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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Timeline Explained

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

In 1974, the world of horror cinema was changed forever with the arrival of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," an instant classic of the scary movie genre that helped to usher in an entire era of slashers and introduced audiences to the terrifying Leatherface. The villain, who was portrayed by the late Gunnar Hansen, was loosely based on the notorious real-life murderer and bodysnatcher Ed Gein and used the titular weapon to terrorize the teens who stumbled into his remote farmhouse. His visage was strikingly scary, as he donned a mask made of human skin, and what made him even more horrifying was that he was absolutely ruthless and belonged to a family full of cannibalistic fiends.

Over the decades that followed the film's game-changing premiere, there have been several sequels and reboots that have taken the iconic Leatherface into new directions and eras, from Tobe Hooper's darkly comedic and very '80s-tastic follow-up to the searingly brutal reimagination from the mid-aughts to the prequel films that dared to dig into the gruesome origins of this famed killer. 

Now, fans of this gnarly franchise are in for a fresh new vision of the story when "Texas Chainsaw Massacre” arrives on Netflix on Friday, February 18. Before the film debuts, let's dig into where this exciting new installment fits into the timeline of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movies and why fans will not want to miss out on this bloody new tale.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a direct sequel

Throughout the decades since "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" first premiered, the follow-up films have jumped around to drastically different times and places, sometimes directly connecting to the original and sometimes not. However, audiences will only need to know what happened in the 1974 original to tune in for "Texas Chainsaw Massacre” this year because the new movie serves as a direct sequel to the events of the first film — although it does take place many, many years later. And the original film is relatively straightforward — a group of '70s teens road-tripping across Texas accidentally run into Leatherface and his violent, human-hungry family. After a desperate fight for survival, only Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) survives, jumping through a window and escaping Leatherface and his clan with a primal scream.

Interestingly, just as the events in the original film took place shortly before the picture's real-life theatrical debut date, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre” also exists in the present day of the pic's arrival. In other words, it takes place nearly 50 years after all of those brutal slayings commenced in 1974's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." The modern film introduces a new group of young travelers who set out for the virtually abandoned town of Harlow, Texas, in hopes of pursuing a bold entrepreneurial adventure. Among the travelers are Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her teen sister, Lila (Elsie Fisher), Dante (Jacob Latimore), and Ruth (Nell Hudson). Unfortunately for this crew, their dream quickly turns into a nightmare when they discover that this town is not quite empty just yet. In fact, they accidentally interfere with the place where Leatherface has been hiding out for decades and unknowingly unleash a second wave of his rip-roaring rage.

Leatherface's familiar foe

The 2022 "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," which is directed by David Blue Garcia, will skip over all the sequels and feature the formal return of Leatherface (this time portrayed by Mark Burnham) and his trusty weapon of choice in the present day. After decades of hiding, he's become something of a forgotten folk legend until he finds a reason to break out his chainsaw once again. 

Producer Fede Alvarez (who also directed "Evil Dead" and "Don't Breathe") explained the creative decision behind bringing back this hallmark of horror in his golden years, along with how the film aims to recapture the feel of the very first film, to Bloody Disgusting. As he explained, "It is a direct sequel, and it is the same character. Everything is classic, old-school gags. A lot of the approach we had with 'Evil Dead,' never do VFX, to do everything on camera. It's a very old-school approach to filmmaking. Vintage lenses ... it's very similar to the original film."

Leatherface isn't the only survivor of the first film that fans can expect to see in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," either. Sally Hardesty is also coming back with a vengeance. Sally was, of course, the lone survivor of the infamous massacre we saw unfold back in 1973, and she was originally portrayed by the late, great Marilyn Burns, whose truly shattering screams gave audiences nightmares for years to follow. This time, actress Olwen Fouéré steps into her shoes to seek some very cold revenge against the man — or monster — whose grip Sally managed to narrowly escape so long ago. Prior to this film, Sally had briefly returned for one other follow-up film — Marilyn Burns could be spotted on a gurney in her cameo for the 1995 sequel "The Next Generation" — but this new film will ignore that entry and finally give this iconic character a chance to seek some long overdue payback.

So prepare for a lot of nostalgia and some cutting new twists when "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" slices its way onto your Netflix queue on Friday, February 18.