Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The Horror landscape had shifted by 1986. Hollywood had taken over once again, and the Slasher reigned supreme. With the sequels stacking up each summer, it was only a matter of time before TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE would bring Leatherface back to the silver screen. After several duds and much controversy, Tobe Hooper makes a twisted return to the series that made him a star, but in a complete departure from his first film.

In the years since the original massacre, the police have been unable to find and stop the elusive cannibal family that is terrorizing the Texas highway. A rouge detective sets out on his own quest for revenge with the help of a local radio personality when the trail of bodies leads them to an abandoned amusement park. As it turns out, the Sawyer clan has been operating their own restaurant of sorts, selling human meat as the prime ingredient in their prize-winning chili!

Hooper moves away from the gritty realism of guerrilla filmmaking and embraces the big-budget production in every way, from the family's massive underground lair to the gruesome splatter by special effects master Tom Savini. Any seriousness left over from the original is stripped bare as Hooper pushes the dark humor to the extreme. If the first CHAIN SAW questions the grisly effects of American capitalism, the second answers them with blood! After being overtaken by machinery, the Sawyer family has gone into business for themselves, and begin making a killing off of the fat of the land. After all, it's the American way! This is the ultimate irony that Tobe Hooper looks to convey, and what makes TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 such a fun flick.

The sexually-charged exchanges between Caroline Williams' Stretch and a repressed Leatherface are as sick as they are wildly entertaining. Bill Johnson steps in for Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface, and brings his own playful personality to the role. Johnson attempts to seduce Williams with his huge... saw, then courts her by dressing her in his favorite faces and dancing around with her in the meat locker. It is vulgar and obscene, and we love it. Jim Siedow is more deranged than ever as family patriarch (and head chef) Drayton Sawyer. His garbled speeches about making it big in the meat industry always draw a laugh. Finally, Bill Moseley joins the cast as the albino Vietnam vet Chop Top, who may somehow be even more insane than his twin brother (the Hitchhiker from the original). Moseley's wild, erratic behavior and backwards phrasing makes him one of the most memorable characters in the series.

Although the dramatic shift in tone over the original can be confusing at first, it quickly becomes clear that Tobe Hooper is playing with his audience once more by perverting the American dream. This is the best of the sequels from the original series.

Rating: 7/10.



Trailer:

3 comments:

  1. The best sequel to come from the original series, you say? That's like being the best form of testicular cancer to get!

    My big problem is that the film feels like it wants to be completely-insane and over-the-top, but has to keep stopping. It draws a number of scenes out for no good reason, which makes you wonder.

    This being a 'sequel' in the story is still a stretch to me. Hello, film- good-bye, logic.

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  2. Granted, but there are some great moments here. Chop Top is an excellent character, and I love the exchanges between LF and Stretch, makes for plenty of dark fun!

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  3. My problem is that it seemed so 'insistent.' Hooper just threw a bunch of weird imagery on screen sometimes and wouldn't cut away until you reacted.

    What was I supposed to draw from the ending, by the way? I don't get it.

    Lastly, I still have to say that this is the least interesting out of Hooper's infamous three-picture deal with Cannon. You can't beat 'Lifeforce' and I can't help but like 'Invaders from Mars.'

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