5 Faces Of Leatherface (And What Your Most Frightening Says About You)

2. The Traumatized Transgender - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation (1994)

"She's got a body to die for." €“ The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation (1994) The fourth installment in The Texas Chainsaw lexicon is quiet a peculiar little ditty and marks the return of one of the franchise's creators, Kim Henkel. In the original film, he was a co-writer, but now serves also as director. The film boasts major star power with wild performances by Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey. A wacky sense of humour saves Texas Chainsaw: Next Generation from being a complete failure of a film, but it is easily the weakest of all the sequels. One of its most fascinating attributes, however, is how far it pushes Leatherface's transgender qualities. On some level, it marks a return to form, and Leatherface is seen once again donning the skin of both sexes. But, the character doesn't stop there. By the end of the film, Leatherface is dressed in a fabulous flowing black dress and the flesh of one of his bustier victims. He has transformed into a true femme fatale with, shall we say, a haunting kind of beauty. The film concludes with an intense chainsaw dance fit for a bedlam ballroom. In some sense the character could be taken as slightly transphobic since the film undeniably seeks to horrify the audience with spectacles of transgender mutilation. However, you could also look at Leatherface as the embodiment of queer rage, a symbol of a repressed minority. Then, he becomes almost an anti-hero. If you accept him as the pure unleashed frustration of a persecuted section of society, then why shouldn't he be a little chainsaw-happy. After all, these films do take place in Texas (nudge, nudge). For the viewing audience at home, these two readings of the character could cause some conflict within you. You could find yourself worrying, "am I transphobic?" Well, no, I wouldn't go that far. I mean, Leatherface is still wearing human flesh which is disturbing in and of itself. However, if you find yourself repulsed by his feminization on top of his necrophilia, then perhaps there's something there for you to face. On the other hand, if you connect with the pain of Leatherface's anguished transformation, or even sympathize with it, then kudos to you and your open mind, whether you're going through a transformation yourself or not. Very few slasher films deal with transgender people, so when one comes along, like Sleepaway Camp (1983) or Psycho, it can feel like a breath of fresh air, and we shouldn't be so quick to demonise them. They can offer some healthy catharsis in their horror, as the promotional poster for Texas Chainsaw: Next Generation can attest, "If looks could kill, he wouldn't need a chainsaw."
Contributor
Contributor

I have a keen, almost obsessive fascination with the macabre. It has lead me from a quiet life growing up in a small town to where I am now; creating horrific works about horrific things in many different mediums including films, short stories and essays. I live life by a simple motto: learn to like the dark, cause eventually, it'll come for all of us (lightening flashes and thunder claps)... but it ain't so bad.

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