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Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is one of the most misunderstood movies of
all time. I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 when it was released in
theaters back in 1986. I loved this horror flick then. But everyone
else hated it. Critics trashed it. Even many horror fans, of the first
Texas Chainsaw Massacre or slashers in general, hated it and dismissed
it. Now after a decade or so after its release, TCM 2 is now a bona
fide cult movie.
There are so many things to point out why TCM 2 is a stand-out. The first and most important thing to point out is that back in the 1980s, horror films were reduced to simple slashers. TCM 2 is totally different than the plethora of slashers that many horror fans expected to see, which is one reason why many horror fans didn't get it. The body count is extremely low in TCM 2 compared to the Friday the 13th or Elm Street flicks. But that doesn't mean it's not violent. No, it's VERY violent. But the violence in TCM 2 is more engrossing, shocking and even at times funny, and in turn less acceptable than the unreal violence found in many slasher films. Because of the amount of violence and violent imagery, films critics trashed TCM 2, pointing out how the first film didn't rely on gore and violence to scare the audience.
I love Texas Chainsaw Massacre as much as I love TCM 2. I understand what the critics were saying. Unfortunately, they didn't get the point of the violence in TCM 2. While TCM is a sweat inducing TERRIFYING horror film in the first order, TCM 2 is a "GRAND GUIGNOL HORROR" horror film in the first order. In TCM 2, Hooper creates a vast canvas of baroque imagery, where we watch the insane and gory story unfold before our incredulous eyes. I'm amazed that critics missed the whole difference between TCM and TCM 2. It's odd that critics will rave about Peter Greenaway's "THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER" which is a twisted drama in the the Grand Guignol style, but didn't see TCM 2 in the same way. It's probably due to the fact that TCM 2 is a sequel to a quasi-legendary horror film and everyone expected the sequel to be the same as the first movie.
I give credit to everyone involved with TCM 2. They actually TRIED to do something different: different from the equally great TCM, different from the increasingly boring horror films of the 80s. And in my eye, they've succeeded. There are so many memorable scenes in TCM 2, some of which are the most amazing horror moments ever put on screen (when Leatherface tries to put the scalped face on Stretch, the scene when Stretch finds her friend sans face, etc). And there are so many quotable lines too. TCM 2 is also a very funny film ("Rain, rain, rain, rain..." Choptop says as he checks out records at the radio station).
TCM 2 is not perfect. The ending is abrupt. And the chainsaw fight at the end is too short. Dennis Hopper is a bit hard to take as a "hero." But he does play the "twisted hero" right. It's just difficult to see him fighting big and burly Leatherface. BTW, the very last image of TCM 2 is Strecth dancing with a chainsaw in her hands at the top of that amusement park structure. In the original film (and the original video release), we can see cars and trucks driving by on a highway in the distance. On the DVD, they cropped this shot and we don't see the traffic anymore. Personally, I thought it added a LOT to the whole surreal aspect of the film. Like the world was continuing on with its relentless pace, no matter what had just happened that night. I wished they didn't crop this shot on the DVD. Oh well...
It's a shame few people "got" TCM 2 back then. After reading the reviews at IMDb and at Amazon, it's great to see that some are finally "getting it." For anyone who's game, watch TCM 2. You'll be squealing in horror and laughing at the insanity of it all in equal amounts.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a terrible film. I knew going in it
would be nothing like the original and was completely fine with that,
but this movie goes out of its way to be as ridiculous as possible. The
genuine scares from the original have been replaced by awkward comedic
bits, from the cannibal family's bickering to Leatherface making silly
faces (yeah, they had the audacity to turn Leatherface into a
It's just embarrassing, and this is largely due to an inconsistent script. The first act sets an ominous tone from its premise of hearing a murder live on the radio and the radio host being terrorized by the same murderers. Then the second act is silly, borderline cartoonish with Leatherface acting like a hormonal teenager; and the third act tries to pay homage to the original by recreating the dinner scene almost exactly as it was in the first (but not nearly as effective) combined with an admittedly cool chainsaw duel between Lefty (Dennis Hopper) and Leatherface, then closing with a somewhat thrilling final struggle for the heroine to make her escape. Then it closes with another "homage" to the original and then credits roll and a cheesy '80s pop song ensues. If not for the second act, it had potential to be an engrossing story and potentially disturbing (the gore is still top-notch) but the drastic shifts in tone make it virtually impossible to become immersed into this overtly fake, cartoonish world.
