Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.
WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.
Usually it takes until the eighth chapter of any infamous horror franchise to be downright ridiculously and absurdly bad. Your lead antagonist can suddenly do anything, whether it's take Manhattan, appear in a webcam show broadcasting within their old home, or even haunt a website, or something.
We lucked out with this one, however. While it is only the fourth entry in the long running Leatherface saga - a sequel/re-imagining of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre starring Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellwegger - it's so insane that even Ed Gein was quoted has having said, "Jesus, I used to fry vaginas like eggs and even I'm weirded out."
So, okay - Chainsaw 4 starring two competent actors. What could go wrong?
Everything. Or nothing. It depends on how shitty your taste is.
It's prom night! The movie hasn’t even tried to suck yet, and it already does, setting its series of events on the most over-used night of terror of all time, even more so than those random unlucky Fridays.
Mousey Jenny (Renée Zellwegger) hastily applies her make-up before being carted off to the prom by her equally flavorless date. The two have their pictures taken, as the now-famous picture-taking sound effects used so effectively during the opening of the original movie are layered over the scene.
Upon arriving, there is almost instant drama: Jenny’s good buddy, Heather, has misplaced her boyfriend, Barry.
Oh, there he is: necking with a girl that’s not Heather. In response, Heather flips out and steals Barry’s car, which she drives around the parking lot before he catches up and climbs in.
“Guys need sex. If we don’t get it, you can get ‘prostrate’ cancer,” he claims. Luckily, mousey Jenny, who was in the back seat the whole time with her date, pipes up:
“That’s not true.”
During this scene, we learn so much exposition about everyone that it’d be easier to just take notes:
Jenny is quiet, plain, and sexually repressed. She does not have much of a social life, unless she is with her plain date, Sean.
Heather is really, really, dumb, and while seemingly a floozy, will not have sex with Barry. Heather routinely says dumb things, like “I just thought of something so cool. What if we got into a wreck and crashed into a car in front of us and we all died? They could write a song about it.”
Barry is the biggest asshole in the world. Literally. And when Heather says things, he says, “Shut up.”
Sean and Barry used to be friends when they were little, until Barry got “too cool” aka too huge an asshole. Sean is also a pothead.
That’s about it for development.
|Gary, the prom night photographer, specialized in bringing out |
each couple's raw emotions.
The kids continue to drive, even though it’s painfully obvious there is no destination. At no point does anyone ask, “Where are we going?” or “Can we turn around and go home/back to the prom/to somewhere with lights and paved roads?”
“There’s no place to turn around, there’s NEVER a place to turn around, THIS SUCKS,” oozes Barry, insinuating he’s caught in this kind of predicament every night.
By the time someone does come up with the genius idea of leaving the area, another car comes out of nowhere and smashes into them.
“I’m not hurt,” says the other driver, and then falls down, hurt.
Jenny begins the hike to find some help along with Heather and Barry, leaving Sean at the wreck to wait for…something.
The kids stumble into a small office hosted by Darla, a dumb secretary, and the following bewildering dialogue takes place:
Heather: [concerned] Call the police. There’s been a horrible accident. A man is dying!
Darla: [overjoyed] Prom night!
Heather: [retarded] Someone bring me a glass of water, please?
Darla tries to call someone named Vilmer, and when she catches Jenny looking at her allegedly large breasts (we’re never given an establishing shot, which is something people called “directors” usually do), she coos, “phony as three dollar bills!”
Why is there such a lack of care for anyone or anything in this weird alternate universe known as Texas?
Darla continues to talk about her breasts as she waits for Vilmer to answer the phone. He eventually does, and she gives him directions on where to find the wreck and the dying kid. Then she hangs up and immediately asks, “Why do blondes stick their heads out of car windows?”
No, seriously—what is this? What is going on?
Why doesn’t she care about the dying kid?
Why don’t these kids care that Darla doesn’t care about the dying kid?
Why do the kids ALL LAUGH TOGETHER when Heather doesn’t get the joke?
Why would this film’s director go out of his way to “re-aimagine” the first Chainsaw film as a stupid, stupid, stupid movie?
Before anyone knows what to do next, a rock flies through the window, which Darla blames on “some farmer’s wife.” She rushes to the window and yells at the vandalizers:
“Read ‘em and weep!”
