Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a 1994 American slasher horror/comedy film and the fourth instalment in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre franchise originally released as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4). The film is written and directed by Kim Henkel, and starring Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, both before they became mainstream stars. The film is a loose remake of and quasi-sequel to the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), which Henkel had co-written with Tobe Hooper. It has only loose connections to the previous two sequel films, which are mentioned in the film's opening prologue as "two minor, yet apparently related incidents" which happened after the events of the original film.
The plot centers on a group of teenagers who find themselves in a secluded area of forest on their prom night after getting into a car accident, only to cross paths with a family of murderers, among them the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. The movie was filmed in Pflugerville, Texas in 1994 on a budget of $600,000, and was released at several film festivals under the title The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was then shelved for three years, and was re-cut and released under the title Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation in late summer 1997, after its two lead actors had both become major Hollywood stars.
The film has been panned by reviewers, movie-goers and critics and is considered one of the worst films of all time.
The film begins with four teenagers at their Senior Prom: Jenny, Heather, Barry, and Sean. Heather begins to look for her boyfriend, Barry, who is making out with another girl in the darkness. Heather discovers them and attempts to drive away in Barry's car, alongside Jenny and Sean, who are in the backseat. Barry eventually gains access into the car, where Heather scolds him angrily. Heather does not pay attention to the road and ends up wrecking with another driver, who passes out in the ensuing confusion.
The four teens decide that Sean should look after the unconscious driver, while Jenny, Heather, and Barry go look for help. While Sean looks after the driver, Heather, Barry and Jenny discover a real estate office occupied by Darla, a trashy insurance agent, who calls up her tow trucker boyfriend, Vilmer, to help out at the scene of the wreck. Meanwhile, Heather and Barry leave with Jenny, who loses them.
Vilmer, a backwoods man with a robot leg, eventually arrives at the scene of the crash, where he snaps the unconscious driver's neck and chases Sean in his pickup, eventually running him over. Meanwhile, Heather and Barry come across the Sawyer clan's Farmhouse, where Barry looks for a way inside to use the bathroom while Heather waits on the porch. Barry is discovered by W.E. who is Vilmer's brother. Barry tells him he needs to use it, and Walter allows him to.
While Heather waits on the porch, Leatherface makes his appearance, playing with her hair and then chasing her. After Leatherface catches her, he stuffs her inside a meat locker, and screams wildly. While Barry is using the restroom, he discovers human remains in the bathroom, and Leatherface turns up and kills him by hitting him over the head with a sledge hammer, similar to Kirk's fate from the original film. After killing Barry, Leatherface removes Heather from the meat locker, hanging her on a meathook in midair.
Jenny arrives back at the wreckage, only to find her boyfriend and the driver absent. She meets Vilmer, who shows her the bodies of Sean and the Driver. Vilmer then chases her in his truck, only for her to escape into the woods. Vilmer isn't worried though, as he knows that Leatherface will show up.
As planned, Leatherface turns up, chasing Jenny through the woods, and back to the Sawyer house, where Jenny locks the door, but Leatherface begins to break it down by sawing through the wood panels. Jenny then discovers the remains of a Texas Ranger after taking refuge upstairs. She takes the Ranger's gun, attempts to shoot at Leatherface, but discovers that it has no bullets. Leatherface chases Jenny back upstairs, where she jumps out a window, and onto the roof.
Leatherface is still persistent and gives chase, pursuing Jenny to the otherside of the roof. Jenny tries to use a telephone cable to escape, but Leatherface cuts the cable and Jenny crashes through the roof of the Sawyers' greenhouse, face first. After getting back up, Leatherface gives chase once more, where Jenny retreats back into the forest. Jenny escapes to Darla's office and begs for help.
Walter shows up and it turns out that Darla and W.E. are in cohoots. Walter beats Jenny with an electric cattle prod, stuffs her in a gunny sack and then into Darla's trunk. W.E. leaves Darla to go pick up some pizzas she ordered earlier with Jenny in the trunk of her car. After getting the pizzas, she returns home with Jenny.
The Sawyers terrorize Jenny, who escapes into Darla's car, but is subdued by Vilmer, who jumps on the hood of the car. Jenny wrecks and is dragged back inside the house where she is treated by Darla, who gets her ready for "Dinner Time". Jenny falls unconscious, but awakens in the early morning hours at a dinner table, clean and redressed in a skimpy pageant gown, with a cross dressed Leatherface, the family's apparent Grandpa (possibly an elderly Drayton Sawyer), and a family of stuffed corpses.
Jenny screams in terror and soon the family is joined by a mysterious Agent Rothman, who tells the Sawyers that they aren't doing their "jobs" correctly and then licks Jenny's face, who writhes in disgust. Rothman makes an idle threat to Vilmer, and then takes his leave. After Vilmer crushes Heather's skull, Jenny tries to escape through an opening, but the windows are all boarded up and she is taken back inside the dining room by Vilmer, while Leatherface revves his chainsaw, preparing to behead Jenny.
As Vilmer holds Jenny down, and Leatherface makes pathetic attempts to decapitate her, she manages to snatch Vilmer's remote to his cybernetic leg and uses it to dislocate his knee as an advantage to escape, which she succeeds in doing so. Jenny escapes to the main road, with Leatherface in hot pursuit, where she is helped by an elderly couple, but the couple's RV is soon turned over by Vilmer and Leatherface.
Jenny climbs out of the wreckage, barely harmed, and Leatherface and Vilmer pursue her on foot. An apparent "Order of the Illuminati" airplane operated by one of Rothman's colleagues, swoops over head and the blade grazes Vilmer's skull, ultimately killing him. Jenny watches as Vilmer finally dies while Leatherface screams in horror and frustration, grieving the loss of his elder brother.
A black car soon turns up, and Jenny takes refuge from the family inside, only to discover Rothman owns the vehicle. Jenny prepares to jump out of the car, but Rothman tells Jenny that her experience was supposed to be spiritual, but that it went awry and Vilmer had to be stopped. Rothman takes Jenny to a hospital where she sees Sally Hardesty being wheeled down a corridor. Sally shares a brief moment with Jenny, knowing the terror that she has been put through.
Meanwhile, Leatherface continues to swing his chainsaw in frustration until the screen cuts to black and the credits roll on.
- Renée Zellweger as Jenny
- Matthew McConaughey as Vilmer Slaughter
- Robert Jacks as Leatherface
- Tonie Perensky as Darla Slaughter
- Joe Stevens as Walter Slaughter
- Lisa Marie Newmyer as Heather
- Tyler Shea Cone as Barry
- John Harrison as Sean
- James Gale as Rothman
In general, opinions by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and by movie fans considered this the worst of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre franchise. The Internet film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has ranked the film 17% "Rotten", with merely five positive reviews out of a collected thirty. John Anderson of the Los Angeles Times referred to the film as "[a] giddy mix of gruesome horror and campy humor", while most others dismissed the film with negative reviews.
The movie was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for "The Sequel Nobody Was Clamoring For".