Jordan James Brooks’s review published on Letterboxd:
“The saw is family.”
I used to count this movie as a guilty pleasure, whereas now I just accept it as being a genuinely good film. I count this one as being more of a ‘what if the story went down this route’ like I do with a lot of franchises, because the first film just stands so well on its own.
The story follows a radio DJ, best known as Stretch (Caroline Williams) who is hounded by prank calls one night. When one call-in captures the audio of two people being murdered by a chainsaw, she seeks the help of a former Texas Marshall (Dennis Hopper), who just so happens to have lost his nephew to the hands of a chainsaw wielding psychopath a decade ago.
This film takes itself a lot less seriously; just take a look at that poster that shamelessly parodies The Breakfast Club. It seems comedy horror was all the rage in the late eighties, with Evil Dead II getting its release the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. And whilst it may seem like a strange idea to inject into such a classic horror setup, it does work quite well and makes for an exciting film experience. Instead of a house, the Sawyer family settle for an abandoned carnival ground decorated with human remains, which goes far underground. Some of the film’s best moments take place here, and it makes for a satisfying conclusion as well.
If this movie is guilty of anything, it’s perhaps the fact that it does make Leatherface a little less fearful; now, if we were talking about Michael Myers, I might object, but I actually don’t mind it too much with this film. It doesn’t take that much away from Leatherface, and the film still has some genuinely shocking moments, which I’ll get into. The depiction of Leatherface in this film is actually relatively iconic, especially those moments when he raises the chainsaw above his head and shakes it like a manic; that’s pretty much the calling card of this movie.
Dennis Hopper balances between brilliance as well as feeling out of place, as the vendetta holding Marshall who goes completely crazy throughout the movie. Watching him carry around a couple of chainsaws in a plight of seeking revenge will never get old, and is one of the film’s many highlights. Likewise, Bill Moseley as Chop-Top is one of the most memorable things about this second film; although the character should most certainly be dead after the last film, he very much breathes new life into him.
Despite all of the comical moments, the horror aspects are all but vacant. One of the most shocking moments comes when we get the first ever glimpse at Leatherface crafting one of his masks out of human skin; this is one of the most disturbing moments in the movie, and possibly the entire franchise.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a really great time if you give it a chance. It’s just about become one of the best known cult horror flicks, and deserves its place up there amongst the best. Despite the sudden turn in direction, there are iconic moments in this movie that have gone on to pretty much define the franchise. One of the reasons it works so well is because it crafts humor out of the most obscene things, which is dark comedy done right! Besides, who doesn’t want to see Dennis Hopper have a chainsaw duel with Leatherface?!