And we finally see those breasts; bare, glorious, and brandished in the night.
Back with Sean, Vilmer shows up to assess the situation. Oh, Matthew McConaughey. It’s about time. This movie needs a new kind of insanity.
Vilmer checks the boy, says he’s dead, stares hard at Sean when the boy who denies Vilmer’s diagnosis, and then promptly snaps the boy’s neck.
“He’s dead now!”
Sean flees in terror as Vilmer looks disappointed. Vilmer easily catches up in his truck.
“Please mister, you’re scaring me!” Sean cries. He attempts to flee again, but Vilmer effortlessly runs him down with his truck. He puts on a cassette tape of rock and then rolls back and forth over the boy as I guess we're horrified? Or amused?
Meanwhile, Heather and Barry chase down a passing car to get some help, which Jenny refuses to do, citing the possibility of getting arrested for trespassing. Arrested by police officers. That would suck, right? Especially when you’re trying to find some.
We’re twenty minutes in, and I’m already exhausted.
Jenny continues on the road by her lonesome, her only company a flashlight. A bag flies in her face and she gets scared.
Hey Jenny, might you spare some bag so I can end my life?
Heather and Barry find an old farmhouse, and they knock on the door intending to ask for a ride. When no one answers, Barry goes around back as Heather sits her not-so-bright ass on the front porch swing.
A dark, hulking figure in an apron shows up and starts touching Heather’s hair from behind. After a few rounds of this, Heather turns and sees the toucher: Leatherface!
Heather does a round of the usual shrieking and tries to flee, but Leatherface grabs her and stuffs her in a freezer inside the house.
And guess who doesn’t lock that freezer?
Heather bursts out almost immediately, and Leatherface freaks out and stuffs her back in.
Thanks for that scene.
During all this, Barry has run afoul of his own nemesis: a shotgun toting, famous quote-spewing redneck. Barry tries to lie his way out of being killed and it barely works. He locks the redneck out of his own house and wanders around inside, searching for Heather, not the least bit concerned someone is trying to shoot him.
Thankfully, Leatherface is still inside and easily dispatches Barry with his big awesome hammer. Heather also takes this opportunity to free herself from the freezer, AGAIN, but Leatherface picks her up and plops her on a meat hook.
Oh no, the end of Heather!
No, wait—it’s not. She’ll be back. Again and again.
Vilmer picks up Jenny by the side of the road under the guise of giving her a lift to help. He starts harassing her almost immediately. The two exchange completely unrealistic dialogue before Jenny sees Sean’s body in the back seat and throws herself out of the truck. Another truck/foot race takes place until Vilmer cackles and leaves her behind, telling her to “live and learn.”
|Leatherface is never more excited than when getting an idea.|
Leatherface pops out of nowhere with his chainsaw and a chase begins. Jenny runs until she finds the farmhouse, running inside and procuring a gun from a dead cop before throwing herself from the top window onto the roof. Leatherface follows, and Jenny smartly climbs to the top of the TV antenna.
One quick swipe from the chainsaw makes short work of the antenna and Jenny plummets to the ground, which she deserves.
And everything is suddenly quiet.
No chainsaw, no shrieking man child, no nothing.
Oh wait, there he is.
More running, more screaming, more revving of saws.
Jenny finds herself back at Darla’s office, and Darla calls good old W.E. to come pick her up. W.E. shows up pretty quickly with a sack in which to stuff Jenny.
So, wait... Was Darla being an antagonist supposed to be shocking? Because the movie sure wants you to think that.
W.E. stuffs Jenny in the sack, hits her with a stick, and then tazers her.
“I’m going to pick up pizza,” Darla says, and leaves.
In the drive-in line, Darla flirts with the window guy, all the while Jenny screams inside her drunk.
“What’s that?” asks the window guy.
“Wanna come see?” Darla asks, popping the trunk.
“No thanks,” says window guy.
|CHAINSAW DANCE PARTY!!|
On the way home, Darla sees Heather in the middle of the road.
How’d she get off the hook, you ask?
Beats Heather, too. Darla does, that is. Very, very, very lightly. With a stick. Until Heather asks her to stop.
Darla relents, acting as if she actually cares.
“Don’t go crawlin’ off,” she reasons, and then fucking just leaves her in the road, not at all worried that someone else might come along and find her and have her and her whole retarded family arrested and tried for murder.
