The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2!

After a decade of silence…the buzzz is back!

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2 (1986)

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On the afternoon of August 18th 1973, five young people in a Volkswagen van ran out of gas on a farm road in South Texas. Four of them were never seen again. The next morning, the one survivor, Sally Hardesty-Enright, was picked up on a roadside. Blood-caked and screaming murder.

Sally said she had broken out of a window in Hell. The girl babbled a mad tale: A cannibal family in an isolated farmhouse…chain-sawed fingers and bones…her brother, her friends hacked up for barbeque…chairs made of human skeletons…Then she sank into catatonia. Texas lawmen mounted a month-long manhunt but could not locate the macabre farmhouse. They could find no killers and no victims. No facts; no crime. Officially, on the records, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre never happened.

But during the last 13 years, over and over again reports of bizarre, grisly chain-saw mass-murders have persisted all across the state of Texas. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has not stopped. It haunts Texas. It seems to have no end.  

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The nightmare returns with a BANG! as we are introduced to couple of vintage slices of 80’s yuppie meat: two beer swilling, gun toting rich cretins named “Buzz” and “Rick the Prick” who are on the road to nowhere…aka Texas OU Weekend in Dallas! In between rounds, the boys call up and harass a local DJ named “Stretch,” who plays headbanging music and hosts the Red River Rock ‘n’ Roll Request Line on KOKLA. As if tying up Stretch’s phone lines wasn’t bad enough, the boys decide to play a little chicken with one of the local hicks, and run the WRONG farmers off the road. Shame on you for having too much fun.

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Later that night, Buzz & Rick the Prick decide to call up Stretch again, and Rick puts in his immortal request to see some “Bright Lights and Big Titties!” The boys’ fun is short lived this time around, because the pick up truck they ran off the road earlier suddenly shows up to block their way. What follows is a never ending ride into Hell, as the coked-up pencil necks attempt to speed away from the demented pick up on a narrow overpass, as the pick up truck magically manages to keep up with their sports car while driving 90 miles per hour in reverse! The boys first get to meet “Nubbins,” who is actually the rotten corpse of our old friend “The Hitch Hiker” from the original TCM! When Rick the Prick blasts Nubbins in the face, the boys get a look at the REAL horror of Leatherface…who uses his trusty saw to slice up Buzz’s skull.

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The boys crash and burn, and all of this chainsaw carnage was broadcast live over the air to the shock and horror of Stretch, her studio assistant and best bud L.G., and her handfuls of listeners. The “accident” also catches  the attention of an old Texas Ranger named Lt Enright, who immediately drives up from South Texas to investigate. Lt Enright is an old cowboy who has been chasing chainsaws and ghosts for 14 years, ever since his brother’s kids Franklin & Sally fell victim to the chainsaw killers back in 1973. Lt Enright refuses to believe the case was “just an accident” and knows all too well that HELL was exactly what those two wild punks had raised.

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Stretch sees a newspaper article about Lt Enright and his quest for justice, and reaches out to him with a tape containing the recording of Buzz & Rick the Prick getting the slice. Stretch hung on to the tape because it just got to her, and decided to use it as an attempt to stop playing headbanging music and do something real. Lt Enright initially refuses her offer for help and sends her packing, with a warning that this bunch of mad dogs that he is running against lives on fear. As Lt Enright sits in his hotel room and stews, the Sawyer Family becomes number one again, when Texas clobbers Oklahoma…in chili. Dallas’ favorite caterer, and the last Round Up Rolling Grill Chef himself, Dreyton Sawyer is the big winner. The secret of course is no secret…it’s the MEAT. Don’t skimp on the meat.

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Meanwhile, Lt Enright stops off at the local Cut-Rite saw shop and arms himself with a trifecta of brand new chainsaws in assorted sizes. When the dumbfounded proprietor encourages hims to test them out, Lt Enright fires up the biggest one and begins taking out 14 years worth of frustration on the giant logs outside. Oh my aching banana! When that fun’s over, he drives over to KOKLA to make a personal request to Stretch. He comes clean and lets her know that the killers are there, and asks her to play the tape of the two yuppie punks getting the slice on her radio show. He asks her to bend the rules, and just do it, despite the inevitable flood of complaints and trouble she would receive.

