dark comedy, horror, movie, movie review

February 10th, 2018 Movie – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

the texas chainsaw massacre 2

At the height of the slasher era, Tobe Hooper decided that it was a great time to make a sequel to his groundbreaking movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). However, Tobe decided to make a change with his sequel, focusing more on the comedy, which he felt was overlooked in the original movie, instead of on the actual terror. I remember seeing this years ago and honestly thinking it wasn’t as scary as the first one, which is what a lot of people thought as well. Well, let’s see if time allows me to view this in a different light as I watch today’s movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

The plot: After the events of the previous movie, Sally Hardesty tells the authorities about the Sawyer clan and what happened to Franklin and their friends before the stress from the events causes her to go catatonic. The authorities search for the farmhouse but find no sign of the Sawyers and, without proof of a crime, officially they declare that it never happened. However, over the next 13 years, reports of grisly murders committed by a chainsaw have persisted throughout the state of Texas, causing people to wonder if it will ever end. Two high school seniors, Buzz and Rick, are heading up to Dallas for the Texas/Oklahoma game, with Buzz driving while Rick is shooting a revolver out the window. The two have been drinking and decide to call Vanita “Stretch” Brock, a DJ in the Metroplex (Dallas/Ft. Worth area), and start harassing her, refusing to hang up. While they are on the phone, they decide to play chicken with a pickup truck heading the other direction, running it off the road. As night falls, the boys call Stretch again to harass her but as they come to a bridge, they are stopped by the pickup truck they ran off the road earlier. Still on the phone with Stretch, Buzz yells at the driver, who moves slightly so they can pass by them but the truck starts driving in reverse and keeps pace with them. Suddenly, a man holding up a corpse stands up in the pickup bed and grabs a chainsaw, then starts slicing into the car. Rick attempts to shoot the man, hitting the corpse, only to reveal Leatherface is controlling the corpse like a puppet. Leatherface continues his attack on the car and ends up slicing off the top of Buzz’s head, causing the car to crash and killing Rick. Back at the radio station, a horrified Stretch and her producer, L.G., heard the entire attack and wonder what happened. The next day, Lt. Boude “Lefty” Enright, a former Texas Ranger, arrives at the crime scene and is told off by the local sheriff but the D.A. stops him and then speaks with Lefty. He says that he was told that Lefty was coming and he knows what happened to his niece and nephew (Sally and Franklin Hardesty) but that happened down in South Texas and there is no way that this accident was related. Lefty asks that they put the story in the newspaper and ask for any witnesses to the accident to contact him, and the D.A. agrees to it. The next day, Stretch stops by Lefty’s hotel room and tells him that she has the recording of the attack from when the kids called her radio station and wants to help but Lefty dismisses her and says she will get in his way. Frustrated by Lefty refusing to listen to her, Stretch joins L.G. downstairs, where they cover the results of a Texas/OU chili cook off which is won by Dallas resident Drayton Sawyer, who says the secret to his recipe is the meat and he has an eye for prime meat. Lefty heads out to a cut-rite store and tries out some chainsaws, then heads over to the radio station and asks Stretch to play the tape on the air, hoping that people that listen to it will finally want to help him find the killers. Stretch agrees to do so and announces on the air that she will be playing the recording every hour. Meanwhile, Drayton is driving back home, singing happily about winning the competition, when he receives a call on his car phone. After answering the phone, he yells at the person that called, saying that they were never supposed to call him on that phone, when the person on the other end tells him about the radio broadcast. Drayton turns on the radio and as he hears the attack, he starts yelling about the boys screwing up again, pulling over onto the side of the road to continue yelling. As night falls, L.G. says that they are getting a lot of angry calls about them playing the recording and Stretch decides to stop playing the tape after midnight, as nothing seems to have come of it. L.G. goes for a coffee run, leaving Stretch at the station alone, and while he is gone, Stretch hears a noise coming from the outer office. When she goes to investigate, she finds a strange man, Chop Top, sitting on the couch in the lobby. Chop Top starts talking to her and tries to distract her so Leatherface can attack her but Leatherface misses and hits Chop Top by mistake, hitting the metal plate he has in part of his skull. As Chop Top reals in pain, Stretch runs back into the studio and locks the metal door, with Leatherface following and attempting to cut his way through. L.G. returns and finds Chop Top going through their albums but he is knocked down by Leatherface and Chop Top begins hitting him in the head with a