Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Movie Review: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" (1986)

Director: Tobe Hooper
Year: 1986
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Lieutenant 'Lefty' Enright has spent years searching for the cannibal family of chainsaw killers. When a local radio DJ catches the audio of their most recent murder on tape, it may be just what Lefty needs to lead him to the killers.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 1986 movie still where Caroline Williams and Dennis Hopper talk on a staircase
"This is my chance to stop playing headbanging music and do something real." (Image Source)
If a horror series lasts long enough, chances are, it will eventually devolve into self-parody. For most series, it takes multiple attempts to create self-serious sequels before filmmakers and writers start poking fun at the material. For "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," it only took two tries, and they didn't even have to change directors to do it. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" is directed by Tobe Hooper, who also directed the first "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "The Funhouse," and "Poltergeist." The screenplay is penned by L.M. Kit Carson, who also worked on films like "Paris, Texas" and "Breathless." Years have passed since the events of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and authorities have yet to find any trace of evidence pointing to the existence of this crazy cannibal family. Despite numerous deaths throughout Texas that seem connected, the police keep writing them off as accidents. Lieutenant 'Lefty' Enright (Dennis Hopper), however, is convinced these murders are the work of this elusive family of killers. When two college guys get killed while prank calling a radio station, a DJ named Vanita 'Stretch' Brock (Caroline Williams) catches the whole incident on tape. Her audio of the incident might be the clue Lefty needs to find the murderers.
Jim Siedow, Ken Evert, Bill Moseley, and Bill Johnson as Leatherface in a movie still for the horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
"They live on fear." (Image Source)
1974's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is an iconic horror film and has been revered as one of the all-time greats. While technically proficient in the way it is shot, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" is almost like a live-action, scareless, neon-infested cartoon version of the previous film. The characters, the gore factor, and the dark comedy are far more over-the-top than they were in the more serious, more vicious original. Leatherface, who was loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein, was a menacing, ruthless cannibalistic murderer in the original. Here, he has been turned into a horny, hokey clown who uses his chainsaw as a stand-in for his penis. He holds it at his crotch while he thrusts his hips repeatedly towards a screaming female disc jockey. There many other comedic elements as well, including how Leatherface's brother has a corpse hand puppet and a protruding metal plate in his head. The addition of Dennis Hopper as 'Lefty' the cop, who has been investigating the family's killing, is as equally over-the-top crazy as you'd expected it to be. He gives a performance fitting of such a schlocky, screwball film.
Dennis Hopper wields a chainsaw in a "Texas Chainsaw Massare 2" movie scene
"It's the Devil's playground." (Image Source)
If you look at "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" less like a sequel and more like a spoof, this film might actually have some entertainment value. There is an overabundance of gore, and a couple of moments with genuinely gross, creepy imagery, but its overly comedic tone will likely dissuade some viewers, especially those who loved the original. There might not be any real tension, but there are some effective jump-scares here and there. Overall, this movie is a mixed bag, but we can't deny that we had a little fun with it. Caroline Williams has one helluva scream.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
RT Rating: 48%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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