenced, to be victimized. And by extension her refusal to be oppressed. Even by culture... Bringing Jenny into a world in which the culture was grotesquely exaggerated was a way of bringing her to see her own world more clearly – that is to say, my intent was to present a nightmarish version of Jenny’s world in the form of the Chainsaw family in order to enlarge her view of her own world."[30]

Another element noted by both critics and film scholars is the film's overt references to cross-dressing in the Leatherface character, which was briefly explored in the original film but implemented to a greater extent. Robert Wilonsky of the Houston Press commented on the film's treatment of the character, writing that the film "turns Leatherface (here played by Robbie Jacks, an Austin songwriter who used to host a smacked-up radio show with Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes) into a cross-dressing nancy boy who screams more than he saws."[10] According to Henkel, he wrote the character as one who assumes the persona of the person whose face he wears: "The confused sexuality of the Leatherface character is complex and horrifying at the same time," he said in a 1996 interview.[6]


Cover of Soundtrack Single 'Der Einziger Weg' by Deborah Harry
Der Einziger Weg cover.

The film's soundtrack featured many local Texan bands, but never received a release. However, star Robert Jacks, a friend of Blondie's Debbie Harry, produced a song with Harry titled Der Einziger Weg (sic; English: The Only Way; the correct German title would be "Der einzige Weg")—a single written for and featured in the film. The song was released by Eco-Disaster Music in 1997 as a single on compact disc, featuring Debbie Harry on the cover with a portrait of Jacks as Leatherface, featured in his three costumes, on the wall behind her.

Songs featured in the film
  • "Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)" by Roky Erickson
  • "I Got It Made" by Skatenigs
  • "Blue Moon At Dawn" by The Coffee Sergeants
  • "The Wolf at Night" by Erik Hokkanen
  • "Der Einzingerweg" by Debbie Harry and Robert Jacks
  • "Aphrodite" by Cecilia Saint
  • "Mother" by Pushmonkey
  • "Torn and Tied" by Pariah
  • "Mumbo Jumbo" by The Tail Gators
  • "Tornado Warning" by Erik Hokkanen
  • "Bodcaw" by Blind Willie's Johnson
  • "Ruby" by Loose Diamonds
  • "Love to Turn You On" by Pariah
  • "Careless Soul" by Daniel Johnston
  • "Milky Way Jive" by Erik Hokkanen
  • "Don't Tell Your Mama, Don't Tell Your Papa" by Beau Jocque
  • "Voodoo Kiss" by The Naughty Ones
  • "Penitentes" by Russ C. Smith



  1. ^ "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". American Film Institute. Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
  3. ^ Harper 2004, p. 145.
  4. ^ "HL Exclusive: Writer/Director Kim Henkel Reveals Secrets of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation'". Halloween Love. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c Wooley, John (September 1994). "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Cuts Deep". Fangoria (136). 
  6. ^ a b c Henkel, Kim; Zellweger, Renee (1996). The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Documentary. Huberman/Wolf Productions. 
  7. ^ Mullins, Travis (November 23, 2017). "Exclusive: Cast & Crew Reflect on Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Dread Central. Part 2. Archived from the original on December 8, 2017. Retrieved December 22, 2017. 
  8. ^ Gallagher, Brian (October 30, 2016). "Renee Zellweger Finally Comes to Terms with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4". Movie Web. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Houston Movies - Time to Kill". August 27, 1997. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Wilonsky, Robert (August 29, 1997). "Time to Kill". Houston Press. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Austin Chronicle. October 20, 1997. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  12. ^ Mullins, Travis (October 27, 2017). "Exclusive: Cast & Crew Reflect on Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Dread Central. Part 1. Archived from the original on November 24, 2017. Retrieved December 22, 2017. 
  13. ^ Macor 2010, p. 47.
  14. ^ "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Austin Chronicle. October 20, 1997. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The Next Generation". Movie-Censorship. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997) - Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  18. ^ Clark, Mike (August 30, 1997). "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". USA Today. 
  19. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (September 5, 1997). "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  20. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 29, 1997). "'Texas Chainsaw Massacre': 'Heather, You OK? Uh, Oh'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  21. ^ McGurk, Margaret A. (August 30, 1997). "'Chainsaw' comes back to haunt stars". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  22. ^ Leydon, Joe (March 19, 1995). "Review: "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre"". Variety. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  23. ^ Baumgarten, Marjorie (October 17, 1997). "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". 
  25. ^ "1997 20th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 12, 2006. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The [PILF-7334]". LaserDisc Database. 
  27. ^ "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (reissue)". DVDTalk. October 7, 2003. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  28. ^ Gallman, Brett (January 3, 2013). "Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)". Oh, the Horror!. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  29. ^ Squires, John (June 4, 2018). "Scream Factory Announces and Details 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation' Blu-ray!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved June 4, 2018. 
  30. ^ a b c Squires, John (July 22, 2014). "HL Exclusive: Writer/Director Kim Henkel Reveals Secrets of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation'". Halloween Love. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  31. ^ Snider, Eric (March 4, 2010). "Eric's Bad Movies: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)". MTV. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 

Works cited

  • Harper, Jim (2004). Legacy of Blood: A Comprehensive Guide to Slasher Movies. Critical Vision. ISBN 978-1-900-48639-2. 
  • Macor, Allison (2010). Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-72243-9. 

External links

  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation on IMDb
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at Box Office Mojo
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at AllMovie
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