Quick-Thoughts: Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

Dennis Hopper wielding three chainsaws is cinema I yell ya! 

While the new flashy (but great) carnival set pieces detract from the realism that made Tobe Hooper’s original so terrifying, not to mention Lefty and Stretch as leading protagonists aren’t really the kind of folk you’d buy as the everyday horror victims as opposed to a group of young adults on vacation, I’d be totally lying if I said this wasn’t fun to watch. To my surprise, after hearing so much about the “parody” aspect of this, I wasn’t expecting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to relatively maintain that level of uncomfortable and marginally satirical tension that the original had gorgeously revved on to a constant pulp. Obviously, this sequel leans into the comedic levity way more with its Mrs. Leatherface intentionally failed “Beauty and the Beast” plot-line and noticeably more visible lock on the sheer goofiness of the killers by airing longer time to their discourses or what have you, but it’s pretty macabre and uneasy nonetheless. 

The returning cast is great again as the unlikely plushy slashers, and Hooper surprisingly adds a lineup of iconic moments to remember when looking back at this — the well-built up opening “roadkill” sequence, the reintroduction to Chop-Top, the awkwardly elongated seduction of Leatherface, the unpredictable “masking” of Stretch as she begs for Leatherface to side with her, and the pure lunacy of that chainsaw battle finale. One major segment in this though that I felt was completely needless and distracting happened to be the recreation of the dinner sequence from the original, which doesn’t even attempt to add anything to differentiate; it’s basically just a way less gripping reshoot if anything that clumsily re-reminded me of how inferior Hooper’s eye for visual execution is in this when compared to its predecessor. A better callback that this sequel does is in its final scene where Chop-Top attempts to frighten Stretch by cutting himself like he did in the opening of the original, to which Stretch responds on the contrary with a chainsaw frenzy — very much indicating she does not give a single f**k; being mutilated with mutilations will overexpose ya! 

But yeah, this is more or less the same schtick as what The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was, but at the same time, also really not? It’s a pinball machine of conflicting tones like its parent figure but one also of gaudy locations and cracks at camp too, and that certainly makes for one hell of an attention grabber. If this is supposed to be Hooper’s career s**tpost, it’s at least a laboriously crafted one at that, which seems honorable considering the masterful material that it’s following up.  

Verdict: B-

The Texas Chainsaw Massacres Ranked

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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