Darla makes it home, and Leatherface, dressed as an old woman, bursts out of the front door being zapped by W.E. Leatherface gathers up the Jenny sack and carries her inside.
Jenny and Vilmer are finally officially introduced.
Vilmer goes out for a bit, but then comes back with Heather. Yep, she’s still alive! He smashes her face and down she goes. Again.
And again, she continues to be alive.
Darla takes Jenny to clean her up a bit, and then regales her with the “people” that Vilmer works for: a team of shadowy, Big Brother-type people who monitor certain situations for God knows what reason. They also killed Kennedy.
Are you terrified?
Darla bursts in and catches Vilmer about to molest Jenny, and a huge fight ensues. Jenny takes this time to procure a large shotgun. Everyone lies down on the floor except for Vilmer, who unzips his shirt and dares her to shoot, in order to prove he’s really as insane as it’s pretty apparent he is. Then he steps on Darla’s throat, because whatever. Why not? His remote-controlled leg braces give him the feet force of a cyborg, and Darla begins to freak out. During this, Jenny tries to gather up Heather, but she’s too dumb and hurt to move.
Jenny flees and Vilmer follows close behind, jumping on the roof of her getaway car. Jenny crashes and Vilmer gathers his prize. Again. And around and around we go.
Meanwhile, Leatherface dresses up like his idea of an attractive woman, as Darla and Vilmer have a frantic, dirty-looking make-out session in the kitchen. Darla snatches one of Vilmer’s leg remotes and uses it against him, which I guess really turns him on. (Get it?)
Later, everyone gathers together, and they sit down to have some dinner. I think we all know where this is heading: a re-enactment of the original film’s genuinely disturbing dinner table scene, only this time with the guy from Fool's Gold.
Jenny flips out and yells at Vilmer, who strikes W.E. in the head for no reason. The previously-vegetative grandpa gets up and leaves the table.
Can I come where you’re going, gramps?
John Carpenter couldn't believe he got out of bed for this.
Vilmer sets Heather on fire and throws her against the wall and everyone starts screaming.
But she’s still alive.
Just before dinner gets to be too awkward, Rothman, the shadowy, Big Brother-type man Darla had talked, about shows up. This Jon Favreau-looking man disciplines Vilmer, telling him that he “wants people to know the meaning of horror.”
Rothman begins licking Jenny’s face and showing her his stomach that appears to have a patchwork of self-imposed scars and piercings. He leaves, and Vilmer crushes Heather’s head with his robofoot.
And she’s actually dead now.
He takes out his trusty razor and begins slicing up his own body as Leatherface screams and Darla begs him to stop.
Screaming and screaming everyone is doing. And I am, too. For mercy.
Jenny escapes as Leatherface, who really has had shit to do in this movie, follows close behind.
"Get her, Leather!” screams Vilmer before screaming his own name.
Enter the Spottishes, the best part of this movie!
Mr. and Mrs. Spottish, a delightful elderly couple in their RV, are enjoying a nice drive. Jenny, still fleeing from Leatherface, ends up running right across their path in the road.
“There’s a monster chasing her with a chainsaw!” Mrs. Spottish shouts, pulling Jenny on board. “Step on it, Mr. Spottish!” (The best line in cinema history.)
Vilmer then shows up in his trusty truck with Leatherface swinging his chainsaw at the RV until the drivers freak out and flip their vehicle. Jenny escapes from the wreck unscathed and flees across a field. A nearby crop-dusting plane figures it’ll intervene and dive-bombs Vilmer, giving him a good chop with its propeller.
Leatherface begins shrieking like a little bitch as Jenny hops into Rothman’s suddenly-appearing limo.
Rothman begins to apologize for his failed “spiritual experience” and peppers it with random French bullshit.
“Fuck you,” Jenny says, as weakly as I feel.
At the hospital, a police officer (‘Grandpa’ from the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre) asks Jenny several questions while a fat orderly (Franklin from the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre) wheels a gurney by with a crazy woman (Sally from the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre) strapped to it.
See? Because the guy who actually brought you this atrocity WROTE the original film, which is groundbreaking, terrifying, and a genuine classic. So I guess The Next Generation is good, too, for that reason. You know, by default.