Something Old, Something New: Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The Next Generation, Prom Night

Welcome to Something Old, Something New, a weekly review of a new theater/DVD release and an old release that is in some way related to the new film.
Something Old: Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The Next Generation (1995)
Something New: Prom Night (2008)
The Connection: Both are remakes of classic horror films.
There are three categories of horror films. The first category is the Good Horror Movie. Believable, well-written, well-acted, fundamentally disturbing, the Good Horror Movie is rarely achieved, but when it is it can be one of the most memorable viewing experiences an audience member will ever have.
The second category is the Frickin’ Awesome Horror Movie. The Frickin’ Awesome Horror movie is, in fact, so terrible that it is totally amazing. Sometimes this is intentional (see: Cabin Fever), sometimes accidental (see: Plan 9 From Outer Space), but it’s a delight either way, and makes for excellent group viewings. The final category of horror films is the plain old Generic Crap Horror Movie. A vast majority of horror films fall in to this category and, sadly, the newest version of Prom Night is one of them.
The film opens with high school student Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) being dropped off at her house only to find her father and brother murdered. Donna hides behind the living room couch as the killer (Johnathon Schaech) and mother enter the room, and Donna watches the killer, a teacher from her school who is obsessed with her, slay her mother while demanding to know where Donna is. Flash forward three years, and Donna is attending her senior prom with her wholly uninteresting teenage stereotype friends. Some boring crap happens, and we find out via a detective that worked on Donna’s family’s murder case that the killer has * gasp * escaped! Some more boring crap happens, the killer kills all of Donna’s friends, tries to kill Donna, she’s rescued by the detective, the end.
Now, I had high hopes for this movie. When I first saw the commercials for it, I was hoping it would fall in the Frickin’ Awesome category and feature a lot of fantastically implausible killings and maybe a good teen sex scene or two. Not the case. Turns out, Prom Night is rated PG-13 and totally lives up to it. The characters are generic and boring, the dialogue is generic and boring, the story line is in no way engaging or fleshed-out, and the killings are all done with a knife. A knife! So. Busted.
Not only is this film CERTAINLY not worth paying for, it’s not even worth watching for free online. The only good thing I can say for it is that, given the right vehicle and maybe a little nipple slippage, Brittany Snow could be the perfect all-American teen dream horror heroine. And with a beard, Johnathon Schaech is one hot-ass Charles Manson look-alike.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The Next Generation, on the other hand, is so. Frickin’. Awesome. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger before they were stars, this gloriously absurd flick is kind of a remake of the original/a sequel to the third TCM. Because every movie featuring teens must involve the prom in some way, TCM – TNG kicks off with Jenny (Zellweger) and her outrageously hilarious teenage stereotype friends leaving the prom early after Jenny’s friend Heather finds her boyfriend making out with another girl.
The group gets in to a car accident on a rural road and, through a convoluted series of events, ends up at the Casa de Leatherface, inhabited by a tranny remix of the OG Leatherface, his brothers W.G. and Vilmer (McConaughey), and Vilmer’s wife Darla. The expected orgy of gore and debauchery unfurls, lots of people die, everyone has a good time.
I will say that for people looking for classic TCM filmmaking, this movie will be a disappointment. Where as the original was genuinely creepy and unsettling, The Next Generation is pure, unabashed camp. The characters are totally over the top, the dialogue is ridiculous, and Leatherface is a sissy, dress-wearing bitch. But it works. In contrast to Prom Night, where one gets the feeling that this is the first movie the director has ever made and he wants to be taken SERIOUSLY, damn it!, TCM – TNG is a party, and everyone is invited. Plus, considering the crap they’ve churned out since TNG was released, Jenny and Vilmer might just be Zellweger’s and McConaughey’s best roles, no joke.
Prom Night: For the love of God, stay away! Not even the high-level hotness of the stars can save this train wreck. Rent the original instead.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The Next Generation: So good, I’ll let Zellweger live…for now.

The Play Of My Life: My Dad, Some Thai Food, and the Cold, Calculating Chokehold of Inevitability
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