The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movies RANKED!

On Tuesday August 4th, the Horror Syndicate Discourse crew is wrapping up our coverage of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series.  We did a full show and talked about our love for the original 1974 absolute classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  We then spent Thursday talking about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.  I figured it was time for me to update my person rankings of the series.  Sure, I did this back in 2016, but we have had a new movie released since then, Leatherface (2017), for better or worse, but we need a complete ranking for our followers.

Here is the 2016 ranking for your please or dis-pleasure I guess.  Worst to First: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I will also post our “Fan Vote” Rankings from 2019 Facebook Fan vote at the bottom of the article.  If you click the title it will take you to our review of each movie.  Also, at the bottom, I did a video ranking for The Horror Syndicate on YouTube, subscribe today!

So, let’s “GET THAT BITCH LEATHERFACE!”

8. Texas Chainsaw (2013)

Honestly, until yesterday, this would have probably been ranked higher.  It is terrible.  This movie takes place 40 years after the events of the first movie.  Yeah, it is a sequel to the original movie.  Texas Chainsaw skips over every other movie, pulling a Superman Returns or a more famously, in the horror world Halloween (2018) to create its own timeline.  There are many problems.  Heather (Alexandra Daddario) stars in this as the last survinig member of the Sawyer family and she inherits a house and Leatherface resides in the basement.  Her friends are the worst kind of people as are everyone in the movie.  I just cannot get past that this movie takes place in 2013, it shows Heather as a baby in 1973.  She is not 40, she is in her early to mid-20s.  Why would they make that choice, it could have been much better as a 90s period piece.  It wrecks the entire story.

Last time I ranked this, I gave it props for using Bill Moseley as Drayton Sawyer the cook.  But, the first movie we saw an isolated house, three insane brothers.  Well, the opening to this movie ruins the illusion of seclusion the original set up.  The house is full of people, including a young girl with a baby, Heather.  These people are ok with the killing, the cannibalism and all the goings on of the Sawyer family.  Come on.  Bull shit.  The opening is not as good as I remember and the rest of the movie is laughable.

Also, where do they go from here, Cuz?

7. Leatherface (2017)

This series has its share of problems.  This movie also feels like it doesn’t understand the titular character at all.  The beginning of the movie we see the family, Drayton and Nubbins included, 18 years before the original movie taking place.  But, again, there are timeline issues.  The guy in the truck is Sally and Frankin’s father, and the girl he is with dies, which means, she is not their father.  I never thought Franklin and Sally to be twins, or 17.  They seemed to be in their early 20s, Franklin being older, but I think he is meant to be younger.  Either way, the timeline is fucked up again by shitty writing.  It flashes forward 10 years, 8 years before the events of TCM.  There is a bullshit twist, as we are lead to believe the mentally handicapped hefty known only as Bud is Leatherface, but he is shot in the head.  So, we are led to believe this because, Gunnar Hansen plays Leatherface in 1974’s movie and he is a big dude, I believe 6’4 and 300lbs.  Sam Strike is Leatherface and he is 5’11 and 180 at best.  The character also seems somewhat put together and can talk.  Sure, he gets his face shot by Wydell…wait, that is the Devil’s Rejects.  This is the second movie in a row to remind me of Rob Zombie’s 2005 film.

I will speak no more of it, there is a tie.  These two movies should not been made.  Frankly, Texas Chainsaw should have been a sequel to the movies closer to its release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).  That movie could have spawned a bigger series.  But of course studios, ownership transfers and everything thinks they are creative.  Know the character before you destroy it in two bad movies.

6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

While this one is batshit crazy, it is also a bunch of fun.  It is weird as weird can get and to be honest.  I haven’t seen anything this weird since the second movie.  This may be more bizarre.

