Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a long-running slasher series that now spans 9 movies and multiple comics.
A franchise that lasts this long tends to get a bit convoluted and messy in terms of continuity. Join The Illuminerdi as we delve deep into the annals of one of the most bizarre horror stories of all time and unravel the web of canon.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE FIRST TIMELINE (1 & 2)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre began in 1974, with a nasty little image from director Tobe Hooper and writer Kim Henkel. The horrifying Texas tale, which starred Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Paul A. Partain, Jim Siedow and many more, captured the attention of motorists around the world, becoming a box office hit and a classic worship. This graphic story of a group of young people who encounter a family of murderous cannibals was just the beginning of the nightmare.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 was a troubled production that arrived nearly 12 years after the original. Cannon Films continued to poke its nose into the production and demand changes to the story. Tobe Hooper returned to direct and Jim Siedow returned as Drayton Sawyer AKA “The Cook,” but otherwise the cast and crew were brand new. This sequel leaned more into the dark comedy elements of the franchise, and it’s a decidedly funnier film than the dark and stark original.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE SECOND TIMELINE (1&3)
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III This is where things start to get weird, or at least, weirder. Although one might assume it was a threesome because of the title, it actually serves as a very loose sequel to the original, erasing the events of Part 2. The only notable connection to the previous sequel is a wink and you’ll miss Caroline Williams’ cameo as “Stretch”, the last girl in Part 2. This film followed the same basic formula as the first, although final new girl Michelle (Kate Hodge) aggressively flips the table on this round of The Sawyer.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE THIRD TIMELINE (1&4)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The next generation is the fourth film in the franchise, again serving as a direct sequel to the first film while removing previous sequels. This episode was directed by Kim Henkel, co-writer of the first film. It stars Matthew McConaughey as Vilmer, Leatherface’s brother, and Renee Zellweger as Jenny, the final new girl. It’s one of the weirdest movies in the franchise and their filmographies, as it includes a bizarre subplot with The Illuminati.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE FOURTH TIMELINE (HARD START)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 served as a full reboot for the franchise, telling a new version of the original story. The basic setup is basically the same, but the unfortunate youngsters are new and this time Leatherface’s family is “The Hewitt’s”, not The Sawyers. Jessica Biel stars as Erin, the final new girl, and Andrew Bryniarski plays Leatherface. Daniel Pearl, the first film’s cinematographer, returned for this episode, as did original narrator John Larroquette.
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was a prequel to the 2003 film that told how Leatherface started wearing faces and how the Hewitts turned to cannibalism. Bryniarski returned as Leatherface in this gory prequel, while Jonathan Liebesman took the reins from Marcus Nispel. Doom Patrol fans should note that Matt Bomer (who plays The Negative Man on the DCTV show) stars in this 2006 blood fest.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE FIFTH TIMELINE (TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D, LEATHERFACE)
The franchise was rebooted once again in 2013 with 3D Texas Chainsaw. This installment took inspiration from the first three sequels and ditched all but the first movie in terms of continuity. Alexandra Daddario starred in this film, while Dan Yeager played Leatherface. 3D Texas Chainsaw dug deep into Sawyer family lore, introducing Leatherface’s mother, Verna Sawyer, and giving Leather a name, “Jedidiah”.
This timeline was extended with the 2017 prequel movie, Leather facing. Leatherface functions as a prequel to the original film and 3D Texas Chainsaw, making it the only timeline to feature more than 2 films. Sam Strike played a young leather face, as he descends into madness under the influence of criminals, corrupt cops and his bloodthirsty relatives.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE SIXTH TIMELINE (NETFLIX REQUEL)
David Blue Garcia and Fede Alvarez rebooted the series once again for Legendary Pictures in 2022, creating a sequel that, as you might have already guessed, functions as a direct sequel to the original film, while ignoring all the other episodes of Chain saw franchise. This sequel has the notable distinction of being the only sequel to bring back Sally Hardesty, survivor of the first film. Violence, symbolism and intensity are cranked up to 11 in this incredible slasher, which can now be streamed on Netflix.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE 7TH TIMELINE (JASON CROSSOVER COMIC)
Leatherface and the Sawyer/Hewitt family have also starred in a number of comic books. Some work with other films, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre: About a Boy (a prequel comic to the 2006 prequel film and Leatherface (a comic book adaptation of Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III). Others operate from any established continuity, existing within their own canon, such as the 3-issue miniseries Jason vs. Leather facing.
the Chainsaw Massacre franchise is a massive, sprawling universe of horror that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Hopefully this guide will help fans navigate the sequel more easily.
Let us know what Chainsaw Massacre the timeline is your favorite in the comments below or on our social media!
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