The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ★★½

HoopTober 4.0 4/31

What. Did I just watch.

I thought the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a strange film. I was not prepared for the clusterfuckery of the second film.

I've seen a few installments of the Texas Chainsaw franchise, but this is my first time attempting to view them in order, and I have to say that watching them chronologically has not really helped my understanding of the Sawyer family lore. There are conventions present in this film that remain present for the rest of the series: dark humor, explicit cannibalism, a sympathetic Leatherface, and more. But this film is so unnervingly different from the previous film that it feels more like the start of a new series.

Like the first film, Hooper has crafted a female protagonist that earns the title of final girl. Stretch has gained something of a cult following, and with good reason. And speaking of cult following, we also see the introduction of Chop Top, a role Bill Moseley more or less reprises in the Texas Chainsaw "inspired" House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. What sets Hooper and Rob Zombie apart is the ability to look at what they're directing and realize that it doesn't have to be taken seriously. Hooper was more than capable of making a seriously scary horror film. Why he chose to take this direction 12 years later is a mystery I'm going to think about for years to come.

To sum up my experience with this film, there is a moment, almost identical in circumstance to an instance in the first film, where our heroine is trapped and to be brutalized by the Sawyer brood. And yet, the feeling of watching both of these scenes is so vastly different. The feeling of abject terror from Marilyn Burns's genuine screaming is replaced by Moseley's persistent one liners, and the moment is interrupted completely not by the heroine breaking free, but by Dennis Hopper thinking he's on a mission from God wielding a chainsaw of his own. Top that with a score so offensively over the top 80's and you've got the definition of a tonal shift. Very, very strange.