hammer. Leatherface heads back and cuts through a wall to get to Stretch but when she starts talking to him, she manages to calm him down and instead of killing her, he trashes the studio and then leaves. When Chop Top asks if he killed her, Leatherface nods yes and then they drag L.G.’s body outside and load it into the truck. As they leave, Stretch heads outside and, cursing Lefty for being late, follows after them. Stretch follows them to an abandoned amusement park and as she gets out of her car to proceed on foot, a second car appears and starts chasing her. As Stretch runs through the park, the car stops and Lefty gets out and calls out to her. Stretch stops running but as she turns to face him, a trap door opens up underneath her and she falls into a tunnel. Stretch grabs onto some roots to keep from falling and as Lefty tries to help pull her up, he apologizes for using her to lure the killers out of hiding. Lefty unknowingly grabs a skeleton arm to use to pull her up but the hand snaps off and Stretch ends up falling down the tunnel and Lefty heads back to his car and grabs the chainsaws that he bought and then heads inside the building looking for Stretch. Making his way inside, he notices blood coming from a wall and when he kicks a hole in it, a massive pile of entrails pours out of the hole, causing Lefty to snap and start using the chainsaw on the nearby support beams, screaming “Bring it all down!” Meanwhile, Stretch comes too and, hearing voices approaching, quickly hides as Leatherface, Chop Top, and Drayton appear and tell Leatherface to start carving up L.G.’s body. As Leatherface starts carving the skin off of the body, Stretch accidentally knocks over some meat hooks, causing Leatherface to rush over with a cleaver. Stretch convinces him not to kill her and when Chop Top and Drayton appear, Leatherface hides her from them, then places L.G.’s face on her and starts dancing with her after they leave. As Lefty continues to destroy the place, it causes the roof to start collapsing in the butcher room. Leatherface quickly ties up Stretch and leaves and as she tries to get away, L.G. suddenly sits up. As Stretch recoils in horror, L.G. tells her not to be scared and then cuts her free before he dies from his wounds. Stretch puts L.G.’s face back on him and then leaves the room and attempts to find a way out of there. She comes to a large chamber and sees the Drayton yelling at Chop Top and Leatherface, and as she tries to find a way out of there, Drayton sees her run into a sewer pipe and sends them off to find her. Meanwhile, Lefty’s path of destruction leads him to discover the skeletal remains of Franklin, which further increases his madness and desire to get revenge on the people responsible. In another part of the tunnels, Leatherface finds Stretch and starts chasing after her but as she runs, Lefty unknowingly causes a cave in that traps her. Stretch pleads with Leatherface to let her go but he refuses as Drayton and Chop Top show up. Chop Top knocks out Stretch and when she regains consciousness, she finds herself tied to a chair as Chop Top and Leatherface brings Grandpa Sawyer into the room. Drayton has Leatherface bring Stretch over to Grandpa, so that he can kill her and he hits her repeatedly with the hammer before Drayton grabs the dropped hammer and strikes Stretch over the head. Suddenly, Lefty saws his way into the room and Drayton, thinking he is from a competitor, attempts to bribe him. Stretch regains consciousness and calls out to Lefty, who sees her and quickly attacks the Sawyers, slicing Drayton in the ass with his chainsaw. Lefty frees Stretch and tells her to run, then begins fighting with Leatherface while Chop Top takes off after Stretch. As Lefty and Leatherface fight, Drayton grabs the corpse puppet, which is actually the body of his brother Nubbins (the hitchhiker from the first movie) and grabs a grenade that Nubbins had with him but as he pulls the pin, Lefty stabs Leatherface in the stomach with his chainsaw, causing Leatherface’s chainsaw to accidentally cut through the table Drayton is hiding under. Drayton drops the grenade and it explodes, seemingly killing Lefty, Leatherface, Drayton, and Grandpa. Meanwhile, Chop Top continues chasing after Stretch, slashing at her with his knife as he chases her. Stretch makes her way to the top of a mountain and finds a shrine dedicated to the Sawyer’s grandmother. Stretch grabs the chainsaw that is in her lap and manages to start it up and attack Chop Top with it, slashing open his stomach. Chop Top staggers back and ends up falling off the mountain, as Stretch screams out and begins swinging the the chainsaw around.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most felt that even though there was an increase in the gore, the additional comedy took away from the terror of the first movie. The Cannon Group, who were in charge of distributing the movie, wanted the movie cut down to 90-100 minutes so they could have more showings per day, and hopefully making more money. This resulted in several scenes being cut, including a scene featuring the two brothers going out hunting for meat by attacking movie patrons and a group of rioting fans from the game. The movie was a modest box office hit, earning $8 million off of a $4.7 million budget and would end up garnering a cult following after it was released on video.

