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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Directed by Tobe Hooper Written by L.M. Kit Carson

    It wasn’t until over a decade that the notion started up of needing to regenerate a new chainsaw movie to follow the oh so loved original, bringing back the family that fans feared. However, what wasn’t realized until the very first screening was that the script was meant to be a satire and brought in other elements than perhaps expected. Kit Carson stated knowing, once given the job, that because the first film was outrageous in its own fashion that the sequel would have to be equally outrageous in some different form. Hence the very interesting rom/com sub-plot thrown in. Which was due to the time period; what was well-known: John Hughes films. Who would the family next target: yuppies! And that soundtrack; anyone remember it for this film. I actually really liked it but it was the strangest array of music put together.

  Carson stated having spent the entirety of the time working on the script while shooting (after a one million dollar cut) and that the last script he wrote had an ending date of two weeks later than originally finished. The film didn’t have any “emotional juice” which was where the other sub-plot came about of Stretch being Lefty’s illegitimate daughter. Lefty, who was Franklin’s (from the original) uncle. “We want to see the monsters,” was the response Carson got after that first screening and everything behind the scenes seemed to be so screwy that by the end of filming there were at least 3 different crews shooting simultaneously just to get everything in. There was barely enough time to cut the film together for its release.

  The story followed in stating Sally who had gone into a state of catatonia soon after her escape, murders continuing through the years in different cities around Texas. They open up with a pair of yuppies who “yuppy it up” until approaching a bridge and we see the first interaction with Leatherface. Er, kind of at least, he’s wearing Nebbins (which always eeks me) with this, little dance he does before we see his face. Using the chainsaw to slice the driver’s face off didn’t help either (*MF: Tom Savini was pumping the blood through the head while cramped up in the backseat) We get the introduction of Lieutenant ‘Lefty’ Enright (Dennis Hopper) after that night and see that he is familiar with this type of crime scene. We soon catch up with Lefty who is the local DJ and had been on the phone the previous night with the two and offers the recording, getting declined at first. (MF: When Stretch knocks on the hotel door, its Tobe Hooper that walks past. He was also holding a cigar and Dr. Pepper can which was said by everyone on set to have been in his hands at all times. Savini even bought him one of those hats to put the cans in so he wouldn’t have to worry about holding both.) We catch up with Drayton (Jim Siedow) at the chili cook off where he has won his second year, his secret? Use your imagination…Or you could just re-read my quote. 😀

  Back at the station; Stretch gets a visit from Lefty who asks for her help in playing the tape that night on every hour, to “help.” Which does work as Stretch comes in contact with Chop Top (Bill Moseley) whose attempt to be normal didn’t last long and finds herself a bit worried after not getting the hint to leave. Who all the while, lights a hanger and scratches at his head every so often, “Music is my life.” Leatherface pops out from “nowhere” and whacks Chop Top’s wig which in turn sets him off. The relationship between Stretch and Leatherface after this point taking a somewhat weird turn. After chasing her and finally catching up he pauses, seeming to be aroused and engaging in a scene that felt sort of awkward to watch in general. He was basically masturbating to her with the chainsaw and when the soda explodes…well. I also didn’t particularly like the mask in this film but that’s simply because I loved the original so much. So Leatherface giver her a free pass but she decides to follow them, as Lefty then follows her and soon makes his presence known, all too late. She becomes entangled in the Sawyer’s world and faces an ordeal that Moseley would be all too familiar with in his later film as the character Otis. Stretch eventually gets caught and is introduced to the rest of the family including grandpa, whose make up took nine and a half hours this time around. The eerie close-up that they get of him is in thanks to Savini who had begged for that shot, not wanting anyone to miss out on the great contacts they had provided for the actor. We’re taken back as another dinner scene occurs and they insist, once again, that Grandpa is the one to hit Stretch with the hammer. As we conclude we see Lefty finally make it back for one final and epic chainsaw battle while Chop Top chases Stretch who eventually escapes after getting him off her back for good. The final shot of her waving around the chainsaw in yes, another very familiar scene. (MF: The shot of her was originally lower but changed due to the visible highway in the background)

  The look of the film was great. Great tones used throughout and the abandoned amusement park at the end did look beautiful inside. The script merely said ‘a hole in the wall,’ giving them little to work with and only having a month to get the set together. Getting the majority of the furniture at Salvation Army’s and the rest made out of bones which they would get from surrounding boneyards in the area. One of the most difficult things being how to light the way for the chase scene which was at least a mile long though. I thought they did a fantastic job, figuring that these people would be hoarders, (to explain all the clutter) along with everything else they already were made sense and added to the possibilities of their actions. How else did they get away with it for so long?

  My favorite easily being Bill, such a flawless performance. He had a lot of great lines, some of which were improvised and created quite a character giving credit to Ed Neal from the original; he was the example after all. I loved when he danced around with Nebbins at the dinner table and in the scene where he exchanges goodbyes with Stretch, how each time it was repeated it came out in a different tone of eerie. Bill has a story about the scene in which hitting L.G. with the hammer in that they were on take 15 when Bill stopped to ask if he was doing something wrong. To which Tobe replied “Hell no Bill, I’m just having fun watching.” Caroline Williams (Stretch) was a good ol Texas gal though I did find her too theatrical at times. She did describe going through what was like a “language of screams” through the film but towards the end, I just wanted it all to stop. Being completely honest, it was difficult for me to like what they did between her and Leatherface’s character because it was just too “funny” at times. Though if that was the point of Carson’s script then mission accomplished. Dennis Hopper was well, Hopper. Is he ever not great? You had to love the sword fight of chain saws orchestrated at the end. The scene in which Lefty went to purchase the saws had been told to just not say anything once entering, the rest all him. He was a force to reckon with with a mean glare and was a rather uncanny hero up aginst the chainsawed family. Bill Johnson (Leatherface) certainly didn’t portray the character as well as Gunnar Hansen in the original but there was a standard set and this was a completely different type of character altogether than the first installment. I thought he played him too comically and that between all the dancing, shrugging and thrusting done; ended up being too much for me to enjoy. The film seems to have more of a cult status behind the film and I can see why. It may not outright scare you and you may find yourself wondering how much weirder it can become but a alright and “fun” scary movie to enjoy nonetheless.

*MF: Mad Fact (I was just tired of putting FF (fun fact) when I had used mad fact before…that is all)