THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2
**** Out of 5
Tagline- After a Decade of Silence The Buzz Is Back!
Release Date- August 22nd, 1986
Running Time- 101-Minutes
Screenplay- L.M. Kit Carson
Director- Tobe Hooper
Starring- Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson
Released in 1986 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has drawn mixed reviews from the viewers; some actually rate this higher than the original, which is something I disagree with and others rate it as a terrible flick, which is also something I disagree with. TCM 2 for me in no way can compare with the original, but in its own right it’s still a good flick and I’d actually rate this higher than most of the Halloween and Friday the 13th sequels and all of the Elm St. sequels except New Nightmare. Quite honestly I think this series is a little underrated and a lot of that has to do with how brilliant the original was, but in regards to TCM 2 I personally find this to be an excellent movie and truly does deserve more credit than it often gets. Every franchise has that one film that splits the viewers while others are either well received or generally looked down upon and TCM 2 is one of those sequels that seems to be loved or hated.
If you go into this movie expecting anything like the original you’ll probably be letdown. For me the original TCM is the most terrifying movie I’ve ever seen and while there was some comedy it was funny, but also really creepy since the villains were so insane, but TCM 2 is very much a dark comedy and there aren’t many scenes that play for suspense or scares like the original. Though there is one great jump scare when Leatherface first appears at the radio station. If anything you can almost view TCM 2 as sort of a satire of the original in some spots, since it has some scenes that are alike, but here they are played out in a really over the top manner.
Radio show host Stretch finds herself under attack by Leatherface (Johnson) and his family, while Lefty Enwright (Hopper) a Texas Ranger hunts the family down for revenge for Franklin and Sally from the original film who were his nephew and niece.
The screenplay L.M. Kit Carson is overall mostly solid with some really interesting characters, which is something that often lacks in the horror genre and even more so in sequels. Lefty is in his own right a bit insane as he’s obsessed with killing Leatherface and his family; by no means is Lefty the typical hero as he even uses Stretch as bait even if it means she gets killed in the process. Lefty is likable, but in no way the typical hero we see countless time and this is just one of the reasons TCM 2 worked so well for me. The characters here are highly memorable and each add a little something to the movie.
Rather than focus on the horror aspect, Carson options to add a lot more comedy and writes a really crazy and over the top screenplay. Carson retains elements of the original, but also takes some of those elements and sort of turns it into a satire. The original film the intentions were to make a black comedy and while those elements are on display, but in the end its far more scary than funny and with TCM 2, Carson delivers an excellent satire of the original. The fact the script does something a bit different than the original could have been a huge failure and depending who you ask it could be seen as a failure, but for me it works greatly. This time around while the villains are still insane, but they are a lot sillier and whereas the original they were funny in a really creepy way here they are still creepy to a certain degree, but they are too over the top to inject too much fear and that even goes for Leatherface who is just as silly as he is insane. Leatherface even gets a crush on the heroine Stretch and while this might sound a little stupid it works in contrast of the movie. Overall L.M. Kit Carson writes a terrific satire filled with terrific characters.
Tobe Hooper returns as director and crafts an entertaining if not flawed film; to be honest outside of the Chainsaw flicks I’m not really the biggest Hooper fan, but he did in my opinion make the scariest flick I’ve seen with TCM, but this time he seems to have little interest in creating any suspense or scares, which might turn off some viewers, but I think in the end was the right idea since I don’t think he could have matched the brilliance of the original. The easy thing to do from a writing standpoint and directing is to simply rehash the original film, which is what most sequels end up doing, but again there was just no way this could match the brilliance of the original since its one of those rare movies that works of every level.
There really are only a couple of scenes where Hooper might try to scare the audience, but for the most part Hooper focuses more on creating an just a fun and entertaining movie with plenty of comedic bits. For the most part everything Hooper attempts works well, but there are some parts where the movie does slightly drag, which could have been fixed with some editing since the 101-Minute running time is a little overly long. But with that said even if some scenes slightly drag Tobe Hooper is still able to maintain a fun pace. Like the original Tobe Hooper sets a tone early on for the movie only this time a more campy tone. The fact Hooper aims to make a more over the top flick rather than a scary flick will no doubt draw mixed reactions, but again I think Hooper did the right thing since I don’t think he could have made a sequel scarier than the original and the one thing I hate about sequels are when they are a rehash of the original; for better or worse, Hooper makes an original sequel that takes elements of the original and takes them to a whole different style.
The performances were highly entertaining with Stretch played by Caroline Williams being one of my favorite heroines; she’s smart, sexy and funny and Caroline Williams does an excellent job. Jim Siedow returns as the Cook and he also gets a name, Drayton; Siedow is once again over the top, but this time he isn’t as creepy, but he’s hysterical in a truly great performance.
Bill Johnson takes over the role of Leatherface who was played by Gunnar Hansen in the original and the character of Leatherface is almost an entirely different character. Hansen’s Leatherface was just insane and almost childlike, but extremely dangerous and violent. Johnson’s Leatherface is a lot more animated in his movements and like I said comes across as just as much silly as insane if anything he’s almost like a rebellious teenager. Johnson and Hansen couldn’t be any more different so I really don’t wanna compare the two performances since it wouldn’t be fair since both play the part so differently. However with that said I highly enjoyed Bill Johnson in the role and even though he doesn’t speak he does have a bit more personality with his movements and eye movements and while nobody could ever top Gunnar, Bill Johnson makes the role his own and does an excellent job.
As Lefty Enright, this isn’t the best role the late Dennis Hopper played, but I gotta admit this is my favorite movie he did. TCM 2 may not have the acclaim that other movies Dennis Hopper made, but I would still rate this is my favorite movie he did. Through most of the movie Hopper plays it straight, but as the movie goes on he gets to get a little over the top and Hopper really makes Lefty such a memorable character.
But the real star of the show is Bill Moseley; for many years Moseley was appearing in many horror films sometimes with a big role and sometimes a limited role, but it wasn’t until 2003 with Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and the 2005 sequel The Devil’s Rejects that he really got noticed. As Chop Top, Moseley built a cult following, but never really got his due. As enjoyable as the movie is it got even better when Moseley entered the movie and Chop Top is just freaking insane and while he is creepy he’s far too funny and even likable to create too much fear. The one thing that’s clear is Bill Moseley clearly was having a good time and this shines on screen with easily one of my all-time favorite performances in a horror movie.
Overall every series has that one or two installments that will split viewers and TCM 2 is one of those sequels and while I can get why some people would look down upon this one after the brilliant original, but TCM 2 in my opinion is an excellent sequel and like I stated earlier in the review I find this better than most Halloween, Friday the 13th and Elm St. sequels. If you go in expecting a straight up horror flick you might be letdown, but go in expecting a semi-scary movie that is more of a satire of the original you might find yourself loving the movie as much as I do.