Sunday, April 3, 2011

#240. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Directed By: Tobe Hooper

Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley

Tag line: "After a decade of silence...The Bizzz is Back!"

Trivia:Jim Siedow is the only actor in this movie that was in the original.

Thirteen years after making horror history with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, director Tobe Hooper returned to the Lone Star State to continue his tale of mayhem and murder. But where the original film chilled me to the bone, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 just left me cold.

Hoping to avenge the death of his nephew, Franklin, and the brutal beating of his niece, Sally, Texas Ranger “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper) has spent the better part of 13 years tracking the cannibalistic Sawyer family: Cook (Jim Siedow), Chop Top (Bill Moseley), and Bubba, also known as Leatherface (Bill Johnson). With the trail cold, Enright catches a break when local DJ Vanita Brock (Caroline Williams) receives a disturbing call from two high school students who are being chased by a mysterious pick-up truck. Having caught the entire event on tape (including what sounded like the murder of the 2 teens), Brock takes the recording to Enright, who asks her to play it on the air. Could this turn of events lead to the showdown that Enright has been waiting for?

Not all of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is bad. I liked seeing Jim Siedow reprise his role as the Cook (when we get our first glimpse of him, he's accepting the top prize at a chili cook-off, declaring to the crowd as he spills chili all over his polyester suit that “the secret is in the meat”). and being a Bill Moseley fan, it was nice to see him added to the cast (though, if you're familiar with the original, the very presence of his character defies logic). There's also a very good scene that takes place in a radio station, with an effective “jump scare” thrown in for good measure.   Unfortunately, this is where the positives end.

Dennis Hopper is an actor I always enjoy watching, but in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, his character is pointless.  In one puzzling scene, his "Lefty", bent on revenge, enters a hardware store and purchases 3 chainsaws, which he then takes outside to test, flailing them around like a crazy man.  Meant to show how unhinged his character had become, this sequence only manages to bring the entire movie to a grinding halt. Caroline Williams, who takes on the "Damsel in Distress" role, fares a little better than Hopper, but only slightly, and watching Bill Johnson as Leatherface had me longing for Gunner Hanson to return to the role. It's not that Johnson was bad, per se, but his Leatherface was a bit too emotive, a far cry from the “controlled chaos” that Hanson brought to the part. As for the story, I admit I had high hopes once the setting switched to the abandoned amusement park, but the 40-some minutes spent there could have easily been cut in half, with nothing of substance lost. The final nail in the coffin was when the film attempted to repeat history by staging yet another 'dinner sequence', where it appears the only acting instructions that poor Caroline Williams received was to copy Marilyn Burns' screaming fit from the original film.

Where I will always hold The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the highest regard, it's sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, will forever be my 'go-to' film when I argue the point that, occasionally, sequels are a complete waste of time.