Perhaps it should be no surprise that the anticipation around the midnight release of “Texas Chainsaw 3D” on Friday morning is in direct contrast to most critics' opinions. Horror movies, especially those in the slasher genre, have always been unpopular with those paid to rate the quality of movies. But bad reviews for the latest installment of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise seem to have had no impact on a bloodthirsty, mostly teenage audience.
The original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was produced on a shoestring budget with no-name actors. Released in 1974, it was about a group of friends who get lost in the Texas countryside and fall prey to the chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface. The terror Leatherface inspired in movie audiences catapulted the character – who was in part based on real serial killer Ed Gein and his tendency to make household objects out of human skin – into the popular lexicon.
Four films have followed that original release, most recently the 2006 “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.” That film earned a paltry 12 percent approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, a misleading number that skews the 64 percent approval designated by fans. If early reviews are any indication, the consensus around “Texas Chainsaw 3D” is unlikely to be any different.
While the earliest incarnation was about a group of friends who had run afoul of Leatherface, “Texas Chainsaw 3D” reportedly tells how he turned into such a gruesome monster. Director John Luessenhop has said he tried to mold the storyline after the early, suspenseful “Saw” movies and has toned down the body count from earlier “Chainsaw” films.
The title was a nationally trending Twitter topic for much of the day Thursday, in part because one of the stars is young rapper Trey Songz.
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“What I love about Texas Chainsaw Massacre is that it's such a classic film,” he said in an interview with Vibe magazine. “The idea of bringing it back to life like it's never been done before ... because it's 3D and secondly, it's always been ... redone and this is a continuation of the story. I'm the first black person in the film ever.”
Midnight showings are expected to push the film’s weekend gross to around $20 million.