Twelve years after the introduction of the maniacal Leatherface, Tobe Hooper returns to Texas but instead of making the film as psychologically crazy, he adds black comedy to this and it’s more a “love it or hate it” type sequel.
It has been thirteen years since Sally Hardesty witnessed the mad and macabre world of the Sawyer clan and since surviving the ordeal, has sunk into a depression, forcing her into a mental institution. However, over the past few years, there are reports that people have been brutally killed and sliced. One Texas Ranger who has been involved in investigating these murders is “Lefty” Enright, who happens to be the uncle of Sally Hardesty and he plans to avenge what had happened to his niece and nephew.
When local DJ Stretch witnesses the latest murders on her radio show, in which it is revealed that Leatherface and the clan have returned killing yuppies, she decides to enlist Lefty’s help. At first he refuses. However, when the patriarch, “Chili” chef Drayton Sawyer learns that the murders were broadcast live, he sends Chop-Top and Leatherface to kill Stretch. However, when Leatherface sees Stretch, instead of killing her, he ends up in love with her, thus letting her escape. In the meantime, Lefty sets a plan in motion to stop the Sawyer clan once and for all. Things come to a head when Stretch follows the clan to their hideout and Lefty also finds the hideout, culminating in a war that could be the end of the Sawyer clan.
When director Tobe Hooper signed a three-picture deal with Cannon Films, popular for their Ninja trilogy and Breakin’ films, the company had wanted Hooper to bring back his original character of Leatherface. However, unhappy with the practices of Cannon, he decided to turn this sequel to a dark comedy that just happened to be a horror film as well. Aside from Hooper, the only original cast member to return was Jim Siedow, who was only known as “The Old Man”, but under the script by L.M. Kit Carson, is finally given the name of Drayton Sawyer.
Dennis Hopper himself had called his role here one of his worst in is career. He plays the uncle of the original film’s survivor, who is so obsessed with what happened to his niece and nephew that he loses his mind in the process either by drinking or playing mind games with the clan with lines like “I’m the Lord of the Harvest”. Whether this was purposely done could be considered ridiculous except Siedow’s comeback line to Hopper of said line, which clearly implicates the comedy aspect of the film.
The film’s central plot of sorts revolves around Leatherface himself, now played by Bill Johnson. As Leatherface, Johnson somewhat emulates original chainsaw madman Gunnar Hansen with now the mentality of a teenager who is clearly in love. With every opportunity to kill the DJ who broadcasted the massacre of the two annoying yuppies in the film’s opening, he instead attempts to help her be free and goes as far as hiding her with a freshly skinned mask and even dances with her in what can be described as both cute and disturbing at the same time.
Finally, we have Chop-Top, played by the wonderful Bill Moseley. Many will wonder why this brother wasn’t in the first film? Well, it turns out that he was serving in Vietnam during the first film’s events and when he returned, he suffered from major shell shock with a metal plate in the head. He truly brings out the comedy aspect of the film, even carrying the now decomposed corpse of his twin brother, the Hitchhiker.
Tom Savini was in charge of the film’s special effects and the maestro truly gives us some interesting scenes including a half sawed-off head, the aforementioned freshly skinned mask, and even the Leatherface mask itself is quite impressive. Unlike the three masks of the previous film, the chainsaw-wielder only sports one mask. What could have been great was a deleted scene in which Leatherface literally goes through a band of football fans in a garage, sawing off one victim’s head in half and cutting another’s hand off, with the hand giving Leatherface the “finger”.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a love it or hate it sequel due to its comic overtones. As for this reviewer, it’s a fun sequel to a terror classic…”Dog will hunt!”
WFG RATING: B+
A Cannon Films production. Director: Tobe Hooper. Producers: Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Writer: L.M. Kit Carson; based on the characters created by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper. Cinematography: Richard Kooris. Editing: Alain Jakubowicz.
Cast: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson, Lou Perryman, Ken Evert.