THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
I’m a huge fan of horror movies, and I grew up in the 70s and 80s, so there’s also a fierce love for the thrillers of those ages. I’ve seen pretty much all the major slasher movies from that time, as well as some of the more obscure titles that disappeared before VHS could give them immortality. One of the greatest and most terrifying horror films from the 70s was Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”
It took him a decade and a half to make a sequel to this surprise hit, and in a way it was doomed from the start. Part of what made the first “Chain Saw” so horrifying was what it didn’t show. Hooper had actually shot the film for a PG rating, but the visceral terror and the morbidity of the human mind is what made the off-screen violence so disturbing.
A lot of people have complained that “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” went too far into the gore bucket. However, that’s not what made the movie stumble. In fact, the first half of the film is actually quite awesome. But it’s Hooper’s failure as a closer to really give the ending of the film any punch.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” takes place up north, near the Oklahoma border where some mysterious deaths have come to the attention of a Texas Ranger (Dennis Hopper) trying to track down the killers of his family from the 70s. A local DJ named Stretch (Caroline Williams) records a chainsaw death and plays it back on the air in hopes of helping him find the killers. Of course, this alerts the cannibalistic family to he location, and they come after her.
The set-up of this sequel is actually pretty decent, and it taps into the disturbing cannibalism trend we saw earlier in the 80s with movies like “Motel Hell.” There’s a bit of a build-up to when the family comes after Stretch, and that sets a nice stage for the rest of the film.
Bill Moseley steals the show as the family’s Vietnam vet with a steel plate in his head. Moseley comes off as infinitely creepy, and his darkly humorous barbs make him even more fun to watch. This is because he manages to be funny while also being devilishly evil and insane, which is not an easy feat. He never falls into caricature, which is more than can be said for the “Texas Chainsaw” frontman, Leatherface.
Unfortunately, the movie falls apart as it reaches the climax. Replaying to less effect, the dinner table scene from the first “Chain Saw,” this sequel deteriorates into a lot of yelling and screaming. Sure, there’s a lot more gore and some chainsaw violence paying off for what wasn’t seen in its predecessor, but “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” leaves a lot to be desired when all is said and done.
While there aren’t tons of special features on the Blu-ray of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,” the ones that are found on the disc are quite impressive. There are two audio commentaries. One features director Tobe Hooper with filmmaker David Gregory, while the other features actors Bill Moseley and Caroline Williams along with make-up effects wizard Tom Savini and content producer Michael Felsher.
There are a bunch of deleted scenes under “The Cutting Room Floor” and the original theatrical trailer. However, the mother lode of this disc is the feature-length documentary “It Runs in the Family” which chronicles the arduous journey from idea through development and to final picture.