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Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, The (Blu-ray)

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Blu-ray

texas chainsaw 2Starring Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley, Jim Siedow

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Distributed by Scream Factory


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series can be called many things, but predictable is definitely not one of them. Creator Tobe Hooper left a gruesome mark on pop culture when he released The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, delivering what is still considered by audiences to be one of the scariest horror films of all time. Instead of producing a follow-up in the same vein, however, he opted to turn the subtle black humor of the first film up to eleven, making The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986) into a wildly horrific comedy. Fans have been divided since the film’s release as to whether or not this was a good decision. I think it was genius. For starters, it is highly unlikely Hooper would have been able to recapture the austere terror of the first film. The original is a masterpiece of horror; it cannot be replicated. Secondly, by injecting copious amounts of satire and sleaze, while subtly offering up a social commentary on everything from ‘80s excess to Freudian muscle-men-led action pictures, Hooper is able to breathe new life into Leatherface and his cannibalistic clan. The reclusive rejects of the first film are realized as characters with more depth – they might be characters devoid of empathy and the basics of human emotion, but by shining a light into the Sawyer family’s decrepit homestead Hooper doesn’t diminish their propensity for terror through this illumination – he revs it to the max.

Picking up in real time, over a decade after the events of the first film, this sequel opens with the most hated scum of the ‘80s: yuppies. Specifically, a couple of high school yuppies, cruising down the highway in a two-seat Mercedes Benz and shooting at road signs. Drunk and full of vigor, the two call up a local radio station and pester DJ Vanita “Stretch” Brock (Caroline Williams), refusing to hang up and clear the line despite her repeated requests. Their call is literally cut off when a truck the two douchebags played chicken with earlier comes roaring back, with Leatherface perched in the bed, chainsaw at the ready. The boys are turned into hamburger meat, all while Stretch unwittingly listens in on the chaos.

Lt. “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper) shows up at the scene of the wreck the next morning, convinced this “accident” is the work of the same murderous brood that killed his nephew, the wheelchair-bound Franklin, and left his niece Sally in a catatonic state. Stretch catches wind of Lefty’s crusade via a small article in the local paper and she goes to his seedy motel to offer up the tape. Lefty rebuffs her offer, but the next day he shows up at the radio station and makes a request: play the tape every hour, on the hour, in hopes that people will listen and know the truth about these killings. Stretch does as he asks but unfortunately for her the tape also draws the attention of the Sawyer family. Just as Stretch is about to close up for the night she heads downstairs and runs into Chop Top (Bill Moseley), a self-confessed huge music fan who has a special request. She placates him just long enough for Leatherface to burst from the shadows. His entrance is a little clumsy, though, and he dents Chop Top head plate, giving Stretch time enough to run upstairs. While Leatherface gives chase, Chop Top comes across Stretch’s co-worker, L.G. (Lou Perryman), whom he mercilessly beats with a ballpeen hammer. Meanwhile, upstairs Leatherface takes a liking to Stretch, allowing her to live before he and Chop Top take off with L.G.’s body.

Stretch gives chase and follows the two back to their family hideout, stationed inside of an abandoned amusement park called “Texas Battle Land”. As she creeps around the property, Lefty shows up – with three chainsaws in tow – but Stretch falls down a trap door, tumbling into the heart of the Sawyer’s dilapidated carnival of horrors. Lefty, meanwhile, does some investigating of his own and comes across the decayed corpse of Franklin, still in his wheelchair and clutching that flashlight. Fueled by intense, hellfire-and-brimstone anger, Lefty goes on a rampage destroying the Sawyer’s subterranean lair, while Stretch does her best to survive another encounter with Leatherface and company.

For a long time I had very ambivalent feelings about this film. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of my favorite films of all-time, horror or otherwise, and when I first saw this tonally shifted sequel it didn’t work for me. The humor was too overt. Lefty was an odd, enigmatic character. Stretch annoyed me to no end. For years I preferred the other sequel to the original film, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1993), a movie that attempted to recalibrate the series by mixing equal parts horror and humor. But as time went on, and I watched the film sporadically over the years, it began to grow on me like a bloody fungus. I began to appreciate the characters-turned-caricatures. The weird, eerie score (also by Hooper). The over-the-top gonzo gore. The production design.

