It took 12 years for the sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to reach the screen, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 wasn’t worth the wait. It takes the minimalist (almost documentary) feel of the original and ups the gore and humour, effectively turning itself into a live-action cartoon.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 picks up a decade on from the events from the original film. The cannibalistic Sawyer family – Leatherface (Bill Johnson), Chop Top (Bill Moseley) and Drayton (Jim Siedow) – have moved into an underground abode but they haven’t ditched their love of ‘prime meat’. Meanwhile, Lefty (Dennis Hopper), a modern day cowboy is tracking the family’s murderous rampage across the state of Texas. He gets help from Stretch (Caroline Williams), a local DJ, who gets involved in proceedings following an on-air phone-in from hell. Stretch catches the eye of Leather face and soon he’s torn between his family and his love for Stretch. However, Leather face likes to talk with his chainsaw, so it’s not a match made in heaven. Bloody carnage and a tremendous amount of noise ensue.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is a great example of a filmmaker not understanding his own creation. It appears that Tobe Hooper believed that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a dark comedy, so therefore he upped the humour element for this sequel. The first film had some macabre humour woven into its DNA, but the film was a down and dirty horror – it was almost primeval in its scares, hinting at horror rather than showing it. This time around the great Tom Savini supplies the blood and gore but the film has none of the original’s nuance. Hooper and writer Kit Karson will tell you that the film is mocking the yuppie commercialisation of the 1980s but I find that hard to believe. It feels like the film (and the filmmakers) have attached themselves to the ‘80s maxim that more is better, as the film contains more violence, more humour and more noise.
Bill Mosely’s Chop Top (mercifully absent from the first film) feels like a one-liner spewing character from a children’s cartoon. Even the look of his character is exaggerated. The horror of the first film was that the events could have happened – but nothing in this sequel rings true. Even Dennis Hopper’s character (the uncle from the kids in the original) is painted with broad strokes. His character doesn’t even have an arc and his plotline is left hanging at the end of the movie.
This 1986 film feels like everything that was wrong with 1980s Hollywood. The film ditches what made the first film work, adding more of everything to up the ante. It could be satire but it feels like Tobe Hooper was trying to destroy his own creation.
I may not have liked the movie, but the extras on this Blu-ray disc are superb. The commentaries are decent but they exist at two ends of the spectrum – Hooper’s director’s commentary is dry, while commentary from Bill Mosley, Caroline Williamson and Tom Savini is a little too boisterous. The documentary (split into chapters or you can watch as a whole) is superb. It covers all facets of production but it feels like all involved have watched a different movie. The deleted scenes add an extra plotline, although they’re sourced from video dupes so the quality isn’t great. A great package for a below par movie.