The Best Kills In Texas Chainsaw Massacre Ranked

The post which you are about to read is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of four youths, in particular Melody (Sarah Yarkin) and her traumatized sister Lila (Elsie Fisher). It is none the more tragic in that they were, in the words of one but the sentiment of many, total "gentri-f***ers." But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an on-brand summer afternoon delight became an afternoon de-FRIGHT. The events of that day have been cataloged and ranked among the more bizarre onscreen crimes in the annals of American history, David Blue Garcia's Leatherface-centric legacy sequel, the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

It's been over forty years since the gnarly events of Tobe Hooper's 1974 game-changing homestead horror "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," events that left lone survivor Sally Hardesty shell-shocked, but ultimately ready to reunite with the maniac who sliced her brother and friends to ribbons so many years before. Leatherface may have gotten older throughout nine feature films dedicated to his cut-up antics, but as two other successful slasher requels can attest, there's always room for fresh blood. A new entry in the Sawyer family saga just dropped exclusively on Netflix, featuring loads of gore. The viscera packs such a punch that we at /Film knew what every horror fan knows while watching any foul-tempered scary movie these days: this must be juxtaposed and judged. 

Note: two deaths are intentionally omitted from this ranking, one being the killer himself because they always come back. We know this. The second, a major death, happens so late and so unexpectedly that it would ruin the fun to spoil it here. Check out each slice and dice of David Blue Garcia's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," ranked below. In any case, spoilers follow. 

6. Sweet ruth meets a sharp truth

The youths already have their sights on cannibalizing the land: "This space would be perfect for my art gallery," Ruth sighs. By challenging the homeownership of "Ginny" McCumber (Alice Kriege) and her Large Adult Tenant, the blonde girlfriend of Dante and their cohorts have committed the sin of displacement disguised as town refinement. The fight triggers Ginny's collapse and her subsequent death, which prompts the giant Leatherface to crash the ambulance and wreak havoc. The result, at least in this sequel, is that Leatherface gets to assume the role of the avenging victim (which is fine in a film series that does whatever it wants in any given era).

Over five harrowing minutes, Ruth goes from car crash survivor to key murder witness to escapee to slasher statistic. Leatherface circles like an animal, occasionally lost in the all-American sunflower waves. It's another broad daylight kill, picking up on the steam that Ari Aster let off, though the scene plays out the most like one from Stephen King's "Cujo" — just imagine Leatherface as a giant, slobbering St. Bernard with a Husqvarna. Like a blonde Dee Wallace, a howling Nell Hudson is stuck in the front seat of a busted car, at the mercy of the beast outside its door. Despite the great tension, Ruth is merely stabbed in the gut and so she ranks low on this bloody list.

5. Sally had to split

Sally Hardesty barely escaped from the 1974 film alive, and it's been haunting her ever since. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2022) brings her back, makes her out to be another target-shooting Laurie Strode, then immediately slices her in half — but not before she gets a couple of rounds of a shotgun off. Your read of this will depend entirely on whether you see this move as deliberate and subversive, or a shoehorned mimic of the more popular legacy character of Laurie Strode in David Gordon Green's "Halloween" reboot.

4. Dante is shown the door

Dante went poking around in the kitchen, and caught a cleaver to the head. Garcia occludes the kill like Alfred Hitchock hid something similarly morbid in "Rope," with the same swinging service door mechanism to boot. Perhaps it's meant as a play on the iconic Leatherface introduction that is so recognized and influential; a play on that swift blow and slamming door. Either way, the wound itself is kept out of view for a moment, we only see copious blood flow. It's gross, but it's not particularly impressive here or in any modern slasher.

3. Sheriff Hathaway takes in the air; deputy lends a hand

Technically the first death occurs at eighteen minutes in, when Leatherface's caretaker Ginny (Kriege) goes into heart failure after a confrontation with Melody and the group over who actually owns Ginny's home. Her death in the back of an ambulance is the catalyst for Leatherface to go full Jason Voorhees on everyone involved. His first victim is the one that happens to be within arm's length: a deputy (Jolyon Coy), who dies by his own hand, followed by Sheriff Hathaway (horror legacy and "Aliens" star William Hope) in a police-assisted shooting incident. Hathaway's slim chance at survival is dashed when Leatherface high-fives him in the face with Ginny's oxygen tank. And that's all before Baby Huey helps himself to a new, moisturized face mask off of dear old Ginny. Both are rude kills, uninvited, and set the stage for the sudden, vicious violence that would come to splatter Garcia's iteration of chainsaws in Texas.

2. Richter gets the Sledge-O-Matic

Salt-of-the-earth mechanic Richter (Moe Dunford) is at first on Ginny's side; he swipes Melody's keys when he suspects that the visitors were taking advantage of the old woman. To him, these are "gentri-****ers" who move in with money and drive out small-town folk with none; they are the real threat. He changes his mind when Dante comes stumbling towards him, covered in blood, and draws a sidearm before embarking toward the old orphanage. There, Leatherface is waiting, and he succeeds in breaking the mechanic's leg and slicing his throat with a glass shard before giving his skull the Gallagher treatment, all before poor Melody's captive eyes. It's incredibly mean-spirited and almost taunts its protagonist with redemption before pulling the rug out, which is always at home in a "Chainsaw" entry.

1. All aboard the midnight meat bus

An hour in, we get to the meat and potatoes of this "Chainsaw" entry, and its greatest kill of the whole shebang. Largely, Leatherface is known to stalk his victims just a few at a time; cutting a swath through a gaggle of teens is more fan fantasy than it is the myth of Leatherface. So what a novel treat it is to see the giant manbaby committing an actual chainsaw massacre in Texas, on screen. What a time to be alive. In another taut five-minute sequence, the well-meaning kids' vessel (at the time used as a party bus) is boarded by the shark that's been circling. He starts by striking fear and tossing the severed head of the bus driver onto the steps. Following a cringey line about cancel culture, Leatherface revs up his trusty toy and acts the way so many fans have imagined him to over the years, skewering and flaying open bodies every which-a-way, and there's nowhere they can go. At least six people get sawed on-screen, sliced in half lengthways and widthways and even through another victim, but the implication is that the man-beast worked his way through a busload of at least twenty partygoers. CGI spray will turn off practical effects purists, but there's not much that can ruin the gruesome good time here. The bus kill is easily the most memorable among the film, and will stand out in the film franchise as a rare proper massacre.