Even looking at it with fresher eyes, this was honestly a step down from the original. That being said, I don’t think it is as bad as most people think. The acting was ok, with Bill Moseley really stealing the show with his portrayal of Chop Top. I also liked Caroline Williams (Stretch), while Jim Siedow did a good job reprising his role as Drayton, but I felt like Dennis Hopper (Lefty) was under utilized and his role could have really been played by anyone. The story was interesting, but as funny as some of the scenes were, I still felt that the emphasis on comedy really hurt the movie. The end scene with Stretch flailing about with the chainsaw was meant to be an homage to Leatherface’s doing the same at the end of the first movie but it honestly just looked stupid, especially when she was just spinning in circles. The special effects were definitely improved on from the previous movie but even though there was more gore, it just wasn’t that scary of a movie. Kind of a let down of a sequel to a great movie but a decent watch none the less.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review

September 5th, 2017 Movie – Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!

silent night deadly night 3

Ahhh, another fun year of being at DragonCon. Now to start getting things back on my normal schedule. Well, almost. I took today off from work so I could get a couple of things taken care of early this morning, which is why today’s review is a little bit later than normal (as opposed to the last 4 reviews which I had watched and reviewed ahead of time like I always do during DragonCon). Anyways, today’s movie basically continues the story after the previous movie left it open for another sequel to occur. As poorly as the previous movie did, let’s see if this was just as bad of an idea as I watch today’s movie, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!.

