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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 10/31/00

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
1986 (2000) - MGM

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/C-/D

Specs and Features

100 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"Don't skimp on the meat."

Having scared the crap out of people everywhere with the original, Tobe Hooper figured he had one more Chainsaw Massacre in him and decided to finish telling his story... this time with the help of Dennis Hopper. It's important to note that Hopper wasn't a big pop culture hero at this time. He'd fallen on some hard times and wouldn't get back into the cult spotlight again until later in the same year with Hoosiers and then Blue Velvet. All in all, this was the beginning of some good times for him.

Getting back to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the story sorta picks up where the last one left off. Having caused quite a commotion, the "family" picks up and relocates. Living underground, they are trying to fly under the radar. The older brother "Cook" is a huge success at catering meals for football functions and barbecues. In fact, he's just won an award for his chili, just never mind those huge peppercorns/teeth in the mix. His two brothers, "Chop Top" and good ol' Leatherface, are also trying to stay low in their own way - but alas, they can't suppress who they are and slice and dice their way through a import luxury car containing two wise-ass yuppie teens. Problem is, the yuppies were pranking local disc jockey Vantia "Stretch" Block (Caroline Williams) at the time, who now has the murder on audiotape. When former Texas Ranger Lefty Enright (Dennis Hopper), who also happens to be the proud uncle to two of the dead kinds, comes sniffing around, he talks Stretch into playing the "song" on the radio - which, of course, brings the gruesome twosome out to play. From there, Stretch experiences a hell that anyone would be lucky to make it out of and remain sane, let alone alive. She'll watch as her co-worker gets filleted, she'll witness a stack of bones gathering dust and she'll have a very large leather faced goon fall in love with her and try to love her with a chainsaw.

For some (like me) Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a fulfilling and logical follow-up to the ground-breaking original film. It's grown with the times and is less horrific than the first (it actually has a sort of a humorous black comic edge that steps close to parody, but never falls in). Chop Top is my favorite "family" member here, and every time he's on the screen, I'm both repulsed and intrigued... which is the sign of a good horror anti-hero. Tom Savini provides the special effects here and they get pretty gross, which is also the sign of a good horror film. All in all, I think this is a fun little horror flick and something worth checking out.

Now, wanna hear something funny? In the review for the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre I criticize the transfer for being sub par, and say to stick with the earlier laserdisc version that Elite put out. For this film, it's the opposite. I'm going to say that you can chuck out the video transfer of the laserdisc version of this film and stick with this new one on DVD. The video quality is surprisingly good. It can get grainy at times, but that's a print issue and is no fault of the DVD. The picture is also opened up a bit as compared to previous incarnations. There's more picture area on the top and sides and the image is a bit sharper. Score one for DVD. About the only negative comment I have is that it can get edgy at times, with a bit too much edge enhancement. Other than that, it's a pretty solid transfer for a non-anamorphic picture.

You'd probably be able to get rid of the laserdisc version entirely if it weren't for the fact that the soundtrack on this DVD is so bad. The Dolby Digital audio really sucks on this one. It's got no range whatsoever. Everything comes out sounding like it was projected from a wet tennis ball. It's too bad. Oh... and the laserdisc included supplements that this DVD doesn't have as well (which aren't much - just two lost scenes that Elite found on a collector's video tape. Two scenes lost forever, considering that the original film elements are long gone. Even Tobe Hooper doesn't have them).

Extras on the DVD are very light, with just a trailer on this disc. That's about it. No love lost, I guess. I would have liked a commentary track, because I like this film just as much as the original and figure there has to be some cool stories here. But, oh well.

In my mind, you can't watch one Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the other. Sure, there are a few sequels and some are worth watching, but these two are the best of the batch and pretty much go hand in hand. If you're looking to push your limits, see if you can stand the experience of the first film. If you can make it through that, you've definitely got what it takes to be a good horror fan. The second film is a bit watered down, but it still has its own charms. Check 'em out back to back and see if you agree.

Todd Doogan
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