Kim Henkel – that’s a name to stir the admiration of a legion of fanboys and fangirls. Indeed, the writer of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre he’s best known as, though he also wrote the script for Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive (1977) and had an uncredited hand in underrated horror flick The Unseen (1980 – thanks Matty). Oh, and let’s not forget writer and director of the criminally neglected Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994).
After a gap of nearly 20 years however Kim Henkel is back and he’s returned with something incredibly gruesome indeed. Set in the city of San Antonio, Texas and beginning with great overhead shots of that metropolis we begin in the dining area of a high class restaurant where four friends are having dinner together. They hit the road after their meal and after stopping off to grab some gas they discover they’re being hunted down by a gang of thugs. After a high-speed car chase they get rammed off the road and are forced to take to the underbelly of the city on foot where the pursuit continues…
…and continues, and continues seemingly endlessly until all of a sudden we are halfway through the movie and all we’ve seen is this pursual. When we do eventually move on we get thrown into an underground world of cannibals – certainly a subject Mr. Henkel is fully au fait with. In fact, rumour has it that the script for Butcher Boys was originally intended as a sequel for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre a few years back, and with the appearance of several chainsaws in the film as well as a scene at a dinner table with human flesh on the menu, it’s easy to see the similarities.
They’re not the only connections to the TCM franchise as we have no fewer than NINE actors who have previously been in those films appearing (albeit fleetingly) in Butcher Boys, as well as the use of the iconic Montopolis Bridge that played such a memorable role in TCM2. All of these Texas Chainsaw connections (as interesting as they are) only really serve to harm this feature as they become frustrating distraction for what should essentially be the movie that I hoped would set Kim Henkel free from his TCM shackles.
It’s not all bad though as I must emphasise the look of the film considering the budget is very impressive indeed, especially the night-time exteriors which I have to say are gorgeously lit. One of the peculiar things that struck me about this movie was that if someone brought it to my house and showed it to me cold, I’d struggle to pinpoint the year it was made. I liked this aspect and credit must go to the directors for enabling this as I felt it was a benefit to the movie. I just find it a shame that the film couldn’t add a little more originality and a tighter structure to the first half, as with those ingredients there would be a great deal more to like.