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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?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a horrific realistic, and a genuinely
terrifying film. This second is a strange (even stranger than the
original) very sick ( a man forces a woman to wear her friends face??)
and very budget blown (the appearance of Dennis Hopper).
We have Leather Face, Drayton (from the original we new him as old man) and Chop Top who is a new addition to the family who is (although probably the most deranged) a kind of funny and lovable character, he is very similar to the hitchhiker from the original except a Vietnam steel plated and (oddly) pale white skin colour.
A radio DJ (Stretch) gets prank called by two irritating gun ho kids in a car speeding down the motorway, but one of these prank calls just happen to be made at a wrong time as the two are chased by Leather Face in a opposite car and funnily enough kills them by chainsaw and its all been recorded on a live radio station. This makes Stretch closer to Lefty (dennis hopper) who is a family member of Franklyn (weelchair victim) in the original massacre wanting to hunt down the maniacs for revenge. The appearance of this recorded footage brings Lefty closer to catching the maniacs who is now out for Stretch for making the recording. The plot proceeds on to Stretch being held captive in the theme park style underground layer of the maniacs and Lefty roaring through chopping the place down with his chainsaw.
This is higher budget, meaning its got loads more action and the set pieces are even creepier and outstandingly made. The acting is pretty good as this time they had the money to buy proper actors. Although its unrealistic (living in an underground theme park layer filled with over 100 bodies used as props, people being chased in their car by a guy standing on top of his truck with a chainsaw on a bridge, the final battle between Dennis Hopper and Leather Face using chainsaws)its still a cult classic and very well directed. The original is superior but the second instalment is by far not a disappointment, more of a higher budget fun thrill ride with jumps, scares and even some funny parts which are hard not to laugh. The bad parts are the rushed beginning which we don't really know a thing about Lefty or why he's so mad and the fact that Leather Face now has feelings and becomes a little bit puffy at times. Apart from that all this "this is one of the stupidest films ever" nonsense is, quite plainly nonsense.
Better than the other instalments and the remake, not better than the original.
*** 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.
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!
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
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is one of my all-time favourite films and
in my opinion is one of the greatest movies ever made. Despite being
made on such a low-budget, Tobe Hooper managed to make what was
arguably one of the most influential Horror films of all time. It's
gritty, eerie atmosphere has never been matched. Thirteen years after
that, Hooper returned with the much anticipated sequel, starring Dennis
Hopper. With a bigger budget, an audience behind it and a big studio,
this was set to be a superb, nasty and even gorier film than the first
one. But it was a complete disaster, and is possibly one of the worst
films I've ever seen.
OK, so it's first mistake was it stylistically trying to turn away from the original and be it's own film. The second mistake, and the BIGGEST, was trying to add humour and some light-heartiness into the blood and guts mix. This is labelled as a comedy, why didn't I notice this before? I wouldn't have wasted my time if I had known what this was going to be. It's a complete two finger salute at the original, and ironically, Tobe Hooper directed this. What the hell was the man doing? He almost ruined everything he had achieved. Granted, the film is somewhat more violent and nastier than the original, one scene that stuck with me was when a man gets his head and face smashed in with a hammer while his assailant yells "MAIL CALL!" each time the hammer hits him. The plot is extremely thin and simple: Dennis Hopper plays Lefty, an obsessed sheriff whose niece was the surviving girl from the first film. We are told at the beginning that no trace of Leatherface or the farmhouse was ever found, but the legend still remained in Texas. The film begins with two of the most detestable people I've ever come across in a film speeding down a road shooting signs. One of them, the one shooting and screaming, would have received a fine ass-kicking from me if I'd been given the chance. They call a radio DJ named 'Stretch' (Caroline Williams) and start harassing her. For reasons unexplained, she won't cut them off, so when the two boys mess with the wrong pick-up truck (You guessed it... it's the Sawyer family, with Leatherface riding shotgun!), they are murdered and the whole thing is caught on tape by 'Stretch'. When she plays it on air, Leatherface and his brother Top-Chop come after her, and it's up to Lefty to help her and confront Leatherface and his posse with his own chainsaw... the buzz is back indeed. God help us.
What started off promising enough quickly went down hill afterwards. Straight away you know that this film lacks the dread and gritty cacophonous atmosphere that made the first film the masterpiece that it is. Dennis Hopper was rarely seen in the early eighties before this, not after his small role in "Apocalypse Now", but his career seemed to kick off again after this film, with performances in "River's Edge", "Hoosiers", "Chattahoochee" and "Blue Velvet" to see out the decade for him. He is as good as he possibly could be given the dry-as-wood character he had to play, who only really came to life once he got down into Leatherface's subterranean home and started giving the family a taste of their own chainsaw medicine. Caroline Williams does a lot of screaming... so I reckon that's a good performance considering the type of movie this is which rarely ever expects it's female leads to do anything more than scream and look towards the hero of the hour. Thankfully that has changed nowadays to a certain degree. Something good about the modern horror genre.
This is a great deal nastier than the first movie at times. The aforementioned 'hammer' scene was pretty brutal and hard to watch, and there's also a well done scene at the beginning when one of the moronic dweebs gets half his head severed off with a chainsaw. The special effects that were non-existent in the first film were shown off here with a scene where Leatherface cuts off one of his victims faces and proceeds to try it on. Leatherface is terrible in this. Bill Johnson portrays him and he is certainly no Gunnar Hansen! He's not as menacing or mysterious as he was in the first movie, but is actually extremely laughable and sleazy. His brother Chop-Top, who is the twin brother of the 'hitch hiker' from the first film and wasn't present in it because he was away fighting in Vietnam, was extremely annoying. He's got a steel plate in his head from an injury he sustained in the war, and he frequently claws at it with a clothes hanger that he carries around. Grandpa also returns in this one, and is now 137 years-old (You all remember the half-dead guy the boys dragged down from the attic in the first film to torture the girl?), well he does his grandson Leatherface no favours during his final duel with Lefty, when he attempts to throw a hammer at Lefty but ends up striking his grandson instead. Nice one, gramps!
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" had the potential to be a brilliant, worthy sequel. And it may have achieved this had it never even considered it's comedy approach. I wonder why Tobe Hooper did this? I reckon the studio forced him into it in order for the film to get an R-rating and find a bigger audience. A truly awful film. Please, if you have any respect for the first film, avoid this total disgrace.
Tobe Hooper comes back to direct a sequel that follows the events of
the initial Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. Although we see Leatherface
and Jim Seidow's role as "The Cook" return in the storyline, it was
actually the newcomers characters who were the most interesting. If it
wasn't for the star-power of Dennis Hopper and the desirableness of
Caroline Williams, this sequel would have totally stunk in my opinion.
The writing was really awful, especially hack in the beginning car
chase and cook-off. Usually, a horror film is either great in the
beginning and fades off or starts slow with a great ending. With TCM
II, it's a first for me to say that a few scenes in the middle of the
film were the most entertaining.
The film lost a lot of grittiness and distinguishing characteristics that the predecessor possessed. It didn't tie itself well to its roots and I felt this was a really rushed attempt that could have been a lot better. Part 2 did enough though to hold my interest and I found myself not being too critical of the ending scenes even though it's pretty bad. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, or the franchise itself, is perhaps not really my cup of tea but as a horror fan I understand it's importance and still think it's a must watch.
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