12 years after the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Tobe Hooper returned to make a sequel and take the crazy chainsaw wielding Sawyer’s to a whole new level of insanity.
In the years between parts 1 and 2 he had made more than 5 films including the brilliant big budget vampire Sci-Horror Lifeforce and the hugely commercially successful Poltergeist.
With more money in tow when returning to the movie that made his name the production values may have been higher but Hooper did not hold back his brutality or chaotic creativity and although at the time The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was criticised for its overt comedy and over the top gore revisiting it now amongst the series of seven films it most certainly stands out as one of the best of the sequels.
Starting with an epic voice over which ironically predicts the franchise’s remake filled future by ending with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has not stopped. It haunts Texas. It seems to have no end” the film is set 13 years after the events of the first where we find the cannibalistic Sawyer clan still up to their old tricks of killing kids and selling their meat.
One such amazingly maniacal murder of two idiotic high school kids in their car just happens to be taped by radio DJ Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock (Caroline Williams) who is deeply troubled by what she hears. When she finds that a former Texas Ranger Lieutenant Boude ‘Lefty’ Enright (the sublime Dennis Hopper) is appealing for witnesses she steps up and takes him the tape.
It transpires that Lefty is in fact the uncle of two of the Sawyer’s original victims and has dedicated his life to discovering the location of their killers. Mixed up in his crazed crusade Stretch finds herself targeted by the horrific hicks and it’s not long till Leatherface shows up at her radio station to slice her out of the equation.
From the barmy blood splattering opening killing it is clear that Tobe Hooper’s mission with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is to outdo what has gone before. Cleverly Hooper also knows that the edgy stark realism found in the cinema verite style of the original and the pure shock value it carried with it cannot be recreated.
Instead he ops for excess over repetition putting the black comedy of the first film to the fore and utalising the budget for elaborate and spectacular sets such as the Sawyer’s underground lair and excellent expensive special effects provided by gore wizard Tom Savini to up the ante.
All this makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 much more entertaining and fun than the first film with scenes of Leatherface cutting up a body with an electric knife, Chop Top’s freak-outs and the chainsaw duel ending.
The payoff is at the expense of any true terror or tension and although part 2 is just as deranged it is not as deeply disturbing or violently visceral a fact literally hammered home by the reoccurrence almost verbatim of the Grandpa scene from he original which is most definitely here played for laughs rather than screams.
Although the fear may be diminished there is a much deeper exploration of the Freudian motivation of Leatherface with a clearly defined link established between sex and death played out in his pursuit of Stretch. As his father says in a line that could be used as the Sawyer families muck up motto “ You have one choice, boy: sex or the saw. Sex is, well, nobody knows. But the saw, the saw is family.”
What makes the movie is the marvelous performances with plucky heroine Stretch played with aplomb by Caroline Williams and Dennis Hopper on fine form as the Lefty a man eaten up by his quest driven to the point of insanity at the end as he attempts to destroy the Sawyer’s hide out while spouting Bible quotes.
The sick Sawyer clan is what Texas Chainsaw 2 is all about though with Bill Johnson donning the flesh facemask as Leatherface accentuating his child like side while Jim Siedow returns as the deranged Dad given a lot more meat to chew on here character wise which is a wise decision.
Best of all is the new addition Chop Top played by the brilliant Bill Moseley who keeps the character, allegedly Hitcher’s twin brother, walking the tightrope between comedy and creepy slipping off towards the end as he rampages around demanding Stretch’s death.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 is everything you want in a sequel and more and Tobe Hooper avoids the pointless rehash and repetition that the recent sequels and reboots are so guilty of giving the audience gallons of gore and guffaws instead making it most definitely the second best Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie ever made.
Check out all the amazing extras on the Blu-ray reissue right Here.