Thankfully, Tobe Hooper's directing makes even the dullest moments of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 aesthetically pleasing. The location and set design is perfect - the underground lair with brightly colored lights juxtaposed with rotting corpses and leftover entrails is oddly unsettling, and the scenery during the final moments of the movie is hauntingly beautiful. Hooper knows how to make these scenes look as gritty and urgent as possible. Dennis Hopper's Texas ranger was also a welcome addition. He was related to Franklin of the first movie and is out for revenge on these hillbillies so he buys the biggest chainsaw he can, then storms their lair screaming his lungs out like a lunatic.
What ultimately killed this movie for me (aside from the script) is the lead actress. She is just awful. You can't take anything she says seriously because of how poorly she delivers her lines, and her screams are so forced and annoying I was practically rooting for Leatherface to chop her head off. Her relationship with Leatherface is also forced and awkward, but maybe that was the screenwriters' attempt at comedy. There are a couple laughs in this movie, and by that I mean two; three max. Something about the bombastic chainsaw duel is undeniably exhilarating, despite it not being fleshed out to its full potential.
There is some fun to be had in this movie, but you have to suffer through a lot of stupidity to get there. I have no idea how sequels continued coming out after this, and I can even empathize why they would want to make a "sequel reboot" with Texas Chainsaw 3D, but that was even more abominable than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's true sequel - this - and this is pretty darn bad. This movie is for Leatherface completists only.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is criminally underrated. I've noticed a lot of comments trashing this movie. It's a HORROR movie! It's also a SEQUEL to a horror movie! Where were your expectations people? What did you think you were going to be watching? I remember watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 as a kid, and it scared the s**t out of me. That opening bridge scene is incredible. It's one of the scariest sequences I've ever seen. Tom Savini's effects are top notch, the humor is well placed, and the acting is perfect for the genre. Bill Moseley (Chop Top) is something else. He's the reason I love this movie so much. He portrays one of the most memorable characters in recent horror history and I can't get enough of him. I do agree that Bill Johnson is not nearly as menacing as Gunnar Hansen in the role of Leatherface. But what's wrong with Tobe Hooper's direction? It's his story, let him tell it the way he wants to. I think Tobe Hooper succeeds in continuing the tale of one of the great horror icons. TCM 2 has loads of gore, campy acting, and instills a healthy dose of fear into it's viewer. What more could you ask of a sequel? And remember, the saw is family.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Disclaimer: Do NOT try to remove your hemorrhoids with a chainsaw. It
will NOT save you a trip to the hospital.
(spoilers) OK, let me tell you why the Texas Chainsaw sequels don't work. The original film is slightly exempt from this, but when you have someone who is screaming and wiggling so much that you wish she would just get killed so she'll shut the hell up, you have lost your ability to scare. Doesn't matter how good the sets or costumes or actors are, if the audience is holding their ears, you have a problem.
The first sequel in the Texas Chainsaw series is meant to be nothing other than a bigger version of the original, this time fictionalized, and beefed up with the star power of Dennis Hopper. Not that the original was non-fiction. As you know, it was really based, very loosely, as it were, on the inhuman antics of Ed Gein in the 1950s, the same demented nutcase that inspired Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs. Sounds like a fun guy.
Unfortunately, as is all too often the case with horror movies, this one comes off more as a sick comedy than a scary movie. Granted, there are horror movies that purposely come out like that, such as most of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a movie that caught people off guard because of its simplicity, its unknown cast, and its rough, documentary feel. In Texas Chainsaw 2, every single little bit of that is lost.
The set, once we eventually get underground, looks like they rented the Indiana Jones set, festooned it with randomly placed naked light bulbs, furniture made out of human bones, and meat hooks, and had Leatherface run around swinging a chainsaw. The atmosphere of the movie has completely lost the claustrophobic feel of the original by vastly expanding the size of the set, much of which looks like a Christmas tree crossed with an esophagus, and there is just too much hooting and hollering for it to be scary. The only thing more irritating than the killers is their victim, 'Stretch.'
The movie starts off with a couple of high school caricatures zooming down a desert highway, screaming at each other at the tops of their lungs about the sheer magnitude of the party that they are on their way to. They decide to swing into oncoming traffic to play chicken with someone driving a pickup truck, instantly making me eager to see them get killed. Doesn't matter that Leatherface is in that truck, anyone who plays chicken with a random driver because they're driving around drunk deserves to get killed. And if it takes place in a movie, they deserve to get killed with a chainsaw.
