Mania Grade: C-
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- Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson
- Written By: Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel
- Directed By: Tobe Hooper
- Original Year of Release: 1986
- Distributor: MGM/Fox
- Extras: See Below
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Blu-Ray Review
Bad film transfers get flayed alive
By Chuck Francisco
October 10, 2012
Do you know that feeling of cruising the movie racks with someone whose tastes vary wildly from yours? It can become a frustrating challenge in compromise to find something to mutually enjoy. They want something light hearted that's family friendly, and comes in high definition. You'd prefer a maniacal slasher-comedy mash up, with confusing psycho-sexual chainsaw tension. Fox/MGM has another of your needs covered in their new Blu-Ray release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Everything on your list, plus a heaping helping of family bonding (in HD) is available in this neat little package. It's even light hearted...if you can laugh at gory brutalization (which if you're reading this review, you probably can).
The Sawyer family is back, after ten years away, terrorizing innocent Texans on back roads, and collecting human meat for inclusion in their award winning BBQ. Leatherface (now played by BIll Johnson) and Chop Top (Bill Moseley) are undone when their murder victim de jour happens to be on a car phone with a local radio DJ. The brutal murder is captured on tape, which our disc jockey heroin, Stretch (Caroline Williams), brings to former Texas Ranger Lefty, played by Dennis Hopper. Lefty is the uncle of two of the victims from the original film, and has been obsessively questing after the Sawyers for the past decade. Together they're our coach ride into the warped world of a cannibalistic family, with a penchant for gruesomeness. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a disjointed photo album, offering strange spectacles on ever page, though they may not all be connected.
This film had difficulty upon release because it's not part and parcel to the same genre as the original. The sequel takes a left turn at Albuquerque, arriving squarely in black comedy territory. At the same time, the laughs are deeply contrasted by the stark brutalism of it's predecessor. This juxtaposition didn't lend itself to successful profitdom for the studio in it's initial run. However, as with many films such as this, it grew a lush forrest of cult obsession. Still, the film feels segmented, with a number of really excellent set piece scenes being held loosely together by horse glue. Wicked moments, like the radio station chainsaw humping sequence, or the wonderfully creative set design of the Sawyer home (under an abandoned amusement park), point toward a warped brilliance that never quite clicks together into one solid package.
Sadly, the Blu-Ray transfer here is particularly grainy and feels inferior to many other HD releases. It stands above standard definition, but not by much. Even worse, the special features are simply cut and pasted off of the Gruesome Edition DVD release from 2006. It Runs in the Family is an extensive behind the scenes feature, giving you a plethora of tidbits surrounding the development and creation of the film, but if you already own the home release from six years ago, you've already seen it (along with the great, reused, commentary tracks, which include Caroline Williams, Bill Mosley, Tom Savini, and Tobe Hooper). A trailer and stills gallery are also included.
If you don't currently own a copy of this strange trip, you could do worse than this Blu-Ray release from Fox/MGM. But those who own the Gruesome Edition DVD and are looking to find out more, will be disappointed. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Blu-Ray hit retailer shelves on September 11th.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Saturday Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a horror co-host of two monthly film series at the world famousColonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA (home of 1958's 'The Blob'): First Friday Fright Nights andColonial Cult Cinema. You can hear him on awesome podcast You've Got Geek or follow him out onTwitter.