On that last one, seriously, the production design on this film is astonishing. It’s even more impressive when you consider the film began shooting in June and was released in August of the same year. Even with a cripplingly tight schedule, production designer Cary White and his crew created one of the greatest sets I’ve ever seen: Texas Battle Land. The underground crypt of the Sawyer family looks like it’s been home to ghoulish acts of depravity for decades. The sprawling labyrinth is replete with skeletons, body parts, desiccated corpses, carnival lights, all sorts of discarded items, tunnels… it’s like an episode of “Hoarders” for the serial killer scene. Honestly, I would be just as content had the film been Stretch and Lefty wandering around this massive maze the entire time, running into some sort of mayhem around each bend.

Hooper refrained from personifying the Sawyer clan in the first film. Characters were named “Cook” or “Hitchhiker”. Here, he does an about-face and allows each family member to have a name and a colorful personality. “Cook” is Drayton Sawyer, once again played by Jim Siedow, an award-winning chili cook who is the de facto patriarch of the brood. Siedow was responsible for most of the first film’s gallows humor, and here he cranks up the wit with one-liners flying free in every scene. When Drayton gets his dander up, he just gets funnier. “Sure burned my beans on that one!” Hitchhiker may have died in the first film, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get in on the fun this time around. Here, he’s Nubbins, a dried-up corpse toted around by Chop Top, his twin brother who missed out on the massacre in ’74 due to his deployment in ‘Nam. Moseley created an all-time character in Chop Top, the foul-mouthed, wisecracking, rotten-toothed, chrome-domed brother of Leatherface. Chop Top has some exceedingly gross habits, such as heating up a bent coat hanger to scratch dead skin off his skull plate before eating it. There are so many ticks and flourishes to Chop Top that he could carry his own spinoff.

And then there’s Leatherface, whom the family calls “Bubba”. He was a monolith of death the first time around, meting out swift execution through fear due to his stunted mental development. For the sequel, he’s a gyrating, suit-and-tie guy who’s horned up and looking for love. He’s still a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by how maliciously he offs the yuppies and when he finally battles Lefty chainsaw-a-chainsaw during the climax. But for most of the film he’s Bubba, Chop Top’s little bro. His saw isn’t just an instrument of death; it’s also an extension of his manhood. Just as machineguns in ‘80s action films were a metaphor for guys playing with their big dicks, Leatherface thrusts his saw in the same thinly veiled manner. His hobbies may include eating people and violent dismemberment, but at the end of the day he just wants somebody to love. Sweet, right?

Alright, I think I’ve rattled on long enough. Suffice it to say, Hooper’s once polarizing picture has settled into a comfortable life as a deserving cult classic. My appreciation for the film only grows with each subsequent viewing, and thanks to such ornate set design there are minute details to be discovered with each viewing. Fans have likely purchased this film a few times already, between the VHS, two DVD releases, and a Blu-ray from MGM. But if you’re in the market for the definitive version – yes, even more so than Arrow’s buff Region-B edition – then Scream Factory’s release is unquestionably the one to own.

Looking to please fans across the board, Scream Factory has made this release a two-disc edition, featuring two different transfers of the film – a new 2K HD scan of the inter-positive and the original HD master with color correction supervision by director of photography Richard Kooris. My suggestion: don’t even bother with the former. The new 1.85:1 1080p picture is a clear improvement over MGM’s old disc, with tighter film grain, richer colors, less dirt & debris, and better detailing. The image is sharp – just look at the sleek lines on every automobile, or the textures in clothing – with even night shots displaying far more picture information than on the old release. The sharpness of those finer details can be variable though this is certainly the best this film has ever looked. If you really feel the need to watch the old disc with the d.p.’s color timing you won’t be in for a rough viewing, but comparatively this new scan blows the old one out of the water.

There is frequent activity to be heard on the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound track, though not much of it comes from the rear speakers. Instead, expect to hear some solid separation amongst the dialogue and effects emanating from the front end of your system. The constant buzz of chainsaws will make your neighbors think you’re doing some major home project in the living room. This is a strong track, eve if it isn’t impressively powerful. My favorite element here: the score, written by Tobe Hooper and Jerry Lambert. It’s like Bernard Herrmann wrote something strange and creepy meant to be played on a keyboard. The main title is a very underrated piece of music as far as horror scores go. Even worse, the score has never been released on any format – ever. Someone get Waxwork or Death Waltz on the case posthaste.

