Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 : Review

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Relocating the cannibalistic Sawyer clan to a cavernous dwelling beneath an amusement park, Leatherface and Co. continue their murderous exploits using body parts to make local award winning meat dishes. This time around, local DJ Stretch runs into the Sawyers when she gets mixed up in the brutal slaying of two young men while doing a radio phone in. Meanwhile, Lieutenant ‘Lefty’ Enright, is hell-bent on avenging the murder of his nephew Franklin in the first movie.

Poor old Tobe Hooper. Whenever a film of his gets released even to this day it always says ” From the director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, it was his first major film and was a huge influence upon the horror genre for years to come. Apart from a few good movies, Poltergeist and Salem’s Lot spring to mind, the director has never really delivered or lived up to the promise or expectation of his original classic.

In 1986 Cannon films asked Hooper to do a sequel to the original and he and co-writer L. M. Kit Carson delivered a script and started work on it immediately. Not wanting to repeat himself the director set out to make it a black comedy and the cast and crew set about shooting the film in Texas. Sadly when Cannon executives saw the rough cut they hated it. “We want more monsters” they said and so the director and writer had to cut a lot of the comedy and add more real horror to the story, which makes for a very odd and disjointed final release.

As mentioned Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2  is a bit of a mess, there are a lot of horrific moments but it sits uncomfortably with the overall jokey tone of the movie. The cast are all ok in their roles, Dennis Hopper as Lefty chews the scenery with great gusto but otherwise it all seems a little pointless with a lot more gore thrown into the mix this time around which the original did not rely on. Its interesting to note that when originally submitted to the BBFC in the UK for certification the releasing company were told that up to 16 minutes of footage would have to be removed to even be considered for a rating, so they never bothered. The version reviewed is the full unrated cut.

tcm2The Blu ray by Arrow is a 3 disc limited edition giving the film the true deluxe treatment. The picture quality is good, grainy and bleak in most parts but the blacks are solid, transfer was overseen by Richard Kooris (Director of Photography) and fans will be very happy with the results. Audio is PCM 2.0 and is fine. Clear with dialog and music sounding good for a film of this vintage.

Arrow yet again come up with a fantastic set of extras:

On disc one (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Blu-Ray) we are treated to the following –

* Audio commentary with director and co-writer Tobe Hooper
* Audio commentary with stars Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and special-effects legend Tom Savini (exclusive to this set)
* Cutting Moments with Bob Elmore – Interview with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s stuntman (HD – exclusive to this set)
* “It Runs in the Family” – A 6-part documentary looking at the genesis, making-of and enduring appeal of Hooper’s film, filled with cast and crew interviews. A superb extra.
* Alternate Opening sequence with different musical score
* Deleted scenes
* Gallery featuring never-before-published behind-the-scenes images
* Original Trailer

Discs two and three (two is a Blu-Ray and disc three is a DVD) both have exactly the same content.
* The Heisters (1965) – Tobe Hooper’s early short film restored in HD from original elements [10 mins]
* Eggshells (1970) – Tobe Hooper’s debut feature restored in HD from original elements [90 mins]
* Audio Commentary on Eggshells by Tobe Hooper
* In Conversation with Tobe Hooper – the legendary horror director speaks candidly about his career from ‘Eggshells’ to ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’
* Trailer Reel of all the major works by Tobe Hooper. Superb selection of trailers.

100-PAGE BOOK – LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE
-Exclusive perfect bound book featuring new writing on the film by John Kenneth Muir, an overview of the Chainsaw franchise by Joel Harley and an investigation of Tobe Hooper’s three-picture Cannon deal by Calum Waddell, illustrated with archive stills and posters.

Yet again Arrow show why they are one of the best labels in the UK at the moment for classic and cult films.

FILM: 5  PICTURE: 7.5  AUDIO: 7  EXTRAS: 9