Ryster’s review published on Letterboxd:
Part of Hoop-Tober 3.0
Here's the thing with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, it's quite the shift in tone from the original. During last years Hoop-Tober I watched, for the very first time, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and it might've been the most disturbing film I saw that year. I thought it was a fantastic horror film and I believe that it's masterfully crafted. There's not a lot of violence or gore, there's hardly a light moment and that dinner scene still haunts me. Tobe Hooper, the creator of TCM, believed that the original was a pitch black comedy of sorts. I think that it's far from it. This is where I believe TCM2 truly succeeds. If Hooper's intention was to make a comedy that pokes satirical fun at then current events, he absolutely succeeded with this. Right from the start you can tell that this film is far from what the original is. Whereas there's hardly any onscreen violence in the first, here we get heads sawn in half, blood and guts all over the place and lots of gore. The tone might not be lighter (as we're still witnessing horrific events) but it's definitely less disturbing due to a comedic screenplay and the fact that it's not as realistic looking as the first.
Stretch is a young radio DJ. One night she gets a call from two young men that just want to annoy her. They refuse to hang up the phone. All of a sudden, Stretch hears chainsaws and screaming coming from the phone and then all of a sudden the line goes dead. This unsettles Stretch and she goes out to give the tapes to a lawman.
Dennis Hopper plays the Texas lawman Lefty Enright. He's crazy in this role. He's so much fun to watch. From the incredible one-liners to his facial expressions while he screams, he's always entertaining. His character has connections to the original film and if the character wasn't such an eccentric one then his subplot might've been touching and the emotional punch for the film but it's not. However, that didn't disappoint me because seeing Dennis Hopper dual wield chainsaws in a chainsaw battle is much more entertaining for this type of movie. Caroline Williams plays Stretch and she's a character that gets so close to being on my nerves. She's a very stereotypical horror heroine. There's many moments in which she's helpless and doesn't know what to do when she clearly should. Saying that, there are a few where she tries to trick Leatherface in hopes that he doesn't kill her but she's not like that at all times. Bill Moseley plays Chop-Top and he's an insane character. At times he's quite unsettling and at others he's spouting out hilarious lines. Bill Johnson as Leatherface also has a few funny moments. It's very strange but surprisingly works.
The story takes place many years after the original. The Sawyers have relocated to an abandoned amusement park and are back at large. It's not as disturbing as the original and it's definitely because it's not as dark. For example, there's a dinner scene in this film and it's very similar to the original. However the soundtrack isn't as chilling nor is the scenery as revolting. It's set in a place that has Christmas lights and abandoned amusements. Therefore it's just not as effective. It's memorable but for entirely different reasons. I'll never forget Dennis Hopper's performance here. There are scares in this and they are really good. They are unexpected and did make me jump. The practical effects is also really well done. If it weren't for the obvious satirical aspect of the film, it would be up there with the original. The soundtrack is one of the most obvious flaws with the film for me. The first film has such a terrifying and scary soundtrack (one of the best horror soundtracks in my opinion) that when scary scenes happen here and it doesn't pack as much dread it's a bit disappointing. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 got a lot of negative reviews back when it was released and I do believe that it wasn't entirely deserved. Sure it's a major departure from the first but, standing on its own, it's a decent 80s horror flick. It delivers scares, laughs and enough gore to satisfy every type of horror fan.