I never thought I’d live to see the day when this happened, yet here we are. A prequel. A horror prequel. And it’s really good! So good, in fact, that I am forced to say “Yay!”. “Yay, Prequels!”. And thrice I say “Yay”.
The idea of a prequel being good is alien to most as by definition a prequel is a movie that you already know the ending to. What potentially makes a prequel worth watching is to find out how a character gets to the point where you first get to know them. What made this particular outing so different was that the character worth watching was not the character you’d be expecting.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) (which is a prequel to the 2003 Chainsaw remake) starts off with the unusual birth of a baby in a meat processing factory. The child is disfigured and abandoned only to be discovered by a poor starving woman searching the factory rubbish bins for scraps. She takes the kid home to raise it as her own, commenting to an unknown male associate that the child is beautiful – the bloke turns out to be R. Lee Ermey (the Sheriff from the first movie and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket) who utters a line of such comic value that it sets the tone for the entire film and immediately distinguishes The Beginning from the original.
We spin forward in time up to a point four years before Chainsaw Massacre takes place (so 1969) and the little tyke is all grown up and is none other than Leatherface himself, Thomas Hewitt, working away in the same meat factory, right up to the point where the place closes down. Tom doesn’t take this well so he kills his boss and nicks a chainsaw. The local sheriff (some dude other than R. Lee) turns up at the Hewitt house looking for R. Lee to help him apprehend Leatherface. R. Lee doesn’t take kindly to this plan and kills the Sheriff and assumes his identity.
Into this idyllic portrait of an American family come four youngsters – two lads and their girlfriends – who are living it up before the boys ship out to Vietnam. They have a little accident on the road and come to the attention of the “Sheriff” who brings them back to his place for a little torture.
Undoubtedly what makes Chainsaw: The Beginning better then the original is R. Lee Ermey. Once the film makers gave him centre stage they were all set. The kids, Leatherface, the rest of the Hewitt family, the chainsaws, and all the blood and gore are nothing compared to the lines R. Lee was given and delivered so very well. Beginning is a horror and there are some unpleasant scenes of teen torture, but the humour that runs rampant throughout the script totally compensates for the gore.
What I particularly liked is that the makers of The Beginning seem to be in possession of a time machine. My evidence for this theory goes as follows:
1. Last week I reviewed the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and during the course of my write up I pointed out a couple of things I disliked, including how an evil dude gets to be Sheriff and how the lads seemed to be avoiding Vietnam.
2. One week later and I’m watching the prequel that deals with these very issues! And explains why the old man in the Hewitt home (Uncle Monty – I kid you not – Uncle Monty!) has no legs. See, time travel. The producers of Chainsaw read my comments and went back to 2006 to make a movie to address my concerns and win me over at the same time!
Temporal mechanics to one side, The Beginning is a fun little movie that should be enjoyed for the gory laughfest it is – not scary but bloody, not a masterpiece but good for a chuckle or two, there’s no real depth here but who wants that while you’re watching a biker get cut in half with a chainsaw?
Two Thumbs Up for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
For more info (or to apply for the position of Sheriff) then check out: