Synopsis: A detective and radio show host team up to solve the mysterious Texas Chainsaw Massacre Murders that have cropped up since that fateful day a now comatose Sally told authorities about. Unfortunately, once the pair do team up and infiltrate the home of the murderers, the movie devolves into an unscripted mess that’s tied up with a scene that mirrors the last scene of the first movie.
Normally in this section of the review, I start telling you about what happened in the movie and stick some witty commentary in it for flair. I’m still doing to do that, but I have a bit of an issue to get through first…
The issue I have with doing that this week is that I have NO FUCKING IDEA what this movie was supposed to be about.
There’s no structure, the characters are horribly dumb, and if I wasn’t reviewing the movie for content, I would have shut it off within the first 20 minutes.
Folks, this movie is bad. It’s not so bad it’s good, it’s not “haha, that’s such a bad movie from the 80’s” bad. This movie is a movie that never should have been made and I can’t believe it was touted as a sequel to the original.
Okay, that was a harsh start. I’m going to do my best to get through this movie so you can fully understand my pain.
The movie begins with these two weird, very loud douchebags driving in a car to a party or something. As they drive, they’re listening to the radio, hosted by someone named Stretch. No one in this movie has a real name, in case you were wondering, except for maybe Drayton Sawyer.
Anyway, they call in, are assholes, and don’t hang up the phone so Stretch is forced to talk to them until they do. Stretch and her station manager LG state over and over that the phone can not be hung up from her end, so they’re forced to listen to the boys even after they are killed on the road by Leatherface and his father.
My issue with this tidbit is that a few moments later in the film, when the phone rings while Stretch is on her own and there’s no one on the other end, she hangs up like that was never an issue in the first place.
Yes, that’s a little nitpicky and that’s not the worst this review is going to get, but I like to complain. That’s why I started reviewing movies.
Anyway, while we meet Stretch, we also meet a man in an ill fitting suit with a too-big cowboy hat that always manages to stay clean. His name is Lefty, and we soon learn that Franklin and Sally are his brother and sister. Actually, the movie states that he’s their uncle, but once he’s down in the tunnels where he finds Franklin’s body comically sitting up in a wheelchair, he says “brother” and then when he goes to rescue Stretch at the end he says “sister.” So that’s a bit of a blurred line. Because I needed the aid of the film’s Wikipedia page to pick up on the things I missed, I saw that this guy is a former Texas Ranger who is investigating the Texas Chainsaw Massacres on his own.
A title sequence in the beginning of the film similar to the first movie, tells us that Sally, after escaping, was sent to the hospital and, after being treated, basically fell into a coma. Because of this and other murders springing up with no trace of the family doing the killings in the 14 year span since the first film, certain people, like Lefty, are doing their own investigating to try and figure out what’s going on and how to stop them.
Lefty is an odd character. He doesn’t have that much going for him, he’s not very motivated, and as far as the actual investigation goes, he kinda falls of the rails and starts chainsawing down the supports of an underground tunnel structure instead of doing any actual investigating.
Lefty is trying to make as many details of the Texas Chainsaw murders public so people can have access to the truth that the police are trying to cover up…or whatever. So, Stretch approaches Lefty and tells him that the recording she has of those two boys being murdered could help with his investigation.
He basically says “no thanks” even though HE is the one that put word out in the papers for any and all clues to be sent his way.
There’s a weak attempt here at Stretch using the tape as a way to get herself out of radio because she apparently hates her job and wants to do something *more* with her life. However, this is never corroborated with future character actions and is lost because I guess she needed to be seen as a strong, independent woman who is also terrified of being murdered and would rather knock over a pile of crowbars than use them to rescue herself….BUT THAT’S NIETHER HERE NOR THERE IS IT.
A few days later, Lefty approaches Stretch and is all like “Oh hey, actually I really could use that tape. Can you play it on your radio show on the hour every hour?” She’s all like “no, dude, that’s illegal” and he goes “no no, don’t worry about that.”
Stretch obliges for no real gain of any kind. Thought we don’t hear about how it was organized, the two were then supposed to meet after that day of the radio playing the tape every hour, but
Back to Stretch. One night, she’s at the station by herself. LG had just left, and she was waiting for Lefty to appear.
Through a chain of events that is all too predictable when it comes to your classic slasher, she’s soon face to face with none other than a dude named Chop Top.
Now, I know what you’re thinking….
Why would they introduce a new character to an established franchise? Especially one with the name Chop Top? He sounds like a bad guy, like they’re doing some kind of Freddy Vs. Jason thing.
