I shall be tearing apart Leatherface, examining its cuts and paying attention to what I saw to see if it’s a hack or a cut above the rest. So read on only if you’ve already seen Leatherface, or don’t plan to.
0:01:07 The film opens on a birthday party for a little boy (‘Calf-face’?) named Jed, who’s surrounded by a family of halfwits and mental deficients. As he seems normal, he’s already gifted.
Where are your manners? Give the first piece to the thief!
I dunno, the thief looks pretty fed up.
[N.B. As Leatherface was filmed in Bulgaria, you’ll note the preponderance of Eastern European surnames when looking at the cast.]
0:01:54 The accused thief begins making threats! It’s not his place to do so – because right now his place is tied to a chair in a murder family’s living room.
0:03:24 Jed is given a used chainsaw for his birthday, but not the balls to use it.
[N.B. This scene mimics another scene at the end of the film (see 1:16:54). The outcome, however, is not the same and is meant to show Jed’s character arc from the beginning of the film to the end.]
0:04:14 Jed is unable to do the deed, so Grandpa is forced to finish the thief off with a sledgehammer to the head. #SplittingHeadache
0:05:28 A young woman (Lorina Kamburova as Betty) in 1955 climbs out of a pickup truck when her beau nearly runs over an animal. It turns out the animal is a young boy wearing a skinned cow head like a mask and shaved cow skin like a weirdo.
Betty [to her boyfriend, Julian Kostov as Ted]: It’s just a kid!
Sure, just a kid wearing raw animal flesh like a suit. Unless you mean ‘baby goat’, in which case this is a calf. #knowyouranimals 🐐
0:05:44 Bit of advice: if, while motoring down the road, you happen on a prepubescent lad wearing a dead cow, do not try to befriend him. He’s not looking for friends, he’s looking for victims.
Young Jed [Boris Kabakchiev]: Help me, please!
And off he goes into the countryside like meat bait. Betty chases after him because she’s in 1955, when people tolerated serial killers better than African Americans.
0:06:58 She loses track of him and runs into a seemingly abandoned barn. How does she know he ran into the decrepit barn? Perhaps she’s not looking for the boy at all, but the company of psychopaths.
[Easter Egg 🐣: The house in Leatherface is a reproduction of the Sawyer House from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.]
0:09:26 Nubbins (Dejan Angelov), one of the younger brood, releases a chain that holds the motor that plummets on top of Betty. If she wasn’t before, she’s definitely flat chested now.
0:09:44 We discover Betty was the daughter of the police chief (Stephen Dorff as Chief Hal Hartman)
[FYI I noticed a minor continuity error here, where the detectives bare their bald heads then, covered, then uncovered anew. The king of all continuity errors, however, remains this ridiculous sequence from Apartment 1303.]
Chief Hartman [to Verna Sawyer]: You take one of mine, I’ll take all of yours, Verna.
The police chief takes Jed away “for his own protection”, as living with Verna isn’t healthy. Not that Betty fared any better for having lived with the chief.
[Easter Egg 🐣: Chief Hal Hartman is the father of Burt Hartman, main antagonist of Texas Chainsaw 3D. Even more interesting, Ted Hardesty (Betty’s boyfriend) will go on to sire Franklin and Sally Hardesty, victim and final girl from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.]
0:12:01 Ten years later, a nurse (Vanessa Grasse as Elizabeth White, #White’sLifeMatters) takes a tour of the youth reformatory / asylum where Jed is kept. She’s doomed to be the female lead.
0:14:17 Adult Jed (Sam Strike) introduces himself and his big, dumb, gentle giant of a mate (Sam Coleman as Bud) to Lizzy. Anyone who studied English in school will surely recognise the George and Lennie parallel from Of Mice and Men, and wonder if their teacher was right when they said it would be useful later.
0:16:12 Later, in the communal restroom, Lizzy catches Clarice (Jessica Madsen), one of the female patients, feeding a live and hairless rodent to another patient. It’s a completely random and out of place scene used only to show us that Clarice is a ‘bad guy’.
0:18:58 Jed/Jackson accosts Elizabeth in the corridor and tells her that the Chief of Staff (Christopher Adamson as Dr. Lang) uses the ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) room as a torture chamber for patients. As Lizzy seems to genuinely care about the patients, he recommends she investigate it later, i.e. One Flew into the Cuckoo’s Nest.
0:22:14 Orderlies shave Bud’s temples to clear a place for the electric pads so they can give him ECT. The patient who’d earlier picked a fight with Bud, Ike (James Bloor), looks pretty shocked already.
0:24:42 Doctor Lang administers the shock therapy. This is another trope which I find irritating in asylum films: there’s only one shift, so the doctors and nurses work 24 hours/day. That’s crazy!
