Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Gruesome Edition (DVD)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
The original landmark film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is considered by most to be a horror masterpiece. It spawned an entire series of films including a horribly butchered third sequel, a ludicrous fourth entry, a remake, and most recently a prequel. But there is one film in this franchise which undoubtedly stands out amongst the pack. The cult classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Upon its initial release fans of the first were a bit befuddled. The original Chain Saw was a dark, realistic, and visceral experience whereas the sequel was an uber-gory black comedy. I remember back in 1986 folks were crying foul and complaining because they wanted this movie to be as nightmarish and gritty as its predecessor. But director Tobe Hooper had other plans.
We're officially introduced to the Sawyers after Drayton "The Cook" (an unforgettable Jim Siedow) wins a chili making contest. Yep, the old family is still in the meat business, and they're busy turning the rest of the world on to their secret recipes. A couple of hard shell peppercorns later, we find Drayton's boys, Chop Top (Moseley) and Leatherface (Johnson), in pursuit of a local radio DJ (Williams) who has come into possession of a recording of one of their killings. Having an audio record of their exploits doesn't sit well with the killer clan, so before you know it the blood splattering and power tool wielding are in full killer swing.
That's the story in a nutshell. Tobe stated many times that he wanted to do something different with this telling of the tale. And different it was. Chainsaw 2 may not have been what people were initially expecting it to be, but it has stood the test of time and is probably more loved now than it ever was then. After a couple of decades it is clear that Hooper's (then) newly chosen path was right on the money.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has been floating around the home video circuit in various forms for many years. There are hundreds of bootlegs for sale that had the fabled Joe Bob Briggs scene and the parking garage slaughter. As fans, we're blood hungry. We want to see the missing bits we've all heard or read about. The trouble was that the only way to do so was by hunting down said blurry poor quality boots. Things looked even more dismal after Chainsaw 2 hit DVD a few years back with barely a single extra on it. Fans were pissed. Would we ever get the goods? It seemed as if there would never be an official definitive edition. Until now.
Fox's Gruesome Edition is a fan's wet dream. We get the unrated cut of the film along with several deleted scenes including the ones mentioned above. On top of that, we're treated to not one but two feature length commentary tracks. The first is an interesting listen as Tobe Hooper chats it up with filmmaker David Gregory. There's a lot of Chainsaw history spoken about here, and fans won't want to miss a single moment. And while that track may be good, the second one featuring Michael Felsher, Tom Savini, Caroline Williams, and Bill Moseley is the money shot. Holy shit, what a good time! Moseley shines here, slipping effortlessly in and out of his Chop Top character much to everyone's delight. Again, this track is nowhere near as informative as the first, but it is twice as entertaining. If you're going to watch the movie repeatedly (and I know you are), check out both of these commentaries. This, my friends, is DVD paydirt!
But wait! It gets better, and no, I'm not talking about the still galleries or the theatrical trailer. Wise ass.
Supplemental material producers Michael Felsher, David Gregory, and Chris Roe have given us yet another gift in the form of a ninety-two-minute making-of film entitled It Runs in the Family. Now we're talking! Family features tons of behind-the-scenes footage as well as current interviews with the cast and crew. It's impossible to watch this and not feel the fondness that everyone involved with both the movie and this making-of feel for the subject matter. You'll be amazed by how much heart and warmth could go into a flick that's so very evil. To quote old Lefty (Dennis Hopper) himself, "BRAZOS!"
If you were hungering for a be all, end all compendium for this movie, look no further. If it's out there and it's worthy of mention, it is on this DVD somewhere. Get rid of those old fourth generation bootlegs. Use that old MGM disc as a coaster. Go ahead, double dip fearlessly!
This is the cure for your aching banana!
Audio commentary by director Tobe Hooper and David Gregory, the director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth
Audio commentary by actors Bill Moseley and Caroline Williams and special effects creator Tom Savini
It Runs in the Family six-part featurette
Original theatrical trailer
5 out of 5