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John’s Horror Corner: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), taking the Sawyer family from dire to stark raving macabre delirium and delivering a stronger kind of final girl.

May 7, 2016

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MY CALL: Part 1 stunned us with brutality and desperation. But part 2 was made to push the gory and psychological aspects into disturbing territory. I loved this film and clearly so did Rob Zombie, who claimed that House of 1000 Corpses (2003) was in honor of the horror era of the past–but really, and not to his discredit, it seemed that he was re-imagining this.. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Well obviously you should have already seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). From there I’d suggest seeing The Funhouse (1981) and Motel Hell (1980) before moving on to the much better TCM 2. After that, you could skip to the rebooted series (2003, 2006), perhaps excluding Texas Chainsaw 3-D (2013)– I wasn’t at all thrilled with it as a Texas Chainsaw movie, but I generally LOVED it as a bad horror flick!

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After a narrated introduction linking our story to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and explaining the aftermath of Sally’s escape, we meet a pair of yuppie shithead sociopaths shooting road signs and playing chicken with locals on rural roads while donning preppie attire like pastel sweaters and frat house blazers. They obnoxiously cackle and, unlike our gang of victims in part 1, we are all probably looking forward to their well-deserved gruesome deaths.

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Not only do they get what they deserve, but it happens in a manner far more gory and campy than anything in part 1. Leatherface (now played by Bill Johnson; The Caretakers) has a slapstick vibe about him as he chainsaws a moving vehicle while wearing an entire dead shambling corpse as a disguise. Taking a hard turn from the hopelessly desperate and dire original, this new campy tone emanates throughout this sequel and takes more after Tobe Hooper’s own The Funhouse (1981).

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Compounding this silliness is that we find Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) taking very much after the campy Motel Hell‘s (1980) Farmer Vincent, winning a chili cook-off and being praised for his tasty meat stew. Like The Funhouse (1981), Motel Hell borrowed heavily from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), embracing cannibalism, a macabre pig head mask, and a chainsaw attack. Now it seems that TCM 2 is borrowing back.

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Radio DJ Stretch (Caroline Williams; Leprechaun 3, Halloween II, Hatchet 3, Contracted) is the best part of this movie. She and her producer (Lou Perryman; The Cellar, Poltergeist) heard the aforementioned yuppie victims (one with the top of his head awesomely sawed off) being killed when they obnoxiously called in to her radio show. So Stretch rushes to help Lefty (Dennis Hopper; Waterworld, Land of the Dead) in his investigation of his nephews’ death, which he believes to have been at the hands of the purported chainsaw-wielding maniacs 12 years prior.

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Of course, the Sawyer family is back and Chop-Top (Bill Moseley; House of 1000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw 3D, House) is batshit crazy and disturbingly awkward. He is so sick and twisted that I felt scared for Stretch when she faced him–and I, a well-seasoned and desensitized horror buff, never feel scared for anyone except for the Poltergeist (1982; also Tobe Hooper, by the way) family! The violence goes off the deep end when he hammers the shit out of her friend over and over again…with an actual hammer…cackling all the while. Whereas Leatherface is as sexually repressed and perverse as can be, essentially chainsaw dry-humping while licking his malformed lips.

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It’s pretty sick and it really paved the way for subsequent sicko releases like House of 1000 Corpses (2003). All the while, these encounters show us how strong Caroline Williams plays our final girl Stretch. She’s terrified and manic, but she fights back and defends herself however she can, even by psychologically manipulating the man-child Leatherface.

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As we approach the third act Stretch falls into the deep underground lair of the Sawyers, Leatherface skins sopping corpses and plays with peeled bloody faces, and Lefty goes mad with vengeance intent on caving in the Sawyers’ abandoned mines. The festival macabre continues with puppeteered corpses and insane rants. Offal pits and halls of rotting corpses abound in this craziness that you will subsequently find duplicated in House of 1000 Corpses (2003; in honorarium) and Stretch runs for her life through the maze of dead bodies in her short shorts screaming.

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Writer/director Tobe Hooper (Lifeforce, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, The Funhouse) returns and shifts gears from brutal and dire to slapstick gory batshit crazy. In an effort to one-up his own work, the Sawyer home and dinner scene are elevated to an “11” in terms of lunacy, the chase scenes are longer and the gruesome actions find far more blood, severed limbs, rended flesh and rubber guts than its predecessor.

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Grandpa is evil senescence at its best as he hammers Stretch, Leatherface is now borderline invincible and able to fight Lefty with a chainsaw through his stomach with his guts hanging out, scrappy Stretch gets into a fight with Chop-Top that endures so long that it set the standard for Keith David and Roddy Piper in They Live (1988)…it seems EVERYTHING has been turned up to an “11” in this crazy sequel.

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Just when you thought it couldn’t get more over the top Stretch ends up at Grandma Sawyer’s shrine and does the same crazy chainsaw kata as Leatherface in the end of part 1. That’s what I love about this movie. You keep thinking it can’t get any crazier, but it somehow does. It’s like Jurassic Park (1993), “crazy” finds a way.

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Part 1 stunned us with brutality and desperation. But part 2 was made to push the gory and psychological aspects into disturbing territory. I loved this film and clearly so did Rob Zombie, who claimed that House of 1000 Corpses (2003) was in honor of the horror era of the past–but really, and not to his discredit, it seemed that he was re-imagining this.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 : Cinema 1-Sheet Poster

 

 

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