The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ★★★★½

For real, I was not expecting to like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 all that much. The opening text scroll - narrated by someone whose voice is no match for the somber smoothness of John Larroquette's in the first film - seemed to confirm my doubts, and I was prepared for a seriously inadequate sequel. And really, TCM2 can't live up to the first film and its raw, disturbing intensity, so it tries a slightly different strategy. In the opening minutes, the sequel displays a uniquely manic, deranged energy, and it only gets wilder once Leatherface begins attacking two drunk morons with his trusty chainsaw from a moving vehicle.

Set thirteen years after the original massacre, TCM2 stars Dennis Hopper as a renegade lawman (and relative of two of the first film's characters) attempting to hunt down the psychotic cannibal family plaguing his home state. He teams up with a local DJ who happened to have a call-in from the pair of victims mentioned above to lure the murderers out, but they both wind up in the insane Sawyer family's secret lair - hidden under an abandoned amusement park for maximum craziness.

I have no more articulate way to describe this movie than to say it's fucking insane. This is a movie in which Dennis Hopper has a chainsaw battle with Leatherface, and that isn't even the craziest TCM2 gets! I watched it by myself, but that didn't stop me from standing up and saying "Holy shit!" at the pure madness of the final shot. Director Tobe Hooper had a definite change of style in the years between TCM2 and its predecessor, so this one feels much more like an extremely twisted comedy, but that doesn't prevent it from also being freaky and terrifying either (and it has one of the most successful, unexpected jump-scares I've ever seen). It's a particularly delirious combination of horror and comedy, one of the weirdest and most incredible I've seen.

Amid the chainsaw madness and cannibalistic chili cook-offs, Hooper also hammers away at a pretty heavy theme of American obsession with warfare and violence (awesomely ironic). I was too distracted by how nuts the movie was to really comprehend the message, but the ideas are there just waiting to be dived into. Just look at how proudly the American flag waves in the final shot, it looks like it's mimicking the primitive motions of the chainsaw-wielding lunatic below it. This movie is incredible. So aside from TCM2 and Lords of Salem, are there any other absolutely crazy horror movies with cool DJ heroines? It's a format that seems to work for me.