It’s hard to choose what the worst film I’ve ever seen is. Having viewed and studied many films in my time I’ve been subjected to some really god awful films both mainstream and independent films but for the purpose of this article I’m going to narrow my choices down to only films which were distributed theatrically (which will eliminate all the horrible film festival films I’ve seen and which have never been distributed pass the festival circuit).
The film I’m going to choose is “The Return of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994)” or better known today as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.” The reason I am choosing this film is because I was among the few people who bothered to see the film when it premiered under its original title when it was released in limited run in select cities across the United States. I saw the film in a first run theater in Clayton County, Georgia but you wouldn’t have known that if you had stepped in the screening room at midday when no one usually goes to go see movies. I happen to be a small fan of the franchise and jumped at the opportunity to see the latest carnage candy from the ever reliable Leatherface and his deranged brood. Boy was I disappointed.
Other than myself there were only two other people in the theater and they were too busy making out in the back of the house to even take notice of my presence or the film itself. The floor was grimy with dried up soda products and uneaten candy. It was plain that no one had cleaned the theater since the last screening (or from the previous day for that matter). The whole room had a very 42nd Street theater vibe or at least a rundown drive-in theater feel.
This wouldn’t have been that bad if the film was even remotely any good but the film looked like a bargain bin straight to video slasher film rather than brethren of the infamous Chainsaw flock. The story was a retread of the original (as well as a hodgepodge of other films) with acting that was borderline ridiculous and over the top with one of the worst portrayals of Leatherface (played in this film by Robert Jacks) ever to hit the screen. This is hard to believe coming from Kim Henkel, one of the originators of the original 1974 Tobe Hooper classic. Henkel wrote and directed this mess of a film.
The history of this film gets even worse as the distributors of the film decided to cash in on the names of two of the actors of the film – Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, who had recently made a splash in other Hollywood films. The film was renamed (to the more familiar title) and repackaged as a new film and most people never even knew about its previous release. This new release probably allowed the film to finally make a profit but for those of us who actually sat through the film the first time it was, still, and always will be one of the worst films ever given a theatrical release.