I remember the first time I watched this film, stumbled on it on HBO or something.  At first, I thought this film wasn’t too bad, I do think it is better than Texas Chainsaw 3D and Leatherface.  But nope this one either doesn’t hold up or it was just plain terrible.  Watching the film years after the first time, really makes a difference.  This is not good, I do think the tried different things, but they also seem to recycle characters and situations.  This film really gets campy and the gore level is not really there.  One thing I am confused about, who in the hell are these people and how do they connect to the Sawyers?  It seems every film after the second we get to meet a different part of the family.  But no it seems this family and the Sawyers are apart of big conspiracy, what?

It is fine, not the greatest and it could have been better, but a this point, who cares.  The series was dying off and so was interest.  We would not see another Chainsaw film for 9 years.

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Where do I begin?

I’ll have to be honest, I was mad when there was no Hitchhiker character, I mean there was, but I hated her. But, upon viewing the other night and looking with a different scope, it was a good scene to set up an entirely different Chainsaw universe. When I first saw this in 2003,  I was enraged from the beginning and the inferno burned through the entire movie.  I could not enjoy it at all.   A few months later when the DVD was released, I gave it another shot, I fucking bought this damn thing.  But, there was a deal, get the remake and get TCM 2 free.  I could not pass that up.  I popped it in the ole DVD player.  I gave it a fair shot.  I noticed how stylized the movie was, it was supposed to look dirty and grimy, but the cast was so beautiful.  They did not look like “All American” teens or whatever.  It seems like it was a movie to put Jessica Beil’s body on display(not a bad thing).  I also hated the character of the Sheriff.  But now, years later, it is just ok.  We have gotten two really bad movie that make this look much better.  Overall, I don’t like it, it is well made, but not for me.  I’ll take the original every day of every year.  It is nice to pop this in once and a while to remember the anger that burned inside me when I saw this in 2003.

Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface…was ok.  He is buried under make-up and his costume.  But there really is not much to the performance.  He is nothing compared to Gunner Hansen who added a lot of emotion to the character. 

4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

A big time question mark for me when this was released.  I hated the 2003 remake and was not about to give the series another show, I let my love die with the third movie.  I watched this after the show Thursday and while I like this better than 2003, not by much.  I did originally.  It doesn’t hold up.

It is about two couples driving across Texas on their way to leave for Vietnam.  The two guys are brothers, one has been to Vietnam and the other is a draft dodger wanting to go to Mexico.  We also meet Thomas Hewitt, who is Leatherface, we see how Hoyt becomes the Sheriff.  The things about the movie, it is fresh and similar and feels a little bit more than Jessica Beil walking about and bouncing all over the place.

I didn’t care about the characters, but I found this to be the case with nearly all of these movies.  They are kind of fast paced and you don’t need to know them as well.  I did like the way the boys were dragged into the barn and tortured.

I honestly do not have much to say about this one.  I like it, better than the remake.  I don’t like the absence of the Hitchhiker in this series, well he and Chop Top.  These are pretty much average horror, slasher films.

I will say one thing, this movie should have been the starting point for a long four or five movie series, culminating with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).  I guess it is hard to figure out a fresh take on these movies.  Each begin with a highway and people led to the Sawyers or Hewitts.  Texas Chainsaw 3D and Leatherface at least tried something new.

I sometimes wonder if Rob Zombie took a note from this and 2003 for his Halloween movies, bigger Leatherface, bigger family influence, everyone seems to be shitty, the tone, the look.  Just a question really.

3. Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

The Saw is Family.

The movie is very bizarre and has a few familiar faces like a young Viggo Mortenson and not everyone knows Ken Foree, but you would remember him from Dawn of the Dead and Devils Rejects, oh and the Halloween 2007 remake.  Also in some of the stunt work scenes, Kane Hodder plays Leatherface, Kane Hodder is know for playing Jason Voorhees in a few Friday the 13th films.  I should not have to explain who Kane Hodder is to this group.