Well, dear reader, they’re not doing that at all. Remember when the Hitchhiker was completely demolished by that 18 wheeler in the first movie? Remember how you saw his arm fly off into the bushes on the side of the road? Remember the gore? The puddle of sewage that was once our lovable hitchhiker?
Well, he’s back! That’s right. After being squashed beneath the wheels of a rig and blown to smithereens, all that was required to put him back together was a metal plate to his head. He still carries the signature port-wine stain (although it’s on the wrong side) and fevered expressions and way of talking that the other actor did, but he’s just a little more frantic and a lot more annoying.
During this scene, we also get to meet the new Leatherface in a more intimate setting. The actor that played Leatherface in this film is not the same as the first. As a matter of fact, the stunt double the studio used for Leatherface did more of the on-screen acting than the credited actor did for the role. We’ll get more into that later, but I wanted to mention it because the oaf I fell in love with from the last film has now been turned into a version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
So there’s this horrible scene I want to talk about that happens soon after we meet Chop Top and our new Leatherface that has a horrible habbit of sand-peopling his chainsaw above his head every two seconds. You know, that thing he does where he holds the saw above his head and shakes his arms, but the saw goes nowhere? Like the sand people from Star Wars. I don’t know, look it up.
While Leatherface is terrorizing Stretch, she’s resting awkwardly on the edge of a galvanized steel ice cooler filled with ice and cans of soda. Her legs are spread and little is left to the imagination behind mere inches of cut off denim shorts. She screams as Leatherface rips his saw into the ice, soaking her from head to toe with soda from the cans.
This, like all scenes from this film and it’s original, possibly the closest relation the two movies have, goes on for a few minutes too long before Stretch tries to use a clever tactic to get Leatherface away from her.
She repeats “how good are you?” about 10 times before the tone of her voice shifts. It goes from a question about his morals to his sexual expertise. Throughout the awkward scene where he nears her lady bits with the blade of his chainsaw, he licks his lips and get super turned on.
He then gets mad, turns on the saw, and she runs away.
I mention this scene because it had some SERIOUS potential. From how I watched it, Stretch didn’t go into that interaction with the intention of seducing Leatherface. She simply wanted to ask if he had any good left in him. But once the scene shifted, she asked a different question with the same words and frustrated him.
I mention this later in the review, but if I were to have written this movie and was responsible for tapping into some traumatic memories to create sympathy for this killer, I would have included a few flashbacks to a childhood trauma that might have been related to some sexual abuse. There’s no doubt in my mind that a family that practices cannibalism, human furniture upholstery, and likely cannibalism was into some fucked up shit.
I didn’t mention this in the beginning scene because you don’t get a great look at it till now, but the mask this movie uses for Leatherface is just a nightmare.
I’m including a picture here, though there are no others for this review thanks to the hectic scheduling I’m doing around making Halloween costumes, so you can see for yourself what I mean.
I mean Jesus Christ, what is that thing!? The skin is yellow, fatty, sewn together like it was in the hands of a preschooler, and is all kinds of messed up. The original mask was paper thin, like it had been delicately separated from the tissue of the face with the precision of a surgeon. It also had eyelashes and eyebrows on it. The new mask has features that don’t line up well enough to fool the viewer into thinking he’s wearing someone else’s face, so it pretty much defeats the whole purpose of having it on.
I could talk about what these different masks mean for literal hours, but I think that might be overthinking what was just a budgetary and stylistic choice between movies made over a decade apart from one another.
Moving right along…
Remember how this whole thing came about because Stretch stayed at the studio late to wait for Lefty? Well guess what!? IT WAS A FUCKING TRAP AND HE USED HER AS BAIT.
Showing us a barely illuminated glimmer of hope that Stretch has a character trait of determination, she follows the blue truck that makes its way out of the studio parking lot to an abandoned amusement park.
There, she meets up with Lefty who had tailed her there. Once she falls through a tunnel into the underground system, he tells her it was all a trap to try and get his hands on the family of cannibals. He uses a fucking skeleton hand to try and help her up which of course doesn’t work, and she plummets down to the underground world where the Sawyers, the name now given to the family comprised of the Cook, Leatherface, and Chop Top now live.
Now, at this point in the movie, things get weird and stupid and blurry.
The essence of what happens is that Stretch is stuck in the tunnels with the Sawyers and Lefty grabs the chainsaws he bought earlier and starts hacking away at the supports of the tunnel to try and take the whole place down.
