Cult Movies: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 still an inferior sequel

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is in inferior to its horror classic predecessor in every way
Ralph McLean

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

DIRECTOR Tobe Hooper may have re-written the low budget, high gore horror rule book with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974 but it still took him more than 10 years to get a follow up into American cinemas.

Sadly, it wasn't really worth the wait.

As an admirer of that visceral and wildly violent first outing for garden tool-wielding nutjob Leatherface and his family of inbred, country crazies, I remember feeling a little tingle of anticipation when a follow up was finally announced.

However, when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (you must have been up all night thinking of that title, Tobe!) finally did splatter itself all over our movie screens in 1986, the sense of disappointment was crushing.

Too self-knowing, too desperate to find childish humour in the darkest of places and, let's be honest here, too similar in storyline to the original, it came as huge let-down for many a hardcore horror fan.

Where the first film shocked and innovated, breathing new life into the cheap and cheerful world of horror film-making this just felt tacky and a bit too post-modern for its own good.

With the good people at Arrow re-issuing the film in a deluxe two disc Blu-ray set, I was tempted into revisiting TTCM2 again to see if I was being slightly too harsh first time around.

Sadly, I wasn't: the film still sucks like a turbo-charged vacuum, but I can at least now acknowledge there are moments of magic to enjoy throughout this fairly grim gore fest.

For a start, there's the sight of Dennis Hopper hamming it up as a former Texas Ranger who has an obsession with bringing Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and his cannibal creed to justice.

Like the whole project, Hopper is wildly over the top and therefore hugely entertaining in the process.

There are unlikely, but faintly amusing, scenes where Leatherface runs riot with his power tools in a radio studio, attacking Caroline Williams when her radio show fails to meet with the approval of the oddball crew – and there is even the truly shocking sight of the killer himself actually falling in love.

Now that is seriously horrific.

The grisly effects of the great Tom Savini ladle on the blood and guts to an almost stomach-churning level and there are enough knowing nods to the first film to keep movie geeks excited for months.

There are moments of attempted arty pretension that fall flat on their face and an ending that feels utterly compromised in every way. Given that the production only wrapped filming one month before it hit cinemas perhaps explains that – but still doesn't excuse it.

Arrow's labour of love release sees a pristine new digital transfer and a wealth of extras including commentary from director and co-writer Hooper and more tidy little featurettes and bonus items than you could shake a loud, vibrating chainsaw at.

It still doesn't make it a good film but they certainly help it look better.

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