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Franchise / The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

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Reportedly, he makes great head cheese.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a series of horror films which depict people meeting their ends at the hands of an Ax-Crazy family in Texas, with the chainsaw-toting man known as Leatherface being the prominent deathdealer.

The films include:

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) — A group of teenagers take a road trip to investigate the possible vandalism of their grandfather's grave, ultimately coming into the grips of an insane group of murderous cannibals. One of the classic proto-examples of the slasher genre.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) — Twelve years after the events of the first film, a radio DJ attempts to aid a sheriff capture the Sawyer clan, only to end up between the horrific crossfire. While panned upon release, the film has since gained a cult following.
  • Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) — A direct sequel to the original that ignores the previous film. In this installment, a new clan of cannibals terrorize travelers among the desolate Texas countryside. Intended to be the first in a new series produced by New Line Cinema, the film's poor reception stopped any further involvement in the series by the studio.
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995) — A Soft Reboot. A group of high school kids on prom night end up in a car crash, stranding them in the woods, where they are terrorized by a family of deranged psychopaths. Notable for featuring the first acting roles of future Academy Award winners Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) — Another reboot/remake. A group of 20-somethings on their way to Mexico pick up a traumatized hitchhiker who fatally shoots herself in their car. Following their attempts to contact the authorities, they are picked off one by one by a chainsaw wielding maniac.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) — A prequel to the second reboot. This film explores the origins of the iconic serial killer Leatherface and the cannibalistic Hewitt family as they terrorize a group of young adult draft dodgers.
  • Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) — Another direct sequel to the original that ignores all the other films. A young woman named Heather discovers a house in Newt, Texas that she has inherited and takes a road trip with her friends to collect. Unbeknownst to her (but knownst to us) is what waits in the basement of the old house.
  • Leatherface (2017) — A Prequel to the 1974 film (also featuring Canon Welding to the previous film) showing the origins of a teenage Leatherface and the traumatic experiences that mold him into the legendary butcher.
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) — Another direct sequel to the original that ignores all the other films, co-produced by Fede Álvarez (Don't Breathe, Evil Dead) and starring Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) as well as Olwen Fouéré (Mandy (2018)) as Sally Hardesty, replacing the late Marilyn Burns. The film received an exclusive release on Netflix.

There are also a lot of spin-off media, including:

Comic Books

  • Leatherface (1991-1992)
  • Jason vs. Leatherface (1995-1996)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Special (2005)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Grind (2006)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Fearbook (2006)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2007)
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Cut! (2007)
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: About A Boy (2007)
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: By Himself (2007)
    • New Line Cinema's Tales Of Horror (2007)
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Raising Cain (2008)

Tabletop Game

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Game (2022)

Video Games

As well as a few game crossovers:

The chainsaw as a murder weapon was iconic enough to become part of the Hockey Mask and Chainsaw trope in the popular culture.

This franchise provides examples of:

