This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jim Drew’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
How do you follow up one of the greatest horror films of all time? Do you try to match the original's frightening almost bloodless intensity?
No, of course you don't.
You make the sequel as a comedy.
Like the Elm Street films, I stumbled onto this franchise at a young school age and not concerned with watching the respective part 1's. It's a great respect to those originals that watching this first (and Nightmare on Elm Street: Part 4) that they were still very scary afterwards. So I caught this on one of the dodgy videotapes floating around. Very poor quality 4th generation, but it was better than whatever was on tv I'm sure. But I didn't really 'get' it at the time. What a strange tone this film has. No attempt to be scary really, bar a still successful jump scare as Leatherface leaps out of the shadows. A very low body count, despite the excess gore. If you don't include the evil Sawyers'.
So I'm now well beyond age to understand horror doesn't have to be scary. And that it can be lighthearted, even if it's as bloody as sin. A film can get by on energy and this is one of those. The two young douches set the tone at the very beginning. Screaming all their lines, until Leatherface appears where they quieten down for just a second. And shortly after, we get the first gory kill in the series which showcases some glorious work by the masterful Tom Savini.
There is also the introduction later on of Dennis Hopper. Seemingly stepping out a drug cloud, we see him studying the douchey car wreck as though it were a killer whale carcass. This madman ex-Texas (Exas?) Ranger has a score to settle with the Sawyer clan. The rest of the authorities remain largely unconcerned.
There are a couple of similarities to the original. The plight of the DJ, who is central to Hopper's 'investigation', is a lot like that of Marilyn Burns. Except this time Leatherface has the hots for his would-be prey. Poor Caroline Williams doesn't know what to think before she's under Grandpa's hammer. And every time Jim Siedow is speaking, you can't help but cast your mind back. He does well to capture that character again given he wasn't exactly a prolific actor. Perhaps credit should go to director Tobe Hooper there too.
TCM2 pleasingly is a fun film to revisit. Honestly, it could have gone either way as my memories were understandably a tad mixed. The sloppier moments coexist just fine with the verve on display.
The price of admission is worth it alone to see the two most OTT elements duke it out. I don't mean Leatherface. But Hopper. His character is threatened to be overwhelmed by the fantastically gothic tunnels running underneath an abandoned carnival.
So he decides to fight bits of wood.