So not only do we have to endure the hooting and hollering of these two jerks, but they call a radio station and we are asked to believe that this station's phones get completely tied up if someone calling in refuses to hang up. Sure, this is rural Texas and 1986, but are we to believe that even out there and back then, there were radio stations with a single phone line and without the ability to cut off the callers? At one point the clueless tech guy is frantically pushing buttons and pulling levers, trying to figure out how to clear the line. Given something so stupid, however, you know it was there for a reason, so that they could record the phone call as the kids get chainsawed on the other end.
Speaking of which, the same kid that swerved into oncoming traffic at full speed finds himself stopped on a bridge as that same pickup truck sits blocking both lanes, and he frantically screams 'Are you crazy?!?' out the windshield while his idiot friend in the passenger seat offers such heroic tips as 'Just keep driving!' and 'Get outta here!' Good thinking'! Speaking of driving, not only can they not outrun a pickup truck traveling in reverse while supposedly holding the pedal to the floor in their Mercedes, but in the shots that show Leatherface standing and swinging his chainsaw, they are literally traveling all of 5mph.
Dennis Hopper plays the uncle of the kids who were killed in the original movie, sort of a rogue detective out of his jurisdiction and showing up at the scene of the two kids' murder. The police refuse to jump to conclusions, but Lefty (Hopper) is sure that it's the same people who killed his nieces and nephews. Hopper makes a GREAT redneck. I generally am truly disappointed when actors take on fake accents, but Hopper does this one so well that you would swear he's lived in the south his entire life, it's just too bad that he's saddled with this idiot character.
At one point, Stretch, the radio station DJ, shows up at his apartment, which, needless to say, is flooded with drunken rednecks wandering the halls with their arms around each other, and tells him that she has an audiotape of the murder because the kids called in just before they were attacked, and he sends her away! What the hell is that? Later he has a change of heart, but only wants to hear it if she'll play it on the air. The logic of the characters' actions in this movie is not starting off on the right foot. Then later, as Stretch hangs in a pit about to fall into the demons' lair, you might say, he tries to save her with a brittle, dried out arm bone. Clever.
There is a lengthy horror scene inside the radio station, which looks like it doesn't know if it's supposed to be a radio station or a horror movie set, so better just be a little bit of both. It's got its vast storage of records stored safely behind an open door, with a heavy steel door guarding the cleaning supplies. A burglar's dream, you might say. We get a scene where Leatherface is assigned to kill Stretch, but when he finally gets through that steel door, he starts chainsawing a tub of soda cans sitting in ice, which have no reason for being there or for being chainsawed, until finally Stretch screams, 'Are you mad at me??' and my eyes glaze over for the remainder of the film.
There's an effective scene where Leatherface puts Stretch's friend's freshly removed face over hers, supposedly to help her escape, but for the most part the underground portion of the film is a tired rehash of the original. Sure, it's bigger, there are more Christmas lights and more chainsaws, but essentially it's exactly the same thing, just without the surprise. They even replay exactly the same dinner scene from the end of the last movie, the most unpleasant scene in the entire movie.
Lefty decides that he is so intent on delivering swift poetic justice that, rather than stock up on as many guns as he can carry, he buys three huge chainsaws and straps them to his body, and then runs screaming into the house, yelling and cutting down wooden supports as the family tortures Stretch. In Commando Arnold bulldozes into a weapons store and loads up on boatloads of guns and knives and explosives. In The Terminator he does the same thing, with the added bonus of killing off the proprietor before leaving. Lefty could have paid homage to both of those films, establishing Lefty as a good guy since he actually paid for his. But why saws and not guns?
The grandparents, as is to be expected, are a hideous, hideous spectacle. Grandpa's 137 years old and still likes to hammer young girls on the head, and grandma spends her time in a wheelchair upstairs with a chainsaw on her lap. We are treated to a finale atop a huge rock outcropping that is so fake that it almost turns the movie into a comedy all by itself. There is at least one or two shots where the underlying chicken wire is nakedly visible.
