Every Film Series Should Follow Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Lead
With any movie that makes any semblance of money comes the idea of a sequel. And common wisdom says that, if you make a sequel, it should build off the first film, expanding its world in ways that are both thoughtful and exciting. And that sounds nice, I guess. Or, and stay with me here, they could do it in the style of Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and not care about what anyone anywhere thinks. See, Chainsaw has a real "I don't know. I guess. Your call, really" approach to continuity.
The first TCM is a classic, a loud, sweaty, relentless nightmare of a movie where five teenagers find themselves beset by a trio of redneck brothers, the most famous of which carries a sledgehammer and a chainsaw and wears a skin mask. The second, made 12 years later, shows the surviving brothers (and a new family member named Chop Top) winning chili competitions and hiding out in an abandoned Civil War theme park. It also takes the dark humor of the first film and cranks it up. For example, here is the great Jim Siedow explaining sex to Leatherface:
At the end of the movie, Leatherface gets blown up and the whole family dies. But then we have Part III, where a remarkably un-exploded Leatherface is hanging out in the middle of the woods with an entirely new family (including a pre-Aragorn Viggo Mortensen) and with a knee brace to help out the leg he accidentally sawed into at the end of the first Chain Saw -- a brace, mind you, that was nowhere to be found in the second film. Side note: Part III has the greatest movie trailer of all time:
The movie never explains how Leatherface would've come across an entirely new section of family, but who cares, really, because The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation finds him with another new family. Sadly, neither of its lead actors would really go anywhere in their careers:
This new family are pawns of an Illuminati-style cult that wants to test people's fears, which is definitely not something that the out-of-work meat factory brothers of the first one would even bother to understand. But to complicate matters, the events of the second and third films are mentioned in the opening text scrawl of The Next Generation as "two minor, yet apparently related incidents." "Minor" and "Apparently." Imagine if the MCU did that, like someone at Comic-Con asks Kevin Feige if Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a part of the franchise and he says, "Umm, it's a pretty minor thing, but apparently so."
After that, we'd get the 2003 remake and its prequel, neither of which are bad movies if you compare them to the rest of the horror remakes being pumped out in the mid-2000s. Then, we have Texas Chainsaw 3D, a direct sequel to the first film that ignores all the others, and Leatherface, a prequel to the original that fits in the new 3D timeline, but also could totally be left by itself. And in the future, we're getting a reboot of the original, which I'm sure will seem totally necessary after you watch it.
Anyway, rather than worry about world-building or strict continuity, just make your sequels the Chainsaw way. It's hard for people to exclaim, "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TIMELINE!?!" over the roar of murderous lumber equipment.
Daniel Dockery is a writer, and the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is his favorite film. Applaud him for his good taste on Twitter.