‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ movie timeline fully explained

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via New Line Cinema

3. Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1990)

Moving on to the third film in the series is when things start to get much more confusing. Dubbed Leatherface, the third TCM film is one of the earlier examples of a horror “rebootquel”. Because the entire Sawyer family had died at the end of TCM 2, continuing the series was only possible to do as a reboot.

What this means is that TCM 3 is not canon to the first three movies. While incorporating the Leatherface character, the story is a complete re-imagining of the plot, featuring all new family members. Still, the film includes an opening narration mentioning Sally and the events of the first film, this time saying that one of the Sawyers was caught and executed for the crimes (though not Leatherface).

It seems that what we have, then, is an alternate timeline, completely ignoring the second film while adapting elements of the first one. But in this version of the plot, Leatherface has moved on to stay with family members elsewhere who are apparently just as sadistic. While the year isn’t explicitly stated in the film, it’s presumably the present day, setting it in or around 1990.

Trouble brews when a group of youngsters, along with a survivalist named Benny, come across Leatherface and his family. Benny barely survives with one of the young women, killing off most of Leatherface’s family as well — though they leave Leatherface alive and well, revving up his chainsaw in the distance.