0:25:02 Verna, freshly remarried and pockets full of that new husband cash, arrives in Dr.Lang’s office with a lawyer, insisting she be permitted to see Jed. When the doctor cites procedure, she gets up and, after instant night falls like a drunk on the stairs, she uses the toilets as a pretext to sneak into the asylum. She unlocks some doors which allow patients to escape and they unlock more doors until there are more free nuts than nudists at a cashew farm.
0:25:54 In the pandemonium, the doctor leaves the room to investigate the din and Bud sheds his bonds to beat the orderly to death. #disorderly
0:28:16 The hospital is in control of the patients. Bud the giant breaks into the old, decrepit doctor’s office and instead of trying to calm Bud, Lang slaps Bud repeatedly in the face. Now who’s crazy?
0:28:20 Bud pushes the doctor’s face through a window, to show him real pane.
0:29:14 WTF!? Two nurses (a disposable lass and Elisabeth) are running through the basement towards an emergency exit, well ahead of the madmen, when they hear a noise. Rather than to run a few more steps to safety, they decide it’s better to hide and give the rampaging lunatics a chance to catch up to them.
0:29:51 A patient kills the disposable nurse by stabbing her in the throat, but then Jed arrives and kills him before Lizzy falls prey. Jed is a knight in shining pyjamas.
0:30:28 Ike and Clarice beat up and stuff both Lizzy and Jed in the boot of their mustard yellow classic car. Then they pick up a Bud, meaning the heavy set madman and not an American excuse for a lager or Bob Marley’s muse.
Do that again, I’ll turn you into strawberry pie.
Ike to Lizzy who tried to run away
If this is the best threat he’s got, he earned his place in the mental hospital.
This ain’t the work of a confused child. This is evil. Needs puttin’ down.
Chief Harman hunts down every cliche he can find in his quest for obscurity
0:37:34 This, then, is the merry band
Ike – The most stupid of them all, which means he’s in charge
Clarice – His sidekick with extra kick
Bud – Totally mad, and not the least bit angry
Lizzy – Prisoner in this film in more ways than one
Jed – Reluctant hero… He wants Lizzy to be safe so he can fill her with his family jewels
0:38:32 The group goes into a diner, with Bud staying outside. Jeff and Lizzy sit in a different part of the restaurant but decide to stay put and not walk out, even though Ike and Clarice could do nothing if they did. WTF!? Looks like the daily special is ‘special needs’.
0:40:03 Ike and Clarice stab a diner patron, steal his pistol, shoot some people in the head and take their cash. So, lunch in America, basically.
0:40:11 WTF!? Lizzy breaks free, yet Bud stops her from escaping, just as he held Jed back when the latter had the upper hand against Ike earlier in the evening. Why does Jed consider him a friend when Bud obviously only cares about helping Ike? Maybe he should just Bud out.
0:40:38 One of the patrons opens fire with his pistol as the dirty dozen minus 7 make their getaway. He shoots Bud in the latter’s ample stomach folds, so Bud may find the bullet later with the lost TV remote.
0:43:47 The Zoophiles (5 on the lam) are forced to abandon their car beside a filthy caravan. Once inside, Lizzy trips and “has to” kiss the dead occupant (suicide by hanging) when she falls. #FilmPhysics
0:46:02 Ike is doing the nasty. Literally.
0:46:34 Ike and Clarice bring the corpse into the throes of their passion. Two’s company, three’s an orgy.
0:50:32 Lizzy makes a break for it, but is caught by Ike. Before he can rape her, however, Jed attacks Ike. Then Clarice comes to break up the ruckus with a shotgun. Following which, Ike berates Bud for his poor lookout skills. You know how everyone goes crazy on the night of the full moon turning into a half moon!
0:52:38 While Ike waters a tree with his urine, Bud approaches him from behind and overpowers him. It’s like I always say, it’s better to be pissed off than on.
0:53:28 Then Bud knocks out Ike’s teeth by putting Ike’s mouth on a rock and stepping on the back of his head. In American History X, this was called ‘kerbing’, so here it’s probably called ‘rocking’.
0:54:32 Lizzy has another chance to run away but instead decides to stay with Jed and look for Bud. Maybe she misunderstood what sort of Bud they were looking for.
0:55:58 While Clarice hunts down Ike, she’s surprised from behind by Deputy Sorrel (Finn Jones) and his arresting good looks.
[Exclusive Easter Egg 🐣: I’m convinced the name ‘Sorrel’ comes from a composite of Jones’ more famous role, that of Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones: Ser Loras Tyrell.]
0:58:22 Hartman arrives and plays bad cop / bad cop with Clarice. She runs away, he shoots her in the leg, she falls down until he catches up to her and then she has no problem running behind him to the abandoned trailer. It’s been that kind of film.
0:59:04 Clarice makes a crack about Hartman’s dead daughter, and the first thing that crosses her mind just after is a bullet.
1:01:04 WTF!? 😂😂😂 Holy cow! To evade the tracker dogs, all three of them hide in the rotting corpse of a dead cow! All. Three. Of. Them. In the same cow.
