[Editor’s Note: Welcome back, Fiends! If you haven’t already read Kim’s Layers of Leatherface: Part One, go ahead and do so now. Her dissection of your favorite chainsaw killer will be here when you get back, starting with…]
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
After Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, it was hard to take the franchise in a sensible direction, and so the next entry in the series was a remake/reboot of the original movie. Going back to basics with a van full of kids, and hitting a lot of the key points of the first movie, the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre creates a different vision of Leatherface.
The family is now named the Hewitt family, and their leader is now the super sadistic Sheriff Hoyt. Leatherface is still very much under the thumb of his family, as he is almost summoned when they need him to kill someone. The references that we’ve had to the family working in a slaughterhouse are most prevalent here, as Leatherface dispatches his victims with the speed and efficiency of a butcher. Other members of the family, especially Hoyt, get off on torturing people, but Leatherface is all business.
This time, Leatherface has a much scarier look as well. His mask is more twisted and darker, giving him a more malevolent look rather than the blank face he has in the 1978 movie. We’re meant to fear him from the first minute he pops up on the screen, and it works because he’s bloody terrifying.
“Going back to basics with a van full of kids, and hitting a lot of the key points of the first movie, the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre creates a different vision of Leatherface.”
This version of Leatherface is slightly smarter as well, and between him and his family, they lure people into situations where they are confident they will win before they strike. Leatherface has peepholes all over the house, and he watches Erin from a distance a couple of times before deciding to attack her. This time around, Leatherface always has the upper hand, and he’s never surprised by an unexpected guest.
In this film, we find out Leatherface wears a mask due to a skin disease, and we get to see him unmask for the first time when he sews himself a new face. Remakes love to add in a little backstory, and while this movie is quite light on exposition, they still make a point of trying to give reason to Leatherface’s face mask. However, the 1974 movie suggests that Leatherface is confused and doesn’t know who he is within his family, so perhaps he uses his masks to convey his emotions better and give himself the identity which he feels he’s lacking.
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is a prequel to the 2003 remake, and gives us a little more insight into why Leatherface started killing. Leatherface’s mother worked in the slaughterhouse, and after giving birth to him at work and then dying, Leatherface was dumped in the bins. He was then found by Luda Mae, who adopted him and raised him as her own.
When the slaughterhouse closes years later, Leatherface loses his job and takes his anger out on the slaughterhouse owner. In a bid to cover up the crimes, Charles Hewitt kills the town sheriff, and assumes his identity, becoming Sheriff Hoyt. It’s a mixture of Leatherface’s growing anger and Sheriff Hoyt’s newfound power which he can abuse which drives the Hewitt family to what we see in the 2003 movie. With the slaughterhouse closed, the family turns to cannibalism to survive, and while Hoyt commits a lot of the murders himself, Leatherface is more than happy to join in.
This time around we see Leatherface torture his victims, stripping their skin off when they’re still alive, and brutally murdering them in a way that is far removed for the methodical 2003 Leatherface. We’re back in unlikable Leatherface territory in this movie, and even though the backstory tries to show us how he ended up that way, it still paints him as a sadistic monster.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Pulling a move the Halloween (1978) series would be proud of, Texas Chainsaw 3D is a direct sequel to the 1978 movie and follows what happens when the rest of the Sawyer family perish as a result of mob justice, and Leatherface ends up hiding in his relative, Verna’s, basement for decades. When Verna dies, Heather inherits the house and her friends unwittingly let Leatherface loose.
Texas Chainsaw 3D does an excellent job of showing us Leatherface from the 1974 movie all grown up. In this movie, Leatherface only kills for two reasons – he murders anyone who comes into his family home for fear of what they will do if they discover him and he murders anyone involved in killing his family to get revenge for them. He seems more drawn into himself, but he no longer has the confidence issues that he had as a young man. He’s accepting of his life in the hidden basement because he knows it’s the only way he will be safe from the outside world and the hateful townsfolk.
” Texas Chainsaw 3D does an excellent job of showing us Leatherface from the 1974 movie all grown up.”
When Leatherface finds out Heather is his cousin it is the only time we see a flicker of the old Leatherface shining through. He panics when he realises he almost killed her and immediately frees her. Leatherface is all about family after all, and he knows Heather is literally the last family member he has left. He’s also better at setting boundaries now, as he makes it clear to Heather that while he’s happy to live with her, she can’t touch his face and she can’t come in his living area.
The final entry (for now anyway) in the series is Leatherface, the prequel to the 1974 movie. In this movie, we get to meet Leatherface as a young boy and meet younger versions of Verna and Leatherface’s brothers. Verna is Leatherface’s aunt, or possibly his mother, but either way, she is fiercely protective of him and the rest of the children. She drums into them all that outsiders are liars who are trying to tear their family apart.
Due to Leatherface, Drayton and Nubbins luring the town sheriff’s daughter to her death, Leatherface is taken away from Verna and placed in a young offenders institute. Here we get to see Leatherface, or Jackson as he is now known, without the influence of his family, and to be honest, he’s pretty normal. He’s extremely caring towards his only friend, Bud, and avoids involving himself with violence and murder as much as possible. However, when Verna enables Jackson and a group of fellow inmates to escape from the institute, things start to go wrong.
“Here we get to see Leatherface […] without the influence of his family, and to be honest, he’s pretty normal.”
When Bud is killed and Jackson realises the hate the sheriff still harbours towards him, it pushes him to an extremely angry place. He’s pushed over the edge when he’s shot through the cheek by the sheriff, and Verna has to sew his face back together. Realising that no one is truly there for him apart from Verna and the rest of his family, Leatherface finally gives in to his violent side and commits his first couple of chainsaw murders at Verna’s request.
This prequel is a much better attempt to show character development on Leatherface’s part and shows that even when he tried to fight against the violent ways of his family, the rest of the world had already given up on him. The town has already formed its opinion of his family and he had no choice but to return to them. This time around, you feel real sympathy for Leatherface because he tried to escape, but the world beat him down so much he ended up turning to anger, violent, and the chainsaw.
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