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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Collector’s Edition

Studio: Scream Factory

May 05, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Although it’s found an adoring cult audience in the thirty years since its release, you can’t really fault any moviegoers who demanded their money back after seeing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in its original theatrical run. Was it a terrible film? Absolutely not. Was it a total tonal departure from the one that preceded it? Absolutely.

The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, released twelve years prior to its sequel, is one of horror’s undisputed classics. Gritty, grimy, and suspenseful, the movie not only helped set the tone for a decade’s worth of American horror films, but helped birth a new wave of masked boogeymen. (Without the saw-toting Leatherface, it’s arguable whether we’d have ever had Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees.) Director Tobe Hooper turned the film’s low budget into an advantage, with the grainy film stock and cast of unknown actors adding to the movie’s affected realism. To top it off, Texas Chain Saw Massacre was marketed as being based on a “true story.” Nothing about Chainsaw 2, on the other hand, is even remotely grounded in realism. The sequel was a film where Dennis Hopper, only a few months removed from Blue Velvet, played an alcoholic, Bible-thumping ex-Texas Ranger named Lefty Enright (pun intended) who at one point engages in a chainsaw swordfight with the nefarious, beer-bellied Leatherface. This is a movie where the cannibal Sawyer family—Leatherface and his brothers, Drayton and Chop Top—live under an abandoned amusement park and run an award-winning barbeque truck. This is a movie where the theatrical one-sheet featured the grotesque cast posing in a manner which referenced the famous Breakfast Club poster. If you turned your head and squinted, there was some black humor present in the original Chainsaw. (Very, very black humor.) But, it was nothing like the nonstop yuck-fest—yuck as in funny, and yuck as in disgusting—which its sequel turned out to be. While The Evil Dead took itself much more seriously than its remake-slash-sequel, Evil Dead 2, there were laughs to be found in the first film, and the added humor in its follow-up felt like a natural progression on director Sam Raimi’s part. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 feels more like a parody of Tobe Hooper’s original film, which is how he and screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson intended it.

The movie opens as radio deejay Stretch (Caroline Williams) overhears a caller being murdered by Leatherface during her nightly rock and roll show. She bring the tape to Lefty Enright (Hopper), a former lawman and uncle of one of the victims from the first movie, who has spent the prior decade trying to hunt down the notorious family of serial killers. From this point on, the movie is non-stop chase scenes and cannibal craziness. Sure, there are low points—a lot of your tolerance will depend on how well you can stomach the Sawyers’ hillbilly schtick, or Leatherface’s pervy advances on the protagonist—but the movie has plenty of memorable elements, from the wacky dancing corpse at the film’s beginning, to the wild, gross production design of the murderers’ underground lair.

The Cannon Group was reportedly not happy with the film on delivery, having signed Tobe Hooper (fresh off the blockbuster Poltergeist) to a three-movie deal which included Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars, and a sequel to the filmmaker’s landmark horror flick. Moviegoers were probably a little befuddled, as well, as trailers for the film made it out to be a gruesome follow-up in the same vein as the midnight movie classic that preceded it. (To be fair, those trailers were probably made before the film started shooting.) But if you’re prepared for silliness—lots and lots of silliness—and an amped-up level of gore—loads of gore—then Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 holds up a lot better than its floptacular reputation might lead you to believe. As an intentionally self-aware comedy poking fun at its predecessor and an array of ‘80s low-budget horror subgenres, it works. (A deleted scene—available on this edition—included drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs complimenting Leatherface on his flashy chainsaw skills before getting chopped to bits; does it get any more self-aware than that?) Chainsaw 2 features a slew of superb gore effects by SFX maestro Tom Savini, and is the film that put genre staple Bill Mosely (The Devil’s Rejects) on the map for his role as Chop Top. If you like your horror funny and aren’t too squeamish—say, you’re a big fan of Re-Animator or the aforementioned Evil Dead 2—then Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 will be right up your alley.

If you’re already a fan of the film, you couldn’t wish for a better release than this edition Scream Factory cooked up for the movie’s 30th anniversary. The set includes two transfers: a new, 2K scan, and an earlier HD master of the film, as well as three full-length audio commentaries. The premiere bonus feature is still the feature-length making-of documentary, It Runs in the Family, which existed on prior releases, but is still essential viewing. (Hooper and crew were given only a few months to write, cast, pre-produce, shoot, and edit Chainsaw 2, as Cannon already had a release date pre-booked for the film.) However, there are tons of new materials here, including a number of fresh interview and a 25-minute documentary on the movie’s Texas filming locations (most of which, sadly, are no longer standing today.) Toss in the movie’s notorious deleted scenes, alternate opening, and various TV spots, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Collector’s Edition appears to be a pretty complete package: a be-all, end-all version of this macabrely funny cult classic.


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