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Stretch agrees to help Lt Enright, and plays the recording of the kids getting murdered as a special request  for “Lefty” on the hour. Unfortunately for Stretch, this macabre special request quickly earns the attention of two of her biggest fans…and they decide to pay her a special visit that night. When L.G. goes off for coffees at the Big Steak he leaves Stretch in the radio station all alone, and unfortunately for her, she will have to come face to face with her most FAR OUT FAN…a creep who we later learn goes by the name “Chop-Top,” because of a machete wound sustained in Vietnam that left him rather unhinged and with a large itchy metal plate in his head. Chop-Top asks for his own personalized copy of the Rambo III soundtrack, and then a tour of the station. Leatherface suddenly shows up to spoil the fun and accidentally fucks up Chop-Top’s Sonny Bono wig before chasing after Stretch. Dog will hunt. Chop-Top gets his own BONUS BODY when plump ol’ L.G. returns from the Big Steak, and rains hammer blows down onto L.G.’s skull like incoming mail!

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Stretch tries to hide from the maniacs, and winds up gets up close and personal with Leatherface and his beloved chainsaw. Stretch uses her feminine wiles to charm the skin-masked ghoul and Leatherface in return gets to use his saw to closely examine every inch of her legs and devastating short-shorts before finally firing it up and thrusting away in passionate delight. Spent, the dimwitted killer then runs away without actually killing Stretch. Leatherface then lies about it afterwards, assuring his brother Chop-Top that he had not only gotten her, he had gotten her GOOD. The boys then flea the scene with L.G.’s battered bonus body in tow.

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Stretch composes herself from the chainsaw assault and decides to give chase. She follows the lunatics as they drive back to the lair and winds up stumbling headfirst into the abandoned amusement park from Hell that they now call home. Lefty shows up too late to save Stretch and then has to arm himself with severed limbs and chainsaws before finally running screaming inside the Devil’s Playground and bringing it all down…down to Hell. As Lt Enright runs around the catacombs screaming like a lunatic and sawing up the place, Dreyton blames the property damage and dirty meat on his nap haired coon shit brothers. Leatherface somehow finds time to have a tender face-to-face moment with Stretch and L.G.’s freshly removed face, but the young love isn’t given time to blossom, because Leatherface is forced to choose between scex and the saw. Scex is, well, nobody knows. But the saw…THE SAW IS FAMILY!!! Wait until Grandpa hears about this…

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I have been a HUGE fucking fan of this one ever since I first saw it on Joe Bob Brigg’s Drive-In Saturday Night on The Movie Channel back in 1987 or 1988. I can’t remember the exact date, but I know it was shortly after the theatrical run had ended and shortly after the film was already available on VHS. I have no memories of seeing this one at the local video stores, but I do vividly remember seeing the ads for it in the monthly cable guide my parents would get with their bill. It was the classic “Breakfast Club” shot of the Sawyer family…and that was more than enough to have me salivating at the thought of seeing it. Hell, I even remember my dad telling to stop staring at the ad like a freak or he wouldn’t let me watch the movie! At 11 and 12 years old, I was already a big fan of the original TCM, and was getting more and more obsessed with horror flicks.

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I remember finally staying up late one Saturday Night and watching and recording it, and I can still remember Joe Bob’s intro where he lamented not being able to show the original TCM instead, and then said TCM Part 2 was a good movie but not a GREAT movie. (this was a lot more positive than what he was saying in print at the time) Needless to say, I was blown away by how fucking GORY and outrageous TCM Part2 was! As a wee Brain Hammer, I had yet to encounter such jaw dropping amounts of blood and guts being spilled all over the screen! The head slicing! The walls full of guts! The skinning! The Chainsaw disembowelment! This was all far and beyond anything I had ever encountered before. And best of all, the infamous scene where Leatherface gets a close up look at Stretch and her long legs and short shorts. This was the one scene that truly drove the film over the top, and I can vividly remember my father and a couple of his drinking buddies at the American Legion talking about that one the following weekend. “I thought he was gonna fire up that chainsaw and split her in two!” The thought of multiple households all across my sleepy little town, all tuning in for a Saturday Night with Chop-Top & Joe Bob Briggs warms my fucking heart. That was the kind of world I grew up in, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. A few years later, I was lucky enough to buy a VHS copy of TCM Part 2 at my local Ames and practically wore out that cheap “Video Treasures” tape with repeat viewings.

