Laughing with Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
In 1974, Tobe Hooper brought one of the squirmiest, most uneasy horror films that still rocks anyone who views it today. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a staple in horror cinema. A pair of siblings and some friends go visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas. Unfortunately, they get a little more than they bargained for when they came across a family of deranged cannibals. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre introduced the world to Leatherface, a frightening bulky man that wears mask made of human skin. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was influential in the horror genre. It molded future slashers and paved inspiration for how that subgenre would be defined. Even though the film was being halted from being shown in various theatres around the world for its violence, Leatherface was here to stay.
Fast forward to 1986 when a sequel was finally made. The sequel brought back Leatherface, gore, cannibalism, and laughs. You read that right, it brought laughs. Tobe Hooper always said there was a lot of black comedy in the first film but that audiences never really captured that completely while watching it. So when it was time to make a second, Hooper pulled out all the comedy strings. If you are doubting this, just take a look at the movie’s poster.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is about DJ Vanita “Stretch” Brock (Caroline Williams) and Lieutenant Boude "Lefty" Enright (Dennis Hopper) teaming up against Leatherface and his psychotic family in their abandoned amusement park lair. Lefty is the uncle of the two siblings in the first film and is out to find his missing nephew while solving the murders of two boys, one of which involved a chainsaw. Stretch is trying to help Lefty solve these murders after the boys call her radio show and she incidentally recorded their fateful deaths. Stretch is held captive by the crazy family when she sneaks away and follows them to their lair after they ransack her radio station and leave with her bludgeoned coworker. Lefty follows Stretch to the lair with his own plan to outwit the family.
Upon watching it for the first time, I knew I was in for laughs but I didn’t know I was going to wail in laughter at the majority of the movie from side splitting one liners and the wild actions of the characters. The comedic gold star must go to Bill Mosely’s Chop Top. Moseley made a parody short film after the original TCM was released called The Texas Chain Saw Manicure. The short made its way to Tobe Hooper who kept Moseley in mind if he ever created a sequel. Once the time came to cast TCM 2, Hooper wanted Moseley and he abided. Chop Top’s personality is outrageous and over the top but is so hilarious and makes the movie what it is.
Aside from comedy, an underlying issue mentioned is something that is still an issue today. The treatment of small businesses. The patriarch (“The Cook”) of the chainsaw slinging family has a small business as a chef who cooks an award winning chili in his food truck. “Don’t skimp on the meat” is announced in his victory speech when winning a local chili cook-off. Clearly we know what that meat actually is. However, throughout the whole film he makes proclamations on how small businesses are treated when it comes to surviving in the industry. He goes on tirades about how the rich aren’t taxed and how “small businessman get it in the ass”. Honestly, is this not an issue going on today as well? I find it ironic that a movie made in 1986 could be so spot-on concerning a topic in 2018. It may be the only ounce of realness that TCM 2 exhibits, but I really loved The Cook’s ramblings.
This extravagant sequel is the antithesis of what you think would come from the original TCM, but it is complete fun from beginning to end. There are so many different levels of wild and it has all the gross-out moments you could wany. It deserves more attention and the ratings of it on RT and sites of the like shouldn’t derive you from checking it out. I guarantee watching Dennis Hopper wield some chainsaws will be a great addition to your Halloween lineup. Grab a bowl of popcorn, or a bowl of chili, and sit down and soak up all the goodness The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has to offer. Like The Cook says “Sex is, well, nobody knows, but the saw… the saw is family.”