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  • Writer's pictureMr. Pat

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

After a week off from work, I came back to a much different newsroom. It's been a little weird and will take some adjusting, but hey, at least it's October, right? Yesterday I talked about how Scream VI changed up the formula a bit, but today's movie REALLY changed up the formula. So let's talk about...

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

This movie couldn't be more different than the original. The first had a real gritty look and feel to it, felt mostly grounded, and despite having a reputation of being gory, a lot of the violence was implied and there wasn't too much blood. The sequel ditches the grit, ups the gore and turns almost every single person into an over-the-top cartoon character. I mean, the movie's poster is a rip-off of The Breakfast Club. It's wild. Tobe Hooper is back in the director's chair and says he made the sequel more of a dark comedy because too many people missed that aspect of the first movie because of the violence. I'll admit, I didn't notice much of the dark comedy for the first movie, but this series is Hooper's vision, so I'll concede to him. We start the movie with a couple of obnoxious high school seniors on their way to the Red River Rivalry (that is the Texas/Oklahoma game for those who don't follow football.) One of them keeps leaning out the window while firing a revolver at road signs while both scream, "Hook 'em Horns!" I'll have to check with Shawn, but that's normal in Texas, right? Anyways, these guys unwittingly force a game of chicken with the Sawyer family that ends with an up-close meeting with a chainsaw and a deadly crash. Before they were being chased, they were harassing a local DJ, and their hijinx, chase and death were all recorded.

From there, we meet Dennis Hopper's character. He's a former Texas ranger who was the uncle of Franklin and Sally from the original. He's spent the past 12 years trying to track down the Sawyers and get his revenge. There's also Bill Moseley as the character Chop-Top. How do I describe this guy? Well, he's a Vietnam vet with a metal plate in his head who spends a lot of time scratching it with a coat hanger he keeps heating up with a lighter and eating his dead flesh. Between the two zany characters, I don't know which character is crazier. Chop-Top is Billy Moseley's favorite character while Dennis Hopper said he thought this was the worst movie he'd ever been in. He later said the same thing about Super Mario Brothers. I found it funny how the actors had such different experiences on this film. Hopper's character, Lefty, starts the movie seeming normal but he flips a switch once he walks into a chainsaw store (was that ever a thing?) He ends up laying down a stack of 100-dollar bills and walks away with one giant and two smaller chainsaws for dual-wielding. The final showdown includes a chainsaw fight between Lefty and Leatherface that's just wild. If I took the time to explain to you the top ten weirdest things about this movie, it would be pages long and still wouldn't touch the absurdity of this movie. You see Lefty as a man of the law, looking to avenge his family and he's clearly the hero. But then the more you see of him you realize, with different circumstances, he could have found himself fitting in quite well with the Sawyers. Lefty is fun because he's nuts and it goes on display during the final act, but he's not a good guy. Out of the hero and the villains, it's funny the closest one to almost normal is Leatherface, even if he does that chainsaw dance where he lifts the weapon in the air and shakes his head about 50 times. It's incredibly silly, but does get funny the more he does it. It's like the movie is saying, "If you didn't understand not to take this seriously, here's one more time."

The movie does give you one character to root for. A young woman named Stretch who works as a DJ at a radio station. She was on the phone with the two students when they were murdered and wants to help. Inevitably, that puts her in the crosshairs of the Sawyer family, which is exactly what Lefty was counting on. Stretch is a cool character and I'm kind of disappointed I've never seen her talked about when discussing the best final girls. She goes through a LOT, like almost the entire movie she's thrown into a situation she doesn't want to be in, and the longer the movie goes, the worse it gets for her. When the final showdown was going on, I found myself rooting for her. She deserved a happy ending, but in the final shot of her doing the same chainsaw dance that Leatherface did at the end of the first one, you realize she is going to need a lot of therapy. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. It's a wild, insane ride. It's like the movie plopped you into an alternate reality where every single person is insane. I mean, the one normal person was Stretch, and you could make the case that she isn't in her right mind either. No matter how many times I say it, I can't properly illustrate just how batshit crazy this movie is. I liked how the director went a different direction instead of suffering from sequelitis, where the most common symptom is "Same, but more." It was pretty polarizing when it came out but has gotten cult favorite status and I'm glad it did. Some of it hasn't aged well, but it's a lot of fun watching every actor ham it up to the point where it seems like a parody.

7 Dr. Chainsaws!

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