Texas Chainsaw Massacre just buzzed its way onto Netflix with a lot of gore. The latest addition to the famous franchise notably brings back the first film’s final girl, Sally Hardesty. It’s our first time truly seeing her since the 1974 original film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Who can forget her in that classic shot where she’s on the back of the pickup truck, covered in blood, and delirious from terror? Her history in the franchise is a little weird because, well, we know how horror franchises and continuity can get messy. She supposedly ended up in a catatonic state and died, but also weirdly made a cameo as herself (but not really) in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Now that the film has arrived, everyone wants to know what happened to Sally Hardesty in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Let’s dive into how she plays a role here.
In this film, Sally Hardesty lives in close-ish proximity (a few hours driving distance) to Harlow, Texas, where Leatherface has been dormant and living in a run down orphanage with a matriarch figure. This makes the original film even more disturbing. I assumed (as many fans did) that he was in his 20s during that film but apparently he was a teenager. According to a 1974 photo on the wall, he’s been at the Harlow orphanage since the events of the original film. The now old killer minded his business until a group of Austin city slickers come into town.
Things go awry when his maternal figure dies and he starts killing again, leading someone to reach out to Sally. She’s been living a quiet life in a run down farmhouse, casually slaughtering pigs and stewing over her encounter with Leatherface for 50 years. She doesn’t hesitate to pack up her guns and hit the road to exact revenge. This is certainly not a woman who needs saving.
You feel like you know the journey that’s about to happen… but it does not go that way at all. Sally Hardesty spends a good chunk of the film driving to Harlow while Leatherface racks up the body count with a bus full of visitors. She finally arrives to an earlier murder scene to discover a strange horror. One of the victims has been skinned and posed to look sort of like Sally Hardesty did when Leatherface last saw her.
In the final act of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Sally Hardesty arrives in Harlow to save Lila and Mel, who the only two people alive at this point. She locks them in her vehicle and goes into the orphanage to track him down. She says the names of her friends and asks Leatherface if he remembers her, to which he says nothing because he doesn’t talk. Sally is upset because she thinks he doesn’t remember her while she’s been thinking of him for five decades.
He leaves her to ponder his thoughts because he has other people to kill. But Sally comes out shooting, cursing, and stabbing until Leatherface quickly gets the upper hand. He drives his chainsaw through her stomach and lifts her in the air. Sally appears to be dead but she survives long enough to fire a shot and save Lila’s life. Before dying, Sally tells Lila that she must kill Leatherface or he will haunt her every single day. Turns out that was terrible advice because Lila is now the new Sally Hardesty.
Her friends died and she’s the new owner of Sally’s white hat. Oh, and Leatherface is now back in action but also alone. It’s a really sad way to see a horror icon go out. I know she was not meant to be a main character. However, I wish they dedicated more time to flesh out Sally’s story and her encounter with Leatherface. What has she been doing all those years? Was she always alone? What was it like to live with that horror?
Sure, Sally Hardesty died before according to previous Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. But this time I think she’s truly gone for good. It’s not clear if there will be a sequel but if so, Lila has clearly become the new final girl of this franchise. Maybe they can bring back Erin from the 2003 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (Yes, those names get confusing.) If so, I truly hope what happened to Sally Hardesty in Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t happen to her. Our final girl deserved to win.
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