Horror

Published on June 6th, 2015 | by Clint Davis

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 [1986]

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 [1986] Clint Davis

Summary: This decade-late sequel trades in raw, minimalist terror for over-the-top black comedy. Turns Leatherface from a menace to a buffoon in under 90-minutes...but Dennis Hopper brings it!

1

God Awful


User Rating: 2.7 (1 votes)

R  |  89 min.

Director: Tobe Hooper  |  Screenplay: L.M. Kit Carson

Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley

Studio: Cannon Films Inc.  |  Distribution: Cannon Films Inc., Pathe Films Inc.

“The Lord of the Harvest” is the only reason to watch this movie.

There’s a common reason sequels are typically panned across the board, it’s not that they’re necessarily poorly acted or produced, it’s that they lack originality.  More often than not, a studio gets a hit and decides to go back to milk the cash cow again–using the same characters, jokes, and situations to recreate the spark of the original smash.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 follows a completely different, but equally offensive approach to sequel-making.

When director Tobe Hooper released The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974, he created a new form of horror by using a gritty, realistic approach in bringing a serial killer to life.  With its shoestring budget and minimalist aesthetics, that film felt more authentic than perhaps any slasher picture before or since.  To put it simply, it’s a masterpiece of the genre–fast forward twelve years and Hooper revisits Leatherface & Co. by making an over-the-top, wacky dark-comedy with his signature brand slapped on the cover.

If The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is Leatherface, then TCM2 is his annoying, dumbed-down brother Chop Top.

Chop Top has become a cult favorite character, but he may the most annoying character ever.

I defy you to find a sequel to any motion picture that departs its predecessor as much as this film, while keeping the same director.  If you loved the claustrophobic, grindhouse feel of the original Texas Chainsaw flick, you’ll find nothing to remind you of it in this follow-up.  The term “cult classic” has been thrown around very liberally in the days of home video, but I’ve probably seen this film four times and still can’t understand why anyone would label it as anything other than pure crap.  Going for laughs is one thing but taking a terrifying horror icon and turning him into a complete buffoon in under 90-minutes is downright criminal.

Leatherface is based off of real-life serial killer Ed Gein, who infamously made clothing and decorations from his victim’s body parts, as well as eating parts of them.  This is a guy who cuts you up with a chainsaw while wearing a mask made of actual human faces!  Where the first film made you jump every time you heard a saw blad whirring, this one will only have you laughing at its villains, rather than cowering from them.  Leatherface’s family of unbalanced yokels play a major part of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, especially the aforementioned Chop Top Sawyer (Bill Moseley)–his Vietnam veteran brother.

Chop Top may honestly be the most annoying character I’ve ever seen on film…no joke.  His voice is grating, his jokes land with a thud, and the sight & sound of him scraping dead skin from a metal plate in his head may make you heave.  If Chop Top and a dancing Leatherface weren’t awful enough, throw in their demented brother Drayton (Jim Siedow) and the disgusting Grandpa (Ken Evert) and you’ve got a family reunion from hell.  These characters could honestly be funny in a macabre way if they didn’t yell every line of dialogue over top of one another!  Once the plot’s final act takes you to their massive underground home, it really feels like they had no script.

Leatherface isn’t the only character this film ruins–its protagonist “Stretch” randomly sucks halfway through.

As far as positive aspects of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, I’ve got two words for you: Dennis. Fucking. Hopper.  The late, great Hopper made a career out of scene-stealing from some of Hollywood’s greatest actors so when you throw him in a film like this, you may as well keep the camera on him at all times.  In a rare turn as a heroic protagonist, you get the feeling Hopper thought this was going to be a great movie.  He’s hilariously intense and as usual, delivers some brilliant lines like: “It’s the devil’s playground!”  Despite the copious amount of bloodshed in this movie, the scariest part is when Hopper looks just past the camera holding a massive chainsaw and says, “I am the lord of the harvest!”

I’ll also give screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson massive credit for a side plot involving the Sawyer family entering human meat into chili cook-offs across Texas, which they win.  He also wrote one of the best lines in horror history when Drayton says, “The saw is family.”

The only way I recommend watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is if you’re a massive Dennis Hopper fan, but in that case just fast-forward through any scene he’s not in.  Come to think of it, that would have been a badass flick…

Buy The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 on Amazon

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About the Author

Clint Davis is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based journalist who dropped out of film school to write news! Email him at TheClintDavis@gmail.com.



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