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In my humble opinion, TCM Part 2 is one of the RARE horror sequels that while not as good as the original film, is still a worthy and entertaining follow up. Most sequels just straight up suck and shouldn’t exist whatsoever, and others manage to be decent in their own right but nothing really special. TCM Part 2 on the other hand is a sequel to THE greatest horror film ever made, which gives it some impossibly big shoes to follow. The reason TCM Part 2 is such a winner is the fact that it doesn’t try to precisely copy the first movie, or even closely match it in terms of feel or tone. TCM Part 2 does not have that much acclaimed “Documentary feel” of the original, it’s a total freak show: a colorful non-stop blast of puking insane energy, the visual equivalent of a throw up ride at a carnival. Fast, loud & greasy. When the original TCM succeeded with just drops of blood, TCM Part 2 goes over the top with BUCKETS of the red stuff. It’s a totally different experience, but with a similar goal: to eventually drive the audience into a screaming hysterical frenzy!

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The other big reason for the sequel’s enduring success, besides the legendary splatter, is the incredible cast that was assembled. You have to start with the one and only Dennis Hopper, who brings exactly the sort of intensity & insanity you would expect from the man in 1986. Having him star in the film as an older relative of the first film’s victims was absolute genius, and allows the heart wrenching moment when he discovers the skeletal remains of Franklin, still clutching that flashlight for dear life all those years later. Then there’s the leading lady, Caroline Williams, who is also fantastic. She’s very likable and realistic, and it’s easy to sympathize with her as she is repeatedly tortured and descends into total screaming lunacy by the film’s deranged climax. She’s also undeniably “Texas,” there’s just something very genuine about her. And then finally there’s the family themselves…the one and only Jim Siedow returns as the public “face” of the family, the “Cook.” Having Jim onboard immediately makes this feel like an authentic TCM sequel. The lack of Ed Neal’s “Hitch Hiker” was sad but understandable, and the addition of Bill Moseley as his long lost brother “Chop-Top” more than makes up for it. Bill’s itchy plate and coat hanger routine are as iconic as anything in the first movie. Bill pretty much carries the whole film along with Dennis Hopper in the manic intensity department. The other star of the show is Lou Perryman, who spits his way into our hearts as the lovable, fry house building bonus body.

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Then there’s big Bubba himself – Bill Johnson. Bill stepped into the shoes of Gunnar Hansen and had the make or break chance to make the character of Leatherface his own. In my opinion, Bill did a great job and more than lived up to the original. He got to rock a nastier looking flesh mask, have more moments of chainsaw swinging glory, and got to strut his stuff as a romantic lead. It was more of a multi-faceted performance, and Bill deserves a world of credit for doing the role justice, and for always being a gentleman who is willing to speak with nutjobs who pester him with interview requests: https://brain-hammer.com/2011/10/05/leatherface/

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The cast is top notch, the music was a lethal combination of creepy and cool, the gore was state of the art and totally over the top, and Tobe Hooper and the notorious Cannon Films were good enough to side step mass markets & give the fans what they wanted by releasing TCM Part 2 unrated, with all the juicy gore that the MPAA would have demanded removed proudly intact. Over the years, I have seen fan estimation and public opinion of this one go up and down, when it was first released it was universally hated, and then over the years it became a fan favorite with a huge cult following that rivals even the original. In my humble opinion, TCM Part 2 is one of the all time great 80’s horror flicks, one of the highlight “gore” flicks of the 80’s,  and one of the greatest horror sequels ever made.

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The good folks at Scream Factory obviously agree with me, as they were wise enough to recently release a beautiful collector’s edition Blu-Ray release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. For longtime collectors of the film, it’s well known there are already multiple releases available to choose from, including everything from special edition dvds to bare bones blu-rays. Scream Factory goes one step further for diehard fans with a brand new 2K HD scan that looks better and brighter than anything previously released. There’s also a brand new behind the scenes commentary track, and brand new interviews with the makeup effects artists, Leatherface stunt man & performer Bob Elmore, and best of all – Buzz & Rick the Prick themselves! There’s also a brand new interview with the film’s editor, and a new featurette revisiting the locations of the film. All of this new content made the purchase more than worthwhile for me, and I’m sure other long time TCM Part 2 fanatics will feel the same way. LOOK AT THAT BEEF!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!    

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