Overrated by some and wildly underrated by many others, this is
director Tobe Hooperís 1986 follow-up to his legendary
MASSACRE. The present film is to the previous one what
EVIL DEAD 2
is to its predecessor: a highly skilled, heavily comedic riff on the
earlier film, though also an extremely uneven one.
THE TEXAS CHIANSAW MASSACRE 2 was the third of three
films Tobe Hooper made for the notorious Cannon Group in the mid-1980s
(the others being LIFEFORCE and INVADERS FROM MARS), and likely the
best. Of course it canít hold a candle to the original CHAINSAW
MASSACRE, but then how many movies can? Itís best to view this CHAINSAW
on its own merits.
Initial viewers were largely denied that chance due to
Cannonís typically inept distribution of the film, and the fact that the
MPAA inexplicably slapped it with an X-rating. Initially denied a
release in England, TCM didnít even make it to Europe until 2001.
However, over the years itís amassed a cult following nearly as
enthusiastic as that of the original film.
Stretch, a leggy radio host operating out of South
Texas, is broadcasting one night when a couple asshole yuppies call in.
Theyíre engaged in a rampage of wonton destruction but are waylaid by
none other than Leatherface, wielding his infamous chainsaw. The two
yuppies are massacred and Stretch captures every gruesome sound on air.
The following day she take the tape to Lefty, a tough-as-nails local
cop, but he blows her off.
Unfortunately Leatherface and his nutty brother Chop
Top--so named because he has a metal plate in his head from a war
injury--are very much interested in Stretchís evidence. They turn up
unannounced at her station and make lots of trouble. She manages to
fight them off, but they abscond with her partner.
Stretch follows the three into a deserted amusement
park, where she falls down a hole that deposits her in Leatherfaceís
lair. This is a freaked-out environ decked out with human bones and
skin, where Leatherface and Chop Top live together with their equally
deranged father and ancient grandpa.
Stretch is tortured by these freaks--among other
outrages, sheís made to wear her partnerís cut-off face over her
own--until Lefty shows up, sporting a chainsaw of his own. He and
Leatherface engage in a chainsaw duel, giving an increasingly deranged
Stretch a chance to escape--with Chop Top in hot pursuit!
This may not be Tobe Hooperís best film, but it is
possibly his most stylish. Although his original plans for the film
(initially titled BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and
involving an entire town full of cannibals) were jettisoned by Cannonís
cost-cutting honchos, what emerged is an ambitious and extravagant
comedic gorefest that grows downright operatic in the final third. The
effect is similar to the original CHAINSAW, though utterly different in
most respects. Hooperís original was a raw and raggedy endeavor
enlivened by low budget energy, whereas this one is much slicker; TCM 1
often felt like a documentary with its grimy realism, while this heavily
stylized film takes the opposite approach.
The Cannon stench is evident in the cheap photography,
but for the most part Hooper manages to avoid the pratfalls of most
Cannon productions (overall trashiness being the defining mark of a
Cannon Group film). The oft-repetitious nature of the action, Iím
guessing, is the fault of Hooper and his editors, although it could well
be a Cannon addition. Another complaint I have is with the unsatisfying
final scenes, in which it seems Hooper was trying to outdo himself in
outrageousness, but the proceedings run out of steam long before the
Of the cast, the eye-catching Caroline Williams is fun
as Stretch, and Bill Moseley hysterical (if tiresome) as Chop Top.
Thereís also Bill Johnson, who does a credible job replacing TCM 1ís
Gunnar Hanson as Leatherface (a role that frankly doesnít require much
acting) and a wildly over-the-top Dennis Hopper, who appears to be
warming up for BLUE VELVET. The real star, however, is make-up artist
Tom Savini, who provides a typically impressive array of spurting blood
and flying viscera that helps make this film the enjoyable grue fest it
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2
The Cannon Group
Director: Tobe Hooper
Producers: Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus
Screenplay: L.M. Kit Carson
Cinematography: Richard Kooris
Editing: Alain Jakubowicz
Cast: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley, Jim Siedow, Bill
Johnson, Ken Evert, Harlan Jordan, Kirk Sisco, James N. Harrell, Lou
Perryman, Barry Kinyon, Chris Douridas