  • Alternate Continuity: Compared to other horror franchises, this one is especially snarled (if not QUITE as bad as Halloween). Despite their numbering and some Broad Strokes connective elements between them, the sequels are not truly sequels to each other, but to the original film, then there's the reboots and prequels, all of which results in a number of separate continuities:
    • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre + The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
    • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre + Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
    • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning + The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
    • Leatherface (2017) + The Texas Chain Saw Massacre + Texas Chainsaw 3D
    • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre + Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
  • Anti-Villain: Leatherface commits horrific crimes out of loyalty to his family, and it's implied that he lacks the mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong.
  • Big Bad: Leatherface is generally not this, since he's technically The Dragon and takes orders from the more senior members of his family, he's by far the most dangerous member. The official Big Bads differ in continuity:
    • Drayton "The Cook" Sawyer serves as this in the first two movies.
    • Edward 'Tex' Sawyer is this for the third movie.
    • Vilmer Slaughter in The Next Generation.
    • In the remake and it's prequel, there's Charlie Hewitt Jr./Sheriff Hoyt.
    • Texas Chainsaw 3D has Mayor Burt Hartman, with Leatherface serving as a Villain Protagonist.
    • Leatherface has Verna Sawyer, Leatherface's controlling mother responsible for shaping him into a cannibalistic serial killer.
    • The 2022 movie has Leatherface himself as the sole antagonist.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Lets count Leatherface's relatives, shall we?
    • Original: Drayton, Nubbins, Grandpa and Grandma
    • 2: Chop-Top
    • TCM III: Eddie, Alfredo, Tex, Mama and Little Girl
    • Return/The Next Generation: Vilmer, Darla, W.E. and Grandfather
    • Remake: Luda Mae, Monty, Jedidiah, Henrietta, the Tea Lady and Charlie, Jr. (better known as Sheriff Winston Hoyt)
    • Leatherface: Verna
    • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Virginia "Ginny" McCumber
    • Wildstorm Comics: Ezekiel, Shiloh, Hank, Adam, Cain, Abel, Connie Jean, Cal, Earl, Cain, Jr., Abel, Jr., Lyle, Clem, two unnamed brothers in Cut! and several other unnamed relatives in Raising Cain.
    • Jason vs. Leatherface: Amelia, Emery and Velma.
  • Cool Mask: More "fear inspiring mask of madness" than cool.
  • Crossover: Jason vs. Leatherface has Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th series coming to blows with Leatherface and his family.
  • Doomed by Canon: Any characters from the remake's prequel, and any from the comics set before the remake.
    • Subverted in the comic The Grind. The main character escapes and survives, but is framed for the murders of her friends by the Hewitts, and is stuck in an insane asylum, where she spends her days freaking out and ranting about the inbred hicks who killed everyone.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Averted in TCM III, and the remake (where the unmasking isn't dramatic, Leatherface just takes it off while making a new one).
  • The End... Or Is It?: Every film (except TCM 2, probably) ends with Leatherface and a few relatives still alive. TCM III is the straightest example.
  • Evidence Dungeon: The house is an abattoir with damning evidence in every room. Justified as the murderous family's house is so far removed from civilization that it is only discovered by accident.
  • Expanded Universe: Various comics have been released, the bulk of them taking place in the remake universe and filling in the gaps there.
  • Familial Foe: Most survivors of the Serial Killer Leatherface also have to fight members of his Cannibal Clan family (brothers, grandfather, mother, uncle, nephew, daughter, etc), although the family tree has a lot of Canon Discontinuity.
  • The Faceless: Leatherface only rarely appears without his mask, and his face is never given that much detail.
  • Fan Disservice: The remake and prequel protagonists are hot, half-dressed teenagers... that get cut up, hacked, and doused in blood. Then eaten.
  • Fanservice: The sweaty Jessica Biel wears such snug tank tops and jeans, which get wet often.
    • Darla flashing her breasts in The Next Generation.
  • Final Girl: Sally Hardesty, Vanita "Stretch" Brock, Michelle, Jenny, Erin Hardesty, Chrissie, Heather Miller, Elizabeth "Lizzy" White, and Lila.
  • Gamebooks: An unusual example. After the 1974 original, the story branches into four separate Alternate Continuities, giving the viewer the choice of which direction to take it: 2, III, 3D or TCM.
  • Gorn: Averted in the original which is notable for its utter lack of gore but still being a rich source of Nightmare Fuel and Nothing Is Scarier.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: In the original film, only one person dies with a chainsaw and almost all of the deaths are bloodless. The editing and the atmosphere more than makes up for it though.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Leatherface's grandfather in the first film is called by the family "the ultimate killer", although because he is aged beyond normal human standards, he remains The Unfought.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Several people are sliced in half throughout the series, notably Morgan in the remake.
  • Hippie Van: The first movie starts when a vanload of Hippies stop to pick up a hitchhiker.
  • I Have Many Names: Depending on the continuity, Leatherface's real name is variously Bubba Sawyer, W.E. Sawyer, Leather Slaughter, Thomas Brown Hewitt, or Jedidiah Sawyer.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Some films, such as the first, merely imply this, while in others, such as the first sequel and the remake prequel, it's explicit (and drives the plot).