Who wore it better? Lizzy White in Leatherface or Hugh Glass in The Revenant?
1:01:32 BTW, Bud doesn’t seem to be having any difficulty at all with strenuous activities after taking a bullet yesterday. I think he’s been unshot.
1:02:31 The bloody threesome reach a stream but decide only to wash their hands and faces and leave the rest of their hair and bodies covered in maggotty cow blood. I wonder what they appreciate most: the smell, the insects it draws, or the risk of disease?
1:02:51 WTF!? After climbing in a putrid cattle carcass to avoid the police, Lizzy, still wearing the fetid remains of the beast, runs after the first cop car she sees, screaming for them to stop. The characters in this film are more inconsistent than a bipolar crack addict on a seesaw.
1:03:15 In a stellar display of WTF, Bud and Jed decide not to hide but instead follow Lizzy to meet the officer. Bud charges the policeman slower than an obese snail on hot tar, yet still the officer can only squeeze one round off. Not to worry, Bud is impervious to bullets and keeps charging anyway until both men are on the ground and the cop shoots Bud in the head, making him more brain dead than ever. But still not as much as this movie.
1:03:57 Dear Lord… Jed begins beating the policeman to death so Lizzy runs over to stop him but he pushes her in the police car (WTF!?) so she starts to drive away but slows down for him (WTF!?) when he decides to jump in. This film is the Sharknado of horror.
1:04:08 And of course he somehow landed in the passenger seat on the opposite side he jumped in. #continuity
1:04:58 Hartman begins shooting and Lizzy changes her mind yet again and decides she’s running away from the cops once more. At least she is until Hartman shoots her in the shoulder and she crashes the vehicle.
1:06:28 Elizabeth awakens in the middle of the night. On the 2-way radio, she’s able to tell Sorrel she’s handcuffed in the front seat of a police car beside an abandoned barn. He tells her to “stay put”. Apparently he’s afraid she’ll walk away, dragging the police car behind her from her wrist.
1:09:02 After Hartman takes Lizzy into the barn where his daughter died (see 9:26) so that she might watch him torture a trussed up Jed, Sorrel pays a visit to Mrs Sawyer. He tells her where Hartman is and what he’s doing to her son, then asks for cash gratuity. When he bends over to pick it up off the ground, one of the Sawyer boys stabs him in the back. And the front and the side and the middle.
1:09:42 WTF!? The Sawyers drop Sorrel into the sty and the hogs eat him alive more fervently than any pit bull. Who knew pigs ate their own?
1:10:21 The Sawyers arrive at the old barn and Hartman makes the introductions.
Hartman: Meet Verna Sawyer, Jed’s aunt. Or is it ‘mother’? Or maybe both.
WTF!? Does he know how babies work?
1:10:58 In addition to not understanding babies, he also doesn’t understand psychos. He’s surrounded by two Sawyers, is holding a gun on each of them, yet still lets the third boy attack him. WTF!? That said, his ignorance is understandable, as the difference between babies and psychos is negligible.
1:11:58 Mrs. Sawyer sets about tending to her son’s wounds.
1:12:42 His mum puts a bridle on him, ostensibly for him to heal, but I think she just wants to prove he’s an ass.
1:14:25 Elizabeth unties herself and then unties the sheriff because he said he was sorry that he was going to torture her. #WhiteLiesMatter
1:16:54 The Sawyers capture Hartman and Elizabeth and then Jed learns how to cut off limbs with a chainsaw.
[N.B. As previously referenced at 3:24, the fact he’s able to dispose of Hartman shows his development as a character and into a serial killer.]
1:18:22 After Jed tears Hartman apart in a surprisingly mundane hack job, Elizabeth runs away. She’s able to reach the woods because the men holding her wait to take up the chase because it’s way too late for them to use logic. That, and the film is too far below 90 minutes for them to catch her quickly.
1:20:28 Elizabeth runs as fast as she can away from Jed, who’s running with his chainsaw, which is also running. The brothers apparently stopped trying to catch her because it made far too much sense so they disappear like the ghosts of cockroaches in sunlight.
1:20:37 Elizabeth becomes ensnared in a bear trap and, unable to move, pleads to Jed for her life while his mum shows up from out of nowhere and insists he kill her. Either way, he’s going to get a piece.
1:21:18 Elizabeth loses her head and then loses her head.
1:23:36 Jed wears Elizabeth’s face like a mask. It’s fairly sturdy for flesh, so I imagine Elizabeth was thick skinned.
- WTF!?’s: 14 ripping ones
- When to Follow: A nice after-work horror film that you won’t have to pay too much attention to before bed.
- Where’s This Found: We knew we didn’t need Leatherface origin story, and now we know why. When you hack away at all the grit, grisly gore and raw energy of original, you’re left with a bare bones, pale corpse of a film with no heart. Out of a possible 10, I have 5 F’s to give
- What To Feedback: Which Texas Chainsaw Massacre tears you up?
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