I mean, some stuff happens in the meantime, but it’s not worth mentioning all the scooby-doo like running she does through tunnels and past skeletons.
The dialogue between Leatherface, Chop Top, and the Cook is mangled. It doesn’t seem like they were working off of a script and it reminded me of the dinner scene from the last film.
Funny I should mention that, actually…
What happens next is the EXACT. SAME. SCENE from the first movie, except this time they’re in underground tunnels. I’m not kidding. They strap Stretch to a chair, sit her at a dinner table, bring in their grandpa, and he tries to kill her with a hammer he can’t hold because he’s 134 years old and basically dead.
What’s different about this movie though is that, rather than have a final girl that is capable of rescuing herself, even with a hammer-inflicted head wound, Lefty comes out of nowhere and begins to terrorize the group so he can save Stretch.
Like in every horror movie you’ve ever seen, Lefty then gets wrapped up in one of those pesky chainsaw sword fights with the main villain who is then gutted in the cheesiest display of stomach gore you’ve ever seen, and the Cook, from his hideout under the dining room table, grabs a grenade just chillin’ in the pocket of a nearby dead body and blows the place up. You know, the classic trope.
Chop Top and Stretch however, find the exit and she takes way too long to kick him away from her as she climbs up a ladder marked “exit.” In reality, the steep metal stairs take her to some kind of weird tower where a corpse with big ol’ saggy boobies is sitting in a chair with a chainsaw in her lap.
Stretch swipes the chainsaw, pisses off Chop Top, and slices right through his belly with the chainsaw mirroring the injury his brother received only moments before the explosion.
To top things off, Lefty is so obsessed with killing the family that he spends NO time doing research into the victims to determine whether or not he has the right guys. At one point, we watch LG get flayed by Leatherface, we also see him threaten Stretch with a chainsaw, but at no point does Lefty see any of this. Rather, he sees the blue truck pull up to the station and then leave to enter their underground hideaway. He has not a shred of evidence to prove that these are actually the guys he’s looking for and instead goes on a spree to chop down the support beams of the tunnels instead. Yeesh.
Year Released/Director: 1986, Tobe Hooper
Favorite Death: If the fact that the hitchhiker is still alive with no more than a metal plate in his head for the entirety of this movie after being literally dismembered by an 18-wheeler in the last, I’m assuming that no one truly dies in this series besides Franklin, since we see his skeleton at one point. Therefore, since I don’t truly remember anyone dying in this film, I guess I don’t have a favorite death.
Funniest Part: God, where do I begin? The entire movie is a farce of its predecessor. As if it wasn’t bad enough that they turned my lovable bumbling oaf into a sand person from Star Wars, they also introduced a love interest, remade the main mask Leatherface wears and changed his entire character arc, and included a woman they wanted to portray as strong and independent who, in the end is saved by a man because he’s wild with rage and thinks she is his sister. Just….no thanks.
Top billing for funniest moment though might go to the part where Lefty comes across a skeleton sitting in a wheelchair. Because of the flashlight in his hands, he knows that it’s Franklin from the first film. Even though it’s been 14 years, the batteries are still going strong.
How I would have done it: *cracks knuckles* Like I’ve stated over and over by now, this movie was bad. Like, so bad I was tempted to break out my Dollar Store Disaster rating scale for it. I think the main idea of this movie was to understand Leatherface’s character outside of his family and possibly introduce a main love interest that separated him from them ever so slightly so we could get a peek into what he was truly like as a person.
Now, I really appreciate the effort that went into doing this. Leatherface is a complex character that I personally would love to know more about. However, I wouldn’t have done it this way. Rather, I might have included flashback scenes to indicate his childhood love interest and how wrong that went, or maybe I would have chosen to make Stretch a better character overall. It seems she just mirrored Sally in the “I’m going to act like I’m scared but not do a damn thing to protect myself from the threats all around me.” Sally, at the very least, squirmed and wriggled, and even picked up a knife at one point. Stretch literally froze sitting awkwardly on a cooler with no intention of getting up, defending herself, or threatening him. Sure, she was trying to show Leatherface that his raising might be the reason for his actions, but I don’t think asking a vague question like “how good are you?” is enough to help the audience understand that’s what you’re after, especially since that same question then devolves into something sexual.
Nothing, not a single, microscopic thing about Leatherface was sexual in the previous movies. Even his father and brother didn’t seem interested in sex until this film. Maybe if it had been established that Sally was to be more than a meal, this movie would make more sense. But I think the venture into salacious scenes and something that teeters a little too close to the edge of torture porn is too much.
