DIRECTOR: Tobe Hooper
L.M. Kit Carson
When a radio show host receives a call from two annoying college guys on a road trip. They end up holding up her line by being a nuisance. Soon, she hears the two college guys being murdered over the phone by what appears to be a chainsaw. The next day Stretch reads the report in the local newspaper. She meets up with a former Marshall who is on a decade-long hunt for the perpetrators of all the murders. When the host replays the tape live on air, it gets the attention of the Sawyer family who wants to try and silence her once and for all.
Heading into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel. I quickly realised that re-watching this movie, after not seeing it since I was in my teens, everything felt like it was seen through fresh eyes. Being that this was the sequel to one of the most groundbreaking horror movies ever made and one of my own personal favourite movies. I won't deny that I went in with a little trepidation. The sequel is probably just as infamous and as polarising as the original movie when speaking with fellow horror fans.
Straight after watching the sequel. I was at a loss for words. I was at a loss because it is just so different from what I remembered or had expected. I expected this to be wildly different as I had heard many Tobe Hooper tributes over the last several weeks and every single person that discussed his lengthy career had an opinion on this film. The opinions on the film ranged from brilliant to terrible. From ambitious to bonkers. It seems everyone was talking about it. Watching it now, I think while it didn't stand up to the original. You can't fault Tobe Hooper for giving us something left-field and as deranged as this movie.
Where the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre was a nightmarish and intense piece of independent cinema. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is completely different. Here we have a grander piece of movie-making where almost everything feels exaggerated or larger than life. The entire film is so different from the first film that it's actually hard to compare the two. This is a testament to Tobe Hooper as a filmmaker. He could've just given us another rehash of his much-beloved original, but instead, he chose to do something as bonkers as this film.
First things first, I'll talk about the elephant in the room. Pretty much all intensity and suspense have been drained from the sequel. It's been replaced with heavy doses of sheer demented comedy. Any unsuspecting victim going into this sequel expecting the same sort of seriousness and visceral horror will be sorely disappointed. Once I got used to how outlandish the set-pieces were in this sequel I started to lighten up. This is a different beast altogether. I've actually rewatched the sequel three times before reviewing it because this is one that took time for me to grow to appreciate just how wild the movie turned out.
Another thing that the sequel does is ramp up the body count and the carnage candy. Everything is given to the audience by the bucket loads. Where the original hinted at a family of cannibals, we see them all in business here. We witness caverns of human body parts, walls that are filled with people's entrails, a man's head is chopped in half with a chainsaw, and we even witness Leatherface having a chainsaw battle while he has a chainsaw embedded in his abdomen. Tom Savini's makeup effects are top-notch in this film. It's hard not to love the copious amounts of gore on display.
The colour scheme and cinematography is something to treasure here. In the original, there was a lot of golds and browns in the films colour scheme. It appeared as if the film, itself was damaged by the sun. Here, Tobe Hooper has given us bright colours and neon lights in almost every scene. I think even Dario Argento would be proud of the psychedelic colours on display. This is a much more colourful entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, and it fits the absolute insanity that's on display in the sequel. Seeing that the movie is a lot more action-packed, there feels like a much larger scope that is suited to Tobe's camera lens.
The acting in the film is quite good. We have Dennis Hopper who is top-billed, and I expected him to go all out in the sequel, but he's actually pretty restrained. I thought he would deliver Blue Velvet or Speed type villainous, but he was the good guy here. Caroline Williams is the saving grace for me. Her character Stretch is a fighter and a final girl that I really got behind and enjoyed. She was sympathetic but strong. A solid leading performance. We also have Bill Moseley chewing the scenery. If we got Oscar Nominations for hamming it up, he'd have taken the top prize that year. The entire cast worked really well even if some are vocal about hating the movie.
Lastly, I want to end it on what I didn't like about the movie because while there is a bit to dislike, I still enjoyed the movie more than I didn't like it. The third act sort of feels rushed. This may be because the crew had very little turn around time on when they finished, to editing and putting the movie out into theatres. You can sense that here when the movie features an almost exact dining table scene like the original. Right down to Grandpa coming out and hitting Stretch in the head with a hammer. I also found the humour to be a little uneven at times. Still, it's not enough to kill this film for me.
DEATH TOLL: 8
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone's head is sliced in half with a chainsaw.
- Someone is killed in a car accident.
- A man is hit in the head repeatedly with a hammer.
- Leatherface puts someone's skinned face on a woman.
- A woman is hit in the head with a mallet.
- People are blown up by a grenade.
- Someone is hit in the stomach with a chainsaw.
- Leatherface gets a chainsaw through the stomach.
- A man is hit in the arse with a chainsaw.
- Someone is slashed across the back with a barbers razor.
- A man is hit in the back with a chainsaw.
- A wall filled with guts is kicked open, and they pour out onto the floor.
- Leatherface carves off a man's skin with an electric knife.
- Body parts are seen hanging from meat hooks.
- A man slashes himself across the neck with a barbers razor.
- Someone is slashed across the legs with a barbers razor.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a different beast altogether. As a huge fan of the original who holds it in high regard. The sequel falls short. I can't really sugarcoat it. It's just not on the same level of the original. But as a demented and bonkers comedy horror with some extremely brutal gore and over the top theatrics, the sequel should be a fun ride for most. At an hour and forty minutes, it may feel drawn out, but there is still some fun to be had with Tobe Hooper's sequel. Just go in and enjoy the ride.