We get some sort of variation on the ending of the original, since the conclusion is almost a mirror image, in that the girl becomes the chainsaw wielding maniac rather than looking at him out the back window of a passing motorist, but I'm not sure what line of discussion led to the conclusion that this would be a cool way to end the film. Is this supposed to be the setup for a sequel? The family's dead, but now there's this girl who has caught chainsaw fever and will now carry on the legacy?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Potential SPOILERS ahead.
When I'd first heard of this movie, it was described to me by my cousins as the scariest and creepiest movie they'd ever seen. So it always had a place in my mind as a movie to avoid. However, when I finally did catch it, I have to say I disagree.
This movie was incredibly stupid. Every scare is telegraphed, nothing is a surprise. Leatherface dances around more with the chainsaw then cutting anyone. It's really idiotic. The performances aren't much better than your local churches haunted house on Halloween.
First, we're supposed to believe a radio station can't hang up on a caller unless the caller does first? I think the FCC would have something to say about that. It'd be impossible to censor any obscene calls that way. Also, what exactly does the tape reveal that Chop Top and Leatherface need to show up and silence the girl about? Some screams and a chainsaw noise. Yeah, that really points out their identities and existence. A damn autopsy would reveal the cause of death was power tool. Beyond that there's NOTHING linking them. Texas is a damn big state. And as the prologue indicates, after the first girl was found alive, the authorities found NOTHING to prove the events had happened. Plus, they could have just torched the place when they left the girl if they really wanted to be sure.
I watched it a second time last night, and I have to say it's gotten dumber. Stupid movie, and not in an entertaining way.
Sequels have been around since who knows when. They are a permanent
part of our culture, which is both a positive and a negative thing when
you look at it. By definition a sequel is a continuation of a story,
but often times the magic just isn't there the second time around. You
have to find a way to keep things fresh, while keeping fans happy by
not straying too far from what came before. The original 'The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre' is one of the most frightening and powerful horror
films of all time and would be a tough act to follow. Tobe Hooper,
director and co-writer, of said film would take a stab at following it
up with the first of a few sequels 12 years later. What he came up with
is one of the most bizarre horror films ever and one that thankfully is
not a xerox copy of it's predecessor.
Pros: Great cast and everyone seems to be having the time of their lives. Tongue is planted firmly in cheek. Tom Savini's effects are top-notch. Plenty of blood and gore. Moves at a decent pace. Fabulous design on the families hideout. Good score. You'll love to hate the Sawyer family again, which includes a truly twisted new addition.
Cons: The change in tone is fine, but this sequel is really lacking in the scare and suspense department. Plot wears thin. Some scenes drag on a bit too long. Ends rather abruptly.
Final thoughts: Can't compare with the original, but this belated sequel is still a joy to watch for fans. It's not one of those sequels that seems to have been made solely for the money. Like the first film it was a labor of love and it's nice to know that some filmmakers really do care about pleasing their audience. The saw is here to stay!
My rating: 3.5/5
The answer to who the movie really centers on, is not as simple as could be sounded. This nice little sequel (thats right! a GOOD sequel), the attention could easily be said to circle around Williamss' Stretch, but Dennis Hopper gets the only billing. One "normal" day in Texas, two naughty little highschool brats decide to have fun, by calling in a radio station(hosted by an enthusiastic Williams) and play chicken with other texans, they think. Later, these angered Texans turn out to be, uh huh! Ya, we all know who, as they attack the little brats one dark night following the earlier prank. Williams "Stretch" catches all of this gore galore on tape, and exposes it on her show as a favor for Hopper. Hopper has underacted character who's revenge for the massacre and torture of his nephew and niece (Sally and Franklin from the first) is somewhat unconvincible to an extent, but he has better moments. Williams, on the other hand, is very into her character and obviously takes it to the next level, with some hammy moments resaulting. Still, after she exposes the missing Saw-yer family-she is next! Pretty scary stuff. Nice little set-up puts her in an awfully creepy confrontation with Moseleys' Chop-Top". Then the real terror begins. This one could easily be said to have been just a little more expanded than the first, and I certainly say so. I do, however, put the first one on a higher stand, nothing will ever beat the original nightmare, which still scares to this day. Though Massacre 2 has its real moments of both horror and comedy, it drags in the last real, and won't give up! Tobe Hooper must have worked em all with this one, but its all the same a great fun movie. To say it is bad, would be too harsh, I definitely give this one a thumbs up, and ya know what? I'm not the only one!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tobe Hooper's follow-up to his gruelling horror classic is a bit of an
unwieldy beast, a wildly uneven sequel that disgruntled many fans.