If I had written this movie I would have also made sure the brother character, the hitchhiker, never came back. My only assumption for why he’s still in the movie is because they wanted to create tension between the Cook finding out about the murders on the radio. The hitchhiker seems to be more of a ringleader than the Cook, he grabs victims, intimidates them, marks their vans, and assures they are locked in their radio stations all alone with no choice but to appease him.
To watch the Cook or Leatherface attempt to do this would have been much more fascinating. Watching Stretch try to decipher what Leatherface was saying and him ultimately getting so frustrated he destroys her studio and calls his father would have given his character more depth and I think we would have gained the sympathy for him that the awkward love story arc was trying to give us.
The hitchhiker is a crucial character in the first movie and would have been one, in memory, in the second had he stayed dead. He could have been used by the Cook as inspiration for Leatherface to push past the hesitations he has about killing Stretch.
Finally, I want to mention the gore. There was simply too much, done too poorly by a really cheesy special effects company. I would have done what the first film did and alluded to it more than shown it specifically. Granted, my stomach did turn once or twice, but it was more so because it was too much rather than that it was actually disturbing. It became something gratuitous that put the original to shame and pretty much laughed in the face of the beautiful psychological horror piece that it was.
Thoughts from Interviews:
The filming requirements were absolutely despicable. They filmed for three full days in 24 hour shifts in texas heat. They even had someone else come in to get the scenes done because Tobe was taking too many actors’ opinions into consideration.
Apparently the guy that did most of Leatherface’s stunts was on screen more than the credited actor was. To make things worse, this stunt man, Bob Elmore isn’t credited al ALL in the movie. Like, what the actual fuck is that about. He said it was the most exhausting and mentally tiring job he’d ever had but it was financially rewarding so he said he didn’t mind.
Based on the information in this interview, the filming of this movie was an emotionally, physically, and mentally abusive environment similar to the first film.
Tom Savini, one of the special effects artists, said in this interview that he was thankful that his contract laid out that he was only responsible for directing the scenes in which his effects were in. He said he wasn’t a big fan of the editing of the final film. They evidently cut a scene that would have taken the comedic element out of the scene in the car with the guys that were murdered that included the top of his head flapping away and gushing blood.
In my exploration for other interviews, I came across this short one that includes Bill Johnson, the guy that is credited as Leatherface. I was beyond pissed to hear him list off all of the cast a crew that helped make the movie possible with NO mention of Bob Elmore and then vaguely answer questions he couldn’t truly answer because he DIDN’T DO THEM.
In another interview with Bill Johnson, he recalls the only place he could sweat from in the horrible heat was his lips and his eyeballs. He even got pneumonia along with Tobe Hooper. He then spends the rest of the interview talking about a new movie he’s a part of. I mostly wanted to listen to this guy talk in another interview to see if he would redeem himself. He didn’t.
I have my own addition for this segment actually. Remember how, when I reviewed one of the last sharknado movies and said that the people that owned that chainsaw place were members of the cast of TCM? Well, it turns out, when I first turned the second film on and immediately recognized Stretch, it’s because she was one of those characters that made a comeback along with one of the guys that played Leatherface in a rebooted film.
Tobe Hooper only had a week to pull off this movie between “Invaders from Mars”
The man that plays “Lefty,” Dennis Hopper would spin before each take so he could get that wild look in his eyes.
The sparks you see during the chainsaw fight are real sparks that resulted from the exhaustion of the actors having practiced the fight for so long that they didn’t want to have to redo it again.
The chainsaw used in the weird cooler/sex scene was a live chainsaw with real teeth that could have easily hurt Caroline had Bob, the guy that performed that scene, not been the one holding it.
Tom Savini was a Vietnam war photographer and had the benefit, if I could use that word, of seeing the stuff he made into the wounds, specifically on LG, as accurate as possible.
During the scene where “Chop Top” (the hitchhiker) got his plate chainsawed, he was actually burned because the metal plate was made of silver and conducted heat that didn’t mix well with the chainsaw
They shot the underground scenes in an old printing press building made of corregated iron that they filled with dirt.
During the scene where Leatherface is terrorizing those guys in the car, Bob Elmore broke his wrist.
Summary: Dude, this movie was terrible and I can’t believe someone spent as much as they did on it. Literally none of it made sense, it brought back characters it didn’t need to, introduced us to ones we didn’t need to meet, and didn’t even give us an original ending. I keep hearing from my husband and everyone else on twitter that it can only get worse from here, but I truly don’t think anything could be worse than this.
Last Post: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
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