The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the grimiest and grittiest horror films ever made and a majority of that is due in part to the guerrilla style in which it was independently filmed. It looked and felt like something you weren’t supposed to watch. This was the touch of Tobe Hooper lashing out in the 70s based in part on the true stories of Ed Gein and his experience in line at a store looking at chainsaws. How do you top such a masterpiece of terror and brutality? Going into the eighties with a much higher budget and a few studio films under his belt, Hooper embarked on creating a new chapter in the chainsaw legacy with screenwriter LT Carson to make something more outrageous than the original. How? Make it a horror parody.
In Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 we see a couple of no good frat boys heading to a big football game drinking and driving, shooting signs as they go along and prank calling local DJ Stretch at her radio station. Well these frat boys decide to play chicken on the road with an oncoming truck and unbeknownst to them it’s full of deadly Texan cannibals that we know and love. While prank calling the station again the truck runs up on the car and leatherface pops up and chainsaws the frat boys to death while the whole thing is recorded by Stretch at her radio station. Texas Ranger Lefty Enright has been hunting down the chainsaw family for over a decade as they killed his nephew Frankiln and drove his niece Sally insane in the first film. Stretch goes to him with a recording of the massacre of the frat boys because she thinks it would be her big break to become a real reporter. She plays it every hour on her radio station which Lefty hopes will bring out the family and uses Stretch as bait. As the station shuts down she is attacked by Lerherface and his brother Chop Top! However Leatherface falls in love with Stretch and spares her, telling Chop Top he killed her. They take her friend LG for spare meat and head back to their lair where they make Texas’s best chili! We witness the horrors within this slaughter house as Stretch tries to stop them and Lefty goes a little crazy with chainsaws of his own trying to bring the whole place down and bury the cannibals once and for all!
This movie starts out really fun and crazy delving into a bit of what we missed these past years and then goes full throttle insane! A lot of people complain that this is a lesser film because it isn’t as gritty as the original but Tobe Hopper considers the original a bit comedic as well. He just didn’t have the money to overtly show it in the original. He wanted to create a new beast entirely which is shown through Tom Savini upping the gore factor as well as bringing the family to the forefront. Here we finally give a name to the family of cannibals, The Sawyers.
Chop Top is one of the greatest characters in horror cinema ever! The first time we see him he is a hippie looking guy with a Sonny Bono wig and he is lighting a coat hanger using it to scratch off his scalp and snack on it. That is one of the most nerve racking and disturbing introductions to a character ever. Then of course it’s revealed he has a huge metal plate in his head that has made him crazy because of his tour in Vietnam. It’s pretty crazy how Bill Moseley came into the fold as Chop Top. He had been working on a Dude Ranch and he had a fellow ranch hand who was a little off quilter and would scream out random jokes and impressions and one of them was the Texas Chainsaw Manicure. Moseley ran with this and made a short comedic film parody with some pretty big up and coming filmmakers who weren’t anybody at the time. Unfortunately the skit never got picked up anywhere as Moseley had hoped to sell it to SNL and he was stuck with this huge bill for the production of the short. But it pays to be in love with your art and go out and make it no matter what because eventually a friend of Moseley’s worked in an office across from director Tobe Hooper and his friend delivered the short to him and Tobe loved it, saying if he ever made a sequel to Texas Chainsaw he’d want Moseley in it as Moseley had also played the hitchhiker from the original film in the short, which of course is why Chop Top was written as the hitchhiker’s twin brother. This gave us the greatness of Bill Moseley and at one point Tobe Hooper’s son actually shot a Chop Top movie where we see his origins and him hanging out with his brother the hitchhiker, never been released but I hope one day we can see it!
Tom Savini brings the gore and FX like crazy in this film! Severed heads, crazed old men at the age of 137, and a man walking around who has almost been completely skinned! One of my favorite moments is when Leatherface almost thinks he and lefty are on a date, he cuts off another man’s face and puts it on her, “dressing” her up for him and begins dancing around laughing while she weeps under the face mask covered in blood. Savini’s FX work perfectly for this type of upped carnage and brings a lot to the satire Hooper wanted to use as the original film is considered one of the most brutal films ever made but there is virtually no blood or gore to be seen in the film. Which gave Hooper the idea to let Savini completely loose and drench the screen with every bit of blood, cartilage, meat and bone Savini could create!
Tobe and Kit both loved satirizing the John Hughes movies at the time in this film but in a sick and sadistic way especially with famous Breakfast Club poster but instead using the Sawyers in place of the kids as the original poster for Chainsaw 2. It’s really crazy too as we see the Sawyers become almost the normal ones and Lefty goes insane tearing down the slaughter house with his chainsaws, giving us a chainsaw fight between Lefty and Leatherface! This crazed polarity goes all the way until the end when Stretch takes up a chainsaw herself and does the exact same dance Leatherface does at the end of the original film! If you go in with the mentality you are going to get a comedic yet disturbing slasher that continues the characters from the original you are in for a huge treat! Especially with the crazed and dilapidated aesthetic of the Texas Battle theme park the Sawyer’s inhabit that is filled to the brim with horrible decorations made of flesh and bone!
7 More Day’s til’ Halloween! Halloween!
7 More Days til’ Halloween! Silver Shamrock!