Directed by Tobe Hooper
Distributed by MGM
Rounding out the recent spate of MGM horror Blu-ray releases (which included Jeepers Creepers and Killer Klowns from Outer Space) is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Tobe Hooper’s gonzo follow-up to his 1974 classic. As with any studio re-release of an older film, a dreadful question always looms: is this disc a worthy presentation of a beloved genre pic, or is it a shameless cash grab with little love given to the film in question or its fans? Read on…
But first! If needed, a plot rehash: twelve years after the events of the first Chainsaw, Leatherface and the gang resurface and kill a couple of yuppies taking a joyride throughout Texas. The ill-fated duo happened to be chatting with a local radio personality, Vanita “Stretch” Brock (Williams), and the entire incident is recorded on audio. Stretch, believing the incident was more than the simple auto accident the local authorities wish it to be, seeks to enlist the only man she hopes will believe her: “Lefty Enright” (Hopper), former Texas Ranger and brother to two of the slain kids from the original film. Of course, this eventually puts her in the Sawyer family’s sights, leading to a confrontation between our heroes and the family from hell.
It’s strange to compare this sequel to its predecessor, as tonally they’re two completely different beasts. While the first film was gritty, realistic, and utterly unrelenting, Chainsaw 2 is a jet-black comedy, infused with over the top horror and some truly incredible Grand Guignol setpieces. And as such, it works beautifully.
Credit must go not only to Tobe Hooper and writer L.M. Kit Carson for the sharp direction and witty script, but also to the cast members, who all do a wonderful job of walking the horror/humor tightrope so skillfully. Caroline Williams makes for a smart, scrappy heroine, and one wishes that the genre might have rewarded her a bit more often throughout the years with any number of roles in various films. Hopper, too, manages to keep his hero both likable and maniacal, depending on the moment. It would’ve been easy to make Enright a cartoon, but Hopper manages to ground the character even during his crazier moments. Special mention must also go to genre fave Bill Moseley, whose fidgety, batshit insane Choptop is one of the more indelible characters in a franchise full of quite indelible characters.
So, yes. Great flick. If you’re a Chainsaw fan (and if you’re reading Dread, you likely are), you probably already own this flick on DVD. So, is it worth the price to upgrade to this Blu?
Absolutely. As with the other two recent MGM genre Blus, there are no new extras, but the improvement in the video and audio are noticeable enough to warrant plunking down the cash to own this edition.
The image is just fantastic, easily the best this film has ever looked on a home format. The picture is super-sharp, with wonderful detail and strong colors. There is a considerable amount of grain in the darker scenes, but it looks appropriate (and far preferable to any DNR’ing nonsense). Seriously, folks, there are moments in this film that are just breathtaking in Blu.
If only the same care could’ve been taken with the audio. Understand, the film sounds just fine. Better than on the DVD, sure. It’s a strong track, it’s just not on par with the image. While it’s nice that we are provided with DTS audio, I only wish the 2.0 track had been accompanied by a 5.1 remix. Ah, well.
We have a great collection of bonus features here, though all are carried over from the previous DVD release (2006’s “Gruesome Edition”). Provided are two audio commentaries (one with Hooper and Chainsaw doc director David Gregory), a selection of deleted scenes (dubbed “The Cutting Room Floor”), a 90-minute set of featurettes that can be watched individually or as one big making-of feature (“It Runs in the Family”), and the original trailer. Not shabby at all.
The only real problem with the package is the lack of a main menu (meaning you must access everything from the “Play” option to the bonus features through a pop-up menu, an annoyance with all of MGM’s recent Blus), and its terrible cover art (another holdover from the previous DVD). Ugh, that cover art. It apes the theatrical marketing of the early Saw films, and terribly so. Why this art was kept, when the other two MGM Blus received revamped (and also quite terrible) artwork is beyond me.
MGM (and other companies), please take note: if you’re planning on repackaging and selling catalogued horror titles such as Chainsaw, Jeepers Creepers, or Killer Klowns from Outer Space, then chances are the bulk of your sales are going to come from die-hard genre fans. So howzabout you don’t piss us off by slapping shitty, five-minute Photoshop jobs onto movies we love. Maybe take a note from Scream Factory, who provides not only decent artwork for their releases, but also the option of the original theatrical artwork as well. Just a suggestion…
That quibble aside, Chainsaw 2 is a fine disc to own, and is well worth the cash for the upgrade. Now! When the hell can we get Leatherface on Blu?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5