  • Impersonating an Officer: Sheriff Winston Hoyt was originally Charlie Hewitt, Jr. He killed the real sheriff and stole his identity and car.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: There's a scene in the remake where the sadistic Sheriff Hoyt forces Morgan into sticking a gun in his mouth, under the pretense of reenacting a suicide committed earlier in the film; continually goading the obviously terrified Morgan (who doesn't know if the gun is loaded or not) into pulling the trigger. Hoyt arrests him under the charge of attempted murder when Morgan snaps and tries to shoot him with the gun. It's implied that this was Hoyt's plan all along.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Leatherface wears a variety of masks made of human skin to hide his deformed face.
  • Mama Bear: Luda Mae Hewitt.
  • Meaningful Name: Leatherface's Cannibal Clan is known as the Sawyers in the original series and the Hewitts in the remake series. A "sawyer" is "one who saws things", and it also has an echo of Sawney Bean, leader of a (probably-apocryphal) cannibal clan in mediæval Scotland and partial inspiration for the family here. Hewitt, meanwhile, is a portmanteau of "hew it", which means "cut it apart". In The Next Generation, they're called the Slaughters, which needs no explanationnote 
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: The family has a habit of treating dead relatives as if they're still alive, going as far as turning Nubbins' corpse into a crude puppet in TCM 2.
  • My Car Hates Me: Most of the time it's due to them being trashed by the villains, not some malfunction.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: While being mostly remembered for its much gorier sequels and remakes, and despite its eye-catching title, the original installment makes very good use of this trope, particularly in the scene immediately before the first murder. An early teaser for the remake was nothing but a black screen and sound. The censors apparently didn't like it due to how disturbing it was.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The minor relatives from the remake series are given more to do (rape, torture, kill, etc.) in the comics.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: There's very little consistency in the sequel naming used by the franchise. The first sequel was just a Numbered Sequel, but the next movie went the Rambo direction by calling itself Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Part 4 then switched the numbers for subtitles. The remake series has too few entries to really say it's inconsistent, but 2013 saw the release of Texas Chainsaw 3D, which also ignores every film after the original.
  • Off with His Head!: Surprisingly averted until the 2022 entry, though a severed and preserved head does show up in the remake.
  • Our Slashers Are Different: Leatherface is a deformed cannibal hillbilly who was raised by his family to be The Brute who kills people to be turned into meat for their business.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Leatherface shows no sadism and kills only for food. Justified in that he is shown as mentally handicapped. His family though takes sadistic pleasure in tormenting and killing the victims. Especially Sheriff Hoyt in the remake series.
  • The Quisling: In the remake series, the family abducts young children and raises them as their own.
  • Recycled Premise: Aside from 2, all the films in the franchise recycle the plot of the first film.
  • Red Right Hand: Nubbins' facial birthmark, Chop Top's similar birthmark and exposed metal plate, Tinker's Hook Hand, Mama's electronic voice box, Alfredo's speech impediment and heterochromia, and Vilmer's bionic leg.
    • In TCM III, Leatherface himself has a leg brace, which may or may not be a nod to the moment in the original when he ends up getting cut by his own chainsaw.
  • The Savage South: Because the only locals who really get any characterization are all part of Leatherface's family, it gives an impression that everyone but the "outsider" is OK with the events in these films.
    • In Texas Chainsaw 3D, though, it's established that the townsfolk murdered the Sawyer clan after their killing spree in the first film.
  • Shout-Out: The poster for Part 2 shows the Sawyer family in poses similar to the cast in the poster for The Breakfast Club, while the trailer for Part 3 riffs on the Excalibur legend; specifically, the Lady of the Lake throws out a massive looking chainsaw to a nearby Leatherface, and said saw is activated by a lightning bolt.
  • The Unintelligible: Leatherface.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Leatherface is the slasher killer in every movie. The Sawyer family of psychos may count too.
  • The Voiceless: Leatherface - the only times you hear him it's when he screams or grunts.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Leatherface is heavily featured and is the most well-known character from the franchise, despite the fact that, as a developmentally-disabled, speechless man with no motivation or goals outside of blindly doing his family's bidding, he is perhaps the least interesting member of the family.

The rest of the franchise provides examples of:

Avatar Press comics

  • Attempted Rape: The Avatar Press comics apparently liked this trope. In Special a serial rapist tries to have his way with the main character but is killed mid-attempt when Leatherface impales him through the back with his chainsaw. In The Grind, the main character is tied to a bed so Monty can have his way with her, but she gets an arm loose, punches him unconscious, and escapes.
  • Death by Falling Over: One character in Fearbook meets her demise when she trips over a piglet, falls through a second-story railing, and hits her head on the ground, breaking her neck.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: The last victim in Special escapes from the lunatic Hewitts and ends up floating down a river on a tree trunk. As she promises to herself to clean up her act, she suddenly starts screaming when she comes across a waterfall. But it's not the small drop that terrifies her, it's the chainsaw-toting Leatherface, who is waiting for her at the end of it.

Alternative Title(s): Texas Chainsaw Massacre