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