The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: I may be alone in thinking that the original film just wasn’t much cop, but while I don’t remember much about the sequel, from whenever I saw it, the one thing you can say about this film is that is stars Dennis Hopper. And that’s a good start.
Yet again, the youngsters are going to come a cropper, starting with two guys in a sports car who try to play chicken with a pick-up truck while phoning up their local radio station. Unfortunately, for them, it’s populated by ol’ Leatherface (Bill Johnson). Of course, if they’d just slammed on the brakes then it would’ve been ‘problem solved’, but they maintain the same speed so one of them can get their head sliced open.
Dennis Hopper’s the Lieutenant in charge of the investigation that follows, and who is still angry following the time when his brother’s children were killed fourteen years earlier by the chainsaw-wielding maniac.
Cut to DJ Stretch (Caroline Williams, below), on local hick radio K-OKLA, who has recorded the phone call at her station and wants to get in on the investigation with Hopper. Before too long, Stretch comes face to face with Leatherface – well, face to Leatherface, really, but not before she’s met his brother Chop Top (Bill Moseley), an absolute whacko who lights the sharp end of a coat hanger and scratches his head with it. The reason for this will become obvious eventually. Throw in cook Drayton (Jim Siedow), who’s making a mint with the special meat in his curry, and 137-year-old Grandpa (Ken Evert), and this time it’s more about ‘keeping it in the family’.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is played a lot more for laughs than the original, and screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson explains the reason for this in the extras. While while I enjoyed it more for that, the film still goes on around 20 minutes longer than it needs to.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high defintion, and the print is sadly very grainy for a large portion of the film. Yes, it’s effectively in high-definition, but that doesn’t stop the print from looking riddled with grain in many scenes.
For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV with a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
The sound has a DTS HD 5.1 option, but while I selected that, there’s absolutely nothing going on in the rears, apart from one moment around 15 minutes from the end, which I won’t spoil here. The dialogue is clear, though, as are Stretch’s loud and never-ending screams
The extras on this disc are as follows – most of which are in HD, too:
- It Runs in the Family (1:27:55): Split into six parts, this is a documentary from 2006 which brings key cast and crew together, along with film clips, looking at the screenplay and how Carson had to rewrite it many times while they filmed; there’s the set design, the cast, the FX courtesy of Tom Savini, a segment about Tobe Hooper (despite him not appearing in most of the extras – but then I didn’t see Dennis Hopper turn up at all, and a lot of these interviews were filmed in 2006), and finally more thoughts about bringing things together for a sequel.
- Still Feelin’ The Buzz (28:31): A study of the film by Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA and Beyond Terror, a man who clearly has a love for this sequel.
- Cutting Moments with Bob Elmore (14:41): The stuntman gives his thoughts on being involved with the film.
- Alternate Opening Sequence (1:56): with a text-based introduction. It’s not as effective as the finished version, but I won’t give spoilers.
- Original Trailer (1:01): Short but sweet, and presented in 1.85:1.
- Image Gallery: 85 shots for your delight and delectation.
- Audio commentaries: One from director Tobe Hooper and one from actors Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and Tom Savini.
Then there’s a second disc of extras:
- Tobe Hooper’s Early Works: Two of the directors films from the ’60s. Firstly, The Heisters (10:27), a dialogue-free short film from 1964, in which three men play cards and then one of them, who looks a lot like Iain Lee, makes a beetle turn massive. This is presented in 2.35:1.
This is followed by Eggshells, Tobe Hooper’s 90-minute feature-length debut from 1969. Presented in 16:9, it has 12 chapters, English subtitles – unlike The Heisters – and was made on a budget of $100,000 and which he described as a “hippie movie”.
- Eggshells audio commentary: with Tobe Hooper.
- Trailer reel (24:47): Lucky for some, there are 13 trailers here, all in various ratios: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eaten Alive, Salem’s Lot, The Fun House, Poltergeist, Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Spontaneous Combustion, The mangler, Crocodile, Toolbox Murders and Mortuary
- In Conversation with Tobe Hooper (24:23): with the interview conducted by Calum Waddell
Overall, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a cult classic for millions of fans and the extras in this package will do them proud. If you’re a big fan, it’s a must-buy.
As you put either disc in, the menu bursts into life with clips from the film and a piece of the theme from the main features. There are subtitles in English, but for this Special Edition the chaptering is anything BUT special with the usual 12 that so many films get these days. Very lazy.
Running time: 100 minutes
Released: November 11th 2013
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD 5.1
Disc Format: 2*BD50
Director: Tobe Hooper
Producers: Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan
Screenplay: L.M. Kit Carson
Music: Tobe Hooper and Jerry Lambert
Lieutenant ‘Lefty’ Enright: Dennis Hopper
Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock: Caroline Williams
Cook: Jim Siedow
‘Chop-Top’ Sawyer: Bill Moseley
Leatherface: Bill Johnson
L.G. McPeters: as Lou Perry
Mercedes Driver: Barry Kinyon
Gunner: Chris Douridas
Man in hotel corridor: Tobe Hooper (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.