The plot: Laura Anderson wakes up to find herself in a white room, with the only other occupant being Ricky Caldwell. the famed Santa Claus killer who has been in a coma ever since he was shot 6 years ago. Laura approaches Ricky, noticing the clear dome on the top of his head that shows his brain, and as she goes to touch him, Ricky suddenly wakes up. Laura screams and tries to escape only to end up back in the room, with Ricky calling out her name as he is covered in blood. As she leaves the room a third time, she sees Santa Claus and approaches him but he pulls out a knife, causing Laura to scream and wake up from the vision she was having. Laura, who is revealed to be blind, is comforted by Dr. Newbury, who is using her clairvoyant abilities to try and enter the mind of Ricky Caldwell. Though Laura denies it, Newbury is convinced that Laura is making contact with Ricky and keeps having her make more attempts to connect with Ricky. After each attempt causes Laura to start screaming, Newbury calls it a day and Laura gets ready to leave, saying her brother is picking her up so they can head to their grandmother’s house. As she is about to leave, she tells Newbury that she doesn’t want to do this any more and Newbury tries to convince her to stay, with Laura saying they will talk about it when she gets back. As she waits in the lobby for her brother, Laura has a dream involving the receptionist’s death and after her brother Chris wakes her up and they go to leave, the receptionist says “Merry Christmas” to which Laura replies, “Not for you.” After they leave, an employee dressed like Santa is making his way through the hospital and enters Ricky’s room. As the Santa starts drinking and getting drunk, Ricky comes out of his coma and upon seeing the Santa suit, he ends up killing the employee, then killing the receptionist before leaving the hospital. After Laura leaves her therapist, she is introduced to Chris’ new girlfriend Jerri, who Laura has a disliking towards. As they make their way to Chris and Laura’s grandmother’s house, they are unaware that Ricky is somehow connected to Laura and makes his way there as well. Ricky is picked up along the highway and he kills the driver and takes his car, then kills a gas station attendant when he stops for gas. As Chris and the others stop for gas, Chris calls Granny Anderson to tell them that she is going to go out for a walk in case they get there before she gets back. After hanging up the phone, Granny goes to finish some of her last preparations for dinner when the door rings and she opens it to find Ricky standing there. Back at the hospital, Lt. Connely is there to investigate the homicide and is surprised to learn that Ricky Caldwell is the supposed killer, as he is the one that shot him 6 years ago. As he watches the security tape with Newbury and his assistant, they see Ricky calling out Laura’s name and they realize he might be going after her. Back at Granny Anderson’s house, Granny invites Ricky inside and starts to feed him and when she sees him holding a picture of Laura, she explains that that is her grandchildren and hands Ricky a Christmas present, which provokes him and causes her to kill her. When Chris and the others arrive, they find the house empty and Laura says that something feels wrong but Chris says not to over react. After some time has passed, Chris and Jerri decide to go for a walk and see if Granny is at one of the neighbors’ houses but they find that nobody else is in the neighborhood. As they go back to the house to tell Laura, Jerri finds that Chris’ car is missing. Chris and Jerri go back to look for it, Laura gets a funny feeling and approaches a window, where Ricky is watching her, which causes her to scream out. Chris and Jerri come running back into the house and tell Laura they found his car upside down in the grove. Laura goes to call the police only to find that the phone is dead and as Chris and Jerri discovers that the phone cord was ripped out, Laura discovers that her picture is missing and realizes that it is Ricky that is after them. As she starts to explain who Ricky is to Chris, Ricky’s arm bursts through the front door and attempts to strangle Jerri and Chris stabs his arm in order to get him to release her. Meanwhile, Newbury and Connely are tracking Ricky and as they head to the Anderson’s farm, they argue over whether Ricky should be captured alive or killed and when Connely pulls over to use the restroom, Newbury leaves him on the side of the road in order to try and save Ricky. Back at the farm, Chris grabs his grandfather’s old shotgun and leads the girls out of the house but he is attacked by Ricky. As Chris struggles with Ricky, he yells for Jerri and Laura to run, as Ricky stabs him in the chest. As Ricky goes to follow after Jerri and Laura, Newbury arrives and attempts to stop Ricky by playing the tape of Laura’s session but Ricky kills him instead. As Jerri and Laura hide, Jerri goes to try and find another weapon to defend themselves but ends up being killed by Ricky. Laura discovers her body and, sensing Ricky is there, approaches him and starts to feel his face but when she touches the dome on the top of his head, she freaks out and runs. As she is hiding in the basement, Laura has a vision of her grandmother, which leads her to discover her body. When Ricky makes his way downstairs, Laura uses a pole to smash the overhead light, then starts attacking Ricky when he gets close but he easily overpowers her and snaps the pole in two. Ricky goes to kill Laura but she is saved by Chris, who manages to shoot Ricky in the shoulder but as he goes to reload, Ricky uses the shotgun to choke Chris. Laura grabs a broken piece of the pole and calls out to Ricky and as he approaches her, she holds the makeshift spear out in front of her and he ends up impaling himself on it. Connely arrives at the house in time to hear Newbury’s last words, then heads down to the basement to find Laura cradling Chris’ body. As help is called in, a body is carried off in an ambulance and Connely goes to check on Laura before he goes to take her back home. As they drive off, Laura calls out “Merry Christmas”, while an image of Ricky breaks the 4th wall and responds “And a Happy New Year.”

Man, the sequels just keep getting worse and worse. This was a pretty bad sequel on a lot of levels. The acting was pretty bad for the most part, with Samantha Scully doing a good job as Laura, but Bill Mosely’s portrayal of Ricky felt too wooden, which might have been intended for the character but didn’t do much to show the talent that he will reveal in later roles. The story was honestly weak and pretty far fetched and I know they were just trying to add a new twist to what was becoming a stale story line but it honestly fell flat. The special effects regarding the kills were pratically nonexistent, as most of them were done either off camera or in a way so you don’t see the actually death blow being performed. I don’t know how much they were hoping to make by cashing in on a series that was already floundering but this movie didn’t help them any.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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