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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2(1986)
Young DJ Vantia Block is hosting a music show when two renegade hoodlums phone her and start making trouble. The situation changes rapidly as the kids drive to a passageway and get sawed to pieces by Leatherface while the shocked DJ listens the kids' screams. Local sheriff approaches Block and convinces her to play the recording made from the phone call on radio, hoping that the killers would show up
For more about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 and the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray release, see the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on September 25, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: L.M. Kit Carson, Tobe Hooper
Starring: Bill Moseley, Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Lou Perryman, Chris Douridas
» See full cast & crew
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray Review
The family that slays together, stays together.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, September 25, 2012
There are a few approaches that horror sequels typically take. They can be more cartoonish, like George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, a comic book romp compared to the stark Night of the Living Dead. They can be more action-packed, like James Cameron's machine gun-happy Aliens over Ridley Scott's brooding Alien. And they can be more pointedly comedic, like Sam Raimi's hammy sequel-cum-remake, Evil Dead 2. For his 1986 followup to 1974's instantly influential Texas Chainsaw Massacre, director Tobe Hooper unpopularly took all three tacts.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ditches the slow, grimy documentarian tone of its predecessor—which was influenced by Ed Gein and the war in Vietnam—in favor of over-the-top Grand Guignol violence, a wacky new setting, and comedy blacker than coagulated blood. Upon release it was promptly trashed by critics expecting something as genuinely terrifying as the low-budget original, but over the years it's developed a sizable cult following of fans who appreciate it for its utter ridiculousness. Taken as a grisly comedy—and not necessarily as a "horror" movie—it does work fitfully, spewing Reagan-era satire alongside its gross-out Tom Savini gore effects.
Set fourteen years after the events of the first film, part two opens with a pair of coked-up, pastel-wearing yuppies speeding towards Dallas for a debauched weekend of college football and booze. One of them sports a pair of those stupid round hologram glasses and leans out the window, shooting up street signs with a .44 Magnum. The other, in a canary-yellow cable-knit sweater, calls into the local rock radio station—with his car phone!—to harass smoky voiced DJ Vanita "Stretch" Brock (Caroline Williams). Obviously, these two jokers aren't going to last long. Soon enough, they find themselves pursued by a pickup truck with Leatherface (Bill Johnson) in back, wielding an absurdly long chainsaw and using a withered corpse as some kind of grotesque puppet.
Still on the phone with Stretch, who's recording the call, the yuppies are sliced and diced—one gets half of his skull lopped off in a great bit of special effects wizardry—and their bloody, mangled car is found wrecked on the side of the road the following morning. First on the scene is retired Texas Ranger "Lefty" Enright—Dennis Hopper, in the same year he starred in Blue Velvet—the uncle of two of the victims from the first film. He's been on a personal mission to track down the chainsaw killers, but none of his former law enforcement buddies take him seriously. He puts an ad in the paper asking for any potential witnesses to come forth, and Stretch shows up at his motel room with her explicit cassette tape of the slaying. He convinces her to play it on air—hoping to draw out the killers, essentially using Stretch as bait—and goes out to arm himself to the teeth with chainsaws of his own. It's high time for some vigilante justice, Texas style.
In the years since we've last seen the cannibal redneck clan, they've moved up in the world somewhat. Papa Drayton (Jim Siedow), a.k.a. The Cook, has developed an award-winning chili recipe with a special secret ingredient—"It's the meat," he says, "don't skimp on the meat"—and the family has moved from their derelict shack into a failed amusement park called Texas Battle Land, where they've set up their gruesome, carnival-like butcher shop, strung with Christmas lights, littered with desiccated corpses, and adorned with weird bone art.
Drayton, the source of the film's social satire, prattles on about taxes and how "it's the small businessman that always—always, always!—gets it in the ass." After hearing that Stretch has played the recording of their most recent slaughter, he orders mentally challenged Leatherface face and his other son, cuckoo Vietnam vet Chop Top (Bill Moseley), to go to the radio station and take care of business. What he doesn't expect is that Leatherface will have feelings for his intended target, leading to a baldly Freudian scene where the skin-masked antagonist pelvic thrusts with his phallic chainsaw and runs it—with the motor off, thankfully—tenderly up Stretch's inner thigh. This time around, the killer oddly acts a bit like Lenny from Of Mice and Men; a simple-minded brute unaware of his own terrifying power.
