Mw Horror Reviews
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
From the very beginning it was clear this is a very different take on the Sawyer family's legacy, in comparison to the first. As someone who is such a big fan of Tobe Hooper's 1974 original, it was very jarring stepping into this film knowing very little regarding the tonal shift that this sequel decided to take. Not only was it different in tone, but now also has a very 80's stylised feel to its cast and soundtrack, sacrificing the gritty realism on display in the original. This is something I really struggled to adjust to coming straight in from the first.
As Leatherface makes his first appearance - and kill - he is instantly seen to be much more comical. Although accompanied brilliantly with strong makeup effects throughout (by the master Tom Savini), I can't help but notice that his his efforts with the mask felt less intimidating than that of the previous incarnation, and much more rubber like than the more realistic leather one from 1974. It was from that moment on I knew exactly what kind if film I was watching, or at least I believed I did. Things just increasingly became more and more obsurd from there, all the way to the closing minutes.
Having never seen this film up until now, I always struggled to see the fascination with Bill Mosley's 'Choptop' character. In a film featuring Leatherface as main antagonist, I struggled to understand how, what I assumed was a side character in this franchise (a recurring theme that would go on to be a staple of this series) was so well loved and discussed within the horror community. His presence here not only steals the show, but sidelines the most iconic character of the franchise. Mosley's oddball performance is by far the most superior element of this entry in the 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' series.
Leatherface is no longer played by the great Gunner Hansen in this installment and it shows. Taking what was such a powerful and fear inducing character from the first, and reducing him to a level of pure idiocy and having strange sexual deviance towards with his chainsaw (we all know what scene I'm referring too). I will say though, there was one particular scene in which Leatherface runs out of the record room at the radio station, and I genuinely jumped out of my seat. I haven't been that unprepared for a jump scare in a horror film in years, let alone in a film so self aware that didn't justify such a terrifying moment.
Dennis Hopper is another new addition to this installment as Lefty, who oddly turns out to be Franklin, from the first films uncle seeking revenge on the Sawyer family. His cowboy hat wearing, three chainsaw-weilding performance was beyond unconvincing. Regardless of the level of satire Tobe Hooper was going for with this film, surely he must have seen how little effort how Hopper was putting into his screen time. Hopper has proven time and time again how much credibility he has an actor, which I think is why his half hearted performance here stands out so much amongst the rest.
I know this intended to serve as a parody sequel but everything just felt so jarring to the original and I couldn't adjust to the new direction Hooper was trying to take. Other than the return of Jim Siedow as Drayton, "The Cook" Sawyer, and surprisingly Ken Evert as Grandpa Sawyer, this installment bares very minimal resemblance to the first. If this was on TV late one night when channel surfing I could see myself tuning in again, however I doubt I would actively seek out a second viewing. I can see where its fan base comes from, if this is something you grew up watching. I guess I just missed that window in my life in order for this to become the cult classic for me, like it is for so many others.