DISC ONE:

The new audio commentary on this disc features director of photography Richard Kooris, production designer Cary White, script supervisor Laura Kooris, and property master Michael Sullivan. If you’re in the mood to hear some slow talking old Texans discuss their time in the trenches on this film, then give this track a spin. It’s got plenty of silent gaps, but there’s still some gold to be mined.

Director Tobe Hooper’s audio commentary from 2006’s special edition DVD returns here. He’s got plenty to say about the film and its legacy, making this the track to choose among the three included here.

For a less serious time, listen to the audio commentary featuring actors Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, and special effects make-up creator Tom Savini. This is a lively track full of fond recollections, though its technical and informative depth is limited.

“It Runs in the Family Extended Outtakes” – With both L.M. Kit Carson and Lou Perryman leaving this Earth far too early, this piece offers up additional interview footage of the two, culled from outtakes of the feature-length doc included on disc two.

There are a number of still galleries included here:

– “Black & White Stills” features 60 images.
– “Behind the Scenes” features 127 images.
– “Personal Collection of Jason Guy” features 24 images.
– “Color Stills” features 24 images.
– “Posters & Lobby Cards” features 51 images.
– “Special Effects Gallery” features 27 images.

There are two theatrical trailers and seven TV spots, all in HD.

“More Bits” has some extra meaty features:

– “Behind the Scenes Footage Compilation”- Showing off more of Savini’s gruesome FX work and on-set shooting.
– “Alternate Opening Credit Sequence” – Instead of a black background the credits roll over shots of the moonlit Texas landscape.
– “Deleted scenes” – Text cards explain each shot and why it was cut. These are presented in 4×3 full-frame.

DISC TWO:

“House of Pain – with Make-up Effects Artists Bart Mixon, Gabe Bartalos, Gino Crognale, and John Vulich” – Nearly all of the film’s FX team, minus Savini, are interviewed separately to discuss each of the major effects pieces shown on camera, including a few that didn’t make the final cut.

“Yuppie Meat – with actors Chris Douridas and Barry Kinyon” – The yuppies seen in the film’s opening are interviewed together, discussing how they got their roles and what it was like working with Hooper. Apparently he’s quite the hardass.

“Cutting Moments – with editor Alain Jakubowicz” – The elderly editor says he loved this movie, which he saw as a total comedy. He also takes the time to discuss his lengthy career.

“More Bits” once again hides a number of worthwhile bonus features:

– “Behind the Mask – with Stunt Man & Leatherface Performer Bob Elmore”.
– “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds”- Once again, showing off the location from the film as they stand today.
– “It Runs in the Family” – Don’t miss this hidden gem, as it offers up an exhaustive look at the entire process of making this film from start to finish.

Special Features:
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 [Collector’s Edition] Bonus Features:

Disc 1: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part Two (New HD Transfer)

  • NEW 2016 2K HD scan of the inter-positive film element
  • NEW Audio Commentary with director of photography Richard Kooris, production designer Cary White, script supervisor Laura Kooris and property master Michael Sullivan
  • Audio Commentary with director Tobe Hooper
  • Audio Commentary with actors Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and special effects makeup creator Tom Savini
  • NEW Extended Outtakes from It Runs in the Family featuring L.M. Kit Carson and Lou Perryman (30 minutes)
  • NEW Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation from Tom Savini’s archives (43 minutes)
  • Alternate Opening Credit Sequence
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Still Galleries – posters and lobby cards, behind-the-scenes photos, stills and collector’s gallery
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots

Disc 2: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part Two (Original HD Transfer)

  • MGM’s original HD Master with color correction supervision by director of photography Richard Kooris
  • NEW House of Pain – a interview with make-up effects artists Bart Mixon, Gabe Bartalos, Gino Crognale and John Vulich (42 minutes)
  • NEW Yuppie Meat – a interview with actors Chris Douridas and Barry Kinyon (19 minutes)
  • NEW Cutting Moments – a interview with editor Alain Jakubowicz (17 minutes)
  • NEW Behind the Mask – a interview with stunt man and Leatherface performer Bob Elmore (14 minutes)
  • NEW HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS – revisiting the locations of the film – hosted by Sean Clark plus a special guest (25 minutes)
  • It Runs in the Family – a six part feature-length documentary featuring interviews with screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson, actors Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Lou Perryman, special makeup effects artist Tom Savini and more… (84 minutes)

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
  • Special Features
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User Rating 3.23 (13 votes)

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