While looking into potential movies to watch this month, I realized that when it comes to horror, very rarely have I seen anything past the first movie in a lot of franchises. Sure I’ve watched all the Friday the 13ths, Nightmare on Elm Streets, and Halloweens (in some cases, many many times), but what about Poltergeist sequels or the Psycho sequels or Amityville Horror. I’ve never bothered to touch any of them. Well today we change that with a viewing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
The idea of a sequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is pretty insane to begin with, and I can’t imagine how daunting a task that must have been for the filmmakers to make a sequel to what was, and still is, considered to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time. It’s a tough act to follow for sure. So instead of trying to make another movie in the same vein as the first, this sequel goes balls-out insane and becomes a dark comedy instead of a gritty horror movie. It’s a bold move, but one I’m actually kind of glad they made.
The movie opens with these two yuppie fuckin’ assholes driving down a deserted highway on their way to some huge party. They call themselves stupid names like Rick the Prick, fire guns at random signs on the side of the road, play chicken with oncoming cars, and keep yelling and whooping and calling into this local radio show hosted by this girl Stretch where they tie up the line by screaming about how they want to see titties. I was legitimately afraid that this was the introduction to our protagonists. Never have I wanted to see two people die more in a horror movie and I was terrified that I was about to spend the next 100 minutes with them. Thankfully this is not the case and they are dispatched rather quickly. Their death is recorded by the radio station and due to urging by the local sheriff (Dennis Hopper), who is related to two of the victims from the first movie and is on a crusade to bring those responsible to justice, she plays it on the air continuously so that the authorities will take it seriously. This of course attracts the attention of our chainsaw family and from there we’re off and running.
Right from that opening scene it’s clear we’re in for a very different movie than the original. It’s just so god damn...goofy. It doesn’t take long to see why so many fans of the original do not care for this one at all. Look no further than the new character of Chop Top. This guy shows up at the radio station claiming to be a huge fan of Stretch and as the scene continues, it becomes very clear that there’s something really wrong with this guy. Even putting aside that he looks and sounds like a maniac, he keeps lighting the tip of a coat hanger with a lighter and rubbing his scalp with it. It’s a good scene because even though you and I know this guy is clearly here to murder and eat people, Stretch does not so it’s all a matter of whether or not she’ll figure it out before the murderous cannibalism begins. Of course pretty soon Leatherface comes bursting in with a chainsaw so it’s not hard to put things together at that point. Also the reason Chop Top keeps picking his head with that coat hanger is so he can eat the skin he’s peeling off. So that’s the kind of movie you’re dealing with here.
Instead of a decrepit house, the final act here takes place in an underground cave that is incredibly detailed and full of Christmas lights. Seriously whoever designed this set deserves all kinds of credit because the sheer amount of things on screen is ridiculous. It really is the polar opposite of the first movie. It’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the 1980’s - colorful, bright and completely fucking ridiculous.
Another big change here is the level of gore. The first movie, despite its reputation, is relatively light on actual blood and gore, instead disturbing you with the events unfolding. This movie is having none of that and saws a guy’s head in half within the first few minutes. I won’t spoil the gore centerpiece, only to say that it involves a severed face and is surprisingly touching.
My favourite part of this movie is absolutely Dennis Hopper’s sheriff, because the guy is just as insane as the killers. After purchasing two chainsaws (which he keeps in holsters at his sides), he heads into the family’s lair, where he proceeds to start cutting down everything in site while yelling “BRING IT DOWN! BRING IT ALL DOWN!” Then later he cuts a guy in the asshole with the chainsaw and has a duel with Leatherface. Awesome stuff.
I have to say that in the end I enjoyed this one because it was not at all the movie I went in expecting. It kept me on my toes. Sure the humour isn’t always that funny and Chop Top starts to wear on the nerves after a while, but the sheer ridiculousness of everything makes it consistently entertaining. And holy shit the sheriff. That dude needs at least 11 sequels. Dennis Hopper not being alive may hinder that, but I trust that Hollywood will find a way.