Back in 1974 director Tobe Hooper directed a horror film that shocked audiences all over the world. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was and still is a worldwide phenomenon and a stand out flick on its genre. Of course, a sequel was inevitable. Dennis Hopper leads the cast back to Texas on a ride that everybody anticipated as a new horror classic before it was even released. But did the movie live up to the hype?
What’s it about? 13 years after the events of the first film, two kids are murdered as they talk with a popular radio host Caroline Williams. The radio DJ is then victimized by the cannibal family while former Texas Marshall (Dennis Hopper) hunts them.
Verdict: The black humor and the bigger budget look worked against the movie when it was first released back in 1986. While the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre had an almost cinéma vérité style, the sequel shows director Hooper playing around with huge crane shots and tracking shots. The bigger budget also gave the filmmaker access to a crazy production design and a colour palette of reds and blues that fans of the dirty look from the original have criticised. The sequel is nowhere near as dark or claustrophobic as the first film, and it lacks the intensity one expects from a slasher horror film. This was a deliberate choice by Hooper and although many don’t like the film, Leatherface’s fans and those who adore B movies still consider it a cult film.
Although visually interesting and technically improved on the first film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 follows a screenplay that doesn’t make much sense. As much as the script tries to link Dennis Hopper’s character to some of the victims in the first movie, there’s not much room for the actor to give a charismatic performance. As for Caroline Williams’ character… well, she’s as sexy and pretty as any horror fan could ask for in a Scream Queen, but she lacks the charisma needed for a main role and so we barely care about her fate.
Extras: Expect a stack of features. From a 1080p presentation about the digital transfer supervised by Director of Photography Richard Kooris, to audio commentaries with director and co-writer Tobe Hooper, stars Bill Moseley and Caroline Williams, and make-up effects artist Tom Savini. For those willing to dive into the making of the movie there is a 6-part documentary called It Runs In The Family, looking at the genesis, making-of and enduring appeal of Hooper’s film. Also on the first disc is an alternate opening sequence with a different musical score, deleted scenes, a trailer and an interview with horror expert Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA. Plus a second disc featuring The Heisters (1964) and Eggshells (1969), Tobe Hooper’s debut feature restored in HD.
Final words: A bizarre B movie for hardcore fans of horror and gore.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is out on 11 November 2013 on Blu-ray.