Friday, April 8, 2011

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre Pt. 2"(1986)d/Tobe Hooper

My junior year in high school had to be pretty uneventful, since I don't remember much of it.A lot of ball-busting during classes followed by a lot of post-date blue balls from dating underclassmen chicks from rival area schools, maybe.Yin and Yang of the high school universe, I guess.One thing I do remember was how amped up I was for the long awaited sequel to Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only intensified by the more I read and saw about it; Hooper was again in the director's chair(we all know how sequels usually go when that duty gets passed off to somebody else) with a budget, Dennis Hopper, a long-time fave of mine in front of the camera, the splatter was to be handled by none other than Tom Savini, my long-standing childhood horror hero of heroes, and Leatherface was gonna be mincing up yuppies, for which I'd never held back one iota of deep-seated repugnance.What could possibly be better'n that?As I walked out of the theater, I remember being highly disappointed with the experience; cheated by the censors out of most the magnificent gore I was looking forward to, loathing Dennis Hopper's Lefty character like he was onions personified on the big screen(I hate onions btw), and lastly, wondering where the fuck the mad brilliance that screamed its way off of every frame in the original was...
As the years passed though, I found myself warming up to the production more and more, finding little things that I dug, the excellent soundtrack featuring Lords of the New Church, The Cramps, and Oingo Boingo, and even appreciating the dark humor that Hooper emphasized over horror this time around.Did I mention the equally beautiful and talented Caroline Williams?The girl's got legs for days and a throaty southern twang that's just hot.Wop approves.Ultimately, after the theater, two VHS releases, and a bare bones dvd, I finally got what I was asking for when MGM issued a special "Gruesome" edition disc with deleted scenes in 2007.I can say now, without a shred of doubt, this is a cult classic, indeed.
Look out!That blood is gonna overstate your pastel sweater!
It's broadcasting as usual for radio dj, "Stretch" Brock(Caroline Williams) until two drunken yuppies who've been abusing their call-in priviledges play chicken with the wrong monster pickup on a bridge.Hiding behind his hitchiking brother's corpse, now a gruesome puppet, on the roof of the truck, is Leatherface(Bill Johnson), who ruins the boys' evening with his trusty revving chainsaw, the vicious murders all captured on tape at the radio station.After seeing one of his newspaper articles, Stretch reaches out to Lefty Enright(Dennis Hopper),the vengeful uncle of two missing persons from a decade earlier(Sally and Franklin Hardesty from the original movie) he believes to be victims of the mysterious chainsaw killings occurring across the state of Texas, and he suggests that she play the tape live on the air.Meanwhile, she covers a Texas-Oklahoma Chili Cookoff, which is won for the second year in a row by Drayton Sawyer(Jim Siedow), who staunchly refuses to name his secret ingredients with good reason.When she finally plays the tape on her show, she's startled to find Chop Top(Bill Moseley), a 'Nam vet with a metal plate in his skull and twin brother to the Hitchhiker, hiding in the shadows as she's about to shut the station down for the night.He's soon joined by Leatherface, who traps her behind the metal door of a storage closet as her co-worker L.G. returns, only to be viciously pummelled by a pun-spewing, tack hammer-wielding Chop Top.When Leatherface saws his way into the closet, Stretch charms the pants off of him, and after he yanks his wankie(blech), he destroys everything in his path with his signature buzzsaw, save for his new gal pal.Believing that Bubba has done the dj in, Chop Top and sibling drag L.G.'s battered body back to their digs:a massive abandoned carnival ground strewn with human remains and strings of colored lights.
Stretch(Caroline Williams)is clearly impressed by the size of Bubba's(Bill Johnson)weapon.
Stretch follows the killers to their home, finding herself trapped there only to be further wooed by Leatherface, who puts the freshly removed face of her still breathing bud, L.G. over hers(!), clumsily dancing with her amidst a bevvy of slaughtered bodies.Love is a many splendored thing.She's finally captured by the Sawyers, who sit her down to a home-cooked plate fulla insanity then bent over a bushel to get head-whacked by the greatest killer of them all, Grandpa(Does any of this sound familiar to you?).Meanwhile, elsewhere on the compound, Lefty, screaming for vengeance like Rob Halford after discovering a Dear Bruce letter in his dressing room, decked out with three chainsaws, stumbles upon the skeletal remains of his nephew Franklin, still in his wheelchair.He chainsaws through a wall, dropping in on the Sawyers' festivities, and when Drayton offers to pay him off, Lefty chainsaws him in the keester(!) and frees Stretch.A buzzsaw battle of epic proportions ensues between the former Texas Ranger and the unemployed cattle slaughterer in the human skin mask, with Bubba taking a Poulan to the labonza.Drayton sets off a grenade while hiding under a table, apparently snuffing everyone but Stretch and Chop Top with the explosion.The two end up in a carved out rock tower overlooking the entire property, where Chop Top repeatedly slashes her with a straight razor until she stumbled upon a makeshift shrine where a mummified Grandma is kept, holding a signature chainsaw, which Stretch uses to dispatch the plate-headed goon, who's just cut his own throat several times to show he means business(!!).As the smoke clears, we see Stretch atop the tower imitating the swinging, spinning chainsaw dance Leatherface ended the first movie with.
Compared to the average Monteforte family reunion, these chappies are positively lucid.
Two noteworthy scenes that ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor involve Leatherface chainsawing a crowd of boisterous football fans in a parking garage, and movie patrons in a theater, to the glee of Joe Bob Briggs, cult reviewer/personality extraordinaire, who gives a signature review("Saw Fu!") of Bubba's bloody handiwork and the end of the sequence.There was also a scrapped alternate plotline where Lefty turns out to be Stretch's father.A lot sillier than they were gory, it's still cool to be able to finally see what you've been missing all these years.Looking at the film through more experienced eyes, and taking it as the black comedy it was intended to be, TCM2 is pretty enjoyable overall.The cast is solid, with great performances by the original cook, Jim Siedow, cult vet Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson as a new Leatherface, and even Hopper's turn as Lefty isn't nearly as abrasive as I once thought it was.Oh, did I mention Caroline Williams? She also gives a stellar performance here.Savini is at the top of his game, with clever gore set pieces that are sparingly used in the final cut.On the scale, this often hilarious sequel to one of the greatest horror movies ever made merits three big ones, and a firm recommendation.Love it!
TCM without a demented dinner scene? Not on yer meat, you bitch hogs!


nightrider said...

the chainsaw used in the film is a Poulan 5200 painted orange!

beedubelhue said...


I appreciate your attention to detail, brother!


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