Did you know that there is a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel that was completed but never released? Did you know it is a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 and the focus is on the Chop Top character? Did you know that Bill Moseley actually reprised his role of Chop Top for scenes to keep the continuity between the two films? Did you know it was directed by Hooper's son, William Tony Hooper, and his dad was on set a couple times and even worked on the Leatherface mask one day? Oh, yeah, did you know that Buckethead played Leatherface?
Edward Payson's 2022 documentary In Search of All American Massacre: The Lost Texas Chainsaw Film delves into the mystery surrounding All American Massacre, the film that brought Chop Top back to the screen.
I remember hearing about All American Massacre over the years, and that Moseley returned to play Chop Top, but for some reason I don't ever recall hearing that it was supposed to be a direct sequel to Saw 2. I never made that connection.
I know, it stands to reason that it would be a direct sequel. I mean, Chop Top. But when I heard about it, it didn't seem like a real thing. You know, two other TCM flicks had already come out after Saw 2, why would anyone go back and bring back a character from two films previously? The continuity in the series had already been shot to hell after installments 3 and 4 anyway.
Of course, some 24 years later, this kind of production is widely known as a "fan film." I sort of consider all films "fan films," but "fan films" today are more prevalent, easier to see and sometimes feature participants from the actual film series appearing again with whatever copyright/trademak character they appeared on screen with decades earlier. (Halloween, Friday the 13th, Star Wars and Star Trek may be some of the most popular series fans tend to gravitate toward.)
But in 1999, when All American Massacre went before cameras, it was not widely accepted that just anyone could make a movie using established characters owned by someone else. Also, technology was not there yet to enable young filmmakers the opportunity to make slick, feature quality films in their back yard.
We learn that it all began as an effects reel Tony Hooper wanted to put out in the hopes of getting a gig on one of his dad's films. A short and he was going to bring Chop Top back. The story was shot and then actors were later called back to shoot more scenes. Then even more scenes, until they were shooting a full length feature.
October 31, 2000 was the set release date for the film. A website for the film displayed a countdown clock for the release and fan interest was piqued, especially with Moseley participating.
Music is still Chop Top's life. (Bill Moseley from All American Massacre.)
October 31, 2000 came and went. No All American Massacre.
Over the next couple of years, director Tony Hooper returned to the project to add more scenes. There was always the anticipation of it being released in some manner.
It's over twenty years later, and still no All American Massacre.
Payson and his crew began delving into what happened to this film, with the determination to get their hands on a copy. They began reaching out to people who took part in the film. No one seemed willing to talk about it. In fact, many participants were reluctant to even acknowledge the film's existence.
Payson and his producers reached out to Bill Moseley. His management team quickly responded that Mr. Moseley was no longer at liberty to speak about the film.
If there even was such a film.
Most of the talking heads featured in the doc are fans who only speculate as to what happened to the film. No one even knows what the film is about.
Every step forward results in two steps backwards for Payson and Company. Every opened door reveals another dead end. Then, participant Greg Herger (he played Grampa, in addition to other roles) agreed to speak on camera about his participation in the film.
Herger, a soft spoken gent, adds gasoline to the fire not only by sharing on-set stories, but by showing pictures from the shoot. Pictures of the make-up. Pictures of the elder Hooper visiting the set and seeming to be having a good time. There are many behind the scenes pics that not only prove the film is the real deal, the dang thing is finished!
The Grampa and Leatherface masks made for All American Massacre.
This rabbit hole doc then takes a ninety degree turn into Conspiracy-Theory-Ville, and all the conspiracy theories surrounding why the film never saw release are dragged out, everything from Kim Henkel suppressing the release so it would not compete with his own The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (aka Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation) to quality issues with the film to mumblings that it would never be finished to Tony Hooper losing interest after Jim Siedow died before appearing in a cameo for the ending.
Who really knows. Obviously, Hooper wasn't willing (or at liberty) to speak on camera about it, so we may never know.
What's most interesting about this "lost film," is that something about it seems to pop up on the Internet every couple of years. Pictures of Leatherface surfaced out of the blue at one point. New websites will crop up saying the film is coming. (Check out allamericanmassacremovie.com if you don't believe me.) Reels of film stock and VHS tapes marked All American Massacre were found in an auctioned storage shed and then sold to an unknown buyer for an unknown amount of money.
Much like the cannibal clan the TCM movies celebrate, the mystery surrounding All American Massacre seems to have no end.
I know a lot of fans want to see this movie and that's cool. I think there's something charming about just knowing it exists. It is the hope of Payson and Company to shine a big enough light onto this project and get it released.
The problem with such fan attention and anticipation is that mighty high expectations can be created. Fandom can sometimes get set on an idea and when a highly anticipated film comes out that does not meet those impossible expectations, it can be an ugly.
Can Tony Hooper's little film possibly live up to those unreachable expectations? I'd like to think that his little film has got what it takes to deliver the goods. He is Tobe Hooper's son.
For the curious, this documentary is easily found on Tubi. It runs a lean 70 minutes.
Buckethead as Leatherface. Where's the KFC bucket?