Friday, October 6, 2017

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Radio DJ Stretch is taking caller requests when an obnoxious pair of frat boys keep calling from their car phone. She can't get rid of them. Then, things take a turn for the weird when she hears them being viciously attacked by a chainsaw. Lefty Enright has been following the case for over a decade and initally rejects Stretch's help, thinking she's just a girl. He changes his mind, but the Sawyer clan comes to the radio station to kill Stretch. Will Stretch survive her encounter with the cannibalistic family?

I definitely don't like this movie as much as the first, but it's pretty hilarious. The frat boys at the beginning are killed to Oingo Boingo's No One Lives Forever with a huge chainsaw from another car. The scene sets the tone for the rest of the over the top movie. Dreyton, the Sawyer patriarch, receives a prize for his chili while spilling it all over himself and passing a human tooth off as an extra hard peppercorn to the public he's feeding their neighbors to. Lefty doesn't seem to be much more sane than the Sawyers as he goes to a chainsaw shop and tests them out outside (which ends up looking like hitting the logs instead of cutting them) without even looking at or talking to the clerk. He eventually has a chainsaw duel with Leatherface, which Resident Evil 7 totally stole. So much of the film is a bit ridiculous, funny, and over the top.

The only remotely normal person is Stretch who does her best to stop the cannibals despite mostly being alone. She has a cool sense of style and holds her own with dismissive men. Despite her changed looks and more masculine name, her refusal of men makes her as virginal as most other final girls. When attacked, she succeeds in charming Leatherface (unlike most final girls) in a tense and sexual scene where he holds a chainsaw between her legs and seems to find release. Carol Clover writes at length about this scene in Men, Women, and Chainsaws and I agree with her reading. She never gives up hope or submits to her enemies. Stretch ends the film doing her own deranged chainsaw dance to reflect Leatherfaces at the end of the first installment.

Leatherface has a much more nuanced portrayal in this installment. He is obviously enamored with Stretch, in the scene described above and further shown when he can't kill her and allows her to leave. We see a more cheerful side of him later when he protects her at his home and attempts to have his own brand of macabre fun with her. He puts her friend LG's skinned face on top of hers and attempts to dance with her, but she's simply too disgusted and traumatized. It's nice to see more intelligence and choice coming from Leatherface instead of remaining a compliant and mindless killing machine.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is completely different than the first and inferior in my opinion. It has merit, but is so different in its use of humor and cartoonish situations. The only parts I really didn't like was Bill Moseley as Chop Top and the ending. Chop Top spent most of the movie yelling and repeating the same thing over and over. At first, he was creepy burning his face and invading Stretch's space, but he grew annoying after a while. The ending never resolved. Who knows what happened at the end of Lefty and Leatherface's chainsaw duel or if Stretch even left. Other than that, it's a decent movie if you're looking for a horror comedy.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

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