The film is both a sequel and a reboot to the previous movies, as the original Sawyer family and apparently Leatherface died in the previous film.  This is, I guess another bunch of Sawyers.  Same thing as all the others, right well a couple of people are traveling through Texas and they run into the Sawyer family along with that lovable ox, Leatherface.  Ken Foree is in this film, which for me, gives the movie some cool points, he is great.  He really was an underrated actor and still is to this day.  Foree gets to have a show down with the Leatherface, but does meet his demise or does he, it looks like he dies, but we see him at the end.  Ken Foree is a badass, so he survives.

I have warmed up to this one a lot over the years and I think it gets better with time.  It was just an ok sequel and after some analyzing, I do think I am correct, another set of Sawyers, if you want to make this a true sequel.  Also, Stretch is in this one, you know Stretch, the star of TCM 2.  Anyone, this one has become beloved by many horror fans and it is a good one with great characters, damn near all of them.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

At this point the order is obvious, well after The Beginning from 2006 anyway.

So the film picks up 13 years after the first.  It begins with a couple idiots driving to a football game in and shooting off their gun.  They call in to Stretch’s radio show and show how awesome they are.  Leatherface eventually shows up and kills these dicks, the entire event is recorded on Stretch’s show.  Later, Lefty Enright shows up to investigate as his niece was a victim of a chainsaw wielding psycho.  Chop Top drops in to see Stretch to tell her how big of a fan he is and it gets creepy.   Chop Top was stationed in Vietnam during the first film and is the twin of the Hitchhiker from the first film, probably creepier than his bro.

The Sawyer family has taken refuge in an old abandon carnival, cave place. The cook or Drayton wins the chili cook off, of course his secret recipe and Leatherface is still terrorizing people with that damned chainsaw. This one took a different approach where it really seemed to rely more on gore and black comedy. Which I love, where the original was so bleak, this one is so much fun.  When I say black comedy, just pay attention to the family. Also new characters are a part of the film, like “the hitchhiker’s twin brother Chop Top play be Bill Moseley as I mentioned. I love Bill Moseley and if you ask me he really stole the show in this film,  Moseley is a very underrated actor and his role as Chop Top was the one thing about this film that always stuck in my mind.

I FUCKING LOVE THIS MOVIE!

1 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

This, is a work of art!

It is loosely based on, Ed Gein, serial killer, Wisconsin the 1950′s.  But really the only thing that is similar is what is going on in the house, the bone furniture, the cannibalism and the killing. Otherwise, the story written by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper and it takes place in Texas and features a cannibalistic family, rather than a single hermit like Gein.  Hooper actually had a story already developed while in film school, involving the elements of isolation, the woods, and darkness.  He credited the graphic violence by San Antonio news outlets as one inspiration for the film and the cannibalism from the Gein story.  The elements he put together work and even when nothing is happening, there is a feeling of dread around every corner.

The movie is non stop, there are so many iconic moments in this film.  Does that make me sick, thinking the scene were the girl goes into the bone room and runs out of the house and Leatherface grabs her, it is iconic for me.  How about the dinner table scene with grandpa and Sally is strapped to the chair.  When Sally goes to the gas station and gets beaten while having a sack over her body.  There are so many moments in this film that resonate in my mind.  Leatherface slamming the door closed after knocking a guy out with a mallet.  So many moments that just mess you up.

The isolation, is key here.  Three crazy brothers and grandpa.

As I promised, our fan vote rankings

8. Leatherface (2017)

7. The Next Generation (1994)

6. Texas Chainsaw (2013)

5. Leatherface (1990)

4. The Beginning (2006)

3. TCM (2003)

2. TCM 2 (1986)

1.TCM (1974)

People seem to love the remake, that is fine.  But, yeah I think that is about how I would expect the movies to be ranked.

This is a great series, there is no wrong way to enjoy the series and there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking one better than the other.  Same with any series.  I prefer them a certain way, even if the continuity is a mess.  I did try to make sense of the series in an earlier article, Making Sense of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Series.  Click it!

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About Ray Marek III 548 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)