The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ★★★★★

Talk about a pleasant surprise to beat them all! As a lover of the original Hooper film, I was blown away by how uniquely the sequel cements its own identity. A bright neon pink and yellow colour palette establishes that this is its own beast, combined with an even more exaggerated production design that brought to mind '91s Nothing But Trouble. The combination of Caroline Williams as Stretch and Dennis Hopper playing Lefty splits the film between a stark horror in the vein of the original, combined with a revenge mission into the heart of Battle Land that's super satisfying to watch.

After an establishing scroll that sets the stage for a Texas that's under the oppressive shadow of this murderous family, the film's opening sequence is simultaneously exciting and horrifying. The Sawyer family are so menacing in their malice, the image of Leatherface taunting his prey with the corpse of his dead brother mounted to his torso a sinister image with genuine sticking power in the mind. From here, the film descends into a bizarre, off-kilter horror opera that totally flies by as we're drawn further into this world of extremes. I've mentioned it already, but the production design for Texas Battle Land is a triumph of horror space realisation. The use of fairy lights (a practical design in the film-making process)brings a strange playhouse mood to a place that's truly macabre.

I really can't understate how pleased I was watching this movie. It trades off the dusty, bleak atmosphere of the original film for something entirely different. In this case it's a brightly presented carnival nightmare ride, that also doubles down in the gore department to great effect. The scares are earned, the tension is real, and the characters are worth caring about in what's now one of my new favourite horror films. Don't expect something too close to the original when venturing into this, but those who enjoy idiosyncratic Southern characters and uncomfortable splatter will find exactly what they're looking for. Tobe Hooper leaves behind such a varied legacy of horror classics, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre deserves to be mentioned in that pantheon.

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