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Movies You Aught Not Watch: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

by on November 17, 2010
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Movies You Aught Not Watch is Nick Rogers’ weekly, alphabetical look back at the 52 worst films of 2000-2009.

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”
Rated R

For some characters, development is regressive. Take Leatherface, skin-masked butcher of legend.

In 2006’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” the behemoth is introduced as a baby rescued from the trash after a slaughterhouse-floor birth — the operative idea being that devaluating Leatherface’s life breeds Leatherface’s devaluation of life, and he’s perpetually misinterpreted.

This is supposed to be the Texas chainsaw massacre, not the Texas chainsaw misunderstanding.

Nothing castrates a bogeyman like cheap-Freud explanations of bad childhood. “Beginning” vivisects and discards folk-legend frights of the original or even 2003’s remake (to which this is a prequel), and Leatherface possesses no greater power than a hulking professional-wrestling heel.

Then there’s the Vietnam metaphor: Four free spirits road-tripping in 1969 invade unfamiliar territory, forcing cannibal bumpkins to stand their ground.

That idea’s treated with all the subtlety “Beginning” gives roadkill scenes — a steer torn in two by a Jeep. (Before he’s strung up, one lamb’s about to dodge the draft, combat angst ruining his hotel-room hummer.)

The visuals are like rust stains that won’t go away. Jordana Brewster squirms around like an oil-covered pelican in hip-hugging bell-bottoms toward a teary reunion with her bisected beau. R. Lee Ermey descends to self-parody’s darkest bowels 20 years after “Full Metal Jacket” (although he interestingly transcends profanity’s traditional gender lines when calling Brewster “asshole”).

Irredeemably stupid and artlessly brutal, “Beginning” wasn’t simply the nadir of needless Zeroes prequel revisions and rewinds. It elbowed out tough competition for franchise-worst and represented the bottoming-out of American-made horror.