Monday, 16 July 2012

14/06/2012: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 [1986]

Last night I had the urge to dig out and put on my Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 DVD. While it doesn't have anything close to the serious and realistic feeling of terror that the first one does, TCM 2's craziness gives us a sequel different enough from the original that we don't feel that standard feeling we get when a sequel isn't up to par with the original.

My first dilemma when I put on the DVD was whether or not I wanted to watch it in widescreen or standard. While undoubtedly, my laptop is a widescreen, that doesn't necessarily mean that  the widescreen transfers would fit my screen. So first I threw in the standard, then flipped to widescreen to see if it would fill. Unfortunately, it was almost smaller than the standard aspect ratio when my laptop pulled it up, so there I went, flipping back to the second side. I did however, flip it back again for the screenshots.

So, this dilemma lead me to an interesting question. Is widescreen the most popular? I remember when widescreen came out, I wasn't that big a fan, but now almost everything is, since our T.V.s are now all the 16:9 aspect ratio. Anyway, my question is simple, do you prefer widescreen to standard, and when you watch old movies do you watch in standard or widescreen?
Dennis Hopper must have had so much fun just being a badass with a chainsaw.

On with TCM 2. Lets face it, the original is a landmark moment in both horror and cinema. It was dark and realistic, which is why it terrified us so much. While not everything seemed likely, there was still a very real, this could happen to you feeling from it. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 on the other hand, really takes a different approach than the first one. The characters and events are so crazy that they are certainly humorous in a disturbing kind of way. I think that the one poster (below) sums up this new mood quite nicely,and if you notice, our cannibal family is posed identically to The Breakfast Club poster.

Personally, I think that is was probably a smart move to go in a different direction with the sequel. While yes, the original is fantastic, the sequel would likely have never lived up to the original. So by instead going in a different direction, they dodged most of the shitty sequel bullet. I wouldn't even really compare the movies that closely. The original is definitely scary, while the remake is a lot more fun and games and doesn't have the same atmosphere of terror.. I think it is funny how much of a swing the series took. Most people think of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and they think, scare yourself sleepless horror movies. In fact, the original series, excluding the remakes, are wildly different from the first. At least the second and fourth ones are, I haven't seen the third yet.

How did Chop-Top not get a spin-off sitcom?
So, what makes the second one that much crazier and funnier than the first? Without a doubt it is the characters. Leatherface himself returns, and is given much more of a character than just the hulking embodiment of death and terror that he is in the first one. Apparently his name is Bobby, and you get quite a few close-ups of his face, well at least threw the eyes and mouth of his flesh masks. Also, you get to see him interact in a way that doesn't simply involve a chainsaw.

Along with Leatherface, the rest of his family is a lot more developed as well, even to the point that we see a stirring of life in good old grandpa. Leatherface's father is still the creepy old coot and household leader that he was in the first one, giving commands, and cooking chilli. Grandpa makes an appearance, and we get to see a repeat of the hammer scene, which surprisingly didn't feel repetitive. The brother is the one with the biggest makeover however, or at least I think it was the same brother or maybe he isn't that hitchhiker. Either-way now, dressed like a hippie who took one too many acid trips, and with a metal plate in his skull, Chop-Top is more insane than Leatherface.

That is on the spot reporting.
So with our family of the macabre getting a next level re-vamp, our heroes do as well. While in the original, we have no real heroes, only victims, the sequel does a much better job about making me care about the characters. In the first, I wasn't to attached with the victims, but in the sequel, we are given a pair of unlikely hero's who I might give a damn about. Dennis Hooper does a great job as the vengeful lawman, although his character's story could have been better developed. Caroline Williams who played Stretch however is the heroine we truly give a damn about. A radio D.J. somehow caught up in the texas chainsaw massacre, Stretch covers all the bases. On the one hand, she spend a lot of time screaming in terror, so much that it annoyed me a bit. Anyone notice how little screaming is in most horror movies, TCM always seems to have someone constantly screaming in terror. However, Stretch isn't a completely terrified damsel in distress. There are a number of points were she shows some real courage and she is more than willing to fight for her life.

Overall, I think that while, it isn't The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the sequel genuinely creates a strong movie of its own. Not relying solely on the aspects of the original, but mixing its own recipe. It give us some crazy characters, and a few we care about, as well as having an awesome soundtrack. I think it is likely that many people who really liked the first, and went looking for more in the second, were sorely disappointed with the sequel. But considering how often these sequels just rehash a water downed, and cheaper version of the original, this sequel didn't fear striking out it its own direction, and I really enjoyed it. It was entertaining and a little crazy without being a mockery of itself or so bad it was good. As a sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 might not have been a success, but as a movie, I think it did just swell.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 IMDb


  1. I haven't seen this in a while but your review made me want to check this out again. Nicely Done.

    1. Thanks, you can't see it but I'm beaming.