The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ★★★★

"Number one, the Sawyers are number one!"

Strangely, I didn't find the transition of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to a comedy for its sequel as strange a move as others did. As horrifying and harrowing as the original was, there were moments which were undeniably containing some (dark, dark) comedy. Yes, anyone looking for a true sequel to the original will be incredibly disappointed, but people keeping an open mind may find that they enjoy this film (it's kind of to TCM what Evil Dead II was to the original Evil Dead, though I think the tonal shift is even more extreme in this case). There are many things that will upset franchise purists (Leatherface being somewhat of a hero probably being at the top of that list), but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is still a fun, enjoyable, '80s horror-comedy romp.

The film opens with two (annoying) high school seniors calling into a radio request show (who apparently cannot be the first one to hang up) when the woman hosting the show hears them get murdered by a chainsaw (while driving). She teams up with a sheriff (played by Blue Velvet's Dennis Hopper, his role in this being not quite as great) to catch the people who have been terrorizing the Texas countryside, and come to find it is the cannibalistic, chainsaw-wielding family from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (I'll take this time to note that anyone who was disappointed that the original surprisingly contained very little chainsaw action will not have the same complaint for this film: there is an almost annoying amount of chainsaw-usage on display here.)

Not surprisingly, audiences of the '80s didn't really know what to think of this film, most disliking it. While I understand and respect Hopper's decision to not want to make the same movie again, the complete tonal shift between the two films worked to confuse and alienate audiences who expected to see a similar chainsaw massacre, and instead got an over-the-top, zany horror-comedy in its place. Still, as is often the case with horror movies, this film has found its audience over time, many people appreciating its bravery in going in a different direction and its comical wit. While it is certainly not as good as the infamous and magnificent original (which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest achievements in the entire horror genre), this film may be more fun to watch, even if it is not a perfect film.

I think that this movie did drag on a bit too long, and after the first attack on the radio station the movie felt like it didn't really know which direction it should go in, and the dinner scene was boring because, except for location and tonal changes, it was basically a replay of that scene in the original, right down to Grandpa trying, and failing, to hit their victim with a hammer. Also, Dennis Hopper's character spends too much time running around cutting wooden beams with a chainsaw, so by the end, despite being a Hopper fan and understanding that his character does have a purpose, he still didn't feel entirely necessary.

Besides these complaints (amongst some others), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a surprisingly solid film, if not a total genre classic. If you haven't seen this since the '80s, I would strongly consider a rewatch, and if you saw it and hated it, I'd also recommend a rewatch, this time having a better idea of what to expect (but horror-comedy just doesn't work for some people, especially in this franchise). Strange and definitely dated, TCM2 is a fun and unique experience, if not the nightmare the original was. Recommended, but with hesitation.

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