There's not much of a story here, but there doesn't need to be. The bulk of the rest of the film consists of Stretch and Lefty skulking through the subterranean tunnels of Texas Battle Land, the former trying to escape and the latter looking for revenge. You can expect several jump-scare shots where Leatherface crashes through a wall like the Kool-Aid guy or Macho Man Randy Savage in those "Snap into a Slim Jim" commercials. You can expect a mano-a-mano chainsaw fight between Lefty and Leatherface, with Lefty dual-wielding spinning blades. And you can expect a few obligatory throwbacks to the first film, like another "dinner" scene with grandpa, who, once again, can't quite get a good grip on his hammer.
Perhaps letting loose after adapting the comparatively quiet Paris, Texas for Wim Wenders, screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson goes hog wild with the dialogue here, generating one campy, quotable line after another. ("Leatherface, you bitch! Look what you did to my Sonny Bono wig!") There's nothing restrained about Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2—it's gaudy 1980s excess in horror movie form. That goes for the oversized slapstick comedy, the lurid cinematography—which seems to borrow its neon lighting from Dario Argento films—and the kooky performances. This was crazy-era Dennis Hopper after all, and he's bugnuts here, going increasingly loopier as the movie goes on. The tone is about as far from the original as possible, which is naturally divisive—some folks will never warm to the sequel—but if you can stomach the change, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is deep-fried cornball fun, and as gooey as a plate of barbecue slathered in sauce. Eat it down, enjoy it, and don't ask too many questions about its origins.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
The oft-maligned sequel arrives on Blu-ray with a rather grubby-looking 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's nevertheless an okay upgrade from the 2006 "Gruesome Edition" DVD. The film is exceptionally grainy, but it also seems susceptible to bluish compression/scanner noise here, especially in darker scenes. The chunkiness of the 35mm image inherently affects the level of clarity. Though clearly sourced from a high definition master, the picture is typically quite soft, with fuzzy lines and truly fine detail that's only visible in the tightest close-ups. While color can also appear splotchy due to the thick grain, the lurid neon red and green lighting still has plenty of density and punch. Black levels can be a bit oppressive here and there, and skin tones a hair too ruddy, but generally the tonal qualities of the image seem decently balanced. There's no DNR smoothing, no obvious edge enhancement, and only a few specks and flecks, but I suspect there's still room for improvement here if MGM went back to the original negative elements.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 roars onto Blu-ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. Well, as much as a 2.0 can roar, anyway. A revamped multi-channel presentation would definitely up the intensity, but the original stereo mix ain't bad. You'll be hearing a lot of screaming— courtesy of Caroline Williams—and a lot of high-pitched chainsaw revving, and to the track's credit, the high-end rarely peaks or crackles or muffles. The frantic action is backed up by a very 1980s score from Tobe Hooper and Jerry Lambert, and you'll hear a few period-specific rock songs in the radio station scenes. You won't be blown away by the audio quality, but everything sounds as it ought to. Most importantly, L.M. Kit Carson's zany dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. For those that might need a little help, the disc includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles, plus a French Dolby Digital 1.0 dub.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Tobe Hooper's return to the Texas Chainsaw universe defied expectations in a bad way at the time of its release, but the crazier, dopier sequel definitely has a cult following now, who understand the film was never meant to be as harrowing as the original, and enjoy it for what it is—a darkly comic spoof. The least you can say about it is that it's infinitely better than the 1994 Matthew McConaughey/Renee Zellweger disaster that was Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. And it's a hell of a lot more fun than any of the recent Texas Chainsaw reboot projects. MGM's new Blu-ray release is pretty much a straight port of the DVD, with a so-so high definition transfer, but it'd make a decent addition to any pre- Halloween horror marathon.
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