The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie’s Different Timelines Explained

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Summary

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie series has a confusing timeline but the original film from 1974 remains powerful and terrifying after nearly 50 years.
  • The sequel to the original film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, took a more comedic approach, dividing fans and critics.
  • While the impact of the original movie can’t be matched, there are still enjoyable installments in the franchise that prove its relevance in modern times.


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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie series arguably has one of the most twisting, confusing timelines of any horror franchise. The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre was directed by Tobe Hooper and was released in 1974. Even though the film came out nearly 50 years ago, it hasn’t lost an ounce of its raw power. The story follows a group of friends who must flee a group of cannibals including the nightmarish, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. The film altogether is an unrelentingly terrifying ride.

Twelve years after the original film, Hooper’s underrated The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 arrived. While a direct follow-up to the original, the sequel was more of a dark, absurdist comedy than a horror movie, which made it somewhat divisive among fans and critics. There are a total of nine installments of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre horror franchise with the most recent being 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, set several years after the original film. While none of the sequels can match up to the impact of the original movie, much like John Carpenter’s Halloween, there are still some fun installments of the franchise that prove Texas Chainsaw’s relevancy in modern times.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Original Timeline Explained

Leatherface running at the end of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
  • Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995)

Tobe Hooper directed the first two movies while Jeff Burr helmed Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. New Line wanted to make Leatherface a recurring slasher like Freddy from A Nightmare On Elm Street, but due to a ratings battle over its level of violence and bad reviews, it was ultimately a box-office dud. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is famous for Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger getting some of the earliest lead roles of their careers. It is more of a dry parody of the original film that seems to disregard the other original sequels, dubbing them “… two minor, yet apparently related incidents“.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Remake Timeline Explained

The cast of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

The 2000s saw a host of horror classics being remade, including The Omen. 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from director Marcus Nispel was one of the first classics of the era that got a remake. While devotees of the original disliked its glossier look and tone, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake ranks as one of the stronger films in the franchise. The same can’t be said for The Beginning, a 2006 prequel explaining Leatherface’s origin and how the family turned to cannibalism. Despite a solid cast (including Fast & Furious‘ Jordana Brewster, Matt Bomer and R. Lee Ermey), it’s a lukewarm retelling of the 2003 movie. A third movie failed to happen, so the series rebooted the timeline again in Texas Chainsaw 3D.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Reboot Timeline Explained

Leatherface stands in a doorway in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022

  • Leatherface (2017)
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
  • Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Texas Chainsaw 3D is a sequel to the original 1974 movie. It opens shortly after the events of the original to see Leatherface’s family wiped out by vengeful lawmen before jumping ahead to the present day. Texas Chainsaw 3D was a modest hit but received roundly terrible reviews, especially for the huge plot hole involving the age of the main character Heather. Logically, she should be at least 40, which actress Alexandra Daddario decidedly wasn’t. This was followed by another prequel named Leatherface from Inside directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo.

This explained how Jedidiah Sawyer morphed into Leatherface and explored the backstories of Texas Chainsaw 3D characters, but it wasn’t well-received. 2022’sTexas Chainsaw Massacre focuses on an older version of Leatherface decades after the original film. Co-written and co-produced by Fede Álvarez, the reboot aimed to pick up nearly 50 years after the original but failed to captivate audiences in a similar way to 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.