Having watched it, I'm inclined to treat it as a film of two halves: an
excellent first followed by a disappointingly vapid second. The idea
was good, but it's the execution where this film suffers.
Things kick off well with a fine if unbelievable set-piece with a victim being chainsawed in a speeding car (I couldn't figure out why he didn't just hit the brake?). From then on in we're introduced to a whole new cast, with the only returning member of the original film being Jim Siedow's creepy cannibal cook. Caroline Williams is a sassy, appealing heroine and there's inherent entertainment value in the presence of Dennis Hopper, a vengeance-crazed ex-lawman determined to bring justice to the chainsaw family.
Things simmer along nicely until the major mid-term set-piece, in which a couple of crazed psychos wreak havoc at the radio station. This marks the introduction of Bill Moseley's bad guy 'Chop Top', one of the most over-the-top villains ever seen in a film! Moseley goes way beyond the call of duty with his performance here and set himself up for life in various B-movies. He delivers his outrageous dialogue with aplomb and has to be one of the most sheer insane characters I've witnessed.
Sadly, the plot ends at this point, and the film carries on as the two good characters follow the bad to their lair (hidden beneath an old amusement park, somewhat inexplicably). There's a lot of padding after this, and then a frenetic climax which features Hopper battling Leatherface in a chainsaw duel while Williams attempts to evade the clutches of Chop Top. There's the return of the old man (now VERY old) and lots of grisly gore effects courtesy of SFX maestro Tom Savini, who as usual we can rely upon not to disappoint. But the pacing has gone and there's a sense of just waiting for the film to end; essentially this is a black comedy and the favouring of the gross-out over the genuinely horrific does work against it. All of the CHAINSAW sequels are uneven, but at least this first one has genuine vision even if it is only in the first half of the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movie was excellent, so we started watching this one expecting something great! the movie was awful. i didn't understand if it was supposed to be funny or scary, either way it did a bad job at both. it looked like a 10 dollar budget scary movie that was unsuccessful, i think it was meant to look like that, don't really get why. i recommend watching it so you appreciate all other movies much more. *SPOILERS**SPOILERS* let me give you some examples of how much the movie sucks: 1. there's a scene where leather-face tries to murder a woman and then ends up falling in love with her when she says are you good. 2. the place where the cannibal family keep all the meat is a never ending dungeon that is as big as a country. 3. someones face gets hit for a few minutes with a hammer and he manages to survive from that, gets his face removed and don't look like he experiences any kind of pain until he suddenly drops and dies. *SPOILERS**SPOILERS*
TCM 2 was definitely not as serious as the original film, but it had a
lot of charm to it. It begins in Texas (of course) with two young men
driving along the road. They call a local radio station which is when
we meet our leading lady Stretch (Caroline Williams) the DJ. While on
the phone with the guys, Leatherface murders both of them Stretch
manages to hear the chainsaw in the background. The police try to make
their deaths seem like a simple auto accident, but when a former Texas
Ranger Lefty (Dennis Hopper) sees the accident scene, he knows it was
more than an accident. And when Stretch gives him the audio tape of the
murder, he realizes that Leatherface has struck again. Once the
infamous Sawyer family catches on that people know of their crimes,
they trap Stretch in their sick twisted maze of dead corpses and
Chainsaw 2 was made at a time when it was competing with the Krueger/Myers/Vorhees sequels. So it had to live up to the modern day slasher film, that means more blood. It's a lot more gory than the controversial first TCM. In this one, you literally see a guy get skinned alive, his face is almost peeled off for Leatherface to use as a mask. Oh and the family is explored more in this sequel. Jim Siedow reprises the role of "The Cook" Drayton Sawyer. He now sells chili to the fine people of Texas. He proclaims at a local cook off that it's his special secret recipe. Take a guess what he uses to make the chili....
Yeah so as you can see, TCM 2 is a little more morbid and comical in a black comedy sort of way. The maze that Stretch gets trapped in near the end is an old amusement park that the Sawyers are living in. Very creepy set they built for it as well. The acting is pretty good for this one as well. We also discover Dennis Hopper's character is related to Franklin, the man in the wheelchair from the first TCM. Nice little connection. All in all, a decent sequel to a 70's classic. It's not as memorable as the first or even as good, but a fine slasher film nonetheless.
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