The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

From what I’ve read, Tobe Hooper pretty much had to make a sequel to his masterpiece “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in order to make films he wanted. And the sequel to his slasher classic is exactly the type of film Hooper has to make, It’s forced, tired, and a complete retread of the original film. To add to the utter lack of entertainment value, there’s even plots that are completely unresolved or unfinished that I would have enjoyed seeing explored expanded just to give this film the feeling that it was an extension of the first film rather than just a retread.

In spite of the family hiding in the outskirts of Texas and hunting travelers for meals, now we learn that the head of their family is a local celebrity thanks to his entering of his prize winning chili and wonderful meat that he keeps a secret. Dennis Hopper is Lefty, a mysterious cowboy hunting the cannibal family and trying to uncover their secrets and put an end to their chaos. And in the opening the two unlucky schmucks that get killed by Leatherface are dismissed as accidents, in spite of one of the two getting his head sawed off. Nothing is ever really expanded or realized beyond these nuggets of ideas.

Even the notion of the Sawyers living in the remains of an old min using it as a cutting room and home is never actually realized or taken advantage of. And I couldn’t quite understand why the head of the family would expose himself for cooking contests, and then hide out in a dark and dreary cave with his family to eat humans. It just didn’t make any sense. I’m sure the dark comedy is intentional, but why is there a need for dark comedy, when the sequel could have very well been as horrific and demented as the first film? Hooper goes over the same old material in the final half of “Massacre 2” in spite of presenting a really interesting idea for the sequel. Though the Sawyer family has been running around chopping people up and eating them for dinner, Texas authorities still deny their existence. When two prank callers on a rampage keep calling the local radio station, DJ Stretch accidentally hears the pair of drivers being terrorized and murdered by the Sawyer family.

After meeting Lefty, a man intent on ending the Sawyer family’s murder spree, Stretch plays the recorded call on the radio and quickly she becomes the target of the Sawyers, including the menacing “Chop Top.” I found the first half to be very creative, because it added to the menace of the Sawyers that they’d track down a celebrity and attempt to silence them in an effort to keep themselves incognito. Hooper for the most part has a good eye for the element of surprise, as well as maintaining the sickening violence of the first film, especially with the introduction of Chop Top. Bill Moseley is unrecognizable as the psychotic deformed hippie who takes pleasure in burning his skin and eating bits of it, and Moseley dives head first in to this character and never leaves his skin for a moment. Leatherface is pretty much a blundering moron for the duration of the sequel, never being able to live up to Gunner Hansen’s performance.

So most of terrorizing and stalking is relegated to Moseley, and Jim Siedow, as Leatherface becomes a victim of a goofy sub-plot involving his infatuation with Stretch, and her sudden ability to calm him down and entice him. Dennis Hopper is the real stand out here as Lefty, who is in pursuit of the Sawyers, and resorts to their arena of lunacy to combat their maniacal tactics, even relishing in buying an armory of chainsaws that he uses to bring down the family and their domain. Hopper plays the character deadpan which adds to the darkly comedy overtones quite well. Caroline Williams is definitely no Marilyn Burns, but fulfills the role of the scream queen for the sequel, while also adding a bit of the mid-eighties heroine persona that is needed to give the Sawyers a run for their money. “Massacre 2” is a missed opportunity, and in spite of it being a small classic horror follow-up, it really seems intent on mocking the first film